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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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Ski Queenstown this Winter. 10 Local Tips


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We're rapidly approaching that time of year when you need to think about how your going to fill the long winter months. If you think you need some added excitement this season, you must consider a ski holiday in Queenstown.

With some of the very best skiing in New Zealand available at work class fields such as The Remarkables, Cardrona and Coronet Peak, there’s something to keep everyone happy from novices through to seasoned pros.

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. This terrific motel has just been recognised by Trip Advisor as the number one motel in 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.

Whether it is on-piste runs or after dark, Queenstown provides endless opportunities for all – dining, entertainment, sights and some of the best scenery in New Zealand.
 

                     Remarkables Ski field


Below is everything you need to know about skiing in Queenstown, but first let’s do our quick fire tips.

Queenstown Skiing -10 Local Tips 
 

#1 – Best Ski Breakfast? Bespoke Kitchen. The best pancakes in town and then some!

#2 – Snuggle up by the Open Fire? We struggle to go past Queenstown’s iconic Eichardt's Bar and there's some Tapas on hand along with mulled wine.

#3 – Ultimate way to warm up? Onsen Hot Pools. Just ease those aches away.

#4 – Après Ski? The World Bar’s famous Tea Pot cocktails are a must.

#5 – Worked up an appetite? Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar up at the Skyline Gondola. A buffet, but not as you know it.

#6 – Top ski season tip? Try out the in-house ski fitting by Snopro. They’ll come to your Bella Vista accommodation and you’ll miss the mountain queues.

#7 – First Timer, what do you recommend? First timers are covered at each of the mountains, with package options including lessons, ski rental and lift passes, starting from $150.

#8 – Best Ski recommendation: Night skiing at Coronet Peak, Friday & Saturday and also now Wednesday's for the first time this season!

#9 – Help I need ski chains! Head down to Green Toad in Queenstown, they’ll sort you out.

#10 – Paper, Scissors, Rock - Which mountain to ski? Check out below the terrain and pick which is best for your level.

For those unfamiliar with the Queenstown ski-fields, here's the low-down:


The Remarkables

35 minutes from downtown Queenstown, this ski field offers something for all – from beginners and families through to expert skiers.

Mountain Stats:

·         3 terrain parks

·         385 hectares - 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% expert

·         1943M high 468M vertical drop

Getting there:

Getting to The Remarkables is a 35 minute drive from Queenstown. You can drive yourself and park in one of the many car parks available (you’ll need snow chains). Alternatively you can catch a ride on the Remarkables transport service, Snowline Express this offers return trips from the Queenstown Snow Centre – too easy!

Kids Options:

Taking your children to the mountains can sometimes be a challenging prospect, if you would prefer to explore the mountain without 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!

Mini Kea (4 – 5 year olds) includes lift pass, lesson, ski hire, lunch and a full-day program. Drop off starts at 9am and pick up at 4pm. You’ll collect tired, happy children that are ready for dinner and bed.

Kea Club (5 – 15 year olds) a full day group lesson program includes lift pass, lesson and ski or snowboard hire and lunch. Children can join group ski lessons from the age of five and group snowboard lessons from the age of eight. 

Equipment Hire: Everything you need for ski, snowboard or clothing hire (with the exception of gloves, hats and goggles for health reasons) is available on the mountain. Plus if you hire off the mountain you can store overnight for free.

There are also various other locations around town to rent your gear, including one that will visit you in the comfort of your accommodation, fit you and see you ready for the mountain while you sip on a wine!

Mountain Secret Tip: For all you backcountry lovers, the 1.5km Homeward Bound is about as good as it gets!
 

                          Queenstown Remarkables


Cardrona

A great mountain to explore and enjoy- only a 55 minute drive over the Crown Range.

Mountain Stats:

•    Base Area Elevation: 1670m

•    Highest Lifted Point: 1860m

•    Vertical Rise: 600m

•    345 hectares – 25% beginner, 25% intermediate, 30% advanced & 20% expert

Getting there:

Getting to Cardrona is a 60 min drive from Queenstown, if you choose to drive yourself, please remember the weather can be changeable and to always carry chains. There is a drop off zone at the top, then you can park in the lower carparks and catch a free shuttle back to base area.

Alternatively park 1km up Cardrona Mountain and catch the Pine Tree Shuttle Service, or take all the stress out of it and use the shuttle service from Queenstown.

Kids Options:

There is a range of children options at Cardrona. From Ski Kindy from 3months, through to Children’s lessons, the Cardrona Kids Adventure Programe, and Ride Tribe, which teaches over 10 year old intermediate skiers a range of snow disciplines, venturing both on & off piste.

Equipment Hire:

You can rent everything you need on the mountain; a great value of money option is renting a clothing and accessories bundle – as this gets you sorted. As per The Remarkables, there are many other rental places around town that can help.

Mountain Tip: If booking children into Ride Tribe get together with a few of their mates and book in early, then they’ll have their own private group. The kids will love it!
 

