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Category Archives: Bella Vista Franz Josef Glacier

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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Six epic Franz Josef walks


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Glacier country serves up far more treats than just the Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk and heli-hiking. Look beyond the alpine vistas and you’ll discover mirror-like lakes, ocean views, cascading waterfalls, daisy-laden meadows and hidden forest trails well off the beaten track. Here’s a guide to the best Franz Josef walking tracks, whatever your interests.  

 

Best glacier views without a helicopter:  Alex Knob Track (8-hour return) 

Accessed from the Glacier Access Road, just south of the Waiho River Bridge, this full day 17-kilometre hike is quite the gut buster and one of the best all-day things to do in Franz Josef. The upside however are the killer Franz Josef Glacier views you’ll be rewarded with on reaching the Alex Knob summit. Leave the more pedestrian sightseeing trails behind and take the zigzag track past rimu, r?t? and k?mahi forest and through alpine meadows to the Rata Lookout.  From there, follow the trail markers to the summit enjoying wider views of glaciers and the Tasman Sea. Climb past the turn-off to Lake Wombat, and the magnificent Franz Josef will come into frame. Push onto the Christmas Lookout and the mighty Alex Knob summit for the best views without flying! 

 

Best West Coast views and wildlife: Okarito Trig walk (1.5 hours) 

For unbeatable views of the West Coast and Southern Alps, drive 25 minutes seaward to the tiny settlement of Okarito. Jump on the Wetland trail before taking the well-graded Okarito Trig track up to a viewpoint overlooking Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Enjoy views on a clear day of Aoraki Mount Cook, Mount Tasman, the Southern Alps, serene lagoons and the West Coast. Combine your hike with a guided kayak tour across the serene Lake Mapourika, through a hidden estuary to the Jurassic-like Okarito State Forest and the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Your knowledgeable local guide will point out the unique wetland birds like the graceful kotoku or white heron. The lagoon’s habitat hosts more than 76 species of birds including the endangered royal spoonbill, so pack your binoculars.  

 

Best underground walk: Tartare Tunnels walk (1 hr 20 min return

Discover the picturesque Tartare Gorge, glow worms and abandoned moss-covered water tunnels on the 4-kilometre Tartare Tunnels Walk. The trailhead at the end of Cowan Street follows an old road that once led to a hydroelectric power station. Walk past the Callery Walk junction and continue climbing until you drop down into the Tartare Gorge.  

A steep and narrow forest climb from the gorge lookout, reveals the disused tunnels dripping with ankle-deep water and your very own echo-chamber. Top tip: Wear sturdy footwear and a head torch to enter the tunnels then turn off the light to discover your very own reception committee; hundreds of luminous glow worms!  

 

Most instagrammable track: Lake Matheson (1h 30 min return) 

Famous for its mirror-perfect reflections of New Zealand's highest mountains, Aoraki Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, the Lake Matheson track attracts coach loads of visitors. But with international tourists in short supply, New Zealanders’ currently have this serene spot all to themselves. Lake Matheson is the perfect all-weather walk serving up picture-perfect views, just a 30-minute drive from the Bella Vista motel. Add this short yet picturesque hike to your ‘Franz Josef things to do’ list. 

 

Best chance of Kiwi spotting: The West Coast Wildlife Centre 

This Franz Josef conservation centre excels at breeding Rowi Kiwi, a rare species of New Zealand’s national bird, and the endangered Tuatara. Take a walk through this attraction on a rainy-day as their guided tours are run indoors.  There’s a dark house to view kiwi’s, a small cinema which screens West Coast documentaries and an indoor glacier experience, making this one of the best Franz Josef things to do with kids.  

 

Pakihi walk (30 minutes return) 

You’ll rarely spot kiwi on any Franz Josef walking tracks, but this area is home to the rarest species of them all, the little Okarito Brown 

At the trailhead, check out the informative panels before the route takes you across the Pakihi wetland and gently ascends through kamahi and rimu forest to a lookout. Here you’ll enjoy panoramic coastal, rainforest and Okarito Lagoon views, framed by the Southern Alps and Aoraki Mount Cook. 

