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Bella Vista's Blog

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!  


The best things to do in Palmerston North

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Palmerston North is a great place to visit. The 8th biggest city in New Zealand has a modest population of
around 88,000 so it’s not too busy, it’s easy to navigate and there’s a great mix of cultural, sporting and
outdoor activities to be found. As far as Palmerston North attractions go, there is far more to explore than
just the famous clock tower! As proud local residents, we’ve listed our top Palmerston North things to do to
help you plan your stay here.

Te Manawa Museum, Gallery and Science Centre
Situated in the heart of Palmerston North, Te Manawa museum celebrates art, science and heritage
through its exhibitions, gallery and interactive family activities. Open daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm, Te
Manawa offers something for everyone and often has international exhibitions on display—making it one of
the best things to do in Palmerston North for all ages. Art-lovers will adore browsing the gallery and its
collection of spellbinding photography, painting and other crafts by New Zealand and international artists.
And kids will be captivated by the many hands-on activities that introduce them to elements of science in a
fun and engaging way—water play, digging for fossils and more. No matter what your age or interests, Te
Manawa is a great place to kill a few hours—and it’s only a 15-minute walk from our Palmerston North


Victoria Esplanade gardens
Looking for free things to do in Palmerston North? The 26-hectare Victoria Esplanade is easily Palmerston
North’s biggest and best park. It includes an incredible playground, paddling pool and wildlife recovery
centre—but one of the Esplanade’s biggest drawcards by far is its spectacular gardens. The colourful
Dugald MacKenzie Rose Garden features upwards of 5000 roses in hundreds of different varieties.
Whatever your favourite colour or class, you’re to find it here! Grab a pamphlet online and weave your way
around the different beds, picking out your fresia from your diamonds forever. Visiting Palmerston North
during the winter? The roses are only in full bloom from November to May, but the camellias mean the
gardens are still worthy of a visit over the winter months.


Gorge walk
This one’s a bit outside of Palmerston North but if you love walking and wildlife and you’re in search of
Palmerston North things to do, you must make the short trip to complete the Manawatu Gorge Track! The
closest entrance to the 11.2km track is in Ashurst, about 20-minutes drive from Palmerston North. The
track climbs upwards and follows the gorge through native forest towards the town of Woodville, offering
breathtaking views of the Manawatu river below and the dramatic wind turbines that sit atop the ranges. If
you don’t have a few hours to spare or you can’t arrange transport to meet you at the other end of the track,
a shorter 4km loop can be accessed from the Ashurst end. Whatever your choice, you’ll love the fresh air
and natural beauty you’ll discover on the gorge walk.

New Zealand Rugby Museum
Ok sports fans, listen up… Palmerston North has you covered! The New Zealand Rugby Museum is
something special that you won’t find in any other part of our footy-mad country. Learn about the history of
rugby in New Zealand, hear the stories from past players and see the incredible collection of memorabilia
that dates back to 1870. As far as Palmerston North attractions go, this is one of the best. There’s also an
interactive space too with a scrum machine, tackle bags and sprint timer—the perfect place to show off
your skills or see if you’ve still got it! The New Zealand Rugby Museum is open to the public for a small
entry fee from 10.00am-4.00pm daily.



Family fun in Palmerston North

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Travelling with children can often be a challenge, especially if you’re not sure how you’re going to entertain
them for days on end! But rest assured, there are plenty of fun things to do in Palmerston North that will
absolutely delight children and probably put smiles on the faces of adults too. Read on to discover the four
best kids activities in Palmerston North that have been frequently tried, tested and given the big ‘thumbs up’
by our youngest guests…

Lido Aquatic Centre
The Lido Aquatic Centre is one of the best kids activities in Palmerston North for water babies! The indoor
hydroslides and outdoor water park (closed during winter) will have children entertained for hours. There’s
a lazy river, inflatable toys and diving pool, and a café available with a range of hot and cold food options. If
you’re really organised, you can even bring in your own food for a picnic or to cook up on the BBQ. Kids
keen but you’re not sure if it’s quite swimming weather? The indoor pools are heated, and there’s also a
spa and sauna available if you’re really feeling the chill.