                            Cardrona


Coronet Peak

Only a 25-minute drive from downtown Queenstown, this mountain has it all. Plus the added benefit of night skiing Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Mountain Stats:

·         2 Terrain parks

·         1649M highest point, 481M vertical drop

·         280 hectares – 32% beginner, 41% intermediate, 27% advanced

Getting there:

Jump aboard the Snowline Express bus and catch a ride to the mountain – departs from Queenstown Snow Centre or drive yourself but remember to carry chains.

Kids Options:

Skiwiland is where it’s at for your kids - with options from 3 months – 15 years there’s something to suit everyone.  Mini Kids, Kiwi Kids and Skiwi Kids, lessons, entertainment and a heap of fun.

Equipment Hire:

Hire on the mountain or skip the queues and sort it all in town. See The Remarkables for further rental information.

Mountain Tip:

Check out the Night Skiing on offer Friday and Saturday evenings.  Coronet Peak is the only mountain in New Zealand that offers a night skiing option, and it’s a fabulous experience.

 

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


Book an Autumn Break at Bella Vista Invercargill


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With Easter, long weekends and holidays on their way, it’s time to start thinking about where to head to next. We’ve taken all the hard work out of it and uncovered your next exciting escape… Invercargill and Southland!

Some may question why would I want to travel to Invercargill? We’ll forgive you for your sins just this once, as you clearly are still to experience the unique possibilities and adventures on offer in this part of the world. Besides, Invercargill Bella Vista offers a great accommodation option. So let us enlighten you with a quick run down of what you could be doing very soon!

If you join us over the Easter Break, Invercargill holds its famous Riverton Easter Race Carnival. This event is one of the highlights of the racing calendar and offers a crazy, fun-filled day for all.  With stalls, children's activities, food and wine and of course racing!

Alternatively, you could head to Bill Richardson's Transport World. Here you can discover unexpected treasures set out over 15,000 square metres. Some 50 years in the making, two expansive private collections have been lovingly put together to showcase vehicles, motorcycles, petrol pumps, wearable arts – vintage, retro, limited editions, you name it. Reminisce on history gone by, and appreciate the quirky nature of some in the collection. Designed with everyone in mind, this is a must see.

E Hayes and Sons is Invercargill's must-see destination.  The World’s Fastest Indian – On display proudly in the E Hayes and Sons store, is an extensive and eclectic celebration of classic, vintage and modern motorcycles, automobiles, engines, equipment and memorabilia, including Burt Munro’s famous Worlds Fastest Indian. There’s nothing else quite like this anywhere and it’s free.

                              E Hayes and Son

Southland Museum & Art Gallery is a great place to come and learn about the local history, legends, artifacts and art. This museum and gallery gives you an idea of what life was like in Southland in the past and how things have changed, while you’re there check out the Whaling and Antarctic memorabilia, it’s fascinating.

Queens Park located in the centre of Invercargill, offers peace, tranquility, gardens, fitness trail, golf course, free aviary, small animal area and even a 'selfie' exploration challenge! It’s an amazing space for all to share, so bring along your picnic lunch or morning coffee and explore.

                             Queens Park Invercargill

Just an hours drive from Invercargill is Waipapa Point Lighthouse set on the rugged Catlins coastline marking the scene of New Zealands worst civilian shipwrek. It’s well worth the journey out as the spectacular scenery and waves crashing onto the rocks combined with this proud lighthouse make for some magnificent photo opportunities

Bluff Oyster Festival, 20th May 2017 – We all love them, and now’s your chance to indulge in their hometown location - Bluff!! Just a short drive from Invercargill, this festival sells out every year so you need to be quick. A fun-filled day of music, tastings, oyster opening and eating competitions, plus a vairety of other seafoods available if oysters aren’t your thing.

Day Trips or Overnight Excursions from Invercargill

​If you have time to stay longer, Invercargill is a perfect place to use as a base to to head further afield. Here are two of our favourite destinations.

Stewart Island

Now this is something all kiwis should do! Stewart Island is a one hour ferry crossing from Bluff  - approximately 20 min drive from Invercargill or a 20 minute flight from Invercargill Airport. Stewart Island is southern most island of New Zealand, lying 30km south of the South Island and stands at 1746 square km.

It’s a nature lovers paradise, with bird watchers coming from all over the world to see some of its rare and unusual species. One interesting fact about Stewart Island is there is approximately 20,000 Brown Kiwi that call the island home, that outnumbers the amount of people living there! Stewart Island offers tramps and walks of all different fitness levels and lengths, one popular walk is to Observation Rock, which gives dramatic sunset views.

Other things to do in Stewart Island are hunting, fishing, diving, the local museum, boating/cruising, fishing, shopping and kayaking. Stewart Island can easily be a day trip from Invercargill, alternatively there are over night accommodation options if you wish to stay longer.

Catlins Coastal Route

Located only an hours drive from Invercargill is the rugged and remote Catlins Coast. The scenery here is extraordinary and so diverse, you’ll travel through rural farmland, petrified forest, windswept coastline, cliffs, rock formations, waterfalls, plus you’ll see an abundance of wildlife.

