Category Archives: A Good Read!
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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For any one heading on holiday or taking a journey a sunrise or sunset can be an iconic part of your experience. Some may argue that it is an essential element to any great trip and we can assure you that when travelling to New Zealand you will have a great time.
Watching dawn break and the sun follow shortly after is always memorable, particularly if you have got up early to see it. Finding the perfect spot in the evening to share and enjoy with friends and family as you watch the sun go down can also be very special. If you record the occasion with a photo there is no doubt it will take pride of place in both your photo album and memory. Recollections of spectacular colours dance together as sounds all blur into an occasion of happiness and wonderful memories.
Being an island nation and surrounded by oceans stretching to infinity both east and west, New Zealand is uniquely well-placed for this experience. The Pacific Ocean gives the days first light to New Zealand along the east coast whilst the Tasman Sea swallows the sun in the west at the end of the day. Being a relatively small nation, it is not difficult to traverse between coastlines and capture both the sun rising and setting across the sea in the same day. Not that we would necessarily advise that, however, because it would create an unnecessary rush between coasts.
Any well-planned itinerary should definitely allow time and so it may be that you choose a different option to capture the sunset or sunrise and that is to get amongst the mountains. With the spine of New Zealand carried by the Southern Alps in the South Island and the Volcanic Plateau in the centre of the North Island, there are lots of options here to obtain your perfect first light or sundowners experience.
With 27 locations through the country, Bella Vista has motels which are well-placed to help you achieve your ‘sun time’ goal. Have a read of the following suggestions and plan your travels accordingly.
The most obvious place to start is Gisborne, commonly known as the first city to see the rising sun – every day! Gisborne Bella Vista is well placed to access not only the heart of the city by car or by foot, but it is a great location to head a little bit further out of town and explore more of the East Cape. But where is the best place to see the sunrise we hear you ask? Wainui Beach often takes the headlines but one recommendation is to head further up to Makorori Beach, a lovely locals beach north on State Highway 35 with great views of the coast from the lookout. It is popular with surfers but also those wanting to see the start of the day. Sunsets aren’t too shabby here either as the light of the day disappears behind you creating a wonderful warm glow. If you want something closer to town, Kaiti Hill is a look-out point which you can reach by walking, biking or by car. With views out to sea and right across Gisborne, you’ll be well set to see the new dawn. Gisborne Bella Vista will be more than happy to help you with the local knowledge that you need, including heading further around the East Cape where there are some other terrific sunrise spots including East Cape lighthouse and Anaura Bay.
Wellington is another great North Island destination to watch the sunrise. An early start from the Wellington Bella Vista to head up Mount Victoria that stands closely behind your Wellington accommodation will bring brilliant rewards. As the sun eases up behind the hazy shadowy outlines of distant mountains, you’ll watch the city catch the light and come to life in the dawn sunlight. With views of the city, the harbour, planes and ferries arriving and leaving, you really get a sense of the day beginning. Mount Victoria can be a challenging walk but the team at your Bella Vista motel will know the best way to go and critically the best time to ensure you make the most of this peaceful time of day.
For terrific sunsets in the North Island it might sound too obvious but we would point you to New Plymouth, New Zealand’s most westerly city. With our Bella Vista accommodation set right in the heart of town, you have the most perfect location to enjoy the highlights of the region and you’re also not too far from a popular sunset spot. Back Beach overlooks Sugar Loaf Marine Park and is a short 10 minute drive from your New Plymouth accommodation. Taking in the sunset at this spot seems to be the highlight for many visitors and comes highly recommended. Take your time to end the day and enjoy a wander or just
Heading to the South Island, we’re going to take you straight to Bella Vista Hokitika accommodation, a motel set in the most delightful West Coast town that happens to be directly adjacent to the beach. Not only that, but Hokitika has a beach called Sunset Point which is a 3 minute drive from the hotel or a 15 minute walk. As the name suggests, it is a great place to watch the sunset and a quick look at Trip Advisor confirms this with a 5 out of 5 star rating.
“This is the place to watch the sunset each day as the sun kisses the ocean and disappears into the water. Plenty of photo opportunities with drift wood sign spelling out the towns name.”
Photos from previous travellers instantly draw you to want to visit the town so don’t delay. If you hadn’t heard of Hokitika previously be sure to add it to your itinerary and book for two nights, not just one. Our Hokitika motel has handy maps to guide you the right way and will also be able to tell you what time you need to be there by to enjoy the most of the sun descending into the sea.
Set in the heart of the mountains in the southern region of New Zealand, Queenstown may be completely landlocked but here you can view a wonderful sunset, sunrise and see the southern nights stars in between. For the early risers, a trip in the car up the public road to Coronet Peak will position you perfectly to watch the first light of the day cast itself across the Wakatipu basin. As the sun comes up in the distant west, you will see bands of light rising behind mountains and the reflections of early sunlight casting shadows which create wonderful effects on the valley floor far beneath you. It is a magical time of day and the beautiful views keep growing as the new daylight chases down the Remarkables and onto Lake Wakitipu. Queenstown Bella Vista will advise you on the best timings to head out and the which route to take to capture these views. The team at the centrally located Queenstown accommodation motel will also point you toward Queenstown lakefront in time for a perfect sundowners. The beach at Queenstown Bay can become very busy during the evening on a warm sunny day but it is very much worth finding a spot after purchasing some fish & chips and sit there as the sun sets behind Ben Lomond. Some would say this is the best show in town but wait, have you looked at the stars?
Franz Josef Glacier & Fox Glacier
It might sound strange, but another perfect sunrise spot is actually on the West Coast near Fox Glacier and within a short drive from Franz Josef Glacier. Lake Matheson takes pride of place as the sun rises above the snow-capped mountains perfectly reflect in the still lake waters. It's a special spot and close to both Bella Vista Franz Josef Glacier accommodation and Bella Vista Fox Glacier motel.
