Author Archives: Bella Vista
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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As New Zealand becomes more accustomed to a future that will be dominated by electric powered vehicles (EV), Don & Sharon Macmillan at Bella Vista Whangarei have taken note and installed the first electric charging point of any Whangarei accommodation provider.
The Government’s target of 64,000 Electric Vehicles by 2021 will mean growth in EV usage across all travel sectors including Private, Corporate and Leisure travllers. Furthermore, it is understood a number of leading New Zealand car-rental companies are now considering introducing EV's into their fleets. Those vehicles will need accommodation providers who are able to offer, at the minimum, an overnight charging station.
"It was a little bit of a no-brainer" said Mrs Macmillan. "There was very little hassle involved and we are now able to offer charging facilities for two EV's every night." "Health and safety legislation has effectively ensured, and quite rightly, that you couldn't take shortcuts to offer this service"
Mrs Macmillan commented that whilst take-up has been limited to date, they wanted to stay ahead of the game and future-proof their business. "Our corporate booking agents in Auckland and Wellington are already asking if we have EV stations, so it is only a matter of time" When asked about the cost to her customers, Mrs Macmillan said "We'll be applying a nominal amount on top of our room rate to ensure any overnight charging covers our cost. It's primarily about service and added value for our customers."
Whangarei Bella Vista is a Qualmark endorsed four star plus rated motel. The property offers 18 superior units, is conveniently situated close to the CBD and the main Auckland-Northland highway and caters to every type of traveller needing an overnight break in Whangarei and to those using the town as a base to explore other local destinations.
Bella Vista General Manager Rob Burnell said he was delighted that Bella Vista Whangarei have taken this step. “Bella Vista Accommodation Nationwide will be extending the provision of overnight EV charging across its network of 27 motels in the coming year. We’ve been encouraging our business owners to think ahead in all areas of their business to ensure they are meeting the needs of an ever evolving market place”
For further information contact Bella Vista Whangarei on 09 438 6990
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Living life in 2017 can sometimes take its toll, whatever your stresses – work, children or busy lives, a weekend getaway can help make all these worries seem like a distant memory (if only for the weekend!).
If you’re looking for the ultimate relaxation weekend, then it’s hard to go past the alpine spa village of Hanmer Springs. Located in the South Island of New Zealand, only an hour and a half scenic drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs is one of New Zealand’s most picturesque settings. Offering nature, relaxation and some pretty sensational scenery.
Hanmer is a very special place that we’d love to share with you. So if you’re serious about needing some time out, then this is the spot for you! You’ll enjoy staying at the Bella Vista Hanmer Springs; Steve and Julie are the hosts with the most and previous guests rave about this Hanmer Springs accommodation option - that’s why we see so many repeat visitors year after year! We consider the Bella Vista as the very best of Hanmer Springs motels offering great value for money, comfortable, quality rooms are guaranteed and the location is spot on, close to town the hot pools and world-class dining options.
Many choose this location to do absolutely nothing - possibly apart from a game of tennis on the onsite court - just rest up, read a book and stroll around the village. If that’s your ideal relaxation then boxes are ticked, if you need a little more to see and do, take a read below:
Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa
Award winning Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is set in a fairytale like surroundings. In every direction you look, it’s native forests or mountains. The minerals and thermal properties of the water will work wonders on your body, easing away your stresses and providing your body with some much-needed attention.
The pool complex offers an array of spa treatments for those wanting additional pamper time, and the children are kept busy with family pools, a water playground, activity pools and a hydroslide.
An added bonus to your visit to Hanmer during winter is the spectacular snow-capped mountain backdrop.
The Great Outdoors
Getting back to nature can reap all kinds of de-stress rewards, there are no bosses, deadlines or meetings, just forest and birdsong as far as the eyes and ears can reach.
You’re spoilt for choice with walking trails around Hanmer, from short walks through to full day hikes or longer. A couple of popular ones are: Conical Hill Short Walk (1 hr) A great option for visitors as it offers spectacular views when you reach the top, the trail is pretty and well maintained and there is a picnic table at the summit where you can unpack the sandwiches and take it all in.
Another enjoyable walk is the Waterfall Track (2.5 hrs return) this is a medium fitness level walk that sees you climbing steadily through the forest towards the impressive 40+ metre high Dog Stream Waterfall. This walk is a little harder, but the spectacular falls when you get there to make the effort worthwhile.
