Author Archives: Bella Vista
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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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.
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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.
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!
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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 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!
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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!
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The natural landcapes that surround the Taupo township are some of New Zealand’s most magnificent. And there’s no better way to experience the sights, sounds and smells of nature than by strapping on your hiking boots or walking shoes and exploring the region by foot. There are walks in Taupo for all ages and levels of mobility, from leisurely lakeside strolls to multi-day hikes over rugged and unforgiving landscapes. If you’re searching for the best things to do in Taupo in the great outdoors, this list of Taupo’s best walks and hikes will get you off to a cracking start.
Tongariro National Park
If you’re serious about hiking, you’ll have undoubtedly heard of the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing—one of the best day hikes in New Zealand. But Tongariro National Park is home to dozens of other great walking tracks too, from shorter hikes (less than three hours) to multi-day tramps that circle the mountains. Tongariro National Park is only about an hour’s drive from Taupo so it’s well worth the trip, even if you’re opting for a shorter track.
Some of our most breathtaking untouched landscapes are virtually inaccessible by road or by foot, but thankfully we have helicopters to drop us safely into these incredible destinations. Helisika Helicopters offers amazing heli-hiking adventures in the Taupo region, taking keen walkers to the remote parts of the Kaimanawa and Kaiweka ranges. You’ll be able to explore dense native bush and have the chance to see plants and wildlife you wouldn’t see on your everyday walks in Taupo.
Spa Thermal Park to Huka Falls
This is one of the many walks in Taupo perfect for those wanting to get some exercise without pushing too hard. The track follows the Waikato River, extending from Spa Thermal Park up to the powerful Huka Falls. You’ll pass over a natural hot stream (you can have a quck dip if you like) and up and down gentle slopes bordered by lush green foliage. After a few kilometres you’ll cross the Waikato River and from there you can exit via the car park, turn around and head back or walk a bit further up for the perfect vantage point to view the Huka Falls.
Mount Tauhara is one of the most popular mountains to climb in and around Taupo—and for good reason too... The views from the top are simply phenomenal! Rated an intermediate climb, you’ll need to be relatively fit to make it all the way to the top of Mount Tauhara and back without too much trouble. The summit is 1088 metres high and the entire hike takes approximately three hours once you factor in a few short breaks and a nice long break at the summit. Trust us, you’ll want to sit up there for as long as possible to enjoy the jaw-dropping views of sparkling Lake Taupo resting below.
Great Lake Pathway
The Great Lake Pathway hugs the edge of Lake Taupo and extends from Taupo Boat Harbour to the north of the main town to Five Mile Bay. The ten kilometre walkway is ideal for families and dogs—children can ride their bikes and scooters and take plenty of stops to play in the sand and at the lake’s edge. You can begin wherever you like and walk for as long you want – there are car parks, picnic tables and and other facilities dotted along the way. The Great Lake Pathway is one of the best Taupo activities for people of all ages, and just a ten minute walk from Bella Vista.
For more ideas on local walks and other Taupo activities, chat to us reception! We’re always happy to help.
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If you search for photographs of Whangarei or waterfalls in New Zealand, Whangarei Falls is guaranteed to make an appearance! The picturesque Whangarei waterfall is a drawcard all year round—for families, couples and those travelling solo—and this goes for locals as well as tourists. So if you’re planning your first visit there and you’re not quite sure what to expect, read on to find out everything you need to know.
Location of Whangarei Falls
Otuihau/Whangarei Falls can be found just a ten minute drive from town and from our Whangarei motel. Located at 6 Ngunguru Road, Tikipunga; the fastest route from Bella Vista Whangarei is to travel north up State Highway One then turn right onto Puna Rere Drive, which eventually becomes Twin Coast Discovery Highway. After about four or five minutes drive you’ll turn right onto Boundary Road and then left into the Whangarei Falls main car park.
Whangarei Falls was traditionally a productive eeling spot for local Maori and was known as an area for healing. But it became private property in the late 1920s after Mr Archibald Clapham brought the property—apparently as a preventative measure to stop the area becoming a commercial watermill. The scenic Whangarei waterfall then became public domain in 1946.
