Category Archives: Events & Activities
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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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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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.
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It’s Wanaka for us any day of the year. Wanaka is a four seasons kind of place with a shift in focus - equally as spectacular - every season. It’s a popular place to visit and is on every tourists ‘Must See’ list.
So whether it be summer sailing on the lake or hitting the slopes during winter that takes your fancy, take a read below of our tried and tested guide to Wanaka - it’s natural beauty, attractions, activities, dining and nightlife.
At 45 km in length and 193 Square Km, Lake Wanaka is visual perfection; surrounded by the mountains, quaint Lake Wanaka Township and sheep stations. These crystal clear waters and surrounds are a haven for young and old. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to getting the most out of the lake, with kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, wakeboarding, sailing, mountain biking, hiking, you name it. The friendly team at the Wanaka iSite knows all there is to do on the lake and where to go, so make this one of your first stops!
Hikes & Walks
It’s as if Wanaka was created with walking in mind – with tracks to cater to all fitness levels and abilities, from short strolls around the lake, dog friendly walks, wheelchair access trails, all the way through to serious hiking. Popular half-day walking highlights include – Mt Iron Track and Roys Peak Track.
Nearby Mt Aspiring National Park is a World Heritage Area that attracts hikers from around the world. The gritty remoteness of this area combined with the mountains, valleys, rivers and scenery will make sure it will be a hike you’ll never forget. Varying levels of hiking tracks and lengths are available, with the well-known ones being - Gillespie Pass Circuit, the Wilkin Valley, Aspiring Hut, Rob Roy Track, Liverpool Bivy and Cascade Saddle.
Wanaka is also part of the length of New Zealand walking route AKA Te Araroa (The Long Pathway) that travels from Cape Reinga to Bluff – make Wanaka an overnight stopover.
Come winter, Wanaka is the ideal base for skiers and boarders. From beginners through to seasoned skiers and heli-skiers, take your pick of Cardrona, Treble Cone or Snow Farm, or try all three. It’s arguably the best skiing in New Zealand and sees people coming back year after year for more. The ski season finds Wanaka pumping both on and off the slopes.
Family Friendly Activities
Cinema Paradiso – It’s about as quirky as it gets with a selection of comfy couches, various seating options and even an old Morris Minor! Grab your spot and treat of choice – the homemade cookies and ice cream are hard to ignore. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the latest movie in style!
Puzzling World- Making the weird and wonderful seem perfectly normal, that’s what it’s all about! Fulfill your inner child (or take your own) with rooms of illusions, crazy houses and one heck of a maze; enjoy this whacky trip into wonderland.
Wanaka Lavender Farm - A walk through these fragrant purple fields is like nothing else. After taking your time strolling around the farm, try a cup of lavender tea, some lavender ice cream or check out the health benefits from the many products produced on the farm.
Wanaka’s a small town packed with world-class dining options.
Restaurants – The restaurant selection and quality is quite frankly staggering. Some of our Bella Vista head office favourites are: Big Fig, Luggate Hotel, Mazunga and The Spice Room. But heck, they’re all great!! With cuisine and dining styles galore there’s no shortage on choice here.
Cafes – Wanaka takes its coffee and café culture very seriously and because of this you’ll find it hard to go wrong. Try Fedeli, Double Black and Alchemy for your caffeine fix.
Bars & Nightlife. Lake views, open fires, atmosphere and dancing – tick every box you need? You’ll no doubt hear about the places to go when you’re down here, but depending on your mood checkout: Wineglass Café, Trout Bar or Gin & Raspberry.
Wanaka accommodation can book out fast, especially over the ski season and height of summer. So start thinking about when you would like to head our way and call Tom & Melissa who will help you sort everything you need.
Bella Vista Motel Wanaka is the perfect home away from home. Its central location sees you only 150m from Lake Wanaka and a minute’s walk to town. It is Qualmark 4 star endorsed, with free wifi and plenty of parking, which means you can relax and enjoy your stay. Give us a call today - we'd love to host you.
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Bungy Jumping, Queenstown Hill, Shotover River, Coronet Peak, Ziptrek, Canyon Swing, Fergburger, Gibbston Valley, the list literally goes on and on.
If you’re after a memorable trip, something more than just your average weekend away, then Queenstown is your place. With its picture-perfect setting, breath-taking views, combined with fun and adventure all year round, it’s a hard place to fault. Queenstown was recently voted the 2017 Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Award as the Number One place to visit in New Zealand for the second year in a row, and when you join us down here you’ll see why.