Dunedin, Mosgiel & Christchurch
Two other favourite spots we have in the South Island for sunsets are Dunedin’s St Clair beach and New Brighton Pier in Christchurch. Luckily both have Bella Vista’s nearby, Bella Vista offers a great Mosgiel accommodation option just 10 minutes’ drive from Dunedin or you can stay at the Dunedin Bella Vista itself. Bella Vista Christchurch apartments and motel is located on Bealey Avenue, a 15 minute drive from New Brighton. If you happen to be spending your last night in New Zealand before flying home from Christchurch Airport, take time to head to the pier in the late afternoon and enjoy a memorable end to your holiday.
We’d love to hear from you where you have enjoyed your most memorable New Zealand sunrise or sunset so feel free to leave your comments on the Bella Vista Facebook page or share your photo on Instagram with the tag #bellavistanz
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Hot cross buns, Easter egg hunts, oodles of chocolate and catching up with friends and family are likely on everyone’s calendars this Easter. But how about making it extra special by combining all these things with an Easter getaway.
Our 4 top pick destinations in the North Island this year will have you hopping mad with excitement.
And remember once you are there ask around and see if there’s any local Easter Hunts, special music or other events happening over the weekend that you can join in on.
Take the hassle out of getting away by staying at our Bella Vista motels where you and the kids will enjoy a relaxed and enjoyable stay. Your Bella Vista hosts are friendly and will enjoy giving you some great local tips and there’s free parking so you can get out and explore by foot or bicycle.
Be the first to see the sunrise on Easter Sunday on the sun-kissed East Cape. Gisborne is well known for its wineries and beautiful beaches and makes for that perfect escape for the Easter break. Take the family for a surf lesson, find some time to hide some Easter treats and before they are totally exhausted from catching waves, send the kids to go hunting for eggs amongst the dunes or under driftwood. While they are occupied you can relax, listen to the waves crash and soak in the last days of warmth before the cooler months settle in.
A great place to go for a wander at this time of year is the Eastwoodhill Arboretum, its only 30mins out of Gisborne and a popular must-see attraction. It’s at its most magnificent in Autumn and the trees put on a spectacular show of colours from oranges to purples to bronzes and reds. You can take a guided tour or walking tour. There’s a Visitor Centre and Gift Store and Discovery Centre along with a playground with some of the biggest swings in the country. And if you begin to get a little peckish visit the Homestead Tea House that’s open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 3pm where you can get a warm cuppa with scones, jam and cream or delicious cake whilst listening out for the Kereru or Tui.
Besides the beaches, there are numerous walks both historic and nature based. Or check out the Morere Hot Springs. These natural mineral pools are one of New Zealand's off-the-beaten-track thermal bathing sites.
At the end of each day you’ll come back to the comfort of the Bella Vista motel. Your Gisborne accommodation is an easy walk to the town centre, shops and restaurants and the nearby beach.
Napier, the self-proclaimed Art Deco Capital of the World, is strikingly different from other towns in New Zealand. After the devastation of the 1931 earthquake Napier was rebuilt in the Spanish mission style architecture that we see today. Step back in time as you wander in and out of shops, browsing 1920’s style costumes and paraphernalia. Do a walking tour around the historic buildings and hear some stories of characters of that time.
Napier has a fantastic boardwalk that meanders around the coastline. It's loved by locals who make the most of the amazing sunshine! You can hire bikes and ride along to Westshore or amble along past the port to Ahuriri. Ice-cream stops are a must along the way, along with playgrounds, skateparks, restaurants, cafes and New Zealand’s National Aquarium. It’s a great way to while away a day. The Marine Parade is a bustle of activity over the weekends but whether you want to beat the family at mini-golf or laze in the sunken gardens for a picnic, there is something for everyone.
Your Napier accommodation is perfectly located on Hastings Street that runs parallel to Marine Parade with its majestic Norfolk Pine Trees. The Bella Vista motel is within walking distance to the shops and restaurants, the art deco buildings and of course the ocean-side walkway. They have plenty of parking so there’s no excuse to get out and explore by foot!
Taupo sits nestled on the edge of the mighty Lake Taupo looking across to the Tongariro National Park. It owes its beautiful scenery to the active volcanic zone that it lies within. Adrenaline and adventure-based activities are plentiful making it a fantastic location for the kids to let off steam and the adults to forget about their daily routines and get amongst it. Start with a thrilling Hukafalls Jet Boat ride along the Waikato river, past nature bush, sheer rock cliff faces, hot water streams and feel the power of the Huka Falls as you get up close to it. From here visit one of the regions top geothermal attractions like Craters of the Moon or wander the ‘Hidden Valley’ of Orakei Korako exploring the bubbling mud pools and gushing geysers along some of the largest and most amazing silica terraces in the world.
Take a cruise or kayak out to see Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings. These 14m high carvings took 4 years to complete and are only accessible by water. And finish off your weekend with a hot soak in hot pools at Debretts Hot Springs, the Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa or the AC Baths and Thermal Hot Pools.
You Taupo motel accommodation at the Bella Vista is situated on the fringe of the town centre and just a short stroll to go out for dinner, browse the shops or wander along the lakefront at sunset.
And last but not least of our Easter Getaway locations in the North Island, is Rotorua, a place of wealth for Maori history and culture amidst New Zealand’s most lively geothermal area. But let’s not forget that Rotorua is also home to many adventure activities including Rotorua Canopy Tours – an eco-adventure deep in to the forest including a zipline ride that will have the whole family squealing with delight - an experience not to forget!!