The largest of the Catlins townships is Owaka with a population of almost 400 people, Other settlements in the district are Kaka Point, Pounawea, Tahakopa, Papatowai, Tokanui, Waikawa and Fortrose, most of these offer accommodation options if you choose to overnight in the area. If you get the opportunity, exploring the Catlins Coast is something pretty special. For us it’s a must see.

                              Waipapa Point

All of these activities and day trips listed above are easily accessible from Bella Vista Motel Invercargill. Our purpose built facilities are clean, modern and located close to Invercargill’s shopping, eating and dining options. Give Neil and his team a call and join us down here for a truly memorable holiday at an excellent Invercargill accommodation choice.

 


Bella Vista Queenstown - Trip Advisor's #1 Queenstown Motel


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Queenstown stands heads and shoulders above most visitors destination of choice when visiting New Zealand. It holds a special allure for most Kiwi’s as well.

Whether you are travelling for an extended summer break, a special weekend away, visiting or participating in one of the many annual sporting events such as the New Zealand Golf Open or the Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon, or booking a winter ski holiday, Queenstown has undoubtedly become the New Zealand destination of choice.

Sitting serenely on the shores of the mighty Lake Wakatipu, what was once a small sheep farming settlement has grown from gold rush town to tourism mecca.

Quietly overlooked by the eponymous Remarkable mountain range, Queenstown continues to draw visitors from all over the world. It’s on most traveller's ‘bucket list’, so if you haven’t visited yet, what are you waiting for?

                     Queenstown

Bella Vista Accommodation Network is very proud to be able to offer a modern and incredibly well-appointed Queenstown accommodation choice. Featuring 24 motel units, Bella Vista Queenstown will deliver to your every need whatever the season and however long your stay. Take note that this destination requires more than a one night stay.

With the choice of studio’s, one bedroom and two bedroom units, Bella Vista Motel Queenstown has the options you are looking for just on the edge of town without having to pay the high cost you might find at some Queenstown hotels. Free WiFi and onsite free car-parking during your stay are a great bonus for hassle-free travel.

Only a short stroll from the Bella Vista itself you can be entertained time and again by many of attractions in the cosmopolitan town centre. Five downtown ‘Must Do’s; include;

·         Riding the gondola to Skyline to take in the view from Bob’s Peak.

·         Take a cruise on the lady of the lake the TSS Earnslaw steamship across to Walter Peak for lunch.

·         Still on the water, book in for a real thrill and experience the awesome Shotover Jet ride.

·         We recommend you ensure you take some time out and enjoy a drink, a bite to eat or maybe an ice-cream whilst enjoying the fabulous views at one of Queenstown’s celebrated eateries.

·         And last but certainly not least, who could forget to recommend the very famous Fergburger. A locals tip from your Bella Vista host will ensure you can miss the queue.

A little further from town, depending on the season, you can hit the mountain bike trails or the ski resorts. Picturesque Arrowtown is only a short 10 minute drive away and there is endless cellar door choices to be made within the nearby Gibbston Valley, famous for the Central Otago Pinot wine.

The attractions that are going to bring you to Queenstown really are endless and forgive us if we blow our own trumpet but the Bella Vista accommodation is pretty good too! And don’t just take our word for it. Some recent Trip Advisor ratings rank our Queenstown motel very, very highly.

Currently positioned at #10 of all Queenstown Hotels and therefore #1 of all Queenstown Motels, don’t mind us if we congratulate the Bella Vista Queenstown team and give them a well deserved pat on the back. With comments such as “Great Place, Great People, Great Location” and when ranked above certain big-name hotel chains, it’s no wonder Bella Vista Queenstown wants to engage in a little bit of self promotion!

Now is the time to tick this destination off your must-do list so get booking – the team at Bella Vista Queenstown look forward to hosting you!

 


It has to be Wanaka. Every day of the year.


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It’s Wanaka for us any day of the year. Wanaka is a four seasons kind of place with a shift in focus - equally as spectacular - every season. It’s a popular place to visit and is on every tourists ‘Must See’ list.

So whether it be summer sailing on the lake or hitting the slopes during winter that takes your fancy, take a read below of our tried and tested guide to Wanaka - it’s natural beauty, attractions, activities, dining and nightlife.

Lake Wanaka

At 45 km in length and 193 Square Km, Lake Wanaka is visual perfection; surrounded by the mountains, quaint Lake Wanaka Township and sheep stations. These crystal clear waters and surrounds are a haven for young and old.  You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to getting the most out of the lake, with kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, wakeboarding, sailing, mountain biking, hiking, you name it. The friendly team at the Wanaka iSite knows all there is to do on the lake and where to go, so make this one of your first stops!

                             Lake Wanaka

Hikes & Walks

It’s as if Wanaka was created with walking in mind – with tracks to cater to all fitness levels and abilities, from short strolls around the lake, dog friendly walks, wheelchair access trails, all the way through to serious hiking.  Popular half-day walking highlights include – Mt Iron Track and Roys Peak Track.

