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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Check-in on our New Zealand travel blog for latest news, events and updates - along with a splash of personality from the whole team at Bella Vista!  

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48 hours in Christchurch. Isn't it time you came for a visit?


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When the majority of us think of Christchurch our minds are automatically drawn to the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. So much has happened since then, Christchurch is well and truly back and ready to share its story with the world. We’ve put together the perfect 48-hour tour to help you get the most out of the Garden City.

Christchurch is a fascinating, vibrant and as we know resilient city, it’s a place that you could and should spend many days exploring, but if you’re only here for a couple of days, try and tick off as many of these as you can.

 

Day One:

9.30 a.m. Brunch

Start the day off at a leisurely pace with the best coffee in town. We suggest The Caffeine Laboratory. The food selection at The here is top notch, and you’ll be hard pressed to choose only one item off their brunch menu. Once your meal has been delivered to the table you’ll understand our recommendation, as the food is beautifully presented and seriously delivers on taste.

11.00 a.m. Reflect on the Quake

For many New Zealanders visiting Christchurch is bitter sweet, there’s a genuine sense of sadness and loss for what was, but also true admiration and hope both for the city and it’s locals. We’ve selected a few options for those that want to learn and understand more about the earthquakes.

Quake City – Here you will discover all there is to know about the Christchurch earthquakes; the destruction caused, stories of bravery and locals working together, you’ll view images of the wreckage, see up close many iconic objects that have been salvaged and learn about the plans for the city’s future. Re:Start Mall, 99 Cashel Street, daily 10am – 5pm.

Christchurch Rebuild Tour – This 90 minute bus tour will highlight the damage caused by the earthquakes, talk of the transitional projects that were required and learn of the plans for the future. It’s a good way to get your bearings and see for yourself the areas that were worst hit. Daily departure, outside Canterbury Museum, 11.30am.

185 Chairs – Earthquake Remembrance Art Installation. While still on the hunt for a permanent location, 185 Chairs is a public artwork and memorial to the 185 victims of the Christchurch earthquake.  It’s a moving place to visit and really puts into perspective the sadness of the lives that were lost. St Paul's Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church site, corner of Cashel and Madras Streets.

2.00 p.m.  Head to the Botanic Gardens

We've allocated 90 minutes to stroll along to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and appreciate this true oasis in the middle of the city. It's not long enough but hey, you're on a timeframe! Here you’ll view the well-planned collection of different gardens, exotic plants, trees, and indoor varieties.  You’ll no doubt want to spend a while checking out the gardens, but once you’ve had your fix, make your way to Cambridge Terrace for a river punting experience.

3.30 p.m. Punting on the Avon

It’s about as Christchurch as it gets! You’ll sit back and relax in the hand crafted flat bottom boats, as your Edwardian dressed punter in full attire (stripes, blazer and boater hat) points out the landmarks and highlights of the city. This is such a fabulous option any time of the year, with blankets, umbrellas and even hot water bottles available if needed.

 

Bella Vista Christchurch

 

7.00 p.m. Christchurch Tramway Restaurant

You’ll no doubt have worked up quite an appetite by now, so tonight enjoy a unique and completely ‘Christchurch’ way to dine. The Tramway Restaurant sees you seated in a colonial style dining tram, where you’re served up the very best in local cuisine and wines, plus experience an after dark sightseeing tour. It’s a must do on a visit to Christchurch, but remember to book in early to make sure you don’t miss out.
 

Day 2:

10.00 a.m. Christchurch Gondola

Have a light breakfast before you leave your Christchurch motel and then make your way out of the city to the Christchurch Gondola. The ride up is enjoyable and sees you ascend Mt Cavendish in the Port Hills, once you reach the top the uninterrupted 360-degree views over the city, port, Southern Alps, and beyond are spectacular. 

There’s plenty to keep you busy at the top, the Time Tunnel ride will teach you about the history of the region, a café for your morning coffee, and perhaps take the opportunity to explore the Mountain Bike or walking trails. If you don’t have your own transport the Gondola Shuttle operates daily from the Canterbury Museum.

1.00 p.m. International Antarctic Centre

Now’s time for something a bit different and we think pretty special! And this city is the only place you can do it - unless of course you’re planning a trip to Antarctica.  The International Antarctic Centre is a fun and interactive experience that will make you feel like you’re really there.  View Little Blue Penguins, experience an actual Antarctic storm (appropriate clothing provided), and learn facts and stories about what life’s like in Antarctica, plus no Antarctic experience is complete without a Hagglund ride.

