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Monthly Archives: May 2018

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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Oamaru Family Getaway


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Ever wondered why Lonely Planet named Oamaru “the coolest town in New Zealand”!  Well pack up the kids and come and find out with a fantastic family weekend away.  

Oamaru is the largest town in the Waitaki district and its only 1.5 hours drive North from Dunedin or 2 hours drive South from Ashburton. There’s a lot here to keep the family entertained offering everything from quirky fun family activities, steampunk curiosities, adventure, natural attractions, and wildlife right on its doorstep.

Start your journey by booking your Oamaru accommodation with Bella Vista motels. The Bella Vista Oamaru is the closest motel to the town centre, including cafes, restaurants, shops and the historic Victorian Precinct. The motel offers different room options including one bedroom family units with full kitchen facilities and bath - perfect for families of up to 3 children. The Bella Vista Oamaru also has safe off-street parking, so you can leave the car and explore on foot or bring bicycles or kids scooters – a great way to get around having an adventure at the same time.

Here are our top 10 things to do and see around Oamaru. Check them out and start planning your visit!

1. Steampunk Playground

No trip to Oamaru with kids is complete without visiting the Steampunk playground, located down on the Esplanade by the waterfront.  It’s a fantastical playground with art and sculpture incorporated into the play equipment.  Watch your children delight whilst on swings that have a giant penny farthing as part of the frame or whooping as they come down the twisting tube slide or flying fox, climbing on the armoured elephant hut or getting dizzy in the giant hamster wheel. There is also a newly constructed learners’ bike park there too.  Both toilets and The Galley café are next to the playground, so you can grab a coffee to go, or a bite for lunch when hunger starts to reel the kids in.

2. Oamaru Victorian Precinct

Step back in time as you wander through the historic Victorian precinct, containing NZ’s largest and best-preserved Victorian architecture. Today they house a mix of fascinating vintage clothing shops, galleries, cafes, new and traditional crafts, a bakery, bookbinders, an old-fashioned lolly shop and a great ice-cream shop for a little indulgence.

For a bit of fun, get the whole family dressed up in Victorian clothing and have your picture taken!

On Sundays, the precinct is buzzing with the Oamaru farmers market. You can pick up some yummy treats for a picnic lunch in the gardens.

Oamaru Victorian Precinct

3. Oamaru Public Gardens

The Oamaru Public Gardens are among the oldest in the country and are well worth the visit. There are many features to interest anyone including a children’s playground, a wonderland garden, fountain, display house and fernery. Find yourselves an idyllic spot for a picnic lunch and where the kids can enjoy the space.

4. Whitestone City

Nestled in the heart of Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct, Whitestone City offers a unique, fun and interactive heritage experience for all the family. Get a glimpse of what life was like in the early colonial days by strolling down the replica Victorian streetscape, check out the merchants of the day, a schoolroom complete with slates and schoolmistress, play old-fashioned games in the dimly lit saloon, and take a ride on a penny-farthing carousel.

5. Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is Oamaru’s largest tourist attraction. Back in the early 1990s, a colony of penguins moved into the disused rock quarry not far from the historic precinct. This prompted a group of volunteers to set up and help make the area a suitable breeding habitat and provide guided tours.

Come and see the penguins in their natural habitat!  Tour the facility during the day learning more about the penguins, play and discover in the brand new children’s area, before heading outdoors to explore the penguins’ nesting environment. Come back for the night viewing and watch the penguins returning home from their day fishing. From a seated grandstand with a live commentary, you can see the Penguins make their way onto the beach, up to a stony ramp, and cross into the Colony.

6.  Oamaru Steam Train

If you happen to be in Oamaru on a Sunday, then a must do is a trip on the steam train that runs between the small railway station in the historic precinct and a terminus at the harbour close to the little blue penguin colony on Sundays.

Oamaru Steam Train

 

7.  Steampunk HQ

From the moment you enter this crazy, quirky museum you are immersed in a futuristic version of 19th century Victorian England, a dark post-apocalyptic vision of an alternative future. A full-scale train engine sits proud at the entrance ready to spit fire and billow smoke. Inside you are met with an array of contraptions, sculptures and bizarre machinery from vintage dentist chairs to a flickering doomsday clock whilst accompanied by audio-visual installations. There are plenty of hands on exhibits to fascinate the kids and parents alike – have a go on the metagalactic pipe organ and checkout The Portal, a mirrored room of glowing lights. Stepping out into the yard you are met with a collection of old planes, trains and automobiles, in various states of steampunk conversion. The kid’s imaginations can go wild in here!