The terrain of Hanmer Springs basin makes it ideal for those interested in mountain biking. There are a number of cycling trails through the forest from beginners through to experts and also options for those keen on doing some backcountry tracks. If you pop into the i-SITE when you get there, they’ll be happy to provide all the information you need and also point you in the right direction for hiring bikes and gear.
People find relaxation in all kinds of different ways, for those, a bit more adventure focused Hanmer has it all – jet boating, quad biking, rafting, canoeing, bungy jumping, extreme paintball, the list goes on and on.
There’s nothing like a spot of retail therapy to help calm the body and mind, from clothing, jewellery, arts and crafts or souvenirs, Hanmer Village offers a lovely collection of boutique shops to keep even the fussiest of shoppers happy. p.s. the fudge at the Decadent Fudge Co is out of this world!
This small village of only about 1,000 permanent residents offers a phenomenal amount of places to eat and drink. From take away options and casual dining through to fine dining experiences there’s something to keep everyone happy. Here’s our pick for dining:
- Best Takeaways: Coriander’s Restaurant - If you want delicious Indian food to take back to the motel, this will hit the spot.
- Best Café: The Powerhouse Café - A café situated in a historic hydroelectric power station, with a fun vibe and great menu.
- Best Bar: Monteith’s Brewery Bar Hanmer Springs - Great food, friendly service and a wonderful place to sit back and relax.
- Best Restaurant: Malabar Restaurant - people sing the praises of this Asian fusion restaurant; you’ll want to go back again and again.
As you can see, Hanmer Springs is the ideal choice for those that want an escape from day to day life, just for a little while. Give us a call on 0800 BELLA VISTA and we’ll help arrange a relaxing getaway that will give you the boost that you need. But be warned, you may find yourself coming back again and again. Bella Vista Motel Hanmer Springs would love to welcome you.
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Beat the wintertime blues this year and explore one of New Zealand’s best visitor locations, Rotorua, during the winter months!
When the calendars move to June, July and August and the temperatures drop, Rotorua turns up the charm and offers something very unique to visitors. Gone is the chaos of the summer months, the activities and attractions are less crowded and you can spend your time taking it all in. The highlights of Rotorua are still as fantastic as ever, with the geothermal activity, tourist attractions, spas, relaxation and Maori culture ready and waiting to impress you.
If you’re thinking of travelling to Rotorua this winter, pack your merinos and warm jackets and book your Rotorua accommodation at Bella Vista Motel Rotorua. The motel location is ideal for a Rotorua getaway, close to town, great restaurants and all the activities you could wish for and it’s directly across from Kuirau Park – NZ’s only geothermal public park. Bella Vista rooms are all wonderfully heated and available in a range of room options and all guests enjoy FREE Wifi.
We’ve taken all the hard work out of planning your winter escape and put together some ideas for your Rotorua winter holiday.
A Geothermal Good Time
There’s something about a chill in the air that draws you towards the warmth of geothermal activity– Whether this be to take in the geothermal sights, a bubbling geyser or treating yourself to a relaxing mud spa treatment. There are not many places in the world where the geothermal activity is as good as this, so come and be awed by what nature has gifted upon the city of Rotorua. Check out a few of these options:
A wonderland of geothermal activity thousands of years in the making, Wai-O-Tapu is a comprehensive and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction where you’ll be amazed by the bubbling mud pools, geysers, sulphur pools and of course, the hero of the park, Lady Knox Geyser erupting at 10.15am each day.
One of Rotorua’s most famous attractions, Hells Gate offers a geothermal overload. Boiling hot pools, erupting waters, 100+ degree temperatures, hot water lakes and even a hot waterfall. Appropriately named by Irish Playwright, George Bernard Shaw "Hellsgate" he truly believed he had arrived at the gates of hell when he first laid eyes on the area. You’ll see for yourself a wealth of geothermal delights and if time allows book into one of the mud bath or spa options and lets nature work its wonder with its health and healing properties.
For over 200 years this living Maori Village has opened its arms and welcomed visitors to experience and view the phenomenal geothermal activity in the area. You’ll be in awe of the geysers, hot springs and mud pools all working in harmoniously with the village way of life. This is rightly one of Rotorua's most popular attractions and offers a unique combination of geothermal activity and a traditional Maori living.