One blog post is never going to do Queenstown justice, there’s just so much to see and do. So take a read below and see just a few of the ways to pass your time in Queenstown - Staying of course at the modern and comfortable Bella Vista Motel Queenstown.
Being the adventure capital of the world we thought here was a good starting point.
AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping
Kawarau Bridge, The Ledge or The Nevis, you’ll find yourself with sweaty palms, a racing heart and a feeling of “what am I thinking??” But the adrenaline kick you get in return is out of this world. So 3,2,1 lets bungy!!
Extreme speeds, 360-degree spins, and venturing into the narrow and spectacular canyons – are you sold yet? This jet boat ride dusts off the cobwebs for sure and gives you Queenstown from a different perspective. The Shotover Jet is the only jet boat operator permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons, you’ll be holding on tight for this one!
Ziptrek Ecotours, Queenstown Zipline Tour
One for the memory bank, see yourself flying down through the Queenstown forest on the world’s steepest tree-to-tree zipline. This 3-hour (or 2-hour option) adrenaline overload leaves from the top of Queenstown Gondola where you plunge the equivalent of 30 stories down. Now all you have to do is relax and take in the views of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown and the Remarkables mountain range.
Wining and Dining
The food and wine culture in Queenstown and surrounding areas is about as good as it gets.
Book into this highly respected and awarded winery for the Trust the Chef menu. Your taste buds will not be disappointed and the wine matches are spot on. It’s one of a kind and there’s nothing better than watching the world go by with a glass of Central Otago Pinot in hand.
Relax after a hard days sightseeing beside the roaring fire (either inside or out) and taking in the lake views. Botswana Butchery is one of Queenstown’s most stylish and well-respected restaurants and the food and wine selection is top class. Book this one in for sure!
Ok so it’s not 5 star Michelin, but it’s about as Queenstown as it gets. This burger bar that started life as a hole in the wall joint, has a cult like following with nightly queues down the road. Burger choices include: The Codfather, Cockadoodle Oink and Sweet Bambi. DO NOT leave town without trying out one of their burgers.
Now, you said you wanted to see the sights– where shall we start? Everywhere you look it’s like a postcard. Simply breathtaking.
Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant
Located an easy walk from town, this spot hands down has the best views in town. Take your seat on the gondola and while you’re there pat yourself on the back for making it down to Queenstown. Once you’ve reached the top the world is your oyster: choose to dine at the Stratosfare Restaurant for lunch or dinner, enjoy a Kiwi Haka Maori Cultural performance, luge your way back down, bring your mountain bike and explore or try star gazing at night.
A serious time waster (as in you could waste away the day staring at the stunning views). The Maori Legend of Lake Wakatipu involves love, a hero and murder, creating the gorgeous lake, as we know it today.
The heart and soul of Queenstown is Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by its beautiful snow capped mountains. It’s often the meeting place for visitors to gather, whether it is for lakeside dining, a morning walk, the TSS Earnslaw, a spot of fishing or even a semi-submerged shark.
Milford Sound Day Tip
We couldn’t write this blog without highlighting the Milford Sound day trip that many visitors to Queenstown partake in. Renowned for being one of the most stunning wilderness regions in the Sothern Hemisphere, Milford Sound is located in the Fiordland National Park. Impressive whatever the weather (in fact the rain can help magnify the visual effects), take in the peaks, cliffs, waterfalls - some up to 1000m and surrounds. Boat Cruises are a popular way to experience Milford Sound where you will learn all the information, history, myths and legends to do with this popular spot.
Skiing The Remarkables, Cardrona, Treble Cone or Coronet Peak is a feeling like nothing else. With the ski season nearly upon us, stay tuned for a ski Queenstown feature. Telling you all you need to know plus all those hidden secrets only the locals know about.
On the main road to Arrowtown from Queenstown there is a beautiful smaller lake called Lake Hayes, which on a still day will offer you endless photographic opportunities - the calm water silently reflecting the surrounding mountains. Another picture postcard view, Lake Hayes is a popular stop for budding photographers and a very popular wedding venue. Have a look at this picture below and you'll know what we mean.
There are many Queenstown accommodation options available; however being one of the closest motels to central Queenstown gives Bella Vista Motel Queenstown the edge. This Queenstown motel is only a flat 5 minute walk from everywhere you need to be and with ample parking! Let Lee, Rachel and the team take care of you and all your accommodation needs.