Whatever your timeframe or fitness level, there’s walks in Franz Josef to suit you. Just ask the Bella Vista team for hiking suggestions and they’ll steer you in the right direction. 


Destination Franz Josef: What to eat, see and do


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If you’re planning a road trip down the West Coast, Franz Josef is the perfect base to experience the stunning attractions of Glacier Country. From navigating ice tunnels, to kayaking through a serene lagoon and soaking in natural hot springs, we’ve rounded up the best things in to do in Fran Josef.   

 

Easiest glacier views 

One of the best walks in Franz Josef is the unique 2-hour Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk. Less than 300 metres above sea level, there’s only two other glaciers in the world so close to the coastline. This hike is one of the best free things to do in Franz Josef, serving up not only views but lush rainforest, babbling brooks, the mighty Waiho River and thunderous waterfalls!  Enjoy scenic views up the valley from the safety barriers, towards the gigantic Franz Josef Glacier, with its creaking crevasses and icy-blue hue. Don’t walk past the barrier as this is alpine country and the conditions can change quickly but look out for kea and the soaring New Zealand falcon, both of which call the valley home.  

 

Best kayaking experience  

Glide across a pristine rainforest lake with New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mt Cook as your backdrop. Kayaking across tranquil Lake Mapourika’s dark tannin-filled waters is like travelling back in time. The remote serenity is only punctured by native bird song and the rhythmic splash of your paddles. (And yet you’re only 25-minutes from Franz Josef village). Book an expert guide at Glacier Country Kayaks or Okarito Kayaks to learn about the Okarito Lagoon eco-system and the wildlife it nurtures. 

 

A heart pumping heli-hike  

If you want to experience a majestic glacier up close, then book a heli-hike with Franz Josef Glacier Guides and The Helicopter Line. You’ll enjoy over two hours on the ice with your expert guide and all equipment is provided. Experience the adrenalin of a soaring helicopter ride up the valley to an icy ridge. Your guide will escort you across the icescape pointing out glacier features, past and present. Imagine sliding through a tight icy alleyway or crawling through blue tinged tunnels into a shallow ice cave. The guides often remark that no two ice-capades are ever quite the same as the glacier shifts, creaks and moves daily. Advance bookings are recommended, and full refunds guaranteed, if the weather conditions prevent the tour.  

 

A  rainy day plan 

Add the Lake Matheson track on your Franz Josef things to do list if your heli-hike’s postponed and the rain’s settled in. This all-weather trail provides stunning reflective views of the Southern Alps and a stylish cosy café for brunch or a quick bite. Then drop into the West Coast Wildlife Centre to learn about endangered kiwi and tuatara.  

Head for a soothing soak under a peaceful forest canopy at the rustic wood fired Waiho Hot Tubs or the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools.  For the ultimate indulgence book a treatment at the amazing Amaia Luxury Spa, surely one of Franz Josef’s best kept secrets. What a blissful way to spend your day. 

Mix with the locals over dinner at the charming Alice May gastropub and enjoy hearty West Coast fare in a character setting. The venison sausage with mash and salmon risotto are highly rated but leave room for the decadent chocolate fudge cake. You will want this dessert all to yourself! 

With so many things to do in Franz Josef, ask the Bella Vista Motel team for suggestions. They can provide information on the best walks in Franz Josef, places to eat and tours to book, for a fun and enjoyable stay. 


Epic Franz Josef Heli-Hike


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Travel writer, Liz Lyons shares her glacier heli-hike experience, regarding it as one of the best things to do in Franz Josef, hands down. 

While touring New Zealand’s West Coast, we spent two nights in Franz Josef. A mid-morning booking with operator Franz Josef Glacier Guides meant an early departure from Greymouth, 2-hours north on the day of our tour. Rousing two teenage sons before midday is a tortuous ask. Luckily the prospect of ice-caves, a high-speed helicopter ride and a steak’n’cheese pie, perked them up enough to tumble into the car.   