Take in a farm show at the Agrodome, see the sheepdogs in action and feed the animals. Kids and adults love the interaction with the cute and cuddly baby animals. At Rainbow Springs the interaction with nature continues as its home to the Kiwi Burrow and the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa, the world's largest kiwi hatchery! Once you’ve finished discovering about the birds and the bugs take a thrill ride on the “Big Splash”.
In the evening make sure that you visit one of the fantastic Maori Cultural Villages and shows and enjoy the return journey back to your Bella Vista Rotorua accommodation.
It's not too late to book now at www.bellavista.co.nz for the best rate and instant availability and secure your Easter break.
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With summer just begun our minds start drifting thoughts of a summer getaway. A quintessential kiwi holiday. A chance to enjoy some lazy days in the sun, a trip to the beach, or just a complete change of scenery.
With 27 destinations nationwide Bella Vista motel accommodation network offers a great number of destinations to choose from. But popular destinations can quickly book up in the summer months and so we want to highlight 3 alternative destinations that you should consider for a fun-filled summer getaway.
The city of New Plymouth sits on the far west coast of the North Island, in one of the best surf regions of New Zealand, so we think this is an ideal spot for a summer holiday. Spend a day cruising Surf Highway 45 picking top spots to while away the day at the beach or book a surf lesson with a local expert for some great fun in the waves. New Plymouth is known for its coastal walkway that stretches 12.7km along the fabulous coastline. This is fantastic for walking at your own pace, or hire a bike and feel the sea breeze on your face as you glide along. There are amazing outdoor art displays along the way, like the iconic Wind Wand or take in the spectacular views of Mount Taranaki from the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. You can while away time by investigating rock-pools or having a much-needed coffee stop!
There is so much to discover from art galleries to beautiful parks, beaches to restaurants, the subalpine forests and waterfalls of Egmont National Park to the home of seals, seabirds and other marine life at the Sugar Loaf Marine Park. From kayaking to surfing, walking or biking, relaxing on the beach or taking a tour of the area – there is enough to keep you as busy as you wish, interested, and most importantly to come away knowing you’ve had another brilliant summer getaway.
Did you know that Blenheim is only 30 minutes from Picton or 1.5 hours from Nelson and so it is an ideal spot for that summer getaway? Not only will you be close to Marlborough Sounds, Nelson City and neighbouring beaches and the Abel Tasman, but you will be based within the heart of one of New Zealand’s famous wine regions – Marlborough. The region boasts a rather pleasant sunny climate and therefore offers a wide range of outdoor leisure activities and a relaxed lifestyle on top of the flourishing wine industry. With over 50 vineyards near Blenheim you can have a great day out tasting and sampling food and wines. Make it even more fun and do it all on a bike tour!
The Marlborough Flyer is a great way to get a taste of Picton on a day out. The train operates some Super Sundays which enable you to travel by majestic steam train from a by-gone era to Picton from Blenheim Station and back. The 70-minute journey on the Marlborough Flyer to Picton will include the challenging decent into Picton on a 1-in-37 grade, the 4th steepest rail line in New Zealand. The journey allows for a couple of hours to explore Picton before the 50-60 minute ride back to Blenheim.
Don’t forget to check out filmmaker Peter Jackson’s collection of World War I aircraft at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. The aircraft are displayed in realistic dioramas created by Peter Jackson's Weta Digital. It’s pretty awesome and a must see whilst in Blenheim.
Invercargill sits at the bottom of the South Island surrounded by farmland but the gateway to some of New Zealand’s spectacular wilderness areas such as the Catlins, Stewart Island and Fiordland.
The city also boasts a number of exciting must see and dos. The Southland Museum and Art Gallery has live tuatara reptiles that you can see. Queens Park is a large 81-hectare Edwardian styled city park featuring flower displays, the Observatory, rose gardens, duck ponds, bird aviary and zoo, a children’s playground and sports facilities such as the Queen’s Park Golf Club. It’s a great place to explore. Take a picnic and while away an afternoon. To the southeast, Waituna Lagoon is home to abundant bird life and trout populations and has some easy walking trails. The Bill Richardson Transport World is a must-see museum for history and automotive lovers as it showcases the transportation history of NZ including vintage motors and old-fashioned petrol pumps.
Exploring outside the city offers several options: To the north you have the Southern Scenic Route, a magnificent drive through stunning scenery into the mountains and Queenstown. It’s a 2 hour 15 minute drive each way but makes for a great day out to explore the lakeside resort town. Time for a jetboat ride or cruise on the lake, a spa or an ice-cream on the lakefront, a gondola ride or a meander round the shops and a leisurely bite at one of the many cafés and restaurants.
Bluff, a quiet little town only 30 kilometres south of Invercargill is famous for its oysters and the Bluff Oyster Festival held each year. From here, take a 1 hour ferry ride to Stewart Island, where you can experience the wild beauty of bush and beach, a slower pace of life in an unspoilt slice of New Zealand. Take a guided walk, a village and bays tour or visit Ulva Island, a renowned bird sanctuary.
The Catlins coast offers some dramatic and wild scenery. The drive as far as Curio Bay takes about 1 hour 13 minutes but allow for a few stops along the way. Visit Waipapa Point’s Historic Lighthouse and the scene of New Zealand’s worst civilian shipwreck, the passenger steamer SS Tararua in 1881. It is located on a very scenic section of dunes and beach that make it certainly worthy of a visit and sealions and fur seals frequent the beach. Curio Bay is home to a 160 million year old fossilised forest and one of the major attractions of the Catlins. Walk among the stumps of the petrified forest at low tide, the remaining tree stumps and logs are exposed and clearly visible.
Bella Vista motels welcomes you to these destinations and our friendly hosts at Bella Vista Blenheim, Bella Vista New Plymouth and Bella Vista Invercargill would love to help you start planning your stay. They offer a range of accommodation to suit your needs, are close to town centres and have free parking along with unlimited free WiFi.