Cloud 9
Cloud 9 trampoline park is a one of the ultimate fun things to do in Palmerston North, and it’s a great one
for those dreaded rainy days! All ages are welcome here—there’s a special toddler and baby play are, a
zone for under fives and a full-size Olympic trampoline for the big kids. Parents and caregivers love Cloud 9
because they can sit back and enjoy a coffee with a view of the entire park while they watch the children
burn some serious energy. It’s not just trampolines here either—there’s a ninja assault course, climbing
wall, rolling log, tumble tracks and an arcade too!


Victoria Esplanade
Looking for free things to do in Palmerston North? There are so many activities on offer at the Esplanade,
we’re not quite sure where to start! You could easily bring a picnic and set up here for a full day of family
fun. Begin at the enormous playground which caters wonderfully for kids for all ages, then take the wheels
over to the junior road safety park and watch the children pedal or scoot their away around the miniature
road, learning about road rules and safety as they go. If it’s a hot day, make your way to the paddling pool
and let the children cool off while you sit and enjoy the colourful surrounding gardens. Then finish your
esplanade experience with a ride through the grounds on the scenic miniature railway.

Robertson Holden International Speedway
Kids activities in Palmerston North aren’t that hard to find, but this one is a real novelty for those into cars,
noise and dirt! The speedway season runs from October to April and races start from about 6.30pm on
Saturday nights. Watch a range of different stock cars scream their way around the track in spectacular
fashion, skidding, sliding and squeezing their way through the pack to be crowned the winner of their race.
If you’re lucky there might also be a demolition derby on the night—where the last car standing is the
winner! Crashing is encouraged, so watching this is a real blast for the kids. No matter what’s on the
program, we recommend bringing earmuffs for the little ones… To say it gets loud is an understatement!


The four best places to eat Wellington on a budget

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Whatever your reason for travelling to Wellington, you simply must find the time to enjoy some of our city’s fabulous eateries. The range of cuisine is nothing short of impressive and there’s no need to fork out hundreds of dollars for the privilege of enjoying a good meal. We think we’ve got a pretty good handle on some of the best places to eat in Wellington, so here are our top five picks for when you’re dining on a budget… 

Little Penang, Victoria Street 

Little Penang on Victoria Street in Wellington city is incredibly popular. This unassuming little eatery pops up on all the lists of the best cheap eats in Wellington and it has hundreds of five-star reviews on Tripadvisor. The cuisine is Malaysian, so the menu features lots of noodle and rice dishes with all your favourites like laksa, mee goreng and roti on the side. And if you’re hoping to try something different, give one of the curries a go! They’re all either chicken or vegetable based, simmered in tasty Malaysian spices and you can choose from mild, medium or spicy… This is one of the best restaurants in Wellington for those on a budget and it’s the type of food that’s good for lunch or dinner any day of the week. (Don’t go on a Sunday though—they’re usually closed). 


Lucky Chicken, Courtenay Place 

Looking for fast food that’s a tier above all your usual haunts? Lucky Chicken is the place for you! It’s conveniently located on Courtenay Place which means it’s ideal for a quick bite if you’re on your way to or from an event in the city. The menu is small—but what they do here, they do very well. And what is it that they do, you ask? Burgers, fries and popcorn fried chicken. That’s it! It’s a no-fuss kind of establishment offering cheap eats in Wellington and it’s open every day for lunch and dinner. Do yourself a favour and drop in! 

