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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With a handy location of only 1 hr 35 minutes from downtown Auckland, and a short 80 minutes from Auckland Airport and Rotorua, it’s obvious to see why a growing number of visitors are adding Hamilton as a stopover to their journey, or spending a weekend away.
Hamilton is not just a convenient stopover, it can more than hold it’s own with the big boys when it comes to things to see and do. It’s a city rich in history, with the heart and soul being the mighty Waikato River flowing through the central city.
For those with a little more time on their hands, Hamilton will not disappoint. With an abundance of museums, recreational parks and sports grounds, there’s always something going on. Team this up with the friendly Hamiltonians and you’re well on your way to a great stay.
During a recent visit we got talking to a couple of locals – they gave us the run down on some great places to visit if you have a bit of time to explore:
- Hamilton Gardens: With a multitude of awards under its belt, Hamilton Gardens offers something pretty special. A conceptual garden Hamilton Gardens explores the context, history and meaning of gardens through time, and from around the world. The gardens are internationally recognised for their unique concept and is the Waikato’s most visited tourist destination. From Indian Char Bagh, Italian Renaissance, Modernist to Tudor – there are over 20 gardens to view and you’ll be mesmerized by what you see.
- Waikato River Explorer: When in Hamilton the river is not to be missed! Enjoy a relaxing scenic boat cruise with spectacular views of Hamilton City. A river cruise allows you to sit back and take in the wonderful natural attraction that flows through the Waikato region. Whether it is a wine tasting trip, lunch at a country cafe or just Hamilton from a different perspective, this is a fabulous choice.
- Hamilton Zoo: Fun for all ages, Hamilton Zoo is home to over 600 native and exotic animals and set amidst 25 hectares of lush surroundings. Take a stroll around New Zealand’s largest walk-in aviary dedicated to native birds and plants - it truly is something special. While you’re there visit giraffes, zebras, chimpanzees, red pandas, lemurs and Sumatran tigers.
- Zealong Tea: New Zealand's only tea plantation provides a variety of activities, including guided tours, a teahouse, and visitor centre. Located only 10 minutes north of Hamilton, it’s a great option for tea and non-drinkers alike. Don’t forget to try their signature high tea!
- Finally, some options for those who want to venture further afield. The surrounding area of Hamilton and the wider Waikato region offers some pretty special places: Hobbiton, Raglan Beach, Waitomo Caves and Lake Karipiro, to name a few. These are all easily accessible and will surely add something extra special to your stay.
When it comes to finding your Hamilton accommodation, Bella Vista Motel Hamilton is your ideal choice. Its central location is only minutes by foot to the city centre, Waikato Stadium and Claudelands Events Centre and it offers ample secure onsite parking. With 18 superior self contained units there’s one with your name on it. New operators Li & Rowena look forward to seeing you and will ensure you have a wonderful stay!
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"Soap suds make cash for trees" called out the Taupo Times headline on page 12 of the September 2 edition.
Murray and Laurelle Hodge from Bella Vista motel Taupo got some great press coverage last week when they found themselves enlightening the Taupo readership about a new and unique scheme they have introduced at their Taupo accommodation complex.
"We weren't seeking the attention we received" explained Laurelle, "but it is good to get the green message out all the same." "Why not show everyone that we're doing our bit for the environment and hopefully inspire them to think of ways they can contribute." she said.
Taupo Bella Vista's Green Initiative - How it Works.
The scheme is quite simple really and generates fundraising for a great local cause. Laurelle and Murray had noticed that guests were washing very few items using a significant amount of electricity, water and washing powder. To combat this inefficient use, the cost of a machine wash was upped from $1 to $3 per load. Still costing less than an average wash at a commercial retail laundry outlet, a charge of $3 got guest's to think twice about running small loads.
More importantly, rather than pocketing the increased revenue, Bella Vista Taupo will now be donating all the money they collect from laundry washes to Greening Taupo. Described as an 'organisation that provides an opportunity for Taupo residents and businesses to participate in a community conservation initiative' it seemed a perfect match. Keeping the donations local ensured a direct kick-back to the Taupo environment. After all, it is Taupo and its pristine environment that brings the motels guest's to their doorstep.
Laurelle and Murray hope that more Taupo motels do the same. "If we could get even half a dozen more onboard with what we're doing that would be hugely positive" To read the full article, see an image of the newspaper below.
This article first appeared in the Taupo Times on Friday, 2nd September 2016 and was written by Robert Steven.
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Haere Mai Hokitika! Described as a ‘cool little town’, Hokitika serves a great place to stay, a gateway to the West Coast, and a pretty cool destination in its own right – not least as the celebrated host of the annual Wild Food Festival. Hokitika can also uniquely lay claim to both the Tasman Sea and Mt Cook as the scenic backdrop to its picturesque setting.
There is so much on offer in the town; Enjoy exploring the vibrant arts scene, delve into eclectic mix of independent stores, soak up the pioneer spirit at the Hokitika museum, seek out your very own personal Pounamu, or simply relax at some of the many fantastic eateries including Ocean View Restaurant and enjoy some true West Coast hospitality.
Situated right on the beach, Hokitika is compact and easy to explore by foot. On fair weather days, be sure to take a late afternoon walk to the aptly named Sunset Point as you’re guaranteed a spectacular West Coast sundowners.
Beyond the town itself, you have the option to take a daytrip to the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier to the south, or Punakaiki Pancake Rocks to the north. Closer at hand, however, are a couple of scenic gems which are a little off the beaten track.
Hokitika Gorge is a must-do, an incredibly impressive natural formation set within lush native bush. Make sure you take time to stop at Lake Kaniere on the way. The calm tranquility of Lake Mahinapoua is also well worth a visit as is a loop drive that includes Goldsborough, an historic gold-mining town. For those wanting to get a little more adventurous, try the excellent West Coast Tree Top Walk or get up in the air with Wilderness Wings and take a scenic flight over the Southern Alsp and see Mount Cook up close.
Hokitika can be easily reached. Direct flights arrive frequently to Hokitika airport courtesy of Air New Zealand or jump in a car for a breathtakingly scenic three hour journey from Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass.
If you are set for a visit, we would definitely recommend you find a copy of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize novel ‘The Luminaries’. It’s a great way to introduce you to the old port town of Hokitika and what life was like in the mid-1860s gold-rush times. It’s an absorbing read full of interesting characters. Many of the locations described in the book can still be found as you wander around town.
And finally, before we forget, you’ll need some accommodation in Hokitika. Motel accommodation is possibly your best choice with Bella Vista Hokitika offering everything you need and only a stone’s throw from the town centre. If you do stay at Bella Vista Motel Hokitika you are in great company - Eleanor Catton stayed in Room 16 whilst promoting her book in March 2014.
Fancy a free trip to Hokitika? Well here's an amazing opportunity. Visit the Bella Vista Facebook page Make sure you click LIKE and leave a comment as to why you want to visit Hokitika and you’re in the draw to win a two night stay with some fabulous inclusions. Refer to www.bellavista.co.nz for full details. Competition closes 4pm, 2nd September 2016. Good Luck!
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Founded in 1998, the Bella Vista Accommodation Network quickly spread across the country creating a comprehensive motel chain of 27 quality motels from Bella Vista Invercargill in the scenic south to Bella Vista Whangarei in the winter-less north.
Over the following 18 years, tens of thousands of guest nights and a good number of hearty breakfasts delivered, Bella Vista motels have welcomed visitors from right across New Zealand and the world. Whilst Bella Vista has been open for business, it has forged a strong reputation for convenience and quality becoming a preferred choice enabling tourists to visit New Zealand’s beautiful scenic locations, facilitating business travellers a convenient place to stay when criss-crossing the country for work and in all cases, a trusted overnight stop.
Whilst the Bella Vista story continues to unfold, a question was recently asked which stopped us dead in our tracks; “Has anyone stayed at all 27 Bella Vista motels?” A quick delve into our records was unable to offer any conclusive results. Even a poll amongst the Bella Vista team came up short. The record for the most Bella Vista motels stayed in by any one individual was 24. Only 24, that can’t be right!! As you can imagine, we’re now on the hunt for anyone who can claim to be part of what we imagine is a very exclusive group. Have you stayed at all 27 Bella Vista’s?
The geographic spread of the Bella Vista chain ensures that not only do most major New Zealand towns and cities feature properties, such as Bella Vista Christchurch or Bella Vista Dunedin, but so do popular tourist destinations such as Bella Vista Franz Josef and Bella Vista Queenstown. Do you travel for work and have decided to use our chain to cater for your accommodation? Perhaps you’ve decided to undertake a New Zealand road-trip similar to these itineraries and whilst touring, you have used our motel accommodation network? Possibly a mixture of both work and pleasure at different times?
What is certain is if you have stayed at every 27 or even just a small handful - whether it is Bella Vista Hamilton, Bella Vista Queenstown or Bella Vista Fox Glacier to name just three, you are going to experience a four star Qualmark endorsed level of comfort and be entertained by some of New Zealand’s very best hosts.
So tell us, how many Bella Vista motels have you stayed at? With 27 in the network it takes a certain type of loyalty and commitment to tick them all off.
If you have stayed at all 27, we want to hear from you!
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Last week, Bella Vista Motels ran a facebook promotion giving our facebook fans a chance to win an amazing winter break to Bella Vista Franz Josef Glacier.
Franz Josef New Zealand, is a small township set within the beautiful West Coast, South Island. Our competition included two nights of accommodation at Bella Vista, a meal at the popular SnakeBite Brewery, a guided walk up to Franz Josef Glacier from which the town takes its name, entry to the West Coast Wildlife Centre and a Private Pools Experience at the wonderful Glacier Hot Pools and Spa. Spending two nights would also allow time for a trip to other great sites such as Okarito Lagoon, Fox Glacier, the very special Lake Matheson and possibly even a helicopter sightseeing trip to view the peaks of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.
We were overwhelmed by the number of responses we received and we thought we’d share the best reasons why everyone wants to visit Franz Josef. If you ever wondered why you should head there, don’t just take our word for it, take a read. You’ll be packing your bags straight away.
Why Franz Josef?
“That picture of a lake is enough to make me want to visit. It would be like walking in a post card, looks that amazing.”
“I have not been and would so love to go with my hubby…it looks so beautiful!”
“I love Franz Josef, fascinating place full of the wonders of mother nature ..a photographers dream location”
“Franz Josef is a nice quiet place”
“I'd love to visit and take that helicopter ride”
"Franz Josef. I loved it all - the mountain walk, hot pools and yummy food I would love to go again"
"I would love to visit. It looks so beautiful and I'm sure it would be a great place for adventures and making memories!"
"We love the West Coast and Fiordland regions"
"One of my favourite places in New Zealand and I would love to go back"
"It looks beautiful! Sometimes I wonder why we bother going overseas when there are such amazing places in NZ"
"I have never been and would love to visit we live in such a beautiful country but never get to explore!"
"Franz Josef is an incredible place…It's somewhere we always stop but haven't had any nights there and it would be magical"
"My best memory is having lunch at snakebite with my bestie in Franz Josef so would love her to be here again"
"Looks like such a beautiful place, I've never been but have been wanting to for a long time now. I would love to relax at the glacier hot pools and spa private pools"
"My husband has never been there would be great to be able to show him the wonderful sights. A great place to de stress"
"I have never been to this fabulous place. I would love to be there for a special retreat, sightseeing and soak up in hot spa."
"Such a beautiful part of NZ....Would be lovely to go back and enjoy a couple of nights"
"I remember visiting Franz Josef Glacier when I was 10/11yrs and being amazed at the huge ice-rocks. Our family camped near there and we had to wear our socks and hat to bed to stay warm. It would be so cool to visit Franz Josef Glacier & see how it looks and feels. It would be awesome to share such a marvellous experience."
"Love the still morning reflections in Lake Matheson...."
"The first time we visited Franz Josef together was when his mum and sister travelled over from Canada. They were blown away by the beauty of the area."
To read more great comments about Franz Josef please visit the official Bella Vista facebook page. To book your trip to Franz Josef, head to the booking page. Rooms are available this month for as little as $85 for two people.