So book now and book direct at www.bellavista.co.nz and get your summer getaway locked in!
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Planning your next adventure? Well now that you have locked in your accommodation at one of our 27 motels across New Zealand, your next step might be to hunt for a way to get out and about exploring our beautiful country!
Self-Driving holidays are one of the most popular ways to explore NZ, allowing you the freedom to choose where and when you go, and at your own pace. We know that planning a holiday can sometimes be a big task, so we wanted to make it that bit easier by teaming up with our friends at GO Rentals! The Kiwi owned and operated car rental company is our top pick when it comes to booking the perfect car for your Kiwi road trip.
Our partnership with the team gives us a chance to pass on some great savings to you, in the form of a great 10% discount off your hire! GO Rentals has been helping kiwis and travellers explore NZ since 1997 and are committed to providing their customers with the ultimate car rental experience. Their emphasis on service is one of the many reasons Bella Vista has chosen to partner with them. Their level of service was recognized by their recent win of the 2018 CanStar Blue Award for Most Satisfied Customers in the Car Hire Category, being the only car rental company to earn perfect five stars across every category.
In 2017, GO Rentals became the first Qualmark Gold certified car rental company in NZ and in 2018 received the certification for the second consecutive year. The Qualmark certification recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand and is a great endorsement for the team!
And don’t just travel NZ… experience it! Every customer who hires with GO Rentals receives a Free GO Play card. The GO Play discount program offers over 200 discounts to help you see and do more during your New Zealand holiday! From Bungy jumping to Wildlife encounters, find out what activities are discounted through their program by visiting their website - GO Play with GO Rentals
Needing inspiration for the best cities and towns to visit during your stay? GO Rentals has road trip itineraries and complete guides to help you make the most of your journey – just visit the GO Rentals website to learn about what our great country has to offer.
Itching to get going? To book using our exclusive Bella Vista 10% discount, click here to get started!
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Queenstown was once a delightful endpoint to many a tourist’s journeys when travelling New Zealand from north to south. The lakeside resort revelled in its quiet popularity, many a tourist wondering how they hadn’t heard of this southern gem sooner.
Some say the town started to shout too loud about its relaxed lakeside living, abundant wineries, quite remarkable mountains, the collection of premier Queenstown ski resort’s right on the town’s doorstep or the incredible walks and activities at hand. In the digital age, a picture tells a thousand words and soon Queenstown’s secret was out. What do you think?
As word spread, so demand grew. And it grew a lot. Over 2 million passengers now arrive into Queenstown airport every year seeking to holiday in this wonderful paradise. Thankfully, Queenstown accommodation has also grown to meet the needs and proudly include’s Trip Advisors’ No.1 rated motel, Bella Vista Queenstown.
As Queenstown has developed into a destination where millions come each year to holiday, we thought we’d give you our run-down as to how you can fill your time and create an incredibly memorable 10 day holiday to the resort of Queenstown.
No trip to the South Island is complete without visiting New Zealand's most famous tourist destination, Piopiotahi or more commonly known as Milford Sound. A fiord in the southwest of the South Island and a 4 hour drive from Queenstown, its cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, the towering Mitre Peak spellbinds photographers, lush rainforests and cascading waterfalls like Stirling and Bowen falls plummet down its sheer sides. And when it rains its beauty is only magnified. The fiord also is home to fur seal colonies, penguins, and dolphins. This spectacular natural attraction can be reached on a day trip from Queenstown by coach or plane including a cruise on the fiord. If you can, why not coach in and plane back, that way you get to stop enroute at some of the scenic highlights along the way such as Mirror Lakes and admire the breathtaking beauty from the air. Rudyard Kipling had previously called Milford Sound the eighth Wonder of the World and I reckon that’s spot on. Milford Sound is a full day trip.
If you are heading to Milford Sound, adding a stop in Te Anau is well worth it. It’s a picturesque town nestled on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island, and gateway to the Fiordland National Park. It’s the beginning point for two of NZ’s Great Walks – Milford Track and Kepler Track. Whilst visiting take a boat trip across the lake to do the glowworm grotto in Te Ana au Caves. If you decide to overnight in Te Anau, let Bella Vista Motel Te Anau host you. Only one block back from Te Anau lakefront, they'd love to host you. An overnight stop in Te Anau including a trip to Milford Sound would fill two days.
Queenstown & Gardens
Pick a day and spend it wandering around the township, browsing through shops and art galleries, riding the gondola, taking in the scenery and listening to the vibe. Check out the café scene, Bespoke is a firm favourite for lunch or a coffee shop with a cabinet full of delicious treats, and The Bathhouse on the lakefront is a good spot to watch the activity on the lake and while away an afternoon. Or take a stroll through the Queenstown Gardens ending in a nice Pinot Noir and tapas at The Bathhouse as the sun goes down. The botanical gardens were planted in 1867 and are now a tranquil place to wander amongst the exotic and native plants and trees. To do Queenstown and it's wonderful gardens justice and even a spot of shopping, you'd need to allocate a full day.
Walter Peak and TSS Earnslaw
Take a memorable trip on board the iconic TSS Earnslaw vintage steamship across to Walter Peak High Country Farm. You can just do a return cruise or add a farm tour and scrumptious barbeque lunch and make the most of your day. You won't want to rush this day out to take a full day.
Lake Hayes Walk
With an abundance of mountain scenery every which way you look in Queenstown, the walk around Lake Hayes captures the scene magically. The best time to do this is in the morning when the lake is still, and the mountains are reflected in the glassy waters. Just head towards Arrowtown from Queenstown and you will won’t miss it. The circular walk takes around 2 hours to complete with seats dotted around the track so that you can pause and reflect. Look out for a population of Australian crested grebe who have made the lake their home. Your walk around Lake Hayes will take half a day with no need to rush.