1154 Pasataria, Cuba St 

OK pasta fiends, listen up… This Cuba Street gem is none of the best restaurants in Wellington if you love Italian! You won’t find a better pasta in this price range in our fair city. 1154 (Eleven Fifty-Four) Pasataria make all their pasta in-house daily, they use super fresh ingredients and there are some surprising combinations on the menu in addition to your trusty favourites. If you can’t decide what to pick (we have that trouble too!), their Instagram is full of mouth-watering, aesthetically pleasing photos of pasta plated to perfection… Good luck! 


Greta Point Café, Hataitai 

We just had to throw a breakfast option in—and we’re lucky enough to have Greta Point Café just down the road from our Wellington motel on Evans Bay Parade. Places to eat in Wellington that boast water views are always popular—and even better if the service and food is equally impressive! If you’re craving an eggs benedict or searching for good coffee, Greta Point Café has you sorted. From Bella Vista Motel Wellington, it’ll only take you three minutes to walk here, so with all that time you save you can top off your meal with another coffee or a sweet treat from the cabinet… We recommend the carrot cake! 


The top things to do in Wellington

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Whether you’re looking for family fun in Wellington, a cultural experience or an opportunity to get out and about in nature, you’ll find there’s plenty to do in the windy city… There’s culture, cuisine and adventures for all ages, and a long list of both paid and free things to do in Wellington. So what are our top four suggestions? Read on to find out!


Te Papa

Te Papa is one of the most popular things to do in winter in Wellington – you could just about fill in a whole day at this amazing place! The Museum of New Zealand is open every day from 10am to 6pm (except Christmas Day) and admission is free for everyone. So what is there to see and do here? You can see the only colossal squid on display anywhere in the world, delve underground to explore the innovative technology that keeps our modern buildings safe during earthquakes and immerse yourself in New Zealand’s natural environment, where children can dig for fossils and marvel at luminous glow worms.These experiences are all permanent – but there are also some famous exhibitions that make their way to Wellington for a stint at Te Papa for a limited time—think modern art, light installations and fascinating collections of goods, memorabilia and artefacts. Some of these exhibitions have costs associated but they’re in no way essential viewing—Te Papa is widely known as one of the best free things to do in Wellington with fun for the whole family.



Zealandia is described as an ecosanctuary in the heart of Wellington. It’s a picturesque, 225 hectare space in the suburb of Karori where you can see some of Aotearoa’s most special wildlife thrive in a lush and open setting. There are a range of private tours and group walks available—you can see the nocturnal species that only emerge at night or experience the sounds of the birds that sing as the sun goes down. What might you see? Well, the elusive Kiwi for one! And also the Tuatara, Kaka, Takehe, Weta and more native trees and plants than you’ll find anywhere else this close to the city (just a ten minute drive from the CBD, to be exact!) There are 32 kilometres of walking tracks so it’s a great place to take the kids to burn some energy too. Another great option for family fun in Wellington!


Cable Car

This one is mainly for the kids… But we bet you adults will enjoy it too! The little red carriage runs up and down the Wellington hillside from Lambton Quay up to the suburb of Kelburn. It’s family fun in Wellington that’s available rain or shine! Grab return tickets and jump off at each of the four stations if you wish—or  just take the cable car straight to the top and explore the shops and museums that sit atop the Hill. The Cable Car Museum will teach you all about how the Wellington icon has evolved since it was first introduced in 1902. And the Cable Top Eatery boasts an impressive view and a bright, sunny deck to take it all in while you enjoy your coffee, cocktails, brunch or dinner. There’s locally-made gelato, handmade pizzas and often live music too. Kids will love the novelty of the cable car experience, gliding high above buildings and among treetops with glimpses of glorious Wellington Harbour below.


Weta Cave Workshop

Ever wondered just how the most mind-blowing special effects are created? We’re lucky enough to have the world-renowned Weta Workshop here in Wellington, and they’ve opened their doors to the public to reveal some of their secrets through a series of fun and informative tours! You can’t get inside the actual Weta Workshop, but these tours are as close as it gets to the real deal. Learn all about the memorable props, costumes and creatures that were created for hit films like The Lord of the Rings, and hear about the huge role miniature effects play in film-making magic. You can even check out the incredibly detailed miniatures that were created for Thunderbirds are Go and marvel at all the lifelike creations. This unique indoor activity is perfect for winter in Wellington and the Weta Cave is just over the other side of the bay in Miramar – less than a ten minute drive from our Wellington motel.