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Autumn is a great time to travel New Zealand. The colder nights give way to crisp mornings leaving the famous New Zealand landscapes refreshed. At this time of year you’ll often witness a scattering of low hanging but atmospheric morning mist reaffirming why this beautiful country is called Aotearoa or “the land of the long white cloud”. A sunny autumnal day can often be as good as any summer’s day with the added benefit that the maddening summer crowds have disappeared. Occasionally, you might even feel like you’ve got the entire country to yourself.
Here’s three ideas for your next Autumn break...
Explore Fiordland from Te Anau
Beautiful Lake Te Anau acts as the gateway to the Fiordland National Park and there is genuinely no better time to explore the brilliant wilderness of New Zealand’s southwest and the country’s largest national park. There are plenty of outstanding day excursions on offer including a visit to Te Anau glow worm caves with Real Journeys, lakeside walks or tramps, a journey to the famous Milford Sound and a cruise on the fiord, or perhaps even an overnight trip on Doubtful Sound. Each of these trips work equally as well in autumn as they do in summer and the lack of tourists makes them more personable and often more enjoyable.
Of course your getaway will only be complete by basing yourself at Bella Vista Te Anau where you will enjoy the warm southern hospitality. Spend a long weekend or just a few days but we guarantee you’ll return home from your trip refreshed!
Catch the first sunrise at Gisborne
Way out east and somewhere you always thought you’d like to visit? Well, what are you waiting for! Autumn is possibly one of the best times of year to go. Bella Vista Motel Gisborne would love to host you for a long weekend break, or even a couple of nights as you pass through on your road-trip around the East Cape.
Please be aware that if you don’t stop for more than two nights, you’re doing this great city a disservice. Famous for being the first city in the world to see the sun each morning, there’s a whole lot more to experience including great food and wine, some of NZ’s best surf beaches and a deep cultural connection to early Maori settlers. And don’t forget to add a breakfast to your stay at Bella Vista Gisborne which includes the “best freshly baked croissant in Gisborne”(!)
Find all year summer in Nelson
Another location for a perfect autumn getaway is Nelson. Tourism New Zealand sum up the town perfectly as, “One of the sunniest cities in New Zealand, Nelson is the perfect spot to base yourself while you spend some time exploring the Abel Tasman National Park.”
There are in fact three National Parks within a 90 minute drive of the Nelson Bella Vista motel so you’re absolutely spoilt for choice if you want to get out and about. The Kahurangi National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park are an easy drive from a stay at our Nelson accommodation, but the Abel Tasman National Park is probably the more well-known park with spectacular sandy beaches, and an excellent destination for day-trips including walks and boat excursions.
If the great outdoors doesn’t entice you, then there is plenty to do in and around the city including a strong arts and culture scene, as well as sumptuous local culinary delights. Despite the theme of this blog promoting autumn escapes, our Nelson motel owners will remind you that ‘in Nelson, it’s summer all year round!’
Wherever you decide to go to get away this autumn, Bella Vista has got 27 excellent placed motels offering plenty to see and do!
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Last spring Bella Vista launched a new website designed to ensure you, our valued customer, could experience a process that is simple and hassle-free as possible when booking your motel in New Zealand. We understood it was important to deliver comprehensive information about our NZ motels, helpful insights and tips about your destination of choice, whilst at the same time, enabling you to easily view pricing and availability before completing your booking with a minimum of fuss.
There are still further improvements to make but we’re delighted with the positive feedback we have received to date. By the way, we think the website is quite good looking as well, certainly better than most motels in New Zealand.
Read on for seven great reasons why you should book here on our website.
1. Best Price Guarantee
This sounds good like a good deal and it really is! Yes, that is right, when booking direct we won’t be beaten on price. Refer to our Best Price Guarantee page to find out more and how to take advantage of this offer only available at bellavista.co.nz
2. Book Now, Pay Later
Another tempting option when you book direct. The Bella Vista accommodation network is happy to allow you to make your booking and only pay when you arrive at your motel. We will simply secure your booking by taking your credit card details at the time of booking.
3. Instant Confirmation
Book online and be confident that your booking is complete and your stay is secured.
4. Deal Direct
No middle men, no extra charges, no misinformation or misinterpretation. When you book direct you’re dealing with the people who will host you when you arrive at your accommodation and that provides great peace of mind.