The day had dawned misty, with low cloud and a tour cancellation risk if conditions deteriorated. Luckily the weather brightened, and we were greeted with the constant buzz of silver helicopters as we arrived at the village. A good sign given heli-hiking was number one, on our Franz Josef things to do list!  A quick check in saw us competently fitted out with everything we needed; a warm hat, gloves, waterproof jacket and pants, shoe crampons for ice walking, and a small waterproof bag for phones. We’d dressed warmly, heeding the pre tour advice.  

Besides us, our group of ten consisted mainly of young international visitors. We were the only Kiwi’s, which the reservation agent remarked on when booking the tour. She kindly provided a ‘locals only’ discount for our family of four. 

The short helicopter ride was exhilarating, especially as they put the elderly (me) in the front seat, alongside the pilot. The glassed cockpit provided a bird’s eye view under my feet of the valley’s sheer cliff faces, boulder strewn riverbed and changing terrain. The constant radio chatter through the earphones failed to distract me from the stunning Alps and glacier views as we swooped higher. A snow landing, sudden rush of icy air and crouching exit below the spinning rotor blades, added to the James Bond thrill of the experience.  

The next two hours were spent in the company of our expert guides. Our group was split in half, and after attaching crampons, we scooted our way along the ice. What followed was an informative commentary on one of the most active glaciers you can climb in the world and the damaging impact of climate change. The flow rate on Franz Josef is about ten times that of your typical glacier, and because of this, no one hike is ever the same. Each day the guides undertake an early inspection of the route, cut in step-lines and evaluate the glacier face for hazards, before the first tour group lands. 

On our tour, we squeezed through blue-hued frozen ‘alleys’, hiked up ice walls and crawled through igloo-style tunnels. The kids jumped on a short, steep icy slide to emerge at the end of a cave. At the highest point of the hike, we enjoyed views of the 12-kilometre-long Franz Josef glacier silently creeping down through the valley to almost sea level. We saw chasms, glacial rivers, and rock falls; a visual reminder of the changeable alpine territory we were privileged to visit. 

While the free and accessible Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk provides a great taster, it’s no match for flying up into the Southern Alps, landing on a high-altitude glacier and walking through bejewelled ice forms. Heli hiking Franz Josef Glacier is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for New Zealanders. We are blessed with beautiful glaciers, natural wonders in our own backyard. Just do it Kiwis, before they melt into oblivion! 

Heli-hiking top tips:  

  • Book a 2-3 night stay in Franz Josef as the heli-hike tours are often cancelled due to weather conditions. Give yourself a day’s wiggle room as there’s plenty of other beautiful walks in Franz Josef to enjoy. 
  • Take a zip lock bag to keep your phone and car keys dry in the supplied bum bag.   
  • Pack a lip balm due to the wind chill.  
  • Conserve your energy while glacier hiking. You may feel tired due to the higher altitude and thinner air.  
  • Enjoy a rejuvenating thermal soak after the heli-hike. (The 'Franz Josef Glacier Guides' tour includes admission to the Franz Josef hot springs, right next door.) 

Ask the Bella Vista team for ideas on things to do in Franz Josef, rain or shine. They can not only advise the best local experiences, but also book tours directly to save you the hassle.  


Reaching New Zealand Snow


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If you are searching for a holiday that includes snow, New Zealand is very definitely for you.  Every winter and often into late spring, New Zealand can guarantee a whole swag of the white stuff in both the North and South Islands.   And we’re not talking about measly quotas that leave you feeling short changed.  We’re talking about infamous New Zealand snow dumps that can bring the chills right through every self-proclaimed beach lover.

Winter time southerly winds racing up from the Antarctic are cold enough to frighten even hardened rain into beautiful New Zealand snowflakes and once they fall, our stunning landscape is taken to a whole new level of awesomeness as New Zealand proudly shows off its seasonal white winter blanket.   Blessed with major mountain ranges that reach above and beyond 2,500 metres tall, New Zealand naturally attracts snow to those highest peaks.  In some cases, such as with Mount Cook at over 3,700 metres high, the snow tends to hang around all year.