The best places to eat in Rotorua

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Rotorua is not really known for being a ‘foodie’ destination—but that’s just because we’re better known for our culture and natural beauty. It certainly doesn’t mean we’re lacking in the eatery department… In fact, we’ve got some really impressive restaurants that have built cult followings both locally and across New Zealand. If you’re wondering where best to go for a special occasion, a holiday night out or a wholesome family meal, read on for our picks of the five best places to eat in Rotorua.


Atticus Finch

If Atticus Finch sounds familiar, it could be because it’s also the name of the hero in famous novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Or maybe you’ve just overheard people constantly saying great things about this top Rotorua restaurant!  Atticus Finch describes its vibe as ‘speakeasy meets metropolitan bistro’. It’s fun, lively, unique and conveniently placed in Rotorua’s Eat Street—the go-to destination for those in search of a great meal and atmosphere to match. The food at Atticus Finch is designed to share, featuring tasty morsels like crispy mozzarella risotto balls and cauliflower and spinach bhaji fritters as well as larger plates like fennel salt crusted pork belly and dry style aubergine curry. Yum! Heralded as one of the best restaurants in Rotorua, Atticus Finch is definitely worth a visit!



El Mexicano Zapata

Another popular restaurant on Rotorua eat street, this Mexican cantina claims to be the best Mexican restaurant outside Mexico. A bold claim, yes, but you mightn’t find it such a push to believe once you’ve visited and tasted the delicious food. Open seven days a week, El Mexicano Zapata is currently rated the best restaurant in Rotorua on Tripadvisor. What’s popular? Pretty much everything! Chimichangas, empanadas, tacos, nachos and all our favourite little Mexican treats like jalapeno poppers, guacamole and churros. And diners don’t just rave about the food—but the service, music and margaritas always get a mention too. The menu here is quite substantial and everything is delicious, so don’t be surprised if you find yourselves returning for round two!



The Factory Smokehouse and Grill

The Factory Smokehouse and Grill is one of the best places to eat in Rotorua if value for money is what you seek! They serve up huge, juicy burgers, melt-in-your-mouth ribs, charred corn on the cob and tender wings with a huge choice of sauces. 98% of their menu is gluten-free and it’s clear they know a thing or two about catering to children too; the kids menu features dishes fittingly called the “I’m not hungry” and the “I don’t know.”


Devon Seafoods

Sometimes nothing beats a trusty serve of fish and chips, and we’re lucky enough to have one of New Zealand’s best fish and chip shops right here in Rotorua. As with many great takeaway restaurants, the Devon storefront is friendly and unassuming. The fish is fresh, the chips crisp and fluffy and there’s a great selection of burgers, toasties and other deep-fried foods too. Devon Seafoods is one of the best places to eat in Rotorua if you’re looking for something cheap, quick and delicious to take home and enjoy.


Skyline Stratosphere

Skyline Stratosphere Restaurant and Bar serves up breathtaking views alongside incredible food. Located on Mt Ngongotaha which is where you’ll find the gondola, luge and ziplines, the views from Stratosphere are epic at any time of day, whether you’re going for a nice long lunch or a romantic dinner above the lights of Rotorua. This is one of the best restaurants in Rotorua to celebrate a special occasion. There’s a dress code, which always makes dining feel a little bit more special, and you can pay extra when you make your booking to secure yourselves a table by the window. So what’s on the menu? Too much to list! It’s a buffet restaurant, so there are Asian dishes, salads, seafood, pasta dishes and so much more... You'll never leave dissatisfied with the quality or quantity of food at Stratosphere, and the ride to and from the restaurant on the gondola just adds to the excitement of experiencing one of the best places to eat in Rotorua.