Nearby Mt Aspiring National Park is a World Heritage Area that attracts hikers from around the world. The gritty remoteness of this area combined with the mountains, valleys, rivers and scenery will make sure it will be a hike you’ll never forget. Varying levels of hiking tracks and lengths are available, with the well-known ones being - Gillespie Pass Circuit, the Wilkin Valley, Aspiring Hut, Rob Roy Track, Liverpool Bivy and Cascade Saddle.

Wanaka is also part of the length of New Zealand walking route AKA Te Araroa (The Long Pathway) that travels from Cape Reinga to Bluff – make Wanaka an overnight stopover.

Skiing Wanaka

Come winter, Wanaka is the ideal base for skiers and boarders. From beginners through to seasoned skiers and heli-skiers, take your pick of Cardrona, Treble Cone or Snow Farm, or try all three. It’s arguably the best skiing in New Zealand and sees people coming back year after year for more. The ski season finds Wanaka pumping both on and off the slopes.

                        Skiing Lake Wanaka

Family Friendly Activities

Cinema Paradiso – It’s about as quirky as it gets with a selection of comfy couches, various seating options and even an old Morris Minor! Grab your spot and treat of choice – the homemade cookies and ice cream are hard to ignore. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the latest movie in style!

Puzzling World- Making the weird and wonderful seem perfectly normal, that’s what it’s all about! Fulfill your inner child (or take your own) with rooms of illusions, crazy houses and one heck of a maze; enjoy this whacky trip into wonderland.

Wanaka Lavender Farm - A walk through these fragrant purple fields is like nothing else. After taking your time strolling around the farm, try a cup of lavender tea, some lavender ice cream or check out the health benefits from the many products produced on the farm.

Wanaka Dining

Wanaka’s a small town packed with world-class dining options.

Restaurants – The restaurant selection and quality is quite frankly staggering. Some of our Bella Vista head office favourites are: Big Fig, Luggate Hotel, Mazunga and The Spice Room. But heck, they’re all great!! With cuisine and dining styles galore there’s no shortage on choice here.

Cafes – Wanaka takes its coffee and café culture very seriously and because of this you’ll find it hard to go wrong. Try Fedeli, Double Black and Alchemy for your caffeine fix.

Bars & Nightlife.  Lake views, open fires, atmosphere and dancing – tick every box you need? You’ll no doubt hear about the places to go when you’re down here, but depending on your mood checkout: Wineglass Café, Trout Bar or Gin & Raspberry.

Wanaka accommodation can book out fast, especially over the ski season and height of summer.  So start thinking about when you would like to head our way and call Tom & Melissa who will help you sort everything you need.

                     

Bella Vista Motel Wanaka is the perfect home away from home. Its central location sees you only 150m from Lake Wanaka and a minute’s walk to town. It is Qualmark 4 star endorsed, with free wifi and plenty of parking, which means you can relax and enjoy your stay. Give us a call today - we'd love to host you.


Queenstown is Calling!


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Bungy Jumping, Queenstown Hill, Shotover River, Coronet Peak, Ziptrek, Canyon Swing, Fergburger, Gibbston Valley, the list literally goes on and on.

If you’re after a memorable trip, something more than just your average weekend away, then Queenstown is your place. With its picture-perfect setting, breath-taking views, combined with fun and adventure all year round, it’s a hard place to fault. Queenstown was recently voted the 2017 Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Award as the Number One place to visit in New Zealand for the second year in a row, and when you join us down here you’ll see why.

One blog post is never going to do Queenstown justice, there’s just so much to see and do.  So take a read below and see just a few of the ways to pass your time in Queenstown - Staying of course at the modern and comfortable Bella Vista Motel Queenstown.
 

Adrenalin Junkie? 

Being the adventure capital of the world we thought here was a good starting point.

AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping

Kawarau Bridge, The Ledge or The Nevis, you’ll find yourself with sweaty palms, a racing heart and a feeling of “what am I thinking??” But the adrenaline kick you get in return is out of this world. So 3,2,1 lets bungy!!

Shotover Jet

Extreme speeds, 360-degree spins, and venturing into the narrow and spectacular canyons – are you sold yet? This jet boat ride dusts off the cobwebs for sure and gives you Queenstown from a different perspective.  The Shotover Jet is the only jet boat operator permitted to operate in the Shotover River Canyons, you’ll be holding on tight for this one!

Ziptrek Ecotours, Queenstown Zipline Tour

One for the memory bank, see yourself flying down through the Queenstown forest on the world’s steepest tree-to-tree zipline. This 3-hour (or 2-hour option) adrenaline overload leaves from the top of Queenstown Gondola where you plunge the equivalent of 30 stories down. Now all you have to do is relax and take in the views of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown and the Remarkables mountain range.

                             Ziptrek Ecotours Queenstown

 

Wining and Dining

The food and wine culture in Queenstown and surrounding areas is about as good as it gets.

Amisfield

Book into this highly respected and awarded winery for the Trust the Chef menu.  Your taste buds will not be disappointed and the wine matches are spot on.  It’s one of a kind and there’s nothing better than watching the world go by with a glass of Central Otago Pinot in hand.

Botswana Butchery

Relax after a hard days sightseeing beside the roaring fire (either inside or out) and taking in the lake views. Botswana Butchery is one of Queenstown’s most stylish and well-respected restaurants and the food and wine selection is top class. Book this one in for sure!