4.00 p.m. Hagley Park

By now you’ll probably need a bit of a break from playing tourist. Head over to Hagley Park to breathe in some fresh air and appreciate this wide-open space in the middle of the city. Hagley Park has been part of Christchurch lives since the 1850's, gifted to the city for the enjoyment of the residents. The beautifully maintained park offers so much for all - a lake, tennis courts, sports fields, walking and running tracks and picnic spots, plus much more. From there make your way back to Bella Vista Christchurch to freshen up before dinner.

7.30 p.m. Café Valentino

Sadly your time in Christchurch is coming to an end, and perhaps the most fitting place to finish up is at the Christchurch institution, Café Valentino. This buzzing restaurant hotspot serves up mouth-watering dishes, pizza, pasta and a Torte di miele to die for. It’s the ultimate in Italian food and is all packaged up in a fun atmosphere with food prepared to perfection. Mama Mia!
 

Cafe Valentino Christchurch

Christchurch Accommodation

If you’ve only got 48 hours in this city location is key, so book yourself into Bella Vista Motel & Apartments Christchurch, and enjoy the close proximity to town, dining and all the attractions.

Bella Vista Christchurch offers some fantastic accommodation options including studios, one, two and three bedroom units – so there’s something to suit everyone at this brilliant Christchurch motel. Graeme and Janice are always happy to share their local knowledge and assist with any questions or booking requests you may have.  Call them on 03 377 3363 for some first-hand advice.

 

 

 

 

 


Hamilton - It's Event-tastic!


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A few weeks back Bella Vista Hamilton was full to capacity, with the city’s annual Balloons Over Waikato festival in town. There was a real buzz around the place and the event received glowing reviews.

This, however, is not the only event that comes to Hamilton, the region plays host to many exciting festivals and events, and this city sure knows how to do it right. Having established itself as one of the big players when it comes to putting on successful occasions, Hamilton’s welcoming feel along with effective infrastructure ensures everything runs smoothly and to plan. On top of that the local Hamiltonians embrace each and every event with enthusiasm, decorating streets, shop window displays, street parades and fireworks – and that’s all part of the Hamilton magic!

We’ve put together an overview of some of the many festivals and events the Waikato region offers, take a read and see if any take your fancy! And remember to book your accommodation early with Hamilton Bella Vista.


Balloons Over Waikato

For the last 18 years Hamilton has played host to one of New Zealand’s largest free events. Balloonists come from near and far to be a part of this the pinnacle of their sport, and the public get something very special in return. If you’re looking for ‘wow factor’ then this festival is for you. It’s a sight to behold when you see balloons en mass of varying colours and sizes floating graciously across the sky.

Balloons Over Waikato includes a series of events including a mass ascension, a school hop, balloon rides, games, competitions and a very special night-glow flight. Mark this one on your calendar for next year as accommodation books out quickly.

                          Balloons Over Waikato


NZ National Agricultural Fieldays: 14 – 17 June 2017

Now this one’s a biggie! With over 1,000 exhibitors and 2017 visitor predictions being in excess of 130,000, Mystery Creek in Hamilton transforms itself into a mecca for farmers and non-farmers alike.

This event, which started with humble beginnings in 1968 by a handful of passionate locals, has evolved into the exceptional occasion it is today. It’s appeal spreads far and wide, allowing those involved with farming and agriculture to view the latest in innovation, technological advancements, machinery, farming products and various agricultural displays. All the way through to an industry careers and education hub, a No8 wire art competition, Rural Bachelor of the Year, exceptional food, activities for kids and even the legendary tractor pull. It’s a fun-filled day (or few days) out, and an annual highlight for many people. Come farmers, come city dwellers – you’ll all find something you love here.


Hamilton Sporting Events

There’s no denying it Hamilton lives, breathes and dreams sports, there’s something in the water. So if you’re heading to town for a sporting occasion, prepare yourself for one heck of a good time.

Hamilton has firmly established itself on the international cricket calendar with Seddon Park hosting International Tests, One Day Internationals, 20/20 matches and Northern Districts home games each season.  With its relaxed and family friendly vibe, this ground has become a firm favourite for both teams and fans. Hamilton turns absolutely cricket mad with each and every match, so if there’s one match of the season you don’t want to miss, it’s the one at Seddon Park.

Come the winter months and you’ll find the Waikato region comes alive when their big guns come out to play.