5. Availability Advantages
Our website is the only place on the internet where you will find our complete range of availability at all times. You thought we were sold out? We always recommend checking here first.
6. Up to date Information
Bellavista.co.nz is the only place you can be confident that you are viewing up to date and the most comprehensive overview of each of Bella Vista motels 27 locations around New Zealand.
7. Enjoy Hassle Free Bookings!
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Camping in New Zealand is something of an institution. It is considered to be a holiday of choice for many kiwi's taking an extended break over Christmas and New Year and it is even talked of as a right-of-passage for kids during their summer holidays. Dreams of hot, sunny days socialising with camp-mates well into the evening, with the opportunity to get back to nature. It sounds great, but do the number of tiny cabins and motel units now appearing in traditional campsites mean the reality is somewhat different to camping idyll, and that most people would prefer not to be under canvas?
With this in mind, we thought we’d offer a tongue-in-cheek, one-eyed review as to why camping perhaps isn’t so great!
1. Setting Up and Packing Away.
All you wanted was a couple of nights away camping, but after a long journey, erecting your tent in 30 degree heat was not only exhausting and at times frustrating, but you lost a lovely afternoon of your holiday. You then lost the same amount of time packing everything away before another long drive. Predictably, everything is wet because it rained overnight so you’re going to have to set the tent up again to dry it out once back home. Compare that to the enjoyable Bella Vista motel check-in, check-out experience where everything is taken care of.
2. Communal Bathrooms.
It is possibly worth reminding you that EVERY Bella Vista motel studio, no matter what the location includes an ensuite bathroom which is private to you and only you. At no time have we ever had any feedback stating that someone from the room next door has walked into the bathroom waiting to share the toilet, sink or shower! Well, that’s the basic premise when you camp and at times it can become quite trying – particularly if you are following someone whose cleanliness standards fall well below your own.
3. Me Time.
You arrive at a campsite and in a blink of an eye, you are thrust into a new social community. Whether you like it or not, you are required and sometimes expected to participate fully in your new neighbourhood. Before you know it you’re helping run the kids club or cooking another dozen sausages for the communal BBQ. You’re camping, it goes with the territory! All you wanted to do was go on holiday, take a break from the world and read your book in peace? Tough luck!
4. The Weather.
Let’s not pretend every New Zealand summer is a cracker. Your childhood memories might tell you so and you put last year’s weather-bomb to the back of your mind when your planning your trip, but can there be anything more miserable than spending hour after hour under canvas with the rain pouring down? Do we need to state the obvious and remind you that cosy motel rooms rarely flood or get blown away in high winds!
5. The Wildlife.
‘Get close to nature’ they said. That phrase may seem a little too real when you return back from an outing to find the campsite goat chewing through your tent’s fly-sheet. We’re happy to state categorically that no Bella Vista keeps a pet goat.
6. Home Comforts?
Let’s face it, modern expectations of a holiday or mini-break are often based on the hope that we will be able to enjoy all our home comforts but simply in a different location. Bella Vista accommodation offers quality freshly made bedding, your room is serviced daily, you have a kitchenette to utilise at your leisure, ensuite bathrooms, electricity is freely available, and Free WiFi is guaranteed. The remote control in never far away either. When you’re camping it’s sleeping bags, blow-up mattresses and, if you’re lucky, the showers might not be coin operated.
Screaming kids in the middle of the night. Fireworks exploding just as you drifted off to sleep. Cars with unreasonably loud sound systems. Tractors. Boats. 4x4 Bikes. Parties. The dawn chorus. Neighbour’s conversations. The list of noisy interruptions to your campsite holiday bliss goes on. When you’re in a tent, you hear the lot and there is no escaping it.
Now you may be thinking that the one thing a campsite often offers is direct beach access. Well yes, there is no Bella Vista accommodation right on the beachfront, but the motels in Napier, Nelson, Wellington, New Plymouth, Oamaru and Kaikoura are all within a short walk of the sea and some good beaches.
9. Hot Showers.
Long summer days and late nights round the campfire. It sounds great, but remember daylight is just around the corner and tents are simply not designed to block out the early morning sunlight. If you are like a lot of people who enjoy catching up on sleep and having a lie-in when they are on holiday, our experience says it is difficult to do that without a good set of black-out curtains (included free at a Bella Vista near you).