The four best places to eat in Whangarei

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There are lots of great places to eat in Whangarei and we’ve got all the most popular cuisines covered—from Asian to modern European, burgers to banh mi. If you’ve burnt some energy checking out the Whangarei attractions and you’re looking for a good meal to recharge, try one of our four Whangarei restaurant recommendations below…


Suk Jai Thai Restaurant

Suk Jai Thai Restaurant is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Whangarei. It’s so good that it even received an award from the Thai Prime Minister for its quality and authenticity! The menu is extensive with curries, stir fries and rice dishes galore—and there are set menus and banquets too for those dining as a group. And the excellent food isn’t the only great thing about this Whangarei gem; the owners are a real hit with the locals thanks to their warm, friendly nature and service that exceeds expectations. If you only visit one restaurant in Whangarei while you’re here, make it this one!



Looking for ocean views with your beef carpaccio? Topsail sits in prime position in the suburb of Onerahi, near the Whangarei airport. Perched at the very end of the peninsula, Topsail overlooks the bay and offers an intimate, elegant dining experience to rival some of New Zealand’s top restaurants. Topsail is an excellent choice if you’re looking for places to eat in Whangarei that serve top-quality modern European cuisine with a carefully assembled wine list and service that can’t be faulted. Almost everything that can be made in-house has been created on site—breads, pates, terrines, chutneys, jams, sauces and dressings—and the eggs come from the owners’ chickens. Topsail is one of the best restaurants in Whangarei to watch the sunset over the harbour—make your booking now!



Fat Camel

If you haven’t had Israeli food before, you are missing out! But you’re also very lucky, because Fat Camel Café serves up some of the best middle-eastern food in Northland and there’s no better place to sample your very first dish than right here in Whangarei. Everything here packs a real flavour-punch.There are pita pockets packed with meat, salads and authentic Israeli spices; hot soups; plates with meat or vegetables and rice, hummus and sauces; and a dessert menu that will have you miraculously finding room for one more dish. Fat Camel is only a 13-minute walk away from our Whangarei motel, right in the middle of the city and easily accessible from most of the popular Whangarei attractions. It’s one of the best restaurants in Whangarei for a casual bite with friends.




Tonic is one of those restaurants where you think that you’ll probably just have a main, but end up devouring an entrée, main, sides, dessert and a couple of glasses of wine. It’s the menu that does it; it’s so hard to choose just one dish! And the intimate, cosy atmosphere makes you eager to settle in and extend your experience for as long as you can. The menus at Tonic change twice a year, but always offer a handful of equally-appetising choices. Choices like Spiced roasted pumpkin and coconut soup with crushed salted peanuts; Slow cooked masala lamb leg with fried shallots and kumara purée; and toffee crème brûlée with vanilla bean ice cream. Tonic has been one of the best restaurants in Whangarei for a couple of decades now, so it’s safe to say they know their stuff! Seats are limites here, so book early to avoid any disappointment.

The top family activities in Rotorua

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Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s very best family holiday destinations. There are so many activities for family fun in Rotorua, no matter how old your children are or where their interests lie. Here, you can create a holiday itinerary with the perfect balance of educational experiences, outdoor adventures, indoor games and journeys among nature. Not sure where to start? Check out our list of the top recommended Rotorua family activities below.


Try white water rafting

Got a water baby or two on your hands? You’re in luck, because there are plenty of water-centric activities on offer during summer as well as winter in Rotorua. And at the top of the list is white-water rafting! The Kaituna River, just 20 minutes from Rotorua, is renowned for white-water rafting. There are a number of waterfalls on the river including the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, the Tutea Falls, which loom at an epic—if slightly intimidating—7m high. This is ideal for older children who are keen to try something new. There is a minimum age of 10 years old for most Rotorua white water rafting adventures, and a minimum age of 13 for the grade five experiences, but it's one of the best things you can do to make new memories and enjoy wholesome family fun in Rotorua.