After a refreshing walk around the lake keeps heading to Arrowtown, a quaint, historic gold-mining town. Replenish your soul in one of the many little eateries and then hit the Arrowtown Museum and attached special exhibitions gallery that shows a changing display of art and history related exhibitions. Delve into the history of the Maori, the early European settlers and gold mining era and what life was like. Explore the recreated grog shanty, Victorian Schoolhouse and blacksmith's workshop. Once you have contemplated life for these miners stroll down to the Chinese Village where you will see remnants of their shops and huts. Brrr! It must have been cold in the winter. Today gold panning is still very much alive. Hire a gold pan and try your luck in the Arrow River - there's still plenty of gold there to be found. Take a full day in Arrowtown.
Central Otago is renowned worldwide for its luscious Pinot Noirs, so we recommend taking a wine tour out to the Gibbston Valley to sample a few. Gibbston Valley Winery also has a wine cave purpose built into the rock face and a cheesery that offer tastings for free. Other renowned wineries in the Gibbston Valley are Chard Farm, Mt Rosa, Brennan, Peregrine and Waitiri Creek Wines who offer craft beer tastings too. You're going to need a full day to do these wineries justice.
Location of the british television series “Top of the Lake” and home to many middle-earth scenes in the ‘Lord of the Rings Trilogy’, Glenorchy is an hour’s drive away around Lake Wakatipu, set on the edge of the Mt Aspiring National Park. It’s a small village, popular for trampers and gateway to the Routeburn Track and other spectacular walks. Jetboat rides and horse trekking are among some of the other activities available in Glenorchy. If you have time drive further out to Paradise but only if you're giving this a full day.
The quaint township of Wanaka with a spectacular backdrop of snow-capped mountains, sheep stations and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wanaka are a haven for young and old at any time of the year. Whether for fishing, hiking, skiing, biking or a relaxing getaway you will be spoilt for choice in the many activities, funky bars, quirky cinemas, galleries, spas and seriously good coffee! If you wish to overnight in Wanaka Bella Vista offers a great choice, centrally located right in the middle of town and only a stone's throw from the lake. A trip to Wanaka is one full day, or two days if you stay.
Whether as a separate 1-2 night trip from Queenstown or a part of a roundtrip to Christchurch then Mt Cook is a must see. Its New Zealand’s highest mountain and a popular destination for tourists and climbers. One of the best day walks is the Hooker Valley Track, wind up the Hooker Valley over swing bridges, past alpine streams and glaciers in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook.
So there you have it. 10 days filled and you've barely scratched the surface. If you're thinking of heading to Queenstown get a booking because Bella Vista is waiting to host you.
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Ever wondered why Lonely Planet named Oamaru “the coolest town in New Zealand”! Well pack up the kids and come and find out with a fantastic family weekend away.
Oamaru is the largest town in the Waitaki district and its only 1.5 hours drive North from Dunedin or 2 hours drive South from Ashburton. There’s a lot here to keep the family entertained offering everything from quirky fun family activities, steampunk curiosities, adventure, natural attractions, and wildlife right on its doorstep.
Start your journey by booking your Oamaru accommodation with Bella Vista motels. The Bella Vista Oamaru is the closest motel to the town centre, including cafes, restaurants, shops and the historic Victorian Precinct. The motel offers different room options including one bedroom family units with full kitchen facilities and bath - perfect for families of up to 3 children. The Bella Vista Oamaru also has safe off-street parking, so you can leave the car and explore on foot or bring bicycles or kids scooters – a great way to get around having an adventure at the same time.
Here are our top 10 things to do and see around Oamaru. Check them out and start planning your visit!
1. Steampunk Playground
No trip to Oamaru with kids is complete without visiting the Steampunk playground, located down on the Esplanade by the waterfront. It’s a fantastical playground with art and sculpture incorporated into the play equipment. Watch your children delight whilst on swings that have a giant penny farthing as part of the frame or whooping as they come down the twisting tube slide or flying fox, climbing on the armoured elephant hut or getting dizzy in the giant hamster wheel. There is also a newly constructed learners’ bike park there too. Both toilets and The Galley café are next to the playground, so you can grab a coffee to go, or a bite for lunch when hunger starts to reel the kids in.
2. Oamaru Victorian Precinct
Step back in time as you wander through the historic Victorian precinct, containing NZ’s largest and best-preserved Victorian architecture. Today they house a mix of fascinating vintage clothing shops, galleries, cafes, new and traditional crafts, a bakery, bookbinders, an old-fashioned lolly shop and a great ice-cream shop for a little indulgence.
For a bit of fun, get the whole family dressed up in Victorian clothing and have your picture taken!
On Sundays, the precinct is buzzing with the Oamaru farmers market. You can pick up some yummy treats for a picnic lunch in the gardens.
3. Oamaru Public Gardens
The Oamaru Public Gardens are among the oldest in the country and are well worth the visit. There are many features to interest anyone including a children’s playground, a wonderland garden, fountain, display house and fernery. Find yourselves an idyllic spot for a picnic lunch and where the kids can enjoy the space.
4. Whitestone City
Nestled in the heart of Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct, Whitestone City offers a unique, fun and interactive heritage experience for all the family. Get a glimpse of what life was like in the early colonial days by strolling down the replica Victorian streetscape, check out the merchants of the day, a schoolroom complete with slates and schoolmistress, play old-fashioned games in the dimly lit saloon, and take a ride on a penny-farthing carousel.
5. Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony
The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is Oamaru’s largest tourist attraction. Back in the early 1990s, a colony of penguins moved into the disused rock quarry not far from the historic precinct. This prompted a group of volunteers to set up and help make the area a suitable breeding habitat and provide guided tours.