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What’s not to love about Nelson? Longer sunshine hours, lower than average rainfall, friendly vibe and laid-back locals. Nelson is one of the true gems of the South Island and should not to be missed!
Annually Nelson sees big numbers come through the region - in excess of 1.4 million guest nights in 2016. Although these numbers are staggering, Nelson does it with grace and ease. Always managing to keep its unique charm at the forefront.
It’s a magnificent place to visit all year round with its appeal reaching far and wide. The art scene is one of the best in New Zealand, with many artists: painters, sculptors, potters and artisans calling Nelson home. While nature lovers and adventurist's have options aplenty, from Seal colonies, bird sanctuaries and of course, Nelson’s trump card, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.
We’ve decided to take all the hard work out of planning a trip to Nelson for you. Researching high and low, scouring Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, you name it to find for you the best of the best (well Bella Vista's guide anyway). So here goes:
World of Wearable Arts & Classic Cars Museum. A collection showcasing everything brilliant in wearable arts, including award winning garments from the high profile World of Wearable Arts competition, alongside a prized collection of classic cars. Male, female, young and old – everyone loves this place.
Best Short Walk:
The Centre of New Zealand. One of New Zealand’s most popular walks; taking you literally to the Centre of New Zealand! Its location on Botanical Hill is a 20 – 60 minute walk depending on your fitness level. It’s well worth the exercise though as the views of the Nelson area and beyond are stunning.
Tahunanui Beach. A beautiful beach and great place to sit back, relax and watch the world go by. If you’re partial to a spot of swimming, beach walking, paddle boarding or wind surfing, then this one’s for you. And guess what, Bella Vista Nelson is but a short stroll from the beachfront!
Queen’s Gardens. Dating back to 1892 and registered as a New Zealand historic place, Queen’s Gardens are a place of true beauty and tranquility in the heart of Nelson City. Listed as a Classical Victorian Ornamental Park, take your time and enjoy the park’s sculptures, the Cupid Fountain, the Water Wheel, the Boer War memorial, plus much more.
Nelson Market. This iconic market is open Saturdays from 8am–1pm and located in Montgomery Square. Nelson Market showcase's everything special about this region including: local food & produce, gifts, arts & crafts and talented artisans. Message to those first timers- don’t fill up on breakfast prior to visiting, as the food on offer is top class (and so is the coffee).
Best Art Stop:
This was a hard one to pick, with over 300 living artists based in the Nelson area but we've gone with Hoglund Art Glassblowing Studio where world renowned glass artists Ola and Marie Hoglund open their doors and welcome visitors to their glassblowing studio and gallery. You’ll be the epitome of restraint if you manage to leave without your very own glass platter, paperweight, jewellery or vase.
And here's some of the best bits which are slightly further afield, but absolutely not to be missed:
Best Outdoor Adventure:
Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman will wow you around every corner, native tree and rock, it’s a popular destination for those exploring both by foot and by kayak. The coastal wildlife, pristine beaches and native bush, flora & fauna provide so many photo opportunities, you’ll want to make sure you’ve allowed a good amount of time here! Nelson is the perfect base for exploring the Abel Tasman; in fact the majority of people will add on a day either side.
Best ‘Wild Card’ Location:
Farewell Spit & Puponga Farm Park. The northern most point of the South Island is just begging to be explored. This off the beaten track experience is famous for its bird sanctuary (with over 90 bird species recorded), historic lighthouse, pa sites, the seals and rock formations.
Looking for Nelson accommodation options? Bella Vista Motel Nelson ticks all the boxes, plus more. Its location is a stroll away from the beautiful Tahuna Beach and an easy drive into town, restaurants and activities. Your friendly hosts Bruce and Nadine will treat you like long lost friends and they will go out of their way to help you with your Nelson exploring. The modern, purpose built Nelson Bella Vista has everything you need, meaning you can truly relax and breath in that good old Nelson fresh air.
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This was certainly a hard task to undertake...Seek out some fabulous spots for lunching in Napier and the Hawke’s Bay Region. We certainly didn’t need to be asked twice!
Before the boss could blink; bags were packed, wine maps were downloaded and we were heading to one of the most beautiful places on earth – The Bay.
Being the oldest and second largest wine region in New Zealand you know you’re in for a quality wine experience when visiting Hawke’s Bay. For lovers of Merlot Cabernet blends, Syrah and Chardonnay, you’ll struggle to find many better, and those more partial to the other varietals there is certainly an abundance on offer. But alas, this task was to share some of our top lunch spots - so it’s not all swirl and spit I promise!
Whilst we were spoilt for choice, with 72 wineries in the region, as the title states we identified five that really stood out to us. We were looking for: beautiful presentation, quality local and fresh produce & foods, gorgeous taste combinations, and fabulous locations. Here’s what we came up with:
We had to start with the winner of the Hospitality Awards Hawke's Bay 2016 Outstanding Winery Restaurant, Mission Estate. Located in the Taradale hills, the views over Napier city and beyond will blow your mind. The building, its location and the overall feel are pretty hard to beat and so was the food.
Eating lunch on the outdoor dining terrace was one of the highlights of our trip with the waiting staff all trained to provide the best wine match option for each dish on the menu, it really is a winery sent from heaven.
Needing to be wowed? Then Elephant Hill is just the winery to do it. With a setting amongst the vines on the Te Awanga coast, the views of the Pacific Ocean and the Kidnapper Cliffs will quite simply take your breath away. Think fine dining with a truly inspired menu, Elephant Hill will not disappoint if you are looking for something really special.
Lunch was casual, relaxed and eaten out on the courtyard under a canopy of grapes. The menu, as promised was light, fresh and delicious, using locally sourced food and produce. Black Barn stole our hearts, so much so we really didn’t want to leave. There’s something here for everyone including those stopping for coffee or nibbling from the small bites menu.
With a nod towards Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours, lunch at Te Awa is all about the experience. Sharing dishes (allowing you just the right amount of many delicious options) is the perfect way to enjoy a long Sunday lunch with friends and family, with small plates, large plates, garden plates and charcuterie boards on offer. Te Awa was a memorable occasion and seated outdoors it is a great option if dining with kids.
The fact each dish from entrée through to dessert came with a suggested wine match, we knew we’d found the right place. Making the most of their kitchen garden and potager, the food was fresh, honest and tasted divine. I can confidently suggest the fish was the best I’ve ever eaten.
The ideal spot for accommodation while checking out the Hawke’s Bay wineries is in Napier. With the restaurants, cafes, shopping, and art deco right on your doorstep. It makes it all so easy.
Bella Vista Motel Napier is a great Napier accommodation option, conveniently located on Hastings Street, which runs parallel to Marine Parade. They have plenty of safe parking, so you can leave your car and cycle or wine taxi around the vineyards. It’s time to get out there and experience all that the Hawke’s Bay wineries have to offer – we did and we loved it! Thanks Bella Vista Napier for hosting us.
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While discussing recently with a friend the joy that is the weekend escape – what it does for the soul, relationships/friendships and not to mention our appreciation of NZ - we started throwing around destinations for ‘our ultimate weekend get away’. Whilst we are spoilt for choice on locations in our beautiful country, we came to the conclusion that it’s hard to go past the best little capital, Wellington.
Whether it’s for the arts, restaurant culture, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa or one of the many events that Wellington hosts, the capital city ticks all the boxes!
Wellington is easy to explore by vehicle or foot, set around the picturesque Wellington Waterfront, all you need for a great stay is within close proximity. The vibrant feel to this city is obvious as soon as you head out for a stroll, with its sophistication, quirky corners and cosmopolitan mix of cafes, restaurants, bars. Wellington very rarely disappoints.
Wellington offers something for everyone; with so many highlights the weekend is often not long enough. Here’s a list of what we thought were some of the must sees!
- The Beehive & Parliament Buildings – NZ’s Parliament buildings.
- Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand.
- Wellington Cable Car – A fun trip onboard a cable car running between Lambton Quay (the main shopping street) and Kelburn.
- Wellington Waterfront – The heart of Wellington City. Beautiful to stroll and watch the world go by.
- Weta Studios – Your tour of filmmaking in Wellington over the last 20 years. From Middle-earth and beyond – check out their talent!
- Old St Paul’s – A gorgeous wooden cathedral built in 1865 – a holy and welcoming building in the heart of Wellington City.
Looking for something a bit different:
- Wrights Hill Fortress – A surreal network of underground tunnels, operation rooms and three gun emplacements.