Fergburger

Ok so it’s not 5 star Michelin, but it’s about as Queenstown as it gets. This burger bar that started life as a hole in the wall joint, has a cult like following with nightly queues down the road. Burger choices include: The Codfather, Cockadoodle Oink and Sweet Bambi. DO NOT leave town without trying out one of their burgers.

                Fergburger


Sightseeing

Now, you said you wanted to see the sights– where shall we start?  Everywhere you look it’s like a postcard. Simply breathtaking.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant

Located an easy walk from town, this spot hands down has the best views in town. Take your seat on the gondola and while you’re there pat yourself on the back for making it down to Queenstown. Once you’ve reached the top the world is your oyster: choose to dine at the Stratosfare Restaurant for lunch or dinner, enjoy a Kiwi Haka Maori Cultural performance, luge your way back down, bring your mountain bike and explore or try star gazing at night.

Lake Wakatipu

A serious time waster (as in you could waste away the day staring at the stunning views). The Maori Legend of Lake Wakatipu involves love, a hero and murder, creating the gorgeous lake, as we know it today.

The heart and soul of Queenstown is Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by its beautiful snow capped mountains. It’s often the meeting place for visitors to gather, whether it is for lakeside dining, a morning walk, the TSS Earnslaw, a spot of fishing or even a semi-submerged shark.

Milford Sound Day Tip

We couldn’t write this blog without highlighting the Milford Sound day trip that many visitors to Queenstown partake in.  Renowned for being one of the most stunning wilderness regions in the Sothern Hemisphere, Milford Sound is located in the Fiordland National Park.  Impressive whatever the weather (in fact the rain can help magnify the visual effects), take in the peaks, cliffs, waterfalls - some up to 1000m and surrounds. Boat Cruises are a popular way to experience Milford Sound where you will learn all the information, history, myths and legends to do with this popular spot.

Skiing Queenstown

Skiing The Remarkables, Cardrona, Treble Cone or Coronet Peak is a feeling like nothing else. With the ski season nearly upon us, stay tuned for a ski Queenstown feature. Telling you all you need to know plus all those hidden secrets only the locals know about.

Lake Hayes

On the main road to Arrowtown from Queenstown there is a beautiful smaller lake called Lake Hayes, which on a still day will offer you endless photographic opportunities - the calm water silently reflecting the surrounding mountains. Another picture postcard view, Lake Hayes is a popular stop for budding photographers and a very popular wedding venue. Have a look at this picture below and you'll know what we mean.

                               Lake Hayes

There are many Queenstown accommodation options available; however being one of the closest motels to central Queenstown gives Bella Vista Motel Queenstown the edge. This Queenstown motel is only a flat 5 minute walk from everywhere you need to be and with ample parking! Let Lee, Rachel and the team take care of you and all your accommodation needs.


A love affair with Gisborne


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Gisborne’s got us hook, line and crayfish pot! To say that we enjoy visiting Gizzy (affectionately named by the locals) is an understatement - we love it! It’s one of those places that is off the main tourist radar and that’s what makes it that little bit special.

This infatuation started not because of Gisborne’s famous Rhythm and Vines music festival - don’t get us wrong we still love dancing along there, but because of its staunch, unfailing sense of self. It is a town that is bursting with pride about its history, its people and what it offers visitors to the region… and proud it should be.

Visitors choose to come to Gisborne - it’s not really a place you’d pass by otherwise. It’s an enjoyable 6-hour drive from Auckland, 3 hours from Napier or 7 from Wellington. There are also daily direct flights out of Auckland and Wellington if a drive like that is not your thing.

But what to do when you arrive? Aside from the kaimoana (seafood) that is out of this world, there’s so much to see and do in Gisborne you could easily stay up to a week. From surfing to wine tasting, Stingray feeding to Maori culture - why not try out a couple of these wonderful options next time you visit?
 

Surfing 

Hands down one of the best places in NZ to learn to surf, with a number of surf schools to choose from you’ll be hanging 10 with the best of them in no time. Lessons are available anywhere from 1 lesson through to week long options, so pick the level you want to get to and go for it! Two of the popular schools in Gisborne are: WOW Surf School and Surfing With Frank.
 

Rere Rockslide 

Yes you read correctly, a 60m long natural rock slide. Pack your wetsuit, tyre inner or boogie board and prepare to have some serious fun. Rere Rockslide is located about 50km out of Gisborne so make a day trip out of it, there’s also a great swimming hole and picnic area here. PS don’t mistake Rere Falls for the rockslide and attempt to slide over these! Rere Falls is situated a short distance away and quite impressive in its own right.
 

Dive Tatapouri 

A once in a lifetime experience to snorkel with and feed Stingrays.  These graceful and gentle sea creatures are often misunderstood and feared, but joining in with a Dive Tatapouri adventure will change your perception forever. Your time on the reef may also see you getting up close with Yellowtail Kingfish, Trevally, Kahawai, Crayfish, Octopus or Conger eel.
 