Come and see the penguins in their natural habitat! Tour the facility during the day learning more about the penguins, play and discover in the brand new children’s area, before heading outdoors to explore the penguins’ nesting environment. Come back for the night viewing and watch the penguins returning home from their day fishing. From a seated grandstand with a live commentary, you can see the Penguins make their way onto the beach, up to a stony ramp, and cross into the Colony.
6. Oamaru Steam Train
If you happen to be in Oamaru on a Sunday, then a must do is a trip on the steam train that runs between the small railway station in the historic precinct and a terminus at the harbour close to the little blue penguin colony on Sundays.
7. Steampunk HQ
From the moment you enter this crazy, quirky museum you are immersed in a futuristic version of 19th century Victorian England, a dark post-apocalyptic vision of an alternative future. A full-scale train engine sits proud at the entrance ready to spit fire and billow smoke. Inside you are met with an array of contraptions, sculptures and bizarre machinery from vintage dentist chairs to a flickering doomsday clock whilst accompanied by audio-visual installations. There are plenty of hands on exhibits to fascinate the kids and parents alike – have a go on the metagalactic pipe organ and checkout The Portal, a mirrored room of glowing lights. Stepping out into the yard you are met with a collection of old planes, trains and automobiles, in various states of steampunk conversion. The kid’s imaginations can go wild in here!
8. Moeraki Boulders
When staying in Oamaru, it is worth a visit to these famous large spherical “stones” that are scattered on a stretch of stunning Koekohe Beach near Moeraki just 30 minutes’ drive away on the Otago coast. These boulders are concretions, which have been exhumed from the mudstone enclosing them and concentrated on the beach by coastal erosion. Local M?ori legends explained the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe.
9. Oamaru Lookout
Head up to the lookout park and enjoy the spectacular views over this beautiful seaside town. If you are feeling adventurous there is a walkway. If’s it’s a fine day pack some morning tea or picnic lunch.
10. Totara Estate
A historic farm situated in beautiful North Otago countryside just south of Oamaru, Totara Estate played a significant role in New Zealand’s history. Birthplace of the frozen meat industry, it changed the course of farming in NZ forever. Open from September to May, the farm consists of men’s quarters, stables, granary, cookhouse and slaughterhouse. Displays recollect farm and domestic life on the estate during Victorian times. Hear stories of swaggers, farm hands, the Chinese cook and a cartoonist. The kids will love to feed the sheep, dress up in Victoria costumes or play old-fashioned games. Top this off with 'smoko' in the cookhouse of tea and scones , then browse through the gift shop.
We look forward to hosting you in Oamaru! Search now on the Bella Vista website.
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Come to Queenstown in Autumn and live like a local! You won’t be disappointed, and you don’t need to spend a fortune in this resort town to have a good time.
We liken Queenstown in Autumn to a very sublime cocktail as it is blessed with the most beautiful and spectacular surroundings of mountains and lakes, mixed with those stunning autumnal colours of the South and stirred up with the town’s great vibe. It’s cool!
Have you been to Queenstown before and ticked off most of the attractions or do you like to immerse yourself in the local scene and mingle with the locals and experience a place as they do? This list of experiences from our hosts at our Bella Vista Queenstown accommodation will have you discovering Queenstown just like a local!
Arrowtown displays the red and gold splendour of Autumn like no other place in the South and this year kicks off its 34th Festival. A time when the community gets together in a fun-filled event of activities, food, and wine, crafts, children’s workshops, exhibitions, shows, and music. A highlight of the festival is the free street parade featuring fabulous floats and colourful characters. Visit the Arrowtown Bakery for some picnic treats and you are set.
Autumn in Queenstown is still a great time to get out and about and you’ll see lots of locals out on their bikes or walk the many trails. There are many options for hiring bikes and your hosts at the Bella Vista Queenstown can point you in the right direction depending on where you would like to explore. If walking is more your thing a popular trail is the Lake Hayes Loop Track or if the snow hasn’t arrived yet, drive up the Remarkables access road and walk up to the glacial waters of Lake Alta or the Lookout for fabulous views over the Wakatipu Basin.
Another of Queenstown’s popular free activities is Frisbee Golf. There are now 2 courses, one scattered through the beautiful Queenstown Gardens and another located by the Shotover River near Quail Rise. This is a great activity to get out and experience the beautiful outdoors and have some fun.
If you need that coffee hit each day or fancy a leisurely lunch, then check out these recommended places Bob’s Weigh or Bespoke in central Queenstown or out of town, try The Boatshed overlooking the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.
The local Saturday morning Remarkables Market, open till mid-April, located in the Red Barn down from Remarkables Park Shopping Centre has a great vibe. Pick up some fresh seasonal fruit or veges, pastries or other local delicacies along with art and crafts and while away some time listening to a local performer.
If the rivers are still low, taking a 4WD along one of the many local tracks and river crossings is always a fun day out and a favourite is to 4WD through Skippers Canyon.
If you are after that sweet treat then head on into the Remarkables Sweet Shop for some fudge tasting or the delectable Patagonia ice-cream parlour. So rewarding after a day out! Both of these great outlets are in downtown Queenstown and Arrowtown.
And when you slow down into the autumnal evenings, grab some Fish ‘n’ Chips from Erik's or a legendary burger from Fergburger and head down to the beach for a picnic dinner at Lake Wakatipu. Local’s tip: Ring Fergburger and pre-order if you don’t like waiting in queues. If the weather is starting to get the chilly head inside to one of the many outstanding restaurants – they may even have that cozy fire going!
Check out a Quiz Night and mingle at a local pub or head back to Arrowtown to catch a movie at the boutique cinema, bar and bookshop Dorothy Brown’s.