There's nothing quite like warming up on a cool winter’s day in a naturally heated hot pool. Polynesian Spa offers geothermal wellbeing benefits at their best! From bathing in their range of pools to treatments utilising the geothermal properties for health advantages - mud wraps, massages and facials are only a few of the options available. If a bit of pamper time is in order, you won’t go wrong here!
The winter months are the perfect time to visit Rotorua’s attractions. The experiences on offer are always top class; winter just has the added benefit of avoiding the busyness often associated with Rotorua’s peak season. There’s so much on offer in this tourist town: Zorb, Rotorua Luge, Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest, Agroventures, Paradise Valley, we couldn’t possibly list everything, but wrap up warm and get out to try a few of these:
Warm up on a mountain bike
Rotorua is quickly developing quite a reputation for being one of the best mountain biking locations in the world, Red Bull Magazine recently named Rotorua in the top 8 Mountain Biking Destinations on Earth. The winter seasons bring in an array of beautiful colours and layers to the forest areas and there’s nothing like feeling the crisp air on your face as you're zooming along the tracks. From family friendly tracks through to expert trails and the New Zealand Cycle Trail – there’s something for everyone. PS if you don’t have a bike or the gear, it’s no problem as there are many places to assist with rentals.
Wintertime on the farm, you’ll experience the life of a NZ farmer with a visit to the world famous Agrodome. This working farm offers so much to those that visit, a baby animal nursery (about as cute as you’ll ever see), climb aboard an all-terrain vehicle for a farm tour where you’ll feed animals, explore fruit orchards and learn about the land, and not to miss are the sheep dogs and sheep in action at the legendary farm show. You’ll come away with a wealth of farming knowledge and the desire to get your very own Swandri and Red Band gumboots!
Skyline Rotorua – Gondola
The best view on a cool, winter’s day is undoubtedly from the top of Mt Ngongotaha. Take the leisurely gondola ride up and watch the sights of Rotorua and all its beauty stretch out in front of you.
Once at the top you have numerous options to explore, many opt for the thrilling luge ride back down (and do it again and again) other choices include zipline, Skyswing, mountain biking, star gazing (night) or one of the many walking tracks. If you are looking for dining, you’ll enjoy Stratosfare Restaurant or Market Kitchen and something newly added for the adults is the Volcanic Hills Winery and Tasting Room.
Tamaki Maori Village
An authentic Maori cultural experience that will surprise and delight everyone that attends. Tamaki offers an insight into the traditional ways of life, ceremonies, and of course the traditional dances, haka and waiata (songs). The night concludes with a belly warming hangi (meal from an earth oven). It’s a great way to get an insight into New Zealand’s Maori culture and heritage.
Rotorua is a year round destination, however visiting this marvellous city over winter can introduce a completely different side. The fresh weather conditions only add to the experience, making you want to rug up and get out to explore. Plus when you’ve decided what you want to do you’ll find the staff are relaxed, the queues are nonexistent and you might be lucky enough to come across one or two ‘winter specials’ for the activities and attractions.
For us, Rotorua in winter is a winning combination, so make Bella Vista your first choice for Rotorua accommodation option, stay a couple of nights and see for yourself!
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Mount Hutt is Canterbury’s very own “big mountain” offers ski and snowboard fans everything you need for an amazing ski holiday in the South Island. The ski field is only 55 minutes drive from Ashburton and there, Bella Vista Ashburton will cater for your every day winter needs.
Whether you are passing through or looking to ride the slopes, Michelle and Paul at Ashburton Bella Vista Motel warmly
welcome you. We have ample safe parking so you can leave your car, avoid parking issues on the mountain. Our superior 4 star smoke free accommodation includes a variety of studios and one bedroom units. You have a choice of king, queen or single beds with electric blankets for those cooler nights.
Wifi is available with a spacious work desk in every room. Units vary from just tea and toast making facilities to those with cooking facilities. We offer continental breakfasts and evening meal charge back facilities, dine in or dine out. You can certainly be assured of a warm welcome at reception where we will assist you in every way possible.
The town of Ashburton offers a perfect base to stay. If you need mountain transport, we can get you up and down the mountain each day safely at $35 per person return right from Bella Vista Ashburton’s front door. And remember, kids under 10 ski for free at Mount Hutt!