Winter sports enthusiasts have long held New Zealand in high regard for its high quality ski-fields and the variety of its snow-covered mountain terrain, but it’s not just ski and snowboard aficionado’s that New Zealand snow attracts.  It may be hard to believe but for many visitors travelling to New Zealand from distant tropical countries,  the opportunity to touch snow for the very first time is a very exciting part of their journey.

So read on for our detailed guide to where you can find New Zealand snow.

New Plymouth

Perhaps not the most obvious place to start, but New Plymouth sits adjacent to New Zealand’s largest stand-alone mountain, Mt Taranaki.  During winter and often extending well into later seasons, the upper slopes of the mountain which reaches 2,518 metres will be snow clad.  Taking a hike in Egmont National Park is a popular activity and a winter time walk to the snow line is quite easy to achieve with three main access roads allowing you to get you part-way up the mountain.  We definitely wouldn’t recommend a summit hike during the winter season however!  New Plymouth is a great city to visit and our down-town New Plymouth accommodation option can give you all the information you need for your time there.

West Coast Glaciers

Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are world famous for the nearby glaciers from which the settlements take their names.  And naturally, a glacier experience is what most people visit these townships for.  The best choice to get up and personal with those glaciers is a heli-hike and this includes touching down on the top of the glaciers and being able to actually walk amongst virgin snow.   It really is quite an experience to not only take a scenic flight up and around Mount Cook, but then to land and tread on these massive snowfields at the top of the glaciers.  It is quite a wondrous experience.  Franz Josef Bella Vista and Fox Bella Vista can give you all the details you need to make this a really memorable visit.

Heli hiking west coast glaciers

Arthurs Pass

If you intend to travel from Christchurch Bella Vista across to the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Bella Vista has a great value Hokitika accommodation or Greymouth motel facilities available to book.  But it’s the journey that crosses up and through the Southern Alps and through Arthurs Pass township itself that we are interested in, as this presents a strong chance of accessing some winter snow.  With several good walks there is every chance of getting amongst the snow line and probably meeting some Kea’s,  NZ’s very unique mountain parrot..

Te Anau

Te Anau itself will get snow to the ground a couple of times of year, but being on the edge of the Fiordland National Park means getting close to the snow line in winter isn’t too difficult.  If you are undertaking one of the New Zealand’s Great Walks, Te Anau is a great base to use as a start or finish point and these walks will invariably enter the snow line.  Perhaps the most accessible snow is on the road to Milford Sound.  As the road climbs to a height of 925m where it enters the Homer Tunnel, there is always a good level of snow by the adjacent car-park to play in.  It’s quite special watching tourists who have never seen snow before experiencing it for the first time.  The team at Te Anau Bella Vista have a lot more detail on these options.

 

Bella Vista Te Anau

 

Of course New Zealand’s ski fields are an obvious place to head to access to snow even if you are not intending to ride skis or snowboards, as most have well-formed access roads to the snow line.  Be sure to travel with snow-chains and if your car is only a two wheel drive, this may prevent you from getting as close to snow as you might like!

Ashburton

The team at Bella Vista Ashburton have a secret and it’s time to let you know.  Ashburton is a great place to base yourself for skiing Mount Hutt whilst enjoying some great value Ashburton at the same time.  Understandably, Mt Hutt accommodation prices increase quite considerably for the towns that are closer to Mt Hutt Ski Field, so being just under an hour’s drive from the mountain, it makes sense to try and take advantage of the cheaper rates staying in Ashburton accommodation offers.  A weekend and school holiday ski shuttle from Ashburton takes care of the driving for you so you can relax and enjoy the snow. 

Hanmer Springs

Dotted around the South Island of New Zealand are lots of club ski-fields, including Hanmer Springs Ski Area.  There is a chairlift, a tow rope and the club offer groomed trails with lots of space.  A shuttle will take you to the ski field from Hanmer Springs and our team at Bella Vista will ensure you have an enjoyable stay at their quiet Hanmer Springs accommodation.