                          


​Gisborne Wine Centre

Find out all you need to know about the local wine scene at Gisborne’s most comprehensive wine seller and tasting room. Once you’ve decided on your favourite drop relax with a glass of it paired with some delicious food overlooking the harbour. If you’d prefer to get out to the wineries themselves there are a number that are well worth a visit, Ashwood Estate, Bushmere Estate, Hihi Wines, Milton Vineyards and Winery just to name a few.
 

Tairawhiti Museum

A great place to visit and gain an understanding of the local history and culture. The museum provides a fantastic collection of Maori artifacts, sculptures, carvings and also an insight into Gisborne and the way it used to be through a series of old photos. The hosts are friendly and inviting and love to share their knowledge.
 

East Cape Lighthouse

Now this is something pretty amazing. Get up early and be one of the first people in the world to see the new day in. The lighthouse is located on a walking track at the top of Otiki Hill.  We may have neglected to mention that it’s 700 steps to get there, but the views more than make up for that at the end. After the sunrise check out some of the gorgeous beaches on the way back to town.
 

                               


Rhythm and Vines

It would be remiss of us not to mention the super popular Rhythm and Vines annual music festival. Jam-packed full of both international and NZ artists, it’s a crazy old time at Waiohika Estate – and the people come to party. Plan your visit in for late December for this one and book into Bella Vista Gisborne early as we book out well in advance!

Not that we’re biased but the best place to stay when seeking out Gisborne accommodation is Bella Vista Motel Gisborne. The fact that it was recently awarded the 2017 Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award for 14th Top Bargain Motel speaks for itself although we prefer to think of it in terms of value, not bargain.

Located right in the heart of it, close to town, the airport and everywhere you need to be. Owners Frik & Marise are experts in pointing people in the right direction and providing the very best stay you can have.

So step off the beaten track and see the new day in at Gisborne - we hope you'll love it too.

                                                           

 

 


Visiting Nelson - It's one of a kind!


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What’s not to love about Nelson? Longer sunshine hours, lower than average rainfall, friendly vibe and laid-back locals. Nelson is one of the true gems of the South Island and should not to be missed!


Annually Nelson sees big numbers come through the region - in excess of 1.4 million guest nights in 2016. Although these numbers are staggering, Nelson does it with grace and ease. Always managing to keep its unique charm at the forefront.


It’s a magnificent place to visit all year round with its appeal reaching far and wide. The art scene is one of the best in New Zealand, with many artists: painters, sculptors, potters and artisans calling Nelson home. While nature lovers and adventurist's have options aplenty, from Seal colonies, bird sanctuaries and of course, Nelson’s trump card, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.

We’ve decided to take all the hard work out of planning a trip to Nelson for you. Researching high and low, scouring Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, you name it to find for you the best of the best (well Bella Vista's guide anyway). So here goes:


Best Museum:

World of Wearable Arts & Classic Cars Museum. A collection showcasing everything brilliant in wearable arts, including award winning garments from the high profile World of Wearable Arts competition, alongside a prized collection of classic cars. Male, female, young and old – everyone loves this place.


Best Short Walk:

The Centre of New Zealand. One of New Zealand’s most popular walks; taking you literally to the Centre of New Zealand! Its location on Botanical Hill is a 20 – 60 minute walk depending on your fitness level.  It’s well worth the exercise though as the views of the Nelson area and beyond are stunning.
 

                             Centre of New Zealand


Best Beach:

Tahunanui Beach. A beautiful beach and great place to sit back, relax and watch the world go by. If you’re partial to a spot of swimming, beach walking, paddle boarding or wind surfing, then this one’s for you. And guess what, Bella Vista Nelson is but a short stroll from the beachfront!
 

     Tahunanui Beach


Best Garden:

Queen’s Gardens. Dating back to 1892 and registered as a New Zealand historic place, Queen’s Gardens are a place of true beauty and tranquility in the heart of Nelson City.  Listed as a Classical Victorian Ornamental Park, take your time and enjoy the park’s sculptures, the Cupid Fountain, the Water Wheel, the Boer War memorial, plus much more.


Best Market:

Nelson Market. This iconic market is open Saturdays from 8am–1pm and located in Montgomery Square. Nelson Market showcase's everything special about this region including: local food & produce, gifts, arts & crafts and talented artisans. Message to those first timers- don’t fill up on breakfast prior to visiting, as the food on offer is top class (and so is the coffee).


Best Art Stop:

This was a hard one to pick, with over 300 living artists based in the Nelson area but we've gone with Hoglund Art Glassblowing Studio where world renowned glass artists Ola and Marie Hoglund open their doors and welcome visitors to their glassblowing studio and gallery. You’ll be the epitome of restraint if you manage to leave without your very own glass platter, paperweight, jewellery or vase.

And here's some of the best bits which are slightly further afield, but absolutely not to be missed:


Best Outdoor Adventure:

Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman will wow you around every corner, native tree and rock, it’s a popular destination for those exploring both by foot and by kayak. The coastal wildlife, pristine beaches and native bush, flora & fauna provide so many photo opportunities, you’ll want to make sure you’ve allowed a good amount of time here! Nelson is the perfect base for exploring the Abel Tasman; in fact the majority of people will add on a day either side.