- Old Bank Arcade Animated Musical Clock – Housed in a historic shopping center (that used to be an old bank headquarters) the centerpiece is an animated mechanical musical clock that opens each hour to reveal scenes of Wellington harbor’s past and present.
- Wellington Writers Walk - combining a walk along Wellington’s waterfront with thought provoking quotations from some of New Zealand’s best-known writers.
- Zelandia Sanctuary – The world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, a groundbreaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, 6 of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years.
- Walk to Red Rocks (Seal Colony) - An easy half day coastal walk to Red Rocks and a fur seal colony on the south side of Wellington.
- Kapiti Island Nature Tours – A bird sanctuary and one of New Zealand’s most accessible nature reserves. A truly unique visitor accessed by approved tour operators only.
Accommodation in Wellington:
Finding Wellington accommodation can sometimes be a challenging prospect, with many accommodation styles and levels available. While many people opt to stay in the hustle and bustle of the central city, choosing a Wellington motel is a fantastic option as it provides a quieter location with a bit more space to relax.
The Bella Vista Wellington is a great spot for your next Wellington escape, in beautiful Evans Bay only minutes by car to everything you need: Wellington Airport, Wellington Waterfront, Te Papa, Ferry Terminal and Westpac Stadium. Plus it has ample safe parking, avoiding those parking issues of Wellington central city.
Give us a call at Bella Vista Motel Wellington and Richard and Christine will be happy to discuss your Wellington accommodation needs.
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A quick review of 'Things to Do' on Trip Advisor for the Southland city of Invercargill highlights Bill Richardson's Transport World at a very credible #2*. Opening as recently as December 2015, the attraction has already accrued over 250 reviews, with 85% awarding the attraction an Excellent 5 star rating. Boasting New Zealand's largest world class collection of trucks, cars and other heritage motor vehicles, clearly this is the place to be when you're visiting.
If Bill Richardson's Transport World isn't spectacular enough, late last year, a new and amazing development took place.
Classic Motorcycle Mecca comes to Town
Situated in the inner city on Tay Street, the collection is home to nearly 300 motorcycles and motorcycle focused art. The collection ranges from a 1902 Peugeot motorcycle to a 21st Century Corbin Custom, plus brands such as AJS, Ariel, BMW, Brough Superior, Harley Davidson, Henderson, Indian, Matchless and Rudge.
Along with this amazing display, there is a cafe called "Meccaespresso" with food and decor being completely different to what is served at the celebrated Grille at Transport World.
Along with other city attractions and sights such as the Stadium Southland, Invercargill Velodrome, Southland Museum & Art Gallery, Queens Park just to mention a few, both Bill Richardson locations are world class.
Ladies, you might not think this is for you, but like Transport World it is ultra amazing. Regardless, if you have never visited Invercargill, you have a strong reason to now. You will not be disappointed!
Bella Vista Motel Invercargill is a perfect location to base yourself during your stay and as far as Invercargill accommodation rates, it is up there amongst the best options. Enjoy your choice of four different room types in this modern Invercargill motel.
* The number one rate attraction in Invercargill is E Hayes & Son which displays The World's Fastest Indian or Burt Munro fame. But that's another story.
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Thinking of heading to Christchurch? Here's a rundown as to how to spend two days in the celebrated Garden City with Christchurch Bella Vista Motel & Apartments.
Upon arrival at Christchurch Airport, make sure you pick up a rental car to make the most of the region and the city.It takes about 30 minutes to drive from the airport to the central city. Bella Vista Christchurch is on Bealey Avenue well placed to explore both the City and surrounds. There are many attractions within walking distance and Bella Vista offers free on-site car parking.
In the evening you could check out events at the Isaac Theatre Royal and catch a touring musician, comedian or performer. This heritage venue reopened in late 2014 and the rebuild of the interior stayed true to what it looked like prior to the infamous 2011 earthquake.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens comprise of 30 hectares and are an enjoyable way to spend some time amongst the native and exotic plants. There are plenty of walks through the gardens which are bordered by the Avon River and Hagley Park. Spring is a great time to take in the Daffodil Woodland in full bloom. Also check out the Visitor Centre which opened in 2014 and is a visually interesting multipurpose space inspired by glasshouses.