Explore Waimangu Volcanic Valley

A walk around Waimangu Volcanic Valley is one of the best cheap things to do in Rotorua. Simply stroll around the amazing geothermal park and check out the incredible natural wonders that abound, learning about the historical, cultural and environmental significance of the Valley and its countless natural treasures. There are many large bubbling pools to be found here including the aptly named Frying Pan Lake—one of the biggest hot water springs anywhere in the world. We highly recommend taking the boat cruise across the glorious Lake Rotomahana,  where you’ll learn about the eruption of Mt Tarawera—which formed Waimangu Volcanic Valley in 1886—and the history of the pink and white terraces which were covered by the devastating eruption. Entry to the park is free for children under 6 years of age.



Do ALL the things at Skyline Rotorua

If you’re taking your family on a Rotorua holiday, you’ve probably already put this one on the cards... A day out at Skyline Rotorua will be the highlight of the trip for the kids! There are so many activities to try: ride the gondola to the top of the mountain then race down again on the luge, scream through the sky above the forest at speeds of up to 60kmph attached to a zipline, or let yourself plummet towards the earth only to swing back up at the last second on the hair-raising skyswing. You can get a passes that let you try all the rides, or just pick and choose what you want to do when you get there. There are eateries on site for refreshments and there are alpacas and mini diggers to help entertain the littlies too. Family fun in Rotorua doesn’t come much better than this!



Spend a rainy day at Motion Entertainment

We all need an ‘inside’ day every now and then, whether it’s due to unruly weather or simply the need to recharge from expending so much energy on Rotorua’s amazing outdoor activities. Luckily, Motion Entertainment in Rotorua is the perfect answer to that inside day. The action-packed indoor entertainment centre is popular for winter in Rotorua, offering ten-pin bowling, laser tag, mini golf, a trampoline park, arcade, escape room and so much more! Whether you’re looking for cheap things to do in Rotorua or you’ve decided that money is no object for this inside day to remember, Motion Entertainment has something for all families.

The top culinary experiences in Wellington

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The top culinary experiences in Wellington

Wellington has hundreds of great restaurants, but sometimes a special occasion calls where you’re looking for not just a ‘nice meal’ but a unique culinary experience. Luckily, fine dining in Wellington isn’t hard to come by and there are new top restaurants in Wellington rising through the ranks all the time! We’ve listed a few options below for you to consider, covering all the most popular cuisines from Asian to seafood to perfectly seared steaks…



Dragonfly is described on its website as an Asian Dining Lounge. It’s delicious Asian food in a classy and moody setting; somewhere you’d go for a true gastronomic experience or to celebrate a special occasion. The Dragonfly décor has an authentic and distinctive feel. The reception desk is a Chinese antique and the walls are adorned with wooden masks, scrolls and other special treasures. If you love Asian food, this is one of the best places to eat in Wellington and you’ll have serious trouble choosing from the menu here! Like other top restaurants in Wellington, the dishes are split into small dishes, large dishes and sides, with all your favourite flavours presented in new and exciting ways… Think massaman spring rolls, coconut squid and wakanui beef short rib... And there’s a seriously mouth-watering selection of desserts on offer too, so make sure you save room!


Ortega Fish Shack

One of the best things about Ortega Fish Shack is that you never know exactly what’s going to be on the menu—but what you can be sure of is that it’ll be super fresh, expertly prepared and some of the best seafood you’ve ever tasted! Ortega Fish Shack is rated one of the top restaurants in Wellington. Located on Majoribanks Street, the restaurant has a cool and unpretentious feel about it. On the menu there is usually a light ceviche, a creamy risotto or pasta option and some hearty dishes to satisfy both the vegetarians and meat-eaters among us. Ortega Fish Shack is some of the best fine dining in Wellington and it’s done in such a way that you’ll be desperate to come back, with the staff and décor making you feel instantly at home.