Oamaru

Not the most obvious base to use for snow adventures, but if you are using Bella Vista Oamaru accommodation as an overnight stop on your New Zealand journey, there are a couple of ski-fields which you may pass and are worth a try to get in touch with snow.  An hour’s drive up the Waitaki Valley will bring you to the small township of Kurow where a small ski-field called Awakino is located.  At the top of the valley and into the foothills of the Southern Alps is another relatively un-commercialised ski-field called Ohau.  Located above the picturesque Lake Ohau this is a great area to enjoy the snow.

If you intend to continue your journey onward to either Wanaka or Queenstown, you will be required to cross the dramatic Lindis Pass which at a height of 971 metres is often covered by a layer of snow during winter.  There is a car-park and look-out which will allow you to stop safely.

Wanaka

When it comes to ski holidays, the southern lakeside resort of Wanaka is an obvious choice to head to get amongst the snow.  It boasts two fabulous local ski-fields in the technically excellent Treble Cone and the popular all round favourite Cardrona ski resort.  With your Bella Vista Wanaka accommodation set in the heart  of town you are never far from your ski transport, ski retail outlets, eateries and bars.  After an enjoyable day on the slopes, you can quickly change and fall into any number of evening outlets safe in the knowledge that you are hardly a stone’s throw away from a good night’s sleep.

Queenstown

Queenstown needs no introduction as a place to head for winter snow and in particular skiing or snowboarding.  Two major ski-fields  - Coronet Peak and The Remarkables - lie within a 30 minute drive and if you drive over the Crown Range road, you’re only a short distance from another significant ski centre which hosts international competitions called Cardrona Skifield.  Bella Vista Queenstown is perfectly positioned to take advantage of these winter sports with free parking, a drying room, and an easy five minute stroll into town to take advantage of Queenstown’s famed après ski hospitality.  Even if you don't ski there are terrific facilities on offer and room for the kids to have a play.  Queenstown will often experience between 1 or 2 major snow storms through the winter that will bring snow to ground level.  They are often very memorable days as the surrounding countryside is blanketed white – as long as you can look beyond the inconvenience of snowbound cars and the potential of flight cancellations. 

 

Ski Queenstown

 

Taupo

Ski fields are not the exclusive preserve of the South Island.  The North Island also offers some impressive ski fields, the three main options being located on Mount Ruapehu which is within striking distance of the popular lakeside town of Taupo.  Bella Vista has a highly rated motel located just a few blocks back from the lakefront and they are a very good Taupo accommodation option to consider as a ski base

 

If you are travelling in snow conditions, please ensure you have snow chains in your vehicle and above all, travel safe!  Bella Vista New Zealand Accommodation Nationwide looks forward to hosting you.


Sunrise and Sunset. The Best in New Zealand with 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. 

 

Sunrise in New Zealand with Bella Vista

Gisborne

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

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.

New Plymouth

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

Hokitika

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.   

 

Hokitika Sunset

  “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.

Queenstown

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.

 

Sunrise on the Lindis Pass

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


Top 10 Motel Tips. Know Before you Go!


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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.
 

Bella Vista Motel

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!

 

Bella Vista Motel 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.

 

Bella Vista Continental Breakfast

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.


10 Reasons to Book Direct with Bella Vista


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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.

Book Direct with Bella Vista

2. Flexibility.

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.

Bella Vista Continental Breakfast

So whether it’s Bella Vista Queenstown you’re heading to, Bella Vista Hamilton, Bella Vista Franz Josef Glacier or Bella Vista Christchurch here are your Book Direct options:

  • ­   Visit www.bellavista.co.nz
  • ­   Call 0800 235 528
  • ­   Email [email protected]

#bookdirect   #trustbellavista


When Quality Counts


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In the modern digital age, every person travelling with a smartphone, iPad or other device has the opportunity to both read and post reviews and ratings on their overnight experience.

Whether they choose to leave their thoughts and opinions on Trip Advisor, Google, or a booking agent’s website, this very public feedback has guaranteed that New Zealand accommodation standards must remain high and guest expectations are met every time.