It’s not the tallest Whangarei waterfall, but it comes pretty close at 26 metres high.The traditional ‘curtain’ waterfall spills from the Hatea River, which eventually empties into the Whangarei Harbour. Whangarei Falls is surrounded by lush New Zealand native bush and attracts a variety of birdlife including the Kukupa/Native Wood Pigeon,Tui and Riroriro/Grey Warbler.
From the car park at the entrance to the Whangarei Falls, you’ll only need to walk a few minutes before reaching the first viewing platform at the top of the waterfall. This makes it ideal if you’re looking for scenic walking tracks in Whangarei that are quick and easy to navigate. The base of the waterfall is just a ten-minute walk and you can complete the loop that stretches around the falls within 20-30 minutes. There is a flight of steps on the walk, so while the loop isn’t difficult, unfortunately it’s not suitable for prams or wheelchairs.
Plenty of people swim at Whangarei Falls, but it’s not always a great idea! It can be contaminated by livestock and wildfowl from time to time, so keep an eye out for swimming warnings, questionable smells, and discoloured water.
There are picnic tables on toilets on site, so why not bring your lunch and make a few hours of it?! There’s nothing like enjoying refreshments in good company alongside this majestic Whangarei waterfall.
From Whangarei falls, you’ve got easy access to AH Reed Kauri Park, home to some of the best walking tracks in Whangarei. The easy walk between the Park and the waterfall follows the Hatea River. There are some short steep climbs, but the track is suitable for all ages and it’s a great place to get some exercise.
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Are you staying up north for a while and busy searching for all the best Whangarei things to do? There are dozens of great activities up here in New Zealand’s northernmost city – so it was tough to pick our top five! We picked these ones based on all the great feedback we get from happy tourists here at our Whangarei motel.
Visit Kiwi North
Open daily from 10am until 4pm, Kiwi North is one of the best things to do in Whangarei whether you’re travelling solo or as a family. At the Kiwi House you can see the endangered Kiwi and Tuatara go about their business; the enclosure is light and climate controlled so that during the day it replicates night time in the wild. If you turn up at the right time you can also see Kiwi feeding take place – this happens daily at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. And that’s not all—the Kiwi North 25-hectare property also accommodates the Whangarei Museum and Heritage Park. Here you can learn about the fascinating history of the local area and discover some of Whangarei’s oldest buildings including the 1886 “Glorat” Clarke Homestead.
Explore the Abbey Caves
This set of three limestone caves is just a ten-minute drive from our Whangarei motel and is a great option for those looking for something active and adventurous to try out. You’ll see stalagtites, glow worms and plenty of native flora and fauna—some explorers even report seeing eels swimming around their feet in the still, clear cave waters. Come prepared for this one—the caves get wet and dark and there’s a lot of climbing involved—so a headlamp, torch and suitable footwear are absolute musts! If you’re looking for walks in Whangarei with a touch of excitement, this one’s for you.
Whangarei Quarry Gardens
Who doesn’t love a leaisurely walk around nice garden? This gorgeous subtropical oasis is the result of a mammoth community effort to restore an old stone quarry, and the result is truly spectacular! The Whangarei Quarry Gardens is one of those things to do in Whangarei that’s great for all ages. Stroll around camellias, cacti and bromeliads, or take a guided tour on one of the electric golf carts. It’s easy to spend hours here; the Quarry Gardens also has its own on-site café serving breakfast, lunch, coffee and treats.
Whangarei Falls is one of the most popular scenic walks in Whangarei. Situated in Whangarei Scenic Reserve, the impressive 26-metre waterfalls are also easily one of the most photographed attractions in the region—and once you get here you’ll understand why! The 20-minute loop around the falls is a relatively easy walk, but there are stairs to navigate on parts of the track. Make your way to the two viewing platforms for the very best vantage points to capture the falls in all their glory.
Fishing and diving
In Whangarei, things to do generally centre on the outdoors thanks to our wonderful location. And we believe that but no trip here is complete without getting out on the water! Whether you’re an avid diver, a novice fisherman or just keen to take a cruise, there’s a selection of local tour companies ready to whisk you out to all the best spots. Poor Knights Island marine reserve has great visibility and an abundance of marine life—so it’s perfect for diving and snorkelling. Or let the locals take you to all the best fishing spots and try your hand at hooking a snapper, kingfish, kahawai or trevally. No matter your preference, a day on the water is an absolute must!