Ashburton offers great services and amenities including cinema, theatre, cafes, restaurants, shopping, the Art Gallery and much more. Not to far away from your Ashburton accommodation you’ll find the popular ice skating rink at Staveley, a gorgeous small village with its own little cafe and winter wonderland experience. The drive up to Lake Clearwater is also spectacular.
So dig out the winter woolies and come and learn to ride the slopes! There are some great ski pass deals at Mount
Hutt or if you fancy the day off from skiing, there is plenty to do for all the family in and around Mid-Canterbury region. The season runs from June to October so get in now to grab one of these great packages.
MT HUTT EXCLUSIVE COUPLES DEAL - 2 Adults
Queen Standard Studio with microwave and kitchenette, 10% discount at Robbies Bar & Bistro, 2 free coffee vouchers at Robert Harris Café, buy one – get one free pool pass at the Aquatic Centre, free Wifi and laundry
- NZD$110.00 per night
MT HUTT EXCLUSIVE FAMILY DEAL – 2 Adults & 2 Kids
A one bedroom apartment with with a king bed and 2 singles, add a third single on request. Fully equipped kitchen, 10% discount at Robbies Bar & Bistro, 2 free coffee vouchers at Robert Harris Café, buy one – get one free pool pass at the Aquatic Centre, free Wifi and laundry facilities.
NZD$320.00 for a 2 night stay
NZD$170.00 for a 1 night stay
• A Mt Hutt ski pass must be shown to access the exclusive deals.
• The Mt Hutt bus service from the Bella Vista operates on weekends and New Zealand School holidays only
• All bookings MUST be made direct with Bella Vista Ashburton.
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A few months back we featured a blog post on Glacier Country and what there was to do in this beautiful part of the world. The feedback took us by surprise and we had a number of people contact us asking for further information. As a result of this we’ve put together a special feature focusing on the various options for those wanting to get out and experience the glaciers first hand, take a read to find out more.
Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are two phenomenal natural attractions on the West Coast of New Zealand. They are a sight to behold and their presence is awe inspiring to everyone that visits. Here in NZ we are privileged to have these glaciers easily accessible and in our own backyard. It’s a fact not many countries get to boast, so make the most of this and embark on a glacier adventure for your next holiday.
First things first, book your Franz Josef accommodation or Fox Glacier accommodation at either of the Bella Vista glacier motels. Bella Vista Motel Franz Josef Glacier and Bella Vista Motel Fox Glacier are both ideally located for glacier adventures, close to the glaciers and guiding companies, handy to the townships and Qualmark 4 star rated to guarantee a quality and comfortable standard of accommodation. Plus there’s plenty of safe parking and free WiFi so you can stay connected to the world.
Next you’ll need to decide on what kind of glacier experience you want to take part in:
Glacier walks are a fantastic option for those wanting to see and learn about the glaciers, but not get out onto the ice itself. Ideal for those with limited time in the area, or those that endure unfavorable weather conditions to partake in one of the helicopter options.
You can venture out on your own, following the Department of Conservation walkways and make your way to the glacier viewing areas. These are easy to moderate walks but do require good footwear and knowledge of the conditions. Your best bet is to call into the DOC office or Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre first and get all the information you require.
Alternatively you can join a guided excursion; here you’ll learn the history, legends and how these glaciers have changed over time. Your group will follow the glacier path and get close to the terminal face for some fantastic views and photo opportunities.
- Franz Josef Glacier Guides - Glacier Valley Walk
- Fox Glacier Guiding: Fox Trail: Terminal Face Walk
- Also check out Glacier Valley Eco Tours
Glacier Heli Hike:
The opportunity to participate in a glacier heli hike is one of those memory keepsakes and something we can’t recommend highly enough.
The heli hike sees you boarding the helicopter where you’ll fly high above the glacier to get a real understanding of the sheer size and rugged nature of these beautiful formations. The experienced pilot will then complete an ice landing on the glacier, it’s here you’ll disembark and prepare for your guided glacier hike.
The hike will take you out to some of the most unspoiled scenery you’ll ever experience, climbing beneath towering ice peaks, experiencing blue ice, maneuvering through ice caves and crevices and so much more.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and if you get the chance (and good weather conditions) grab it with both hands.
Heli Hike options are available on both Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Fox Glacier also has a seasonal overnight option.