The evolution of user-centric feedback is an overwhelmingly positive development for the travel and tourism industry and ensures the general public can be fully informed about their purchasing decision by peers rather than by some clever marketing words or sales pitch. It’s the way things should be.

Customer Reviews

The digital feedback revolution is something that the Bella Vista Accommodation network fully supports. All positive feedback allows our terrific motel operators to take comfort that they are delivering a great experience. Of course, no motelier wants to receive a poor review but when that does occasionally occur, more often than not, it’s an easy fix and we are able to improve our offer.

One critical point that the customer seems to miss when using peer-to-peer reviews, however, is that these ratings are really only scratching the surface and are simply a superficial overview. Important questions that all New Zealand motels should be able to answer often get left unasked. Those question should include:

  • How robust are your health and safety policies and practices?
  • What does your businesses environmental footprint look like?
  • Do you engage and give back to your local community ?
  • Do you have an emergency plan to ensure I can rely on you in the unlikely event of a natural disaster?
  • What do your cleaning schedules and systems look like and do they meet not just international standards by my standards?

This is where Quality really comes into the equation of deciding where you want to stay. In Bella Vista’s opinion, only accommodation operators who have been audited by a recognisable external and independent organisation can really promote their accommodation business with any kind of credible quality or star rating.

Qualmark a mark of quality

Bella Vista works closely with Qualmark, New Zealand’s official quality assurance
organisation who provide a trusted guide to quality travel experiences in New Zealand.  Qualmark's business advisors visit Bella Vista motels at least once a year ensuring we
are checked against best- practise operating standards and the optimum customer
experience delivery.

There is a huge amount of evidence that business planning, good management and
solid processes as audited by Qualmark result in a better product. Furthermore, research
shows that an identifiable mark of quality is an important deciding factor when customer’s
etermine where they book. Certainly, any motel promoting itself as ‘self-rated’ does not
provide the necessary credibility any guest to New Zealand deserves.

From 4 Star rated Bella Vista Queenstown in the south to 4.5 Star rated Bella Vista Whangarei in the north, Bella Vista takes pride in the fact that we are the only motel chain in New Zealand that is Qualmark endorsed across each of our 27 comfortable and convenient locations.

Bella Vista Motels

#trustbellavista


Bella Vista Motels Supporting Your Community


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Bella Vista accommodation network takes its corporate responsibility seriously. We believe it is important to pay-forward and offset our business footprint by supporting New Zealand communities within which we operate. Every year a percentage of the Bella Vista motels head office funds are allocated to a worthy community cause, topping up on any activity an individual motel may have undertaken within its community.

In 2016, Bella Vista provided an array of bedding and pillows to the children of a low decile school in the Waitaki region. ‘A good night’s sleep’ is a mantra that Bella Vista follows so being able to extend that opportunity to some deserving children was certainly a worthy exercise.

Corporate Social Responsibility

This year, Bella Vista head office extended an invitation to the 27 motels throughout our New Zealand accommodation network asking for them to all pitch for a local cause that they were actively engaged with. After a robust selection process across the entries, it was determined that Bella Vista Franz Josef Glacier would receive the donation.

The Bella Vista Franz Josef motel owner Adam Haugh is very involved with his communities activities and when earlier this year the Franz Josef Glacier Civil Defence team were kitting out a shipping container with supplies and equipment should a natural disaster occur - including everything from tarps, water, fluro paint and power cables, Adam hit upon an idea that once again worked in well with Bella Vista’s ‘Good Night’s Sleep’ promise.   

No other town faces natural hazard risks quite like Franz Josef Glacier. Not only does the township lie on the Alpine Fault line which snakes through New Zealand’s south island, but it is also prone to flooding from both heavy rainfall and also the ever-present risk of the Waiho River that runs adjacent to the town.