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If you’re looking for a New Zealand holiday destination where you’ll never be short of things to do, Taupo is a clear winner! The township is nestled on the north-eastern side of Lake Taupo, making it a popular holiday spot for water-sports enthusiasts, cyclists, hikers, adrenaline junkies and explorers. Our list of popular Taupo activities has something for everyone… Read on to plan your next getaway!
Walking and cycling
One of the most enticing Taupo attractions is the incredible ability to explore the town’s beautiful natural surrounds by bike or by foot. When it comes to cycle trails, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice. Ride around beaches and wetlands, along the Waikato river, through native forest or right up to the famous Huka falls. And if you prefer walking or hiking, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an absolute must! Been there, done that? Try hiking to the summit of Mt Tauhara, the Rangatira Point Track or explore the gorgeous sights and smells of the Waipahihi Bontanical Reserve.
A trip to Taupo would be wasted without exploring the magnificent hot springs and geysers that are found in this special part of the world. We mean it when we say that these amazing Taupo attractions are not to be missed! If you’re looking for family fun, try a visit to Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs. There’s a great water park with slides for the kids and a day spa for the adults who are keen to just relax. If you want to explore in more natural surrounds, try Orakei Korako Geothermal Park, Craters of the Moon Geothermal Walk or the Tokaanu Themal Walk. You’ll see steamy pools, hot bubbling mud, incredible geysers and unique flora and fauna.
Adventure and adrenaline
Taupo may not be the official ‘adventure capital of the world’—but we’re calling it a close second! Looking for things to do in Taupo that’ll get your heart racing? We’ve got bungy jumping and skydiving for those keen to go all out – and jetboating if heights just aren’t your thing. You can speed up to the base of the beautiful Huka Falls or try white-water jet boating through the Aratiatia or Fuljames rapids.
Water sports galore
If you’re visiting while the weather is warm, make sure you try to get out on the water! We suggest a kayak adventure around glistening Lake Taupo to see the Mine Bay Maori Carvings. Or for something more fast-paced, try white-water rafting on the mighty Waikato River—it’s one of the best Taupo activities for adventure-lovers! And if you can hire a boat and some extra gear, the options are endless… Waterskiing, wakeboarding, fishing or just simply putting your feet up on deck and basking in the serenity.
Top Taupo attractions
To round out our list, we recommend one of our most popular ‘tried and trusted’ Taupo activities that many of our regular visitors make time for on each and every visit... The Huka Falls. These majestic looking waterfalls are always worth a look—you can take a leisurely stroll along the many tracks and even watch the Huka Falls jet boat race up to the rapids.
For more ideas on the best things to do in Taupo, feel free to have a chat to us at reception! We’re full of local knowledge and can offer tips and tricks to make sure you make some amazing memories in our lovely lakeside town.
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As part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone that stretches from Central North Island to Bay of Plenty, there are many geothermal attractions close to Taupo Bella Vista. Many of these attractions are within 1 hour’s drive from your Taupo accommodation.
Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park
Orakei Korako is Bella Vista's top pick and arguably the best geothermal attraction around Taupo Region. Considered as “off the beaten track” it is only 25 minutes’ drive from Taupo. To access the park, you need to drive for 30 minutes from the motel along state highway 1. Once parked you can hop on an on-demand boat (included in the admission fee) which crosses the mighty Waikato River.
A boardwalk from the jetty leads you to the centre of the park where many geothermal features such as geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and massive silica terraces can be found. Do not miss the Ruatapu Cave. It takes average 1 hour to complete the self-guided walk.
Crater Of The Moon
Less than 10 minutes’ drive out of Taupo town centre is a lesser known geothermal area. This area resembles lunar landscapes, features bubbling craters, steam vents and colourful soils. The walkway is mostly level and accessible to both wheelchair & pram (free for loan). The entrance fee is good value at $8 for an adult. It takes a leisurely 45 minutes to complete a self-guided loop.