Bellamy’s by Logan Brown

Fancy a bit of politician-spotting with your meal? Bellamy’s by Logan Brown is situated in a prime spot within Wellington’s famous Beehive. Previously reserved for exclusive use by parliamentarians, Bellamy’s has now opened its doors the public – but you’ll need to reserve your table well in advance! So other than its prime location on the third floor of the Beehive, what’s so special about Bellamy’s? Well, the restaurant has teamed up with the owners of Logan Brown – a long-time fine dining Wellington icon—to bring the public another opportunity to try its incredible modern New Zealand cuisine. The bistro menu is small but every single dish is perfectly balanced, cooked and seasoned. Everything on the menu is local, sustainable and ethical with a distinctly New Zealand feel.


Shepherd Restaurant

If we could use just a single word to describe Shepherd, we’d have to go with ‘yum’! Situated on Eva Street, Shepherd is just a 12 minute taxi ride from our Wellington motel. It’s fun, casual dining and one of the best places to eat in Wellington if you’re looking for good food, a funky vibe and perhaps a few drinks with friends. The Shepherd menu is divided into three main sections: beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t get much clearer than that! And our recommendation is not to scrimp and to enjoy a dish from each. To begin your meal you could enjoy smoked fish or grilled radicchio, in the middle try beef with eggplant mayo and salsa macha BBQ and at the end devour a chocolate tagine with coconut, passionfruit and smoked chilli. How does that sound? Just yum!


The five best restaurants in Palmerston North

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When you think of New Zealand cities that are renowned for their restaurants and eateries, Palmerston
North may not immediately jump to mind. But the city has a surprisingly diverse range of quality restaurants
and the food scene here is getting better and better. There are loads of great places to eat in Palmerston
North, but these five are our current favourites…

Nero has been a culinary favourite in Palmerston North for over two decades. The renowned restaurant is
set within a 200 year old building that has been tastefully modernised while celebrating its heritage charm.
On a nice day, we recommend dining al fresco in the gorgeous landscaped courtyard. The contemporary
European cuisine is beautifully prepared and presented and the service equally impressive. And trust us, t’s
worth going for a three course meal… The entrees, mains and desserts are all outstanding – it’s rated one
of the top restaurants in Palmerston North for good reason!


This Broadway Avenue restaurant serves up generous portions of mouth-watering Japanese cuisine.
Bookings are essential for the top restaurants in Palmerston North and often required weeks in advance—
but once you experience the food here at Haru it’s easy to understand why! Guests adore the plates and
platters, offering a selection of your favourite tasty morsels to satisfy your own hunger or to share with
friends – think sushi, chicken karaage, tempura, edamame and more. Like most Japanese restaurants,
Haru caters well to vegetarians and most items on the menu are available gluten free. As far as places to
eat in Palmerston North go, Haru has it all.

Little Savanna
Little Savanna is known for its BIG flavours! The flawless fusion of South African cuisine with New
Zealand’s freshest produce is something very special. Little Savanna prides itself on delivering the dining
‘trifecta’ – large portions of great food offered for a reasonable price, served within a comfortable yet
interesting setting with unbeatable service to boot. Little Savanna is probably not the best choice for
vegetarians—but meat lovers will be in their element! Stand-out dishes like Mozambique stew and flamegrilled
baby back pork ribs can be paired with sides like creamed spinach, potatoes or onion rings to
provide balance in both flavour and texture. You can also build your own platter before 6.00pm—so it’s one
of the best restaurants in Palmerston North for groups looking for somewhere unique to enjoy those hardearned
post-work drinks and nibbles.