The Chiefs (formally known as the Waikato Chiefs) have created a fortress at FMG Stadium Waikato for their Super Rugby matches, with fan zones, cowbells, staunch supporters and deafening Chief chants. With this team having won a handful of titles over the last few years, combined with their humble nature the team has gained a faithful following. The buzz of experiencing a Chiefs home game really is something else, and with Hamilton Bella Vista accommodation literally a stone's throw from the stadium, you only need to pick your date and come and be a part of the action.
 

                      The Waikato Chiefs


The Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic is the region’s top netball team.  With both titles and talent a plenty, this team fills stadiums and has an extremely loyal fan base. The fans are loud, completely one eyed (in a good way) and travel from near and far to support their girls.  Home games are held at Claudelands Arena and are always guaranteed to be played at 110%.

Other sporting events the region hosts in 2017 include, The Maadi Cup, Rugby League World Cup Matches, a Vodafone Warriors match, 5 Bridges River Swim and the annual half marathon.


​Kawhia Kai Festival

When Lonely Planet calls something a ‘must see’ you know it’s something pretty special. Located about a 1hr 15 minutes drive from Hamilton, the festival is held on the Kawhia foreshore. It proudly showcases traditional Maori kai (food), which has been lovingly gathered from the surrounding land and sea.

You’ll also have the opportunity to view local artists at work and learn the history, spiritual meaning and beliefs behind the traditional Maori arts and crafts, including flax weaving, woodcarving and more.

There are of course so many events that Hamilton hosts - concerts, the wedding expo, Great NZ Food Show, comedy events, plus much more. Attending a show, event or festival makes for a fun weekend away, so start thinking about making your next trip a Waikato based event or festival.

                            Kawhia Kai Festival

 

The friendly team at Bella Vista Motel Hamilton will make sure you have a warm and comfortable place to lay your head at the end of the day, plus provide unlimited free WIFI, parking at your door and a range of accommodation options to choose from. Give Lee and Rowena a call today on 0800 235 528 and book in your next stay.

 

 


Ski Queenstown this Winter. 10 Local Tips


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We're rapidly approaching that time of year when you need to think about how your going to fill the long winter months. If you think you need some added excitement this season, you must consider a ski holiday in Queenstown.

With some of the very best skiing in New Zealand available at work class fields such as The Remarkables, Cardrona and Coronet Peak, there’s something to keep everyone happy from novices through to seasoned pros.

Queenstown accommodation can start to get a little crazy over the ski season, but there’s a room with your name on it at Bella Vista Motel Queenstown. This terrific motel has just been recognised by Trip Advisor as the number one motel in Queenstown, it’s central to town, modern, well priced, includes a ski drying room and storage, and offers studios, one, two and three bedroom unit options. So book in early and secure your pick of dates for the upcoming skiing season.

Whether it is on-piste runs or after dark, Queenstown provides endless opportunities for all – dining, entertainment, sights and some of the best scenery in New Zealand.
 

                     Remarkables Ski field


Below is everything you need to know about skiing in Queenstown, but first let’s do our quick fire tips.

Queenstown Skiing -10 Local Tips 
 

#1 – Best Ski Breakfast? Bespoke Kitchen. The best pancakes in town and then some!

#2 – Snuggle up by the Open Fire? We struggle to go past Queenstown’s iconic Eichardt's Bar and there's some Tapas on hand along with mulled wine.

#3 – Ultimate way to warm up? Onsen Hot Pools. Just ease those aches away.

#4 – Après Ski? The World Bar’s famous Tea Pot cocktails are a must.

#5 – Worked up an appetite? Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar up at the Skyline Gondola. A buffet, but not as you know it.

#6 – Top ski season tip? Try out the in-house ski fitting by Snopro. They’ll come to your Bella Vista accommodation and you’ll miss the mountain queues.

#7 – First Timer, what do you recommend? First timers are covered at each of the mountains, with package options including lessons, ski rental and lift passes, starting from $150.

#8 – Best Ski recommendation: Night skiing at Coronet Peak, Friday & Saturday and also now Wednesday's for the first time this season!

#9 – Help I need ski chains! Head down to Green Toad in Queenstown, they’ll sort you out.

#10 – Paper, Scissors, Rock - Which mountain to ski? Check out below the terrain and pick which is best for your level.

For those unfamiliar with the Queenstown ski-fields, here's the low-down:


The Remarkables

35 minutes from downtown Queenstown, this ski field offers something for all – from beginners and families through to expert skiers.