So, get your Autumn in Queenstown started. Firstly, book your Queenstown accommodation with Bella Vista Motels. You can do this at www.bellavista.co.nz and take advantage of the ‘Book Now, Pay Later’ option. The Bella Vista Queenstown is centrally located with free parking and WiFi and all room options have kitchenettes. The friendly team is there to help you experience Queenstown like a local.
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If you are travelling to New Zealand or are a resident Kiwi, there is a good chance you're already aware that New Zealand motels offer a great option for your overnight accommodation needs.
With 27 motels nationwide, Bella Vista is well placed to cater for anyone requiring a motel stay. They are affordable, comfortable and convenient plus in most instances, you will get a better feel for your locality. Whether you stay at Bella Vista Oamaru, Bella Vista Hamilton or Bella Vista Queenstown you will enjoy the hospitality of your Bella Vista host and be assured that each motel is Qualmark endorsed.
Unlike hotels, motels in New Zealand are not big complexes, will not have an on-site restaurant, swimming pool, lobby area, nor different staff for each department. But then you don't have to pay for these extras either! By comparison, Bella Vista Motels will have a welcoming reception area, a convenient carpark, some public spaces such as a garden or BBQ area and guest units within a secure courtyard.
As Bella Vista's are managed by the owners/operator, you will certainly enjoy Bella Vista's genuine kiwi hospitality; a laid back and down to earth style and attitude.
Up to this point, if you have now decided to make a reservation with Bella Vista Accommodation Nationwide, here are 10 light-hearted tips you really should know before you arrive at the motel
1. There's no slippers
Yep. So there it is. We thought we'd get this out of the way first. Bella Vista nor New Zealand motels in general offer complimentary slippers. We understand you're disappointed so do make sure you pack your own.
2. Bella Vista motels are two storeys tall and do not have an elevator
Requests cannot always be guaranteed, but if you'd prefer to be on the ground floor please make sure you book with the motel and place your request directly rather than via a booking websites.
3. Please don't dry your clothes on the heater
Be very careful as it will create a significant safety risk. Covering a heater can cause fire.
4. Leave your luggage in the car
On your arrival, relax and leave your belongings in your car. Save your time and energy so that you only have to carry your luggage once, from your car to your room, after you have checked in.
5. Bella Vista Motel reception is not open 24/7
Bella Vista owner operators live on-site and do go to bed at night. They need their rest to ensure they can be bright and look after you during the day. So if you are going to check-in later than the advertised office hours, please make sure you let your host know.
6. Check-out time is 10 o'clock
For Bella Vista and most motels in New Zealand, check-out time is 10am. You can request a late-check out from your host which may be available.
7. Drying Dishes
In New Zealand we dry the dishes with a tea towel after being washed and then put them back in the cupboard. Just a friendly request not to put wet dishes back in the cupboard!
8. Enjoy an electric blanket
Electric blankets are terrific inventions and it seems that many hotels don't even know they exist. They are particularly useful in winter. Simply turn it on at least an hour before go to bed to get your bed warm and then turn it off once you're in bed before you sleep.
9. Make your own breakfast
Every Bella Vista room features a kettle and toaster, complimentary tea, coffee and milk. So feel free to add some extras and put together a half-decent breakfast before you leave.
10. Be Aware of the T&C's
Terms and Conditions sound so tedious but they are there for a reason. So it is important that you understand them once you have completed your booking. Look specifically for cancellation and amendment policies so you can be sure your booking won't become problematic.
With these tips now safely stored, head to www.bellavista.co.nz and book your next stay.
Posted by Bella Vista on
Today, Wednesday 7th February is global #bookdirect day. It’s the one day in the calendar year where the hospitality industry including the 27 nationwide Bella Vista Motels would like to remind our valuable customers that you can Book Direct with Bella Vista New Zealand and that you don’t have to book via an Online Travel Agent.
But why Book Direct we hear you cry. Well here’s a few reasons:
1. The Best Price.
Don’t always believe what you read and hear! You will always get a better price booking with your host. It costs them less to receive your booking over the phone, on the Bella Vista website or by email as they don’t have to pay agent commission - so ignore those annoying adverts and visit www.bellavista.co.nz or dial our Freephone reservation number 0800 235 528. Quite often you might even receive a special offer.
Enjoy the most favourable booking conditions with no hassle of having to work through a faceless intermediary. Phone your host and they are going to be more than happy to assist every single time. Surely that has to be better than contacting an offshore call centre and finding out no one really wants to help you amend your booking.
3. Local Knowledge.
Whilst making your reservation, your host will answer all your questions about your stay without hesitation and no doubt offer some friendly advice at the same time. Take your time to pick their brains to make the most of your visit.
4. Secure your favourite room.
By booking direct and talking to your host, you can request your preferred room. Whether it’s a garden view, an upstairs or downstairs studio, make your request and fingers crossed the room is available. This simply isn’t possible to do with an online travel agent.
5. Help is at hand!
Have you ever had a booking with an online travel agent go wrong? Let’s just say the booking engine has a failed and you have booked a room that you think is available when in actual fact it isn’t. It’s not your fault. It’s not the motel or hotels fault but you’re the one left to pick up the pieces. If you want to avoid this disastrous scenario, book direct every time.
6. Book Now, Pay Later.
Secure your booking and pay when you arrive. That’s always going help with the holiday cash-flow
7. Earn Bella Vista Rewards.
Only customers who Book Direct are entitled to collect Bella Vista Rewards. If you Book Direct you will earn 5 points every time you stay which can be saved and then cashed in against a future stay. So booking direct is not only cheaper but we give you something back – how good is that!* *available at participating Bella Vista's only
8. Support the New Zealand economy!
Every time you book via one of these monolithic online travel agents, your money is leaving the country and only a small portion gets returned to your host when you stay. It may be you don’t care whether the government is able to capture it’s GST slice, but why should other countries profit either.
