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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

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Often missed by Tekapo-bound road trippers, the Ashburton region is home to some stunning day hikes and MTB 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.   

Just an hour’s drive east from the motel 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, 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.  

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 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 lakes northern shores up to Mystry lake or onto the TeAaroa walkway or a special walk would be to the Top off 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. 

The Ashburton – Hakatere River Trails has tracks for walkers and mountain bikers.These much-loved tracks follows the Ashburton River and meanders from town through riverside willows . The MTB track is about 11.5 loop and the river walkway has been built to avoid collisions .Those wanting more off a rail trial type ride , we have a track down to lake hood on the South side of the Ashburton river  7km  This is a great thing to do in Ashburton   Some of this track has been washed away 

There are plenty of other wonderful walks and mountainbiking 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-mid Canterbury region.

Eat Your Way Through Ashburton’s Best Restaurants

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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.  


Best hearty Fare in Ashburton 

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 which 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.I would rather focus on restaurants in town . 

Cleavers Corner Gastro Pub: Delivers impressive service and is a popular choice in town. The food is full of flavor, tasty and presented well. This is a delight . 

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 . A 10% discount on showing your bella Vista Key. 

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

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


For the best Asian food in Ashburton  

Close to the motel is The Formosa, a tasty twist on Taiwanese cuisine in the heart of Ashburton.  From the minute you walk in you are made to feel welcome in this beautiful designed restaurant. Food is supeb, the desserts are beautifully presented and very favoursome, Excellent service. 

Miyabi Top in Town: Indian /Japenese authentic cuisine and beautiful people that take good care off you . The Best Indian in town and offerng a 10% discount  showing BV  key. 

Koji Japanese: This is a little gem, not far from BV. The food is just delicious, fresh and tasty. The staff is always friendly and accommdation. 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 supperb 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, its 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 chargback arrangements to the Motel for corporate customers 

Millhouse Kitchen: Love the outdoor space here especially in the summer, Great coffee, charge backs to the motel an option, Good parking and only 00m from BV 

Triangle Espresso: Offering a lovely  space to enjoy a coffee and either chill or work at the window seat has a uplifting feel, right down to inspirational quotes and lovely prints of nature and plants on the walls, I just love ! Happy friendly staff that love what they do . 


For the best bakery in Ashburton  

While there are other bakeries 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 bake house also serves up traditional sweet treats like Rocky Road, custard-piped brioche and black-forest cheesecake. Truly a great Ashburton cheap eats option just a 10-minute jaunt from the 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 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, restaurant menus might be limited to take-out service at Covid Alert level 2. Please ask the Bella Vista Motel team for up-to-date information and local dining recommendations. 

Fun Ashburton Attractions for a Great Short Break

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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.  

There are many mountan 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 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 

Take a 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 buttys 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.  

If you love to walk, pop up to Sharplin falls car park and enjoy the fresh air walking through 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 mt 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. .


Discover classic planes at the Ashburton Aviation Museum 

Located just a 5-minute drive from the 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.  On calm weekends, spot the Skydiving Kiwis as they gracefully land on the grass outside the museum  , Im sure they don’t operate from here anymore . You can easily spend an interesting afternoon here especially on a rainy day. 


Have a blast on the Rakaia Gorge 

There is no better way to explore the Rakaia Gorge, with Discovery Jet, one of the more adventurous things to do in Ashburton and the surrounding area.  Drive 40 minutes inland towards Mount Hutt 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 spectaclar geological areas. At the Car park overlooking the Gorge and its crystal clear blue water is a Sculpture that highlights the story about the Taniwha. It’s such a cool story about the Nor’west 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. Take a run on the fitness track, feed the ducks on the lake, enjoy the gardens or picnic in the park. An aviary is home to colourful birds, Not there anymore ,and a junior bike track provides training-wheels fun for beginner riders.  

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 absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to dining