Mountain Stats:

·         3 terrain parks

·         385 hectares - 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% expert

·         1943M high 468M vertical drop

Getting there:

Getting to The Remarkables is a 35 minute drive from Queenstown. You can drive yourself and park in one of the many car parks available (you’ll need snow chains). Alternatively you can catch a ride on the Remarkables transport service, Snowline Express this offers return trips from the Queenstown Snow Centre – too easy!

Kids Options:

Taking your children to the mountains can sometimes be a challenging prospect, if you would prefer to explore the mountain without kids in tow, The Remarkables offers two fantastic kids clubs that will see your children progress with their skiing, make new friends and ensure they are fed and happy!

Mini Kea (4 – 5 year olds) includes lift pass, lesson, ski hire, lunch and a full-day program. Drop off starts at 9am and pick up at 4pm. You’ll collect tired, happy children that are ready for dinner and bed.

Kea Club (5 – 15 year olds) a full day group lesson program includes lift pass, lesson and ski or snowboard hire and lunch. Children can join group ski lessons from the age of five and group snowboard lessons from the age of eight. 

Equipment Hire: Everything you need for ski, snowboard or clothing hire (with the exception of gloves, hats and goggles for health reasons) is available on the mountain. Plus if you hire off the mountain you can store overnight for free.

There are also various other locations around town to rent your gear, including one that will visit you in the comfort of your accommodation, fit you and see you ready for the mountain while you sip on a wine!

Mountain Secret Tip: For all you backcountry lovers, the 1.5km Homeward Bound is about as good as it gets!
 

                          Queenstown Remarkables


Cardrona

A great mountain to explore and enjoy- only a 55 minute drive over the Crown Range.

Mountain Stats:

•    Base Area Elevation: 1670m

•    Highest Lifted Point: 1860m

•    Vertical Rise: 600m

•    345 hectares – 25% beginner, 25% intermediate, 30% advanced & 20% expert

Getting there:

Getting to Cardrona is a 60 min drive from Queenstown, if you choose to drive yourself, please remember the weather can be changeable and to always carry chains. There is a drop off zone at the top, then you can park in the lower carparks and catch a free shuttle back to base area.

Alternatively park 1km up Cardrona Mountain and catch the Pine Tree Shuttle Service, or take all the stress out of it and use the shuttle service from Queenstown.

Kids Options:

There is a range of children options at Cardrona. From Ski Kindy from 3months, through to Children’s lessons, the Cardrona Kids Adventure Programe, and Ride Tribe, which teaches over 10 year old intermediate skiers a range of snow disciplines, venturing both on & off piste.

Equipment Hire:

You can rent everything you need on the mountain; a great value of money option is renting a clothing and accessories bundle – as this gets you sorted. As per The Remarkables, there are many other rental places around town that can help.

Mountain Tip: If booking children into Ride Tribe get together with a few of their mates and book in early, then they’ll have their own private group. The kids will love it!
 

                            Cardrona


Coronet Peak

Only a 25-minute drive from downtown Queenstown, this mountain has it all. Plus the added benefit of night skiing Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Mountain Stats:

·         2 Terrain parks

·         1649M highest point, 481M vertical drop

·         280 hectares – 32% beginner, 41% intermediate, 27% advanced

Getting there:

Jump aboard the Snowline Express bus and catch a ride to the mountain – departs from Queenstown Snow Centre or drive yourself but remember to carry chains.

Kids Options:

Skiwiland is where it’s at for your kids - with options from 3 months – 15 years there’s something to suit everyone.  Mini Kids, Kiwi Kids and Skiwi Kids, lessons, entertainment and a heap of fun.

Equipment Hire:

Hire on the mountain or skip the queues and sort it all in town. See The Remarkables for further rental information.

Mountain Tip:

Check out the Night Skiing on offer Friday and Saturday evenings.  Coronet Peak is the only mountain in New Zealand that offers a night skiing option, and it’s a fabulous experience.

 

We’re lucky enough in New Zealand to have some of the best skiing right here in our own backyard. People travel from near and far to ski and board on our beautiful mountains. If you’ve never been skiing in Queenstown before, we challenge you to join us down here at Queenstown Bella Vista this winter and see what all the fuss is about. 


Book an Autumn Break at Bella Vista Invercargill


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With Easter, long weekends and holidays on their way, it’s time to start thinking about where to head to next. We’ve taken all the hard work out of it and uncovered your next exciting escape… Invercargill and Southland!