8.  Moeraki Boulders

When staying in Oamaru, it is worth a visit to these famous large spherical “stones” that are scattered on a stretch of stunning Koekohe Beach near Moeraki just 30 minutes’ drive away on the Otago coast. These boulders are concretions, which have been exhumed from the mudstone enclosing them and concentrated on the beach by coastal erosion. Local M?ori legends explained the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe.

9. Oamaru Lookout

Head up to the lookout park and enjoy the spectacular views over this beautiful seaside town. If you are feeling adventurous there is a walkway. If’s it’s a fine day pack some morning tea or picnic lunch.

Oamaru Lookout

10.  Totara Estate

A historic farm situated in beautiful North Otago countryside just south of Oamaru, Totara Estate played a significant role in New Zealand’s history. Birthplace of the frozen meat industry, it changed the course of farming in NZ forever.  Open from September to May, the farm consists of men’s quarters, stables, granary, cookhouse and slaughterhouse. Displays recollect farm and domestic life on the estate during Victorian times. Hear stories of swaggers, farm hands, the Chinese cook and a cartoonist.  The kids will love to feed the sheep, dress up in Victoria costumes or play old-fashioned games. Top this off with 'smoko' in the cookhouse of tea and scones , then browse through the gift shop. 

We look forward to hosting you in Oamaru! Search now on the Bella Vista website.


Ski New Zealand with Bella Vista


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With temperatures starting to cool and our mountains beginning to attract a beautiful dusting of snow, we realise that we're rapidly approaching the long winter months. But with winter always comes the much-anticipated ski season.  So, if you think you would like some added excitement this winter, you must consider a ski holiday!

New Zealand has great skiing options available at world-class fields such as The Remarkables, Cardrona, Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt, Turoa, and Whakapapa, there’s something to keep everyone happy from novices through to seasoned pros.

With 27 locations in New Zealand, the Bella Vista accommodation network is well positioned to meet your ski holiday needs.  Each of our properties is conveniently placed close to local amenities and attractions and includes free car parking and free wifi – great for when you want to download or send those awesome shots from your day on the mountain!

Here we have teamed up some great skiing destinations with your Bella Vista Motel accommodation to show you how easy it is to get out on the slopes this winter:

Cardrona Skifield

Queenstown

Queenstown provides endless opportunities for your ultimate skiing holiday. The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Cardrona ski fields will delight with both on and off-piste skiing by day. And by night the alpine resort buzzes with plenty of dining and entertainment options. All set in one of most picturesque places in the world!

Thirty-five minutes from downtown Queenstown, The Remarkables ski field offers something for all – from beginners and families through to expert skiers and snowboarders. There are numerous off-piste runs, varied trails, and terrain parks and dedicated freestyle areas, including the Southern Hemisphere's only Stash, a Burton signature terrain park. Plus, cafes & an on-mountain bar – a great spot to take in the magnificent view whilst sipping on a mulled wine or Corona!

If you have 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 allowing you to get out and explore the mountain!

Coronet Peak is only a 25-minute drive from the centre of Queenstown and this mountain has it all. Awe-inspiring views, expertly groomed runs, rollercoaster terrain and Skiwiland for kids from 3 months to 15 years. Plus, Coronet Peak has the added benefit of being the home of night skiing and lights up its slopes on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Coronet Peak is the only mountain in New Zealand that offers a night skiing option, and it’s a fabulous experience.

Cardrona Alpine Resort is a great mountain to explore and enjoy and only a 60-minute drive over the Crown Range from Queenstown and close to Wanaka. It’s New Zealand's most popular ski area, attracting all kinds of snow enthusiasts – from beginners and families to Olympic and X Games athletes who come here to train. Freestyle Snowboarding and skiing are well catered for with 2 half pipes and 4 terrain parks and with wide open trails Cardrona offers some of NZ's best and most reliable snow conditions.

There is a range of options for children at Cardrona. From Ski Kindy, through to the Cardrona Kids Adventure Program, and Ride Tribe, which teaches over 10-year-old intermediate skiers a range of snow disciplines, venturing both on & off piste.

You can drive to all the ski fields yourself, although snow chains are needed, use the drop zone at the top for your passengers, then you can park in the lower carparks and catch a free shuttle back to the base area. Or hop on the Remarkables Ski bus that departs from the Queenstown Snow Centre downtown.

You can rent everything you need on the mountain; a great value for money option is renting a clothing and accessories bundle – as this gets you sorted. Plus, if you hire off the mountain you can store overnight for free.

There are also many other rental places around town that can help fit you and see you ready for the mountain.

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, 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!

Wanaka

Wanaka is a winter paradise for all snowsports from fun family ski holidays to the exhilaration of the largest heliskiing terrain in the Southern Hemisphere. Three of New Zealand’s best skiing locations are less than an hour’s drive away – Cardrona, Treble Cone, and Snow Farm.

Treble Cone is the closest ski area to Wanaka and largest in the South Island. Its famous for its long-groomed uncrowded slopes and boasts the longest vertical rise in the Queenstown Southern Lakes District. Treble Cone’s off-piste is legendary and the views over Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring are second to none. Its steeper slopes make it an excellent option for more experienced skiers and boarders and there is a free beginner ski area for those who want to learn.

The Bella Vista Wanaka couldn’t be in a better location close to the ski shops, shuttle bus, the supermarket, restaurants and the bars for happy hour!   With convenient parking and a ski drying and storage room its set up for all your ski holiday needs.

Lake Wakatipu


Christchurch & Ashburton

There are several ski fields within close proximity to Christchurch, the hub of the Canterbury region and the perfect base for anyone looking for snow-fuelled fun and adventure.  From Porters Ski Area, a local favourite and popular with both families, advanced skiers, and boarders, to the most popular being Mt Hutt, just 90 minutes from Christchurch, it has been voted NZ's Best Ski Resort.

One of the largest and highest ski areas in the South Island Mt Hutt ski area boasts wide open terrain for all ski and snowboard ability levels plus kids 10 years and under ski for free!  It also has a quick and easy on-mountain rental system and supervised kids’ programmes and Early Learning Centre for children age 3 months & up.

After your day up the mountain, you can depend on our Christchurch or Ashburton motel for a warm welcome and comfortable stay.  Our rooms vary from studios and one to three bedroom units and apartments with cooking facilities and we offer continental breakfasts for those who want to hit the slopes earlier. If you still have the energy for some Après Ski our location is an easy walk to the city centre, restaurants, bars, and entertainment.

Our friendly team at the Bella Vista Christchurch can also point you in the direction of ski shops in Christchurch city who hire out ski gear and sell ski passes and if you don’t want to do the driving yourself they can help you book a door-to-door shuttle service.

Taupo

Taupo is nestled on the shores of Lake Taupo and is the perfect retreat for a ski holiday. There’s a lot to do in this region and winter skiing is the first choice for many visitors. Ride the volcano in the heart of the North Island and experience NZ’s two largest ski areas - Whakapapa and Turoa – in nearby World Heritage Park of Tongariro.

Mt Ruapehu ski areas are home to the most awesome natural skiing and snowboarding terrain in New Zealand and Australasia. Offering huge snow filled basins, numerous groomed beginner areas, natural halfpipes, lift-accessed backcountry, steep chutes, drop-offs and secret powder stashes.

Don’t forget to take a breather in The Knoll Ridge Café in Whakapapa Ski Area! Its NZ’s highest café at 2020m above sea level and worth grabbing a pie, coffee or longer lunch to linger over the breathtaking views of the Pinnacles and valley below.

Bella Vista Taupo is situated on the fringe of the Lake Taupo town centre. This location means it is just a short stroll to the lakefront, cafes, restaurants and shopping district for all your après ski needs. The Taupo motel offers 1 Bedroom, Studio, and Twin, safe parking, complimentary wifi, and activity booking service.

And if you need to ease away those aches and pains from your day up the mountain our friendly hosts at your Taupo accommodation can point you in the direction to the thermal pools and spa complex where you can enjoy a dip in the therapeutic hot pools, a Maori Cultural experience or a spa treatment.

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 New Zealand before, we challenge you to join us at Bella Vista this winter and see what all the fuss is about.