Tokaanu Thermal Walk
Located at the southern end of Lake Taupo in the village of Tokaanu near Turangi, is this family-friendly walkway. You can complete the loop walk in around 15 minutes. All the features of the walk includiong steaming pools and spluttering mud pots are set amongst attractive native bush. Access is free, but do visit the thermal pools right next door which draws its mineral rich water from the hot streams. The people of local M?ori tribe have lived around the thermal area since the 16th century.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Located off SH5 between Taupo and Rotorua lies one of the youngest geothermal area in the world, Waimangu Valley.
Not only does the park have some spectacular volcanic features such as craters, geysers, and hot springs, there is also the stories of the Mt Tarawera eruption. The volcanoes explosion not only resulted in this dramatic landscape, but also changed the lives of many.
You begin this unique experience by descending into the valley from top of a hill where you can see a range of geothermal activity and features. The highlight is the brilliant blue Inferno Crater. Continue your walk to Lake Rotomahana, or hop on the free shuttle back to where you started. If you choose the former, you have the option to join the lake cruise and learn more about the nature and human history of the area.
Depending on your schedule, allow 1 – 3 hours to explore and experience this amazing piece of the world.
Bella Vista Taupo is situated just a short walk from both Lake Taupo waterfront and the town. Handy for shops and attractions it is a perfect getaway spot.
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Whangarei is becoming an incredibly popular destination for Aucklander's looking to take a couple of nights away. You can enjoy a range of activities and attractions during your stay and that includes, of course, a trip to one or two of the local beaches.
A relatively easy 150km drive from Auckland, Whangarei is a vibrant town with plenty to see and do, great restaurants and the popular town basin is a destination in its own right. The city is a great place to base yourself and of course, a perfect Whangarei accommodation option is 4 star rated Bella Vista.
Here is our rundown on the best beaches to visit in and around Whangarei.
Ruakaka Beach is just a 30 min car ride south of Whangarei. The beach at Ruakaka is a great swimming beach with surf life guards on duty during the summer months and it is popular with locals, visitors from Whangarei and tourists alike.
Ruakaka is an open easterly facing ocean beach that does have rips and with a moderate gradient and usually one sandbar, it is sheltered from Northerly swells by Bream Head. Lots of people also surf fish along this beach as well.
Ocean Beach is 35km from Whangarei and it will take you about 40 min to drive there. One of Whangarei’s premier surf beach. The beach is patrolled by life guards in the summer months.
There are oads of sand dunes to run up and down, rock pools to explore and maybe gather some sea food (Kai Moana).
With its beautiful white sand and views of Bream Head what more could you ask for from a beach. Park in the car park above which has toilets and walk down to the beach for a swim and picnic if you desire. Lots to explore along the coast.
A 35 min drive east of Whangarei and 36.5 kms along the Tutukaka coast, you will find this magnificent beach, our favorite beach.
Matapouri Bay has spectacular white sand and an estuary that you can swim in, this is one of the safest beaches to take the family swimming. There is a small local store for that ice-cream at the end of the day for the kids.
You will also find a playground for the kids and tennis courts for adults and kids to play, at Matapouri Bay. There is ample parking for everyone and also public toilets.
If you are feeling adventurous, why not take the walk to Whale Bay, which will take you 40 min one way. You will see spectacular views of the coast along the way.
Whale Bay is a short drive north past Matapouri Bay to the north, or just over the hill if you are walking.
With a bush fringed beach and white sand this is a great beach. Sorry but you will have to park on the road and walk down the hill to this beach but the walk is worth it, you will be walking through an ancient grove of Puriri Trees.
Take your snorkel gear with you for some great snorkeling and it's a great spot for picnics and safe swimming. Whale Bay provides basic public toilets.
A little further north from Whale Bay you are going to find Sandy Bay which is very popular for its great surf breaks.
More suited to all the surfers, but still a great beach to enjoy. Parking is available off the road and there are basic toilets available. This is the furthest beach from Whangarei - about 50 minutes away, but is worth the drive to see it.
Sharon, Jo and the whole team at your chosen Whangarei accommodation, which is of course, Bella Vista Whangarie are looking forward to hosting you.
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