Some may question why would I want to travel to Invercargill? We’ll forgive you for your sins just this once, as you clearly are still to experience the unique possibilities and adventures on offer in this part of the world. Besides, Invercargill Bella Vista offers a great accommodation option. So let us enlighten you with a quick run down of what you could be doing very soon!

If you join us over the Easter Break, Invercargill holds its famous Riverton Easter Race Carnival. This event is one of the highlights of the racing calendar and offers a crazy, fun-filled day for all.  With stalls, children's activities, food and wine and of course racing!

Alternatively, you could head to Bill Richardson's Transport World. Here you can discover unexpected treasures set out over 15,000 square metres. Some 50 years in the making, two expansive private collections have been lovingly put together to showcase vehicles, motorcycles, petrol pumps, wearable arts – vintage, retro, limited editions, you name it. Reminisce on history gone by, and appreciate the quirky nature of some in the collection. Designed with everyone in mind, this is a must see.

E Hayes and Sons is Invercargill's must-see destination.  The World’s Fastest Indian – On display proudly in the E Hayes and Sons store, is an extensive and eclectic celebration of classic, vintage and modern motorcycles, automobiles, engines, equipment and memorabilia, including Burt Munro’s famous Worlds Fastest Indian. There’s nothing else quite like this anywhere and it’s free.

                              E Hayes and Son

Southland Museum & Art Gallery is a great place to come and learn about the local history, legends, artifacts and art. This museum and gallery gives you an idea of what life was like in Southland in the past and how things have changed, while you’re there check out the Whaling and Antarctic memorabilia, it’s fascinating.

Queens Park located in the centre of Invercargill, offers peace, tranquility, gardens, fitness trail, golf course, free aviary, small animal area and even a 'selfie' exploration challenge! It’s an amazing space for all to share, so bring along your picnic lunch or morning coffee and explore.

                             Queens Park Invercargill

Just an hours drive from Invercargill is Waipapa Point Lighthouse set on the rugged Catlins coastline marking the scene of New Zealands worst civilian shipwrek. It’s well worth the journey out as the spectacular scenery and waves crashing onto the rocks combined with this proud lighthouse make for some magnificent photo opportunities

Bluff Oyster Festival, 20th May 2017 – We all love them, and now’s your chance to indulge in their hometown location - Bluff!! Just a short drive from Invercargill, this festival sells out every year so you need to be quick. A fun-filled day of music, tastings, oyster opening and eating competitions, plus a vairety of other seafoods available if oysters aren’t your thing.

Day Trips or Overnight Excursions from Invercargill

​If you have time to stay longer, Invercargill is a perfect place to use as a base to to head further afield. Here are two of our favourite destinations.

Stewart Island

Now this is something all kiwis should do! Stewart Island is a one hour ferry crossing from Bluff  - approximately 20 min drive from Invercargill or a 20 minute flight from Invercargill Airport. Stewart Island is southern most island of New Zealand, lying 30km south of the South Island and stands at 1746 square km.

It’s a nature lovers paradise, with bird watchers coming from all over the world to see some of its rare and unusual species. One interesting fact about Stewart Island is there is approximately 20,000 Brown Kiwi that call the island home, that outnumbers the amount of people living there! Stewart Island offers tramps and walks of all different fitness levels and lengths, one popular walk is to Observation Rock, which gives dramatic sunset views.

Other things to do in Stewart Island are hunting, fishing, diving, the local museum, boating/cruising, fishing, shopping and kayaking. Stewart Island can easily be a day trip from Invercargill, alternatively there are over night accommodation options if you wish to stay longer.

Catlins Coastal Route

Located only an hours drive from Invercargill is the rugged and remote Catlins Coast. The scenery here is extraordinary and so diverse, you’ll travel through rural farmland, petrified forest, windswept coastline, cliffs, rock formations, waterfalls, plus you’ll see an abundance of wildlife.

The largest of the Catlins townships is Owaka with a population of almost 400 people, Other settlements in the district are Kaka Point, Pounawea, Tahakopa, Papatowai, Tokanui, Waikawa and Fortrose, most of these offer accommodation options if you choose to overnight in the area. If you get the opportunity, exploring the Catlins Coast is something pretty special. For us it’s a must see.

                              Waipapa Point

All of these activities and day trips listed above are easily accessible from Bella Vista Motel Invercargill. Our purpose built facilities are clean, modern and located close to Invercargill’s shopping, eating and dining options. Give Neil and his team a call and join us down here for a truly memorable holiday at an excellent Invercargill accommodation choice.