Punting on the Avon is next up. You can follow the river through the Botanic Gardens or through the City. The 30 minute round trip on a locally made wooden punt comes with commentary from an Edwardian themed punter. The Botanic Gardens route launches from the Antigua Boat Sheds, 2 Cambridge Terrace, which have been beside the Avon River since 1882. The sheds, which are Category 1 historic buildings, survived a fire in 1907, as well as the 2010/11 earthquakes. Inside you will find some old time memorabilia including a line-up of blazers that have been collected over time from local high schools. This is also the place to hire a kayak, row boat, or Canadian canoe if you want to navigate the river yourself.
The afternoon may be a good time to drive out to the suburb of Woolston for some lunch and retail therapy. The Tannery, 3 Garlands Road, is a boutique shopping and dining destination. With a focus on recyclable and renewable materials, brickwork that was damaged in the February 22, 2011 earthquake has been restored as a façade on the rebuilt buildings. There is an emphasis on local products here. Try the award-winning Cassels & Sons craft beer at The Brewery. If wine is more your thing, neighbouring Gustav’s Kitchen & Wine Bar has one of the largest wine lists in the Country.
The Woolston area has a connection to the arts. Kiwi reggae band Salmonella Dub recorded an album here; other musicians have used The Tannery for album launches.
Then head for the Port Hills and take a gondola (cable car) ride, 10 Bridle Path Road, to the top. From almost 500 metres above sea level, you will see Canterbury laid out before your eyes. Look out at the Southern Alps, Banks Peninsula, Lake Ellesmere, Lyttelton Harbour, Pegasus Bay, the Pacific Ocean and Kaikoura Peninsula.
For an evening meal make your way towards the area around Victoria and Madras streets and Worcester Boulevard and within that area you will find plenty of dining and bar options for a night out.
After a good nights sleep at the Bella Vista ease into the day with a walk through The Commons, on the corner of Kilmore and Durham Streets. The vacant lot is a hub of transitional activity and home to the Downtown Farmers Market.
A car trip to New Brighton is interesting. The New Brighton Pier is the biggest ocean pier in Australasia. After that, the Southern Pegasus Bay track takes you along most of the shoreline in both directions and offers up many photograph opportunities.
The Beach Cafe, on the corner of Beach and Broadpark roads is a buzzing neighbourhood that is a great spot to refuel.
Back in the CBD, the transitional work is worth a look. The Transitional Cardboard Cathedral constructed on the site of the former St John’s Latimer Square Anglican Church and the ReStart Mall, made from shipping containers are two examples of the innovative ways Christchurch is moving forward.
Then take a look at the Christchurch Art Gallery in Worcester Boulevard where the city’s latest public artwork has been installed. The 46 metre long work was created for the city by the prestigious British artist Martin Creed and tells one and all, in neon letters more than metre tall, that everything is going to be alright.
With 23 motel or apartment units, Bella Vista Christchurch is a four star Qualmark endorsed motel offering quality and convenience. We look forward to your stay!
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The Ashburton Aviation Museum is well worth a visit during your stay at Bella Vista Ashburton and located at the Ashburton Airport. This is a great activity and is well worth the visit no matter the weather.
Ashburton has a strong aviation history, being a training base in World War 2. At that time, there were 50 Tiger Moths based there. The original tarmac and tie-down rings are still there to this day which helped to secure the planes from Mid Canterbury’s strong nor-west winds.
There are over 20 aircraft on display in the Two Museum Buildings and more in the work shop. These include Devon, Vampire FB5, Harvard, Porterfield, Airtruk, Benson Gyro Glider, Weihe Glider, Hughes Helicopter, Olympia, Flying Flea, Harrier GR3, Canberra B2 Bomber Cockpit. F8 - Meteor, Zlin, DC3, Vampire T11, Link Trainer, Slingsby T31, Bergfalke, Cropmaster, Tiger Moth. The museum is also home to the Southern DC3 Trusts Historic Airliner ZK AMY. The latest acquisition is a Thompson Refueller, one of only 9 on display worldwide.
The museum is open to the public every day everyday between 1pm and 3pm. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10:30am to 3pm. Entry is $10 per adult, children are free.
Bella Vista Motel Ashburton’s recommendation is on a nice day, bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after you explore the Museum. Pending the weather, you may be able to watch other planes take off and land and skydivers landing. A picnic table is there to enjoy, please ensure you take your rubbish away when you leave.
For more information about Mid Canterbury, Ashburton accommodation or additional recommendations on activities while in the area, please contact [email protected] or 03 307 7505 today. Bella Vista is a four star quality Ashburton motel situated only five minutes from Ashburton town centre and five minutes from the aviation museum.