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Category Archives: Bella Vista Top 10

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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Oamaru Family Getaway


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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.

Oamaru Victorian Precinct

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.

Oamaru Steam Train

 

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.

Oamaru Lookout

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.


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


The Top Things To Do in Te Anau


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You’ll need to pinch yourself, Te Anau is the epitome of natural perfection. The gateway to Fiordland and a nature lovers paradise, with National Parks, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and world famous walks all on your doorstep. Te Anau is the perfect launching pad for further exploration and a destination in it's right.

For those with the desire to stay somewhere off the typical Queenstown tourist trail, Te Anau is a magical choice, with beauty and splendour everywhere you look. Overnighting in Te Anau also has the added benefit of cutting down travel times, Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are the well-known heroes of the area and what the majority of visitors will come to experience.  Although these destinations can be done as a day trip from Queenstown, it does make for a very long day. Choosing to stay in Te Anau allows a few more hours in the day to explore and enjoy everything on offer.

The picturesque Te Anau township is located on the south-eastern shores of the South Island’s largest lake (344 sq km), Lake Te Anau.  In Maori legend, the name Te Anau means: Te: the,  Ana: cave, and au: swirling. The name came from the story there were caves located on the lake’s shore filled with numerous glow worms and an underground torrent that ran through the cave. The story was true so read on for more on this story and what else you can do in and around Te Anau.

Te Anau GlowWorm Caves

Rediscovered in 1948 by a local man called Lawson Burrows, the Te Anau Glow Worm caves are an icon of Te Anau tourism both locally and internationally. They are a must do experience if you are staying in the town.  A combination of caverns and water holes, the caves have been carved out from the limestone rock and now host a wonderful colony of glow worm's which can be experienced by punt in perfect darkness. To reach the caves you will need to take a 20-minute boat journey from Te Anau town centre. Tours to the glow worm caves operate at least twice daily from Te Anau wharf.

Milford Sound

The Milford Road is a 2.5-hour drive from Te Anau and is one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand, with phenomenal sights and short walks dotted along the way. You’ll pass valleys, waterfalls, peaks and onto Homer Tunnel, which has been carved from solid granite. The tunnel signals the steep descent to Milford Sound. This drive can be done as a self-drive or by choosing one of the many coach options that depart from Te Anau daily. Those opting to drive yourself need to know a few things before departing: Te Anau is the last petrol stop before Milford Sound, so make sure the car is full as you’ll need to travel two hours each way, there is no mobile phone coverage between Te Anau and Milford and you’ll need to drive with chains in the winter months.

The drive, however, is only the beginning. When you arrive and are out on a cruise on the fiord you’ll be completely blown away.  To attempt to describe the beauty of Milford Sound will never do it justice. Noted by Rudyard Kipling as the Eighth Wonder of the World, rain or shine this place is out of this world.
 

Milford Sound

The most famous of all the fiords in Fiordland National Park, the forest covered mountain peaks, ancient rock formations, sheer cliffs, deep waters, cascading waterfalls and of course the picture-perfect Mitre Peak, are simply stunning.

The Milford Sound cruises on offer vary in their quality and inclusions, so do some research and pick the one that’s best for you or ask at Bella Vista Te Anau’s desk for help when booking.
 

Doubtful Sound

You become acutely aware of the remoteness of Doubtful Sound as soon as you arrive.  To reach Doubtful Sound from Te Anau you take a short drive to Manapouri where you’ll jump aboard a boat to travel across Lake Manapouri, from there a coach will meet you to travel NZ’s most expensive road (over Wilmot Pass) and onto Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound is approximately ten times larger than Milford Sound and the deepest of all the fiords. It offers quite a different experience to the better known Milford and is celebrated for its wilderness, wildlife, stillness and mystery. Visitors to Doubtful Sound are often overcome by a sense of quietness, the ‘place of silence’. When the boat engines are turned off for a period of time this magnified ten-fold.

Doubtful Sound has three distinct arms to it, through your journey you’ll experience mountain peaks, deep coves, plunging waterfalls, wildlife and native flora and fauna.
 

Doubtