- Take 5, relax and enjoy a read...
Flexible dates

Monthly Archives: April 2022

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!  


Best Walks in Ashburton: Lakes, Views and a Famous Hollywood Set

Posted by on

Often missed by Tekapo-bound road trippers, the Ashburton region is home to some stunning day hikes and mountain bike trails featuring endangered birds, towering mountains, braided rivers, waterfalls and lakes. Nature lovers can hike our backcountry trails in splendid solitude all day without encountering anyone else.  Here we’ve rounded up a few of the best walks and MTB tracks in Ashburton and the surrounding area, based on visitor recommendations and local knowledge.   


Hakatere Conservation Park 

Just an hour’s drive east from our Ashburton motel accommodation is the Hakatere Conservation Park located around the Ashburton Lakes between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers. Covering nearly 60,000 hectares of rugged mountain country, forest and sparkling rivers, the park is home to many interesting day walks and Mountain biking tracks. 


Mt Sunday Track

Immortalised in Lord of the Rings as the fortress city of Edoras, is a gentle 90min return walk in the Hakatere area. One of the most popular things to do in Ashburton is to climb Mt Sunday.  The track is flat, except for the final 10-15 minutes before you reach the summit.  At the top (‘my precious’), you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the mountains, grazing cattle, the Rangitata river valley and the Southern divide. The kids will enjoy scuttling over cute bridges to view the opaque cascading waters below. Whether you’re a Lord of the Rings fan (or not), exploring Mt Sunday is one of the great free things to do in Ashburton.  

Ashburton NZ hikes

The Lake Heron tracks

The Lake Heron tracks provide various options depending on your energy levels, from 1.5km up to 10km duration. Discover kettle holes, native birds and panoramic views over the lake and surrounding mountains. For a one-hour return hike, head up the Lake Hill track from the car park through tussock to the summit trig and keep an eye out for black-fronted terns, oystercatchers, Australasian grebes, ducks, swans, and skylarks. Or jump on your Mountain bike and do a loop from Castle Ridge station to Lake Emily , Manuka Hut, Double Hut and finish at Lake Heron or head down The Stour River for one off the most amazing journeys and finish on The Ashburton Gorge Road.


The Lake Clearwater tracks 

The Lake Clearwater tracks are another easy option in providing a 10-km lakeside loop track  Lake Emma is a 13 km loop track and Lake Camp is a 4 km loop either walking or Mountain-biking. For the more adventurous head around the lake's northern shores up to Mystery Lake or onto the TeAaroa walkway or a special walk would be to the Top of MT Guy. Check the weather forecast before heading out as with all Alpine tracks, conditions can change quickly.  

Afterwards head to the popular Staveley Store and Café, for a restorative ice cream or coffee, reputedly the best brew in the region and one of the best places to eat Ashburton-style fare. This is an hour's trip home to your Ashburton motel.


The Ashburton – Hakatere River Trails

The Ashburton – Hakatere River Trails has tracks for walkers and mountain bikers.These much-loved tracks follow the Ashburton River and meander from town through riverside willows. The MTB track is about 11.5km loop and the river walkway has been built to avoid collisions.For those wanting more of a rail trial type ride, we have a track down to Lake Hood on the South side of the Ashburton River which is 7km  This is a great thing to do in Ashburton 

There are plenty of other wonderful walks and mountain biking tracks within the Ashburton area. So pack your hiking shoes and MTB and come stay at the cosy Bella Vista Motel Ashburton to check out the many beautiful walks and MTB tracks in Ashburton and the Canterbury region.

Eat Your Way Through Ashburton’s Best Restaurants

Posted by on

For a charming little town, at the heart of the “food basket” of New Zealand … Hakatere. there are so many great places to eat in Ashburton. 

Whether you’re staying for one night or a few, there’s plenty of variety to keep you well-fed and watered. Here’s our foody guide to a few of Ashburton’s best restaurants, cafes, and cheap eats all within a hop skip and a jump of our Ashburton accommodation


Best Hearty Fare in Ashburton 

There is nothing like a hearty meal at the end of a busy day of adventure or busy work meetings. Our motel accommodation in Ashburnton is pretty close to some great ones so here are our top picks for hearty meals.

Cleavers Corner Gastro Pub:

Delivers impressive service and is a popular choice in town. The food is full of flavour, tasty and presented well. This is a delight. This is only 4-minute drive from our Ashburton accommodation. Its the perfect place for a quiet business meeting during the day and in the evening you can unwind and enjoy a delicious range of burgers, grill and snacks.

Speights Ale House:

Casual, comfortable dining with awesome staff that take pride in what they do. A great space to enjoy a meal out with friends or family with quality food. This is only 5 minute's drive from our motel accommodation in Ashburton and our customers get 10% discount when you show your Bella Vista room key

Lake House:

Ashburton is so fortunate to have the Lake House on its doorstep. Excellent service and a lovely outlook over the water make it a relaxing setting. The food is excellent and the deserts are extra yummy! 

The Fine Lion:

The location and ambience are rather special. The first-floor location and extensive balcony dining are unique in Ashburton. Service is attentive, The food is superb with great attention to detail. 

Panther's Rock

Although a short drive away, Ashburton proudly claims the Panther’s Rock as its own because this Mayfield-based restaurant, open for weekend brunch and weeknight dinners, consistently receives five-star reviews.  Named after an alleged sighting of a big cat that made national headlines, the Panther’s Rock serves up big mouth-watering flavours. Cuts of prime Canterbury Porterhouse steaks and Ribeye with homemade mushroom sauce, locally caught Salmon, green-lipped mussels and pulled-pork burgers feature on the menu. With lovely rural views, cosy fireplaces and friendly owners, head here for one of the best things to do in Ashburton.


For the best Asian food in Ashburton  

For a taste of the exotic or those of us who love their spice, we have some great options for Asian cuisine. From Taiwanese to Thai you won't be disappointed by the choice. Here is our list of top picks whilst you are staying at our Ashburton accommodation.

The Formosa:

A tasty twist on Taiwanese cuisine in the heart of Ashburton is only 3-minute's drive from our Ashburton motels.  From the minute you walk in you are made to feel welcome in this beautifully designed restaurant. The food is superb, the desserts are beautifully presented and very flavoursome, Excellent service. 

Miyabi Top in Town:

Indian /Japanese authentic cuisine and beautiful people who take good care of you. The Best Indian in town and offering a 10% discount showing your Bella Vista motel accommodation key.

Koji Japanese:

This is a little gem, and only a minute in the car from our Ashburton motels. The food is just delicious, fresh and tasty. The staff is always friendly and accommodating. It has a nice feel to it because they have decorated the entire walls with bamboo to give it atmosphere 

Ton Thai:

The atmosphere is delightful with friendly superb service. The food is tasty, plentiful and delivered quickly. A great place to take your family or group of friends. 

While not a new restaurant in Ashburton, it's Sweet and sour chicken, orange pork, and Kumara fries tossed in plum powder are local favourites.  Small plates include Teriyaki sushi, Spicy chicken bao or pulled pork buns. 


For the Best Cafés in Ashburton 

We love our coffee here, and our local cafes make it easy for us to indulge. 

  • Visit the Somerset Grocer’s Café for delicious cabinet food, a varied menu, even a Kapiti ice cream bar making this one of the more kid-friendly places to eat in Ashburton. While you eagerly await your Big Breakfast or Nourish bowl – a tasty blend of chicken, avocado and zesty orange dressing, browse the gourmet goods and gifts on offer.  
  • Robert Harris: Easy and Handy location,  just along the road, heaps of parking, great coffee, Breakfast is the best-allowing chargeback arrangements to the Bella Vista Ashburton Motel for corporate customers 
  • Millhouse Kitchen: Love the outdoor space here, especially in the summer, Great coffee, chargebacks to the motel are an option, Good parking and only 2 minutes from our Ashburton motel accommodation 
  • Triangle Espresso: Offering a lovely space to enjoy a coffee and either chill or work at the window seat has an uplifting feel, right down to inspirational quotes and lovely prints of nature and plants on the walls, I just love it! Happy friendly staff that love what they do. 


For the Best Bakery in Ashburton  

While other bakeries are vying for the best places to eat in Ashburton, Harvey’s Bakehouse takes the cake. The mark of a great baker are their pies and Harvey’s has a reputation for light, flaky pastry and yummy fillings like pepper steak, smoky beef and BBQ bacon. This friendly home-style bakehouse also serves up traditional sweet treats like Rocky Road, custard-piped brioche and black-forest cheesecake. It is truly a great Ashburton cheap eats option just a 10-minute jaunt from the Ashburton motel.  


For the Best Takeaway in Ashburton 

Local chip connoisseurs think the Creek Road Fish and Chip Shop serve up the best in Ashburton hands down, as good as the double-fried chips found in Belgium. Place your order over the phone as this spot gets busy on the weekend and best of all it’s only a 2-minute drive from the Ashburton motel!  A great choice for all your fast-food favourites. 

While we’ve hopefully whetted your appetite on the best places to eat in Ashburton . Please ask the Bella Vista Motel team for up-to-date information and local dining recommendations. 

Fun Ashburton Attractions for a Great Short Break

Posted by on

Ashburton is not just a gateway to Christchurch or Tekapo. It’s a stunning mid-Canterbury destination in its own right, boasting great restaurants, fly fishing, the beautiful Ashburton lakes and the spectacular Rakaia Gorge for thrill seekers. Check out this short break guide for the best things to do in Ashburton and the mid-Canterbury area when you stay with us in our motel accommodation in Ashburton.  


Get Active on the Bike Trails in Ashburton

There are many mountain biking options, for every level of expertise and confidence in Mid Canterbury, You can stay and play for days on our trails. Mt Hutt Bike Park, 30 minutes drive from our Ashburton motels from downhill to cross-country trails. Cycle through some of the most spectacular high country of Hakatere Conservation Park or a short sweet ride along the banks of the Ashburton River.


Enjoy a Scenic Drive and a Cuppa

From our Ashburton motel take a 30-minute drive on the Inland Scenic Route out to the Staveley Store and Café nestled in the shadow of Mount Somers and close to some superb walks. Rumoured to serve the best coffee in the region, the sausage rolls, home-baked goods, and bacon butties make this one of the more popular places to eat Ashburton-style fare.  Established in 1876 as a general store servicing the surrounding timber mills and farms, the shop showcases goods from nearby Mt Somers Station - seasonal farm produce, lamb, venison, veal, honey and olive oil.  

But it’s the coffee that’s the real McCoy. Sit on the veranda, admire Mt Somers, and watch local life pass by over the rim of a coffee cup.  


Take a Hike in Ashburton

If you love to walk, pop up to Sharplin Falls car park and enjoy the fresh air walking through the mountain beech forest alongside Bowyers Stream. If you like a bit of huffing and puffing a climb up to Hookey’s Knob will treat you with spectacular views. My favourite is the Rhyolite Ridge Track on the Mount Somers walkway. The route takes in dynamic scenery within a landscape of waterfalls, beach forest, deep icy pools and rocky tors. 

Head for the nearby Lake Clearwater Circuit Track. The 10km hike will take around 3 hours and is considered one of the best walks in Ashburton and beyond, its an hour's drive back to put your feet up again at your Ashburton accommodation


Discover Classic Planes at the Ashburton Aviation Museum 

Located just a 5-minute drive from the Ashburton Motel, this is one of the great hidden things to do in Ashburton and a magnet for young and old aviation enthusiasts, as it’s free for kids. Did you know that Ashburton was a major air force training base in World War Two accommodating 50 Tiger Moths and military personnel?  Not many people do! The museum is now home to beautifully restored planes in its shiny new hanger and has recently acquired a retired RNZAF Skyhawk. You can easily spend an interesting afternoon here, especially on a rainy day. 


Have a Blast at the Rakaia Gorge 

There is no better way to explore the Rakaia Gorge, than with Discovery Jet, one of the more adventurous things to do in Ashburton and the surrounding area.  Drive 40 minutes inland towards Mount Hutt from the motel accommodation in Ashburton then take a thrilling jet boat ride through the Gorge and enjoy the 10 km walking track that follows the rim of the Gorge through spectacular geological areas. At the Car park overlooking the Gorge and its crystal clear blue water is a Sculpture that highlights the story of the Taniwha. It’s such a cool story about the Northwest wind and the Taniwha. 

While learning about its history and unique features, from your knowledgeable local guide.   


Chill Out in the Ashburton Domain   

Well known for its large adventure playground, this is one of the free things to do in Ashburton enjoyed by local families.Great for a bit of fresh air, take a run on the fitness track, feed the ducks on the lake, enjoy the gardens or picnic in the park and a junior bike track provides training-wheels fun for beginner riders. Only 2 minutes drive from Bella Vista Ashburton.


Savour a Taste of the Orient 

After a day in the outdoors, you’ve probably drummed up a hearty appetite.  For the best Asian food in Ashburton, book dinner at The Formosa, a tasty twist on Taiwanese cuisine and close to the motel.  One of my favourite restaurant in Ashburton, its sweet and sour chicken, orange pork, and Kumara fries tossed in plum powder are enduring local favourites.  Small plates include Teriyaki sushi, Spicy chicken bao or pulled pork buns. 

With so many things to do in Ashburton, ask our team at the Bella Vista Motel for local recommendations, especially the best places to eat in Ashburton. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out.