Enjoy your holiday accommodation, whatever it might be!
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It’s that time of year when your mind turns to those less fortunate than yourself. The news of an unprecedented increase in care parcels provided by the Salvation Army and alike can be quite disheartening when most people are focused on Christmas work parties, travelling for summer holidays, planning to catch up with friends and family and possibly a large Christmas lunch. So, when thinking about giving back, we thought we’d write a few words on how Bella Vista Head Office looked at the challenges of participating in giving back as a New Zealand business.
Without doubt, each of the Bella Vista accommodation network's 27 NZ locations individually play a role in their community – from as far north as Whangarei, Invercargill in the south, Gisborne in the east and New Plymouth in the west.
Without wishing to create undue attention to their efforts, many of the Bella Vista motels regularly engage in supporting local projects, provide donations to charitable causes, undertake positive environmental initiatives, gift personal time, sponsor local sports teams and so on. Bella Vista motels are active members of their community. And so they should be, right?
Thinking through your business’ corporate responsibility and matching your desire to stand up and be counted can be a tough call for any small business; How much is enough? What can you spare? Can you justify your level of donation? Should your company’s profitability play a factor in the value you allocate to good causes? Who should you support and why? Or maybe you are just far too busy to look beyond the needs of your own business - and sometimes, that is a simple and necessary reality.
So many questions and there is no right or wrong. There is no template to follow beyond a gut feel for doing what you think is right for you and your business.
For any small business, there is a thin line between what you can afford to provide and ensuring you are not accused of making a token gesture, not giving enough or, within an environmental context, the dreaded accusation of ‘greenwash’. Your inner voice starts telling you that whilst supporting the local penguin colony is a great idea and delivers a fluffy feel-good factor, isn’t it time I bought new pillows for my customers and guarantee an even better night’s sleep?
Getting cold-calls from charity collecting organisations which, whilst no doubt are representing very worthy causes, makes those decisions even harder. A subsequent photo of thanks and sometimes even a certificate from the recipients of your donation definitely provides the warm and fuzzies! Sometimes it is almost impossible to say no. “A small donation would go a long way to help our group of deserving kids” you’re told. Of course, any business can absorb a small gesture but in our experience, when you give once to get these people off the phone and calm your conscience, you’re on the database and the frequency of those calls gradually increase. These phone calls can really play on your mind and emotion. If anything, those calls should be a reminder that you need to take control of what your business is doing in this space. It’s difficult isn’t it!
The tourism quality control organisation Qualmark, of which all Bella Vista motels are rated 4 star, provide some helpful guidelines as to what you can be doing. Consider both charity and environmental causes is one recommendation. Moreover, keeping your efforts and budget dedicated by streamlining your charities of choice enables you to confidently say no. “Thank you for the opportunity but we are focusing all our efforts toward our chosen charities.” The other piece of advice Bella Vista took on-board as a collective of small businesses was to try and ensure your efforts aligned to the industry and community you are operating within.
So whilst all the Bella Vista motels are active in their locality and region, we asked what can the Bella Vista head office team do?
Bella Vista promises “A better night’s sleep”. As part of this promise, Bella Vista head office based in Oamaru elected to contribute 1% percent of our turnover to a charitable cause every year. This year, we decided to focus our efforts on enabling local disadvantage children to get the best night’s sleep possible by gifting them a range of brand new bedding items.
It made sense to work in with our hospitality suppliers which enabled us to stretch our budget further and take advantage of some generous wholesale prices. This year our chosen recipient was Kakanui School, a decile one school in North Otago who have been provided sets of brand new comfy quality wool duvets and plump pillows to distribute among some of their deserving pupil's.
Here's some great photos of the school pupils taken during last week’s visit including Cody, Damien and Luke with their wool duvets and pillows plus Maia and the boys choosing their next holiday destination with Bella Vista. Accompanying them are the Principal, Ann Roughan and Bella Vista representatives Natalie Evans and Julie Familton.
The response to our Facebook post regarding the donation was heart-warming and we hope we have found the right answer to our good intentions. Apparently, the lollies were also appreciated by all concerned!
Happy Holidays to you all!