Adam proposed that Bella Vista motels could contribute towards the purchase of bedrolls that could be used to make locals and visitors more comfortable in the Community Hall when it is used for emergency accommodation. The need for bedrolls became apparent after the last Civil Defence event in Easter 2016 when visitors and locals had to be accommodated at the Community Hall.
 

Hokitika Guardian


During the height of the summer, Franz Josef holds a few thousand people along with the 350 locals. Anything that can be done to make a disruptive time more comfortable seemed like a great idea. Adam was pleased to present the bedrolls to the Civil Defence team at a training day in April.

Bella Vista was delighted to help with a great cause and, of course, we hope that the bedrolls see very little use!

Bella Vista Franz Josef Glacier is a modern 18 unit motel situated right in the heart of the Franz Josef village and a highly rated Franz Josef accommodation choice. Despite the natural hazards alluded to in this article, Franz Josef Glacier is a fabulous place to visit, a very friendly small village with some great local activities such as the Glacier Hot Pools or the West Coast Wildlife Centre, interesting eateries including the Snake Bite Brewery and of course, the town is the perfect place to explore the glacier from which it takes its name. 
 

Bella Vista Hokitika


Spring and Summer Holidays. Bella Vista is your perfect match


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Who’s planning to get away this spring or summer?  A weekend break or maybe that long awaited and talked about road trip around New Zealand!  Our Bella Vista Motel accommodation will be the perfect match for your spring break or summer vacation. Check out these reasons why staying with Bella Vista is a great choice.

With over 27 locations nationwide Bella Vista has welcomed visitors from right across New Zealand and the world. Whilst Bella Vista has been open for business, we have established a strong reputation for convenience and quality becoming a preferred choice enabling tourists to visit New Zealand’s beautiful scenic locations and by offering a quality overnight stop along the way. Be reassured by the familiarity and consistency of our distinctive design and quality of service! Trust Bella Vista because you know what to expect - it's like a home away from home.

The geographic spread of the Bella Vista chain throughout New Zealand ensures that not only do most major towns and cities feature Bella Vista motels, such as Bella Vista Wellington, New Plymouth or Bella Vista Christchurch but so do popular tourist destinations such as Bella Vista Franz Josef and Bella Vista Queenstown. Even locations which you wouldn't necessarily consider first time as a destination offer a great overnight option such as Bella Vista Mosgiel, Palmerston North Bella Vista or Ashburton Bella Vista.  All our motels are conveniently placed in central locations, close to local amenities, and with free car parking on-site for all guests making it easy to unpack for your stay and come and go as you please to explore the local attractions.

Each property has a choice of several room types to suit your needs or budget, from singles, couples and families.  All rooms come equipped with kitchenette, ensuite bathrooms, television with a range of channels and free wifi.  Most of our motels also have a BBQ area for you to crank that summer sausage sizzle and relax into the summer evenings with a well-deserved glass of wine. 

Relax with Bella Vista


Your friendly Kiwi hosts live on-site offering a safe and secure accommodation option and peace of mind. All Bella Vista motels also offer additional services like guest laundry, continental breakfast and luggage storage. A travel booking service is available and your hosts can offer local knowledge and tips to make your stay more enjoyable. Your hosts will happily book your onward journey to ensure you can stay at your preferred New Zealand accommodation option. 

What is certain is if you have stayed at every 27 Bella Vista’s or even just a small handful - whether it is for accommodation in Hamilton, Napier accommodation or accommodation in Fox Glacier to name just three destinations, 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.

Having flexibility with your accommodation reservation process can also make your travel planning for this summer a lot less stressful.   A tempting option when booking on the Bella Vista website is the convenience of our Book Now, Pay Later offers, which allows you to make your booking and only pay when you arrive at your motel.  Another good deal when booking direct is our Best Price Guarantee deal. 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.
 

Bella Vista Accommodation

At Bella Vista we understand how to meet our customers’ expectations every day, are proud to offer a high-quality standard of accommodation, facilities and service at competitive pricing and delighted to provide genuine kiwi hospitality at every one of our 27 motels nationwide. 

So book now at www.bellavista.co.nz and get your spring and summer off to a cracking start.