Heli Ice Climb
If you’re looking for something that next level challenging, then this is the option for you. A day filled with excitement, exhilaration and an absolute sense of pride once you’ve conquered some extraordinary climbs and encounters.
Ice Climbing on either Franz Josef or Fox Glacier is as good as it gets, you’re in for an adrenaline overload and bucket loads of fun. Believe us if you’re this way inclined, you’ll not be disappointed with a Glacier Ice Climb.
With the assistance of expert climbers, you’ll learn the skills and techniques you‘ll need to climb this spectacular terrain. All equipment is provided and the climb will be tailored to your skill and level (no experience necessary). The helicopter transfer will take you to the upper parts of the glacier where ice walls and climbing are at their best.
Using crampons, ice axes and other specialist equipment you’ll advance quickly, by the end of the day you’ll have vertical climbs, overhanging ice walls and pinnacle climbs under your belt.
The Glacier Lowdown
We’re undeniably huge fans of the West Coast glaciers and know that you will be too! Here’s a little more information that may help you with your adventures.
The safe and responsible way to get out onto the glaciers is by going through a local company with the knowledge, familiarity and the correct equipment. Unless you have exceptional mountaineering skills and local experience we recommend going through Fox Glacier Guiding, Franz Josef Glacier Guides or Glacier Valley Eco Tours.
It can get cold out on the glaciers so we suggest layering up and wearing 2- 4 warm upper body layers. Wool or polypro is ideal for the glacier conditions and layering means you can remove items when you warm up.
But what else do you take? You won’t want to take too much up on the ice, the essentials are: camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, water and a light snack.
Insider’s tip: If you want to beat the crowds get up early and after a big breakfast at your Bella Vista Motel join one of the first glacier tours (call to book this a day or two before).
There’s nothing like seeing Blue Ice for the first time, it’s purity and beauty really is something else! You have a very good chance of seeing some if you take part in one of the helicopter options.
At the end of the day you’ll feel a real sense of pride and achievement for getting out there on the glaciers, but you’ll also have worked up an appetite! Celebrate with a delicious meal at one of the fabulous cafes and restaurants dotted around both Franz and Fox – We’re huge fans of Snake Bite Brewery in Franz Josef Glacier and The White Pub Café and Restaurant in Fox Glacier.
We also know that you’re likely to be a little tired and achy, the best remedy we have for that is taking some time out to relax at the wonderful Glacier Hot Pools.
For a sneak peak, check out our video below.
Otherwise give us a call today on 0800 BELLA VISTA and we’ll get your room ready for you. And remember, it's always cheaper to book direct with Bella Vista's Best Price Guarantee.
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Queenstown offers so much fun and excitement for everyone that visits; it’s also perfectly situated as the gateway to some of New Zealand’s best day trips, all within driving distance from this magical destination.
The best way to venture and explore beyond Queenstown, is to use your Queenstown accommodation as the base, pack your day bag and then get out and experience the spectacular sights and attractions on offer. Some of these trips are free or can be modified to make them as low cost as you need, and invariably some do cost money, but all are sure to offer a truly memorable day out.
So join us at Bella Vista Queenstown, we’re the perfect accommodation choice for your Queenstown day trips, central to town, great parking, modern, comfortable and well throw in some free WiFi just to make your stay even more relaxing.
The Queenstown Bella Vista team has spent many years travelling in and around the Queenstown region and have selected for you our top Queenstown day trips.
Queenstown to Arrowtown Day Trip
Located only half an hour from of Queenstown, Arrowtown is a breath of fresh, alpine air. This charming gold mining town offers so much for day-trippers, its picturesque setting feels like it is straight off a postcard and the quaint and somewhat quirky village is a delight to explore.
Meander the streets lined with historic cottages, spend time checking out the Chinese settlement or try your hand at gold panning in the Arrow River. The cafes and restaurants deliver top class foods and local wines through to bakery items ideal to take on a picnic lunch. The nature walks and hikes around this part of the country are breathtaking and the perfect way to end an afternoon of exploring.
You’ll find the hours will fly by quickly, as it really is a magical day out.
Queenstown to Milford Sound Day Trip
Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park is one of those bucket list destinations, with its beauty being beyond anything most people have ever experienced. Basing yourself in Queenstown is ideal for a Milford Sound trip, with both fly and coach options available from Queenstown. Whichever your preference, land or air, getting there is part of the experience.