       Abel Tasman National Park


Best ‘Wild Card’ Location:

Farewell Spit & Puponga Farm Park. The northern most point of the South Island is just begging to be explored.  This off the beaten track experience is famous for its bird sanctuary (with over 90 bird species recorded), historic lighthouse, pa sites, the seals and rock formations.


Looking for Nelson accommodation options? Bella Vista Motel Nelson ticks all the boxes, plus more. Its location is a stroll away from the beautiful Tahuna Beach and an easy drive into town, restaurants and activities. Your friendly hosts Bruce and Nadine will treat you like long lost friends and they will go out of their way to help you with your Nelson exploring. The modern, purpose built Nelson Bella Vista has everything you need, meaning you can truly relax and breath in that good old Nelson fresh air.

                Bella Vista Nelson


Napier & Hawkes Bay: 5 Winery Lunch stops not to be missed!


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This was certainly a hard task to undertake...Seek out some fabulous spots for lunching in Napier and the Hawke’s Bay Region. We certainly didn’t need to be asked twice!

Before the boss could blink; bags were packed, wine maps were downloaded and we were heading to one of the most beautiful places on earth – The Bay.

Being the oldest and second largest wine region in New Zealand you know you’re in for a quality wine experience when visiting Hawke’s Bay. For lovers of Merlot Cabernet blends, Syrah and Chardonnay, you’ll struggle to find many better, and those more partial to the other varietals there is certainly an abundance on offer. But alas, this task was to share some of our top lunch spots - so it’s not all swirl and spit I promise!

Whilst we were spoilt for choice, with 72 wineries in the region, as the title states we identified five that really stood out to us.  We were looking for: beautiful presentation, quality local and fresh produce & foods, gorgeous taste combinations, and fabulous locations. Here’s what we came up with:
 

Mission Estate

We had to start with the winner of the Hospitality Awards Hawke's Bay 2016 Outstanding Winery Restaurant, Mission Estate. Located in the Taradale hills, the views over Napier city and beyond will blow your mind. The building, its location and the overall feel are pretty hard to beat and so was the food.

Eating lunch on the outdoor dining terrace was one of the highlights of our trip with the waiting staff all trained to provide the best wine match option for each dish on the menu, it really is a winery sent from heaven.

                    Mission Estate


Elephant Hill

Needing to be wowed? Then Elephant Hill is just the winery to do it. With a setting amongst the vines on the Te Awanga coast, the views of the Pacific Ocean and the Kidnapper Cliffs will quite simply take your breath away.  Think fine dining with a truly inspired menu, Elephant Hill will not disappoint if you are looking for something really special.


Black Barn 

Lunch was casual, relaxed and eaten out on the courtyard under a canopy of grapes.  The menu, as promised was light, fresh and delicious, using locally sourced food and produce. Black Barn stole our hearts, so much so we really didn’t want to leave. There’s something here for everyone including those stopping for coffee or nibbling from the small bites menu.


Te Awa

With a nod towards Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours, lunch at Te Awa is all about the experience.  Sharing dishes (allowing you just the right amount of many delicious options) is the perfect way to enjoy a long Sunday lunch with friends and family, with small plates, large plates, garden plates and charcuterie boards on offer. Te Awa was a memorable occasion and seated outdoors it is a great option if dining with kids.


Craggy Range

The fact each dish from entrée through to dessert came with a suggested wine match, we knew we’d found the right place.  Making the most of their kitchen garden and potager, the food was fresh, honest and tasted divine. I can confidently suggest the fish was the best I’ve ever eaten.

The ideal spot for accommodation while checking out the Hawke’s Bay wineries is in Napier. With the restaurants, cafes, shopping, and art deco right on your doorstep. It makes it all so easy.


                  Hawkes Bay Wineries


Bella Vista Motel Napier is a great Napier accommodation option, conveniently located on Hastings Street, which runs parallel to Marine Parade. They have plenty of safe parking, so you can leave your car and cycle or wine taxi around the vineyards.   It’s time to get out there and experience all that the Hawke’s Bay wineries have to offer – we did and we loved it! Thanks Bella Vista Napier for hosting us.


New Zealand Glaciers - Up Close and Personal


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We are lucky enough in New Zealand to have some pretty amazing places to visit, one absolute highlight is located on the West Coast of the South Island, and is aptly named ‘Glacier Country’.

The undeniable heroes of this region are Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, commonly referred to as the most accessible rivers of ice in the world.
 

Franz Josef Glacier

At 10 km long, beginning at an elevation of about 3,500 metres (11,500 feet) at the tops of the Southern Alps, and descends into rainforest close to sea level.  This glacier offers the rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacier in a temperate (moderate) environment, located within easy driving and walking distance from the main highway.


Fox Glacier

The Fox Glacier is 12km long and travels down the Fox Valley from the peaks of the Southern Alps through temperate rainforest, turning a corner before terminating 250 metres above sea level. Fox Glacier is the longer and the faster moving of the two famous West Coast glaciers.


The great news is exploring these glaciers can be done easily and in a number of different ways.  From guided walks through to glacier heli hikes and ice climbs. Depending on your choice, you have the ability to do what very few people get to do, reaching the terminal face, climbing through crevices and exploring ice caves. A glacier encounter is a highlight for all of those lucky enough to experience it, and one we can’t recommend highly enough.

There has been a lot of talk over recent times of climate change and how this will have a direct effect on glaciers worldwide. Therefore there is no better time to get out there and see for yourself a very spectacular part of our country.

Aside from the glaciers, Glacier Country is home to a raft of activities and sights. Lake Matheson (the mirror lake), kayaking, boat cruises, a kiwi incubation unit, Glacier Hot pools, plus lots more – so ensure you allow enough time to soak up all you can.

If you haven’t been yet, get down to Glacier Country and tick it off your bucket list.  Bella Vista Motels have two fabulous properties for people looking for Franz Josef accommodation or Fox Glacier accommodation options.
 

                          


Bella Vista Motel Franz Josef Glacier

Located in the heart of Franz Josef Village, offers quality, warm and comfortable accommodation with the shops, restaurants and bars right on your doorstep. Adam and his team will look after you and help with any questions or assistance you need for getting out to the glaciers.


Bella Vista Motel Fox Glacier

Centrally located in the quiet main street of Fox Glacier Village. Enjoy all the amenities in close proximity plus the onsite spa and BBQ facilities are much appreciated after a day exploring the glaciers. Bill and Jill are extremely helpful and provide a warm and welcoming environment for all their guests.

With the West Coast of New Zealand having so many gems, we couldn’t fit everything we wanted into one blog post. Check back in in the coming months for information on the other areas you can explore with Bella Vista Motels.

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Bella Vista Franz Josef Glacier is currently running a terrific Easter package. Head to the Bella Vista deals page for more information.

 

 


A Weekend in Wellington. The Ultimate Destination.


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While discussing recently with a friend the joy that is the weekend escape – what it does for the soul, relationships/friendships and not to mention our appreciation of NZ - we started throwing around destinations for ‘our ultimate weekend get away’.  Whilst we are spoilt for choice on locations in our beautiful country, we came to the conclusion that it’s hard to go past the best little capital, Wellington.

Whether it’s for the arts, restaurant culture, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa or one of the many events that Wellington hosts, the capital city ticks all the boxes!

Wellington is easy to explore by vehicle or foot, set around the picturesque Wellington Waterfront, all you need for a great stay is within close proximity.  The vibrant feel to this city is obvious as soon as you head out for a stroll, with its sophistication, quirky corners and cosmopolitan mix of cafes, restaurants, bars. Wellington very rarely disappoints.

                         Wellington Weekend

 

Wellington offers something for everyone; with so many highlights the weekend is often not long enough.  Here’s a list of what we thought were some of the must sees!
 

First Timers:

  • The Beehive & Parliament Buildings – NZ’s Parliament buildings.
  • Te Papa – Museum of New Zealand.
  • Wellington Cable Car – A fun trip onboard a cable car running between Lambton Quay (the main shopping street) and Kelburn.
  • Wellington Waterfront – The heart of Wellington City. Beautiful to stroll and watch the world go by.
  • Weta Studios – Your tour of filmmaking in Wellington over the last 20 years. From Middle-earth and beyond – check out their talent!
  • Old St Paul’s – A gorgeous wooden cathedral built in 1865 – a holy and welcoming building in the heart of Wellington City.


Looking for something a bit different:

  • Wrights Hill Fortress – A surreal network of underground tunnels, operation rooms and three gun emplacements.
  • Old Bank Arcade Animated Musical Clock – Housed in a historic shopping center (that used to be an old bank headquarters) the centerpiece is an animated mechanical musical clock that opens each hour to reveal scenes of Wellington harbor’s past and present.
  • Wellington Writers Walk - combining a walk along Wellington’s waterfront with thought provoking quotations from some of New Zealand’s best-known writers.

 

Nature Lovers:

  • Zelandia Sanctuary – The world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, a groundbreaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, 6 of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. 
  • Walk to Red Rocks (Seal Colony) - An easy half day coastal walk to Red Rocks and a fur seal colony on the south side of Wellington.
  • Kapiti Island Nature Tours – A bird sanctuary and one of New Zealand’s most accessible nature reserves. A truly unique visitor accessed by approved tour operators only.

 

Accommodation in Wellington:

Finding Wellington accommodation can sometimes be a challenging prospect, with many accommodation styles and levels available. While many people opt to stay in the hustle and bustle of the central city, choosing a Wellington motel is a fantastic option as it provides a quieter location with a bit more space to relax.

The Bella Vista Wellington is a great spot for your next Wellington escape, in beautiful Evans Bay only minutes by car to everything you need: Wellington Airport, Wellington Waterfront, Te Papa, Ferry Terminal and Westpac Stadium. Plus it has ample safe parking, avoiding those parking issues of Wellington central city.

 

Give us a call at Bella Vista Motel Wellington and Richard and Christine will be happy to discuss your Wellington accommodation needs.