Aberdeen proudly serves up some of the best steaks in Palmerston North: tender eye fillet, award-winning
scotch and oven-prepared rib fillet all cooked to perfection. It’s been one of the most popular places to eat
in Palmerston North for years, and one of the many great things about Aberdeen is the awesome selection
of accompaniments. Your side of potatoes can be prepared in one of five different ways, and you can
choose from ten different sauces and butters. And for those who aren’t big on steak, the mains menu has
plenty of other great dishes on offer, with all the popular proteins making an appearance. Aberdeen is great
for a date night, work dinner or catch up with friends. There are often specials on offer too – so make sure
you check their website before booking to snag yourself a bargain!


It’s another Japanese one but it’d be remiss of us not to include Yatai in our list of the best restaurants in
Palmerston North. Yatai is incredible for groups and they go out of their way to customise a menu that
caters to your tastes and budget. And if you want a really unique and authentic experience, you can hire
the private dining room for just $40. The food in the private dining space is served in traditional Japanese
style, you take your shoes off before entering and sit on legless chairs with your feet and legs hanging in
the pit underneath the table. You can either order off the main menu or opt for the banquet and to add even
more authenticity, your group can hire beautiful kimonos to don while you dine. The food at Yatai is said to
be some of the most authentic Japanese to be found in Palmerston North… Try it for yourself!

The four best free things to do in Rotorua

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Thanks to the natural beauty that surrounds the town of Rotorua, free activities here are not hard to find. We’ve got waterfalls, forests, walking tracks, hot springs and traditional Maori villages all ready and waiting for you to explore; you could easily spend days or even weeks experiencing the many free things to do in Rotorua. But in case you don’t have that long, we’ve listed the top four Rotorua free things to do right here, so you can cut to the chase and make the most of your precious time!


Ohinemutu Maori Village

A visit to Ohinemutu Maori Village is one of the best free things to do in Rotorua if you’re looking for an authentic cultural experience. The picturesque village on the shores of Lake Rotorua is inhabited by the Ngati Whakaue tribe, and visitors are welcome to come and take a look around free of charge. The main buildings on site are a Marae adorned with intricate Maori carvings and the striking St Faith’s Church. As you wander around, you’ll see the many ways residents use the abundant natural geothermal activity for cooking, heating and bathing. Ohinemutu is less than 10 minutes' walk from our Rotorua Motel, so a great option if you don’t want to stray too far from home base.



Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest

Whakarewarewa Forest, also known as ‘The Redwoods,’ is just a stone’s throw from Rotorua City Centre. It’s 5600 hectares of sky-high Californian Coast Redwoods, thick native bush, walking and mountain biking tracks and trickling streams. In Rotorua, free things to do don’t come much better than this—especially if there are kids involved. You can spend an entire day here just exploring, riding, walking and picnicking—and there are special orienteering and discovery activities for kids too. Just pick up some worksheets from the visitors centre to get started!



Take a dip in a natural hot spring

You’ve probably heard that there are hot springs galore in and around Rotorua, but where can you actually go to swim in one of these? If you’re not interested in pricey day spas and you’re chasing free things to do in Rotorua instead, you must check out the amazing swimming hole at nearby Wai-O-Tapu. Just a 25-minute drive from Rotorua, the swimming hole sits where two streams of different temperatures meet, making it perfect for groups of people who have vastly different ideas of what makes a comfortable swimming temperature!  To get here, bypass the first entrance that leads to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and take the second entrance instead. You’ll see the swimming hole below a little wooden bridge.


Visit Okere Falls

In Rotorua, free activities are abundant for those who embrace the outdoors. And Okere Falls is a must-visit for waterfall lovers and those who appreciate a peaceful stroll out in nature. Just 20 kilometres from Rotorua, Okere Falls is best known for being a popular spot for rafting, kayaking and other such hair-raising activities. This means that you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing various watercraft come racing over the falls and splashing into the water below—offering hours of free entertainment for spectators and passers-by. The DOC track takes walkers from the picnic area past the falls and to the Trout Pool at the end. This is a popular fishing spot with many anglers for catching trout!