You’ll find yourself mesmerized by the views, as this is some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand. The journey will see you travelling through farmland, forests, with views of beautiful streams, rivers and valleys. It will feel like there’s a fabulous photo opportunity around every corner.
Once arrived and out on your Milford Sound Cruise, you’ll see nature at its absolute best. This World Heritage Area is a sight to behold, carved from glaciers thousands of years ago, the majestic mountain peaks, fiords and waterfalls - some plunging 1000m, will leave you feeling awestruck by the magnitude of these surroundings.
It’s an absolute must do when staying in Queenstown.
Queenstown to Glenorchy DayTrip
Located only a short distance from Queenstown (approx. 45 minutes), this road trip between Queenstown and Glenorchy is one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand.
The journey will see you following the shores of Lake Wakatipu, with its spectacular mountain backdrop, and if you’re lucky enough to be travelling in spring or winter, the snow on the mountains makes this picture complete! If time is on your side, try one of the many bush or lake walks that are in the area. Bob’s Cove or Lake Dispute are two popular options that showcase the very best the area has to offer.
Once arrived in the small town of Glenorchy, you’ll find you have landed in a nature and adventure lovers’ paradise. There is an abundance of things to do to suit all possible requirements. From walks and hiking around Glenorchy or up Mt Alfred through to the multi-day options of one of New Zealand's Great Walk's, the Routeburn Track. There’s also the adrenaline pumping Dart River Jet, Funyaks (an inflatable type canoe), horse trekking, shopping, wildlife and art galleries. You’ll understand when you get here why this place has been the famous scenic backdrop for many iconic films, such as Narnia, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Queenstown to Wanaka Day trip
Basing yourself in Queenstown means you can make the most of your location and include an enjoyable day out in Lake Wanaka. Travelling via the Crown Range, the highest main road in New Zealand, appreciate the views and scenery on offer and if you have enough time, stop at the iconic Cardrona Hotel for a morning coffe and a bite to eat.
Once arrived in the Lakeside township of Wanaka, there is much to see and do. The lake itself will be enticing you to relax with a picnic, walk, swim or one of the many other lake activities. The cafes and restaurants dotted around town are fantastic and offer views, ambiance and local food and wines.
If you’re still looking for more, you’ll not be disappointed with the range of activities and attractions around town – adventure, natures, adrenaline, galleries, museums, plus lots more.
Queenstown to Central Otago Wine Tour
It would feel like a sin to be in such close proximity to some of the best wines in the world and not make a day trip out of it.
The diverse scenery alone makes this experience something else – with high country farmland, tussock clad hills and rivers, valleys and gorges. There is so much to see and do in ‘Central’. Those interested in wine are in their element, with Central Otago boasting some of the very best Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand.
Choose to explore on your own or join a guided tour from Queenstown to experience vineyard tours, tastings, restaurant options and cellar door shopping.
The many quality wineries in this region are mind boggling – Mt Difficulty, Black Ridge, Gibbston Valley, Amisfield and Chard Farm just to name a few. So make the most of this location while you are here.
There are of course so many day trips from Queenstown we could mention in this blog – Doubtful Sound, Makarora Valley, Te Anau, Mount Cook the list goes on and on. To find out further information on any of those we’ve mentioned chat to the team when you check into Bella Vista Queenstown, as they’re a wealth of local knowledge.
So remember – next time book in a couple of extra days in Queenstown and get out that little bit further!
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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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.
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 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.
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.
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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.
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:
35 minutes from downtown Queenstown, this ski field offers something for all – from beginners and families through to expert skiers.
· 3 terrain parks
· 385 hectares - 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% expert
· 1943M high 468M vertical drop
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!
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!
A great mountain to explore and enjoy- only a 55 minute drive over the Crown Range.
• Base Area Elevation: 1670m
• Highest Lifted Point: 1860m
• Vertical Rise: 600m
• 345 hectares – 25% beginner, 25% intermediate, 30% advanced & 20% expert
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.
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.
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!
Only a 25-minute drive from downtown Queenstown, this mountain has it all. Plus the added benefit of night skiing Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
· 2 Terrain parks
· 1649M highest point, 481M vertical drop
· 280 hectares – 32% beginner, 41% intermediate, 27% advanced
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.
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.
Hire on the mountain or skip the queues and sort it all in town. See The Remarkables for further rental information.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.