9. Put a smile on your hosts faces.
There is nothing your host will like more than a booking that has come directly to them. You making them happy will in turn increase the likelihood of them making your stay even better!
10. Free Continental Breakfast.
If you Book Direct on the Bella Vista website today, Wednesday 7th February, we’re going to give you a free breakfast when you stay. Just as a little way of saying thanks.
- Visit www.bellavista.co.nz
- Call 0800 235 528
- Email [email protected]
Posted by Bella Vista on
New Zealand is blessed with an abundance of beautiful lakes that have been picture perfectly set amongst lush green native bush or with a backdrop of rugged snow-capped mountains. Many have been carved out by glaciers or created through volcanic activity, some offer awe-inspiring views and others are so blue they take your breath away. Together they provide a playground for fresh water recreation throughout the country. Whether for boating or fishing, walking or photography, swimming or pondering, a trip to a lake will inspire anyone.
Check out our top 5 fabulous lakeside destinations, combine with a few nights at Bella Vista accommodation, and create a wonderful getaway experience.
What better place to start than with the North Island Lakes District surrounding Rotorua. The region has around 20 lakes mostly formed due to volcanic activity, with Lake Rotorua being its largest. The city of Rotorua sits on the south shore where you will find your Bella Vista accommodation. Your Rotorua motel is central to all of Rotorua’s main city tourist attractions, within walking distance to the CBD, lakefront and ‘Eat Street’ restaurants, and located across the road from Kuirau Park with its steaming lake and bubbling mud pools.
The area is well known for its thermal hot springs such as Whakarewarewa and cold springs of Hamurana, Rainbow and Fairy. Famous for trout fishing, it’s also a popular resort for boating, swimming and picnics. Cruise the lake on the spectacular Lakeland Queen paddle steamer or have some family fun on a WWII amphibious vehicle. From your Rotorua accommodation you can explore further afield to Lake Tikitapu and Lake Rotokakahi (The Blue and Green Lakes), two small lakes lying between Lake Rotorua and Lake Tarawera and nick-named for their brilliant blue and green hues; or to Lake Rotomahana, the deepest of the Rotorua lakes, featuring steaming rock walls and the purest strain of rainbow trout in the world.
The Rotorua region is also part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone in the North Island which has been active for over 2 million years and continues to be highly active. The zone was named after Lake Taupo, a flooded caldera that was created by an ancient eruption to become the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand. Lake Taupo, according to Maori legend, is the pumping heart of the North Island and this is certainly true when it comes to being a holiday destination. Taupo is popular for fishing, kayaking, cycling, golf, geothermal walks, lake cruises and many other outdoor activities. Your Bella Vista Taupo accommodation is situated on the fringe of the town centre only a short stroll from shops, restaurants and cafes and a 5-minute drive from the mighty Huka Falls, a must-do during your stay! Your Taupo motel is also a great base for exploring the Tongariro National Park and after a day exploring or adventure you can relax and soothe your body in one of the natural mineral or hot thermal pools in the town.
The Southern Lakes region of the South Island New Zealand, as the name suggests is home to three stunning lake settings: Lake Wanaka, Lake Wakatipu, and Lake Te Anau.
Lake Wanaka is spectacular. Set amongst mountains the resort town is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park in the Southern Alps and close to Treble Cone and Cardrona Ski fields. Wanaka Bella Vista is only 150 metres from the lakes edge, a perfect location for you to safely park and explore on foot. Stylish shops, restaurants & cafes, galleries, and wine bars are just a minute’s stroll from your door making it the most perfect Wanaka accommodation choice. If fishing, tramping and other adventure activities are not your thing then meander along the waterfront, pick your spot, settle in with a good book or contemplate the wonder, beauty and serenity you find yourself in.
Lake Wakatipu, z-shaped like a lightning bolt, was carved out by a glacier more than 15,000 years ago during the last ice age. It’s said to have its own ‘heartbeat’ – the phenomenon called a lake seiche, whereby the water rises and falls about 20cm every 27 minutes. Make sure you find out about the Maori explanation for the seiche, the ‘Legend of the Lake’ and why the beautiful Manata, daughter of a local Maori chief was at the centre of the cause. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu is the alpine and resort town of Queenstown. The vibrant energetic town draws in backpackers and adventurers to filmmakers and stars from around the globe. With warm summers and spectacular winters, it’s a year-round holiday destination offering unlimited adventure. Your Bella Vista Queenstown motel accommodation is in the heart of Queenstown and only 5 minutes’ walk to the town centre or the mesmerising lake where you have many options to get out on and explore including the TSS Earnslaw steamship, jet boating, cruising, fishing or a thrilling and ultimate ride in the Hydro Attack.
Te Anau is the hub of the Fiordland region, nestled on the outskirts of Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage area and the ‘Walking Capital of the World’, and lying on the shores of Lake Te Anau against a backdrop of dramatic and wild scenery. Lake Te Anau is open all year round for fishing and there are experienced guides who can take you to some local hot spots. The lake is also great for cruising - take a 2 ½ hour guided trip to the caves and glow-worm grotto on the lake's edge. Bella Vista Te Anau, located in a quiet street, adjacent to a park, is the closest motel to the town centre and just a few minutes stroll to the lakefront. It’s a great base to explore lakes further afield and is high rates as an excellent Te Anau motel choice. Take a twilight walk on Fraser’s Beach or stop in at the pub for a drink and soak in the breath-taking views of Lake Manapouri or venture along the road to Milford Sound to Mirror Lakes, a short walk of the road takes you to a set of lakes with lovely reflections of the Earl Mountains.
Your friendly Bella Vista hosts can help book any of your lakeside activities or provide you with local tips to help you have an enjoyable stay. So head to the lake this summer with your Bella Vista motel accommodation all booked for some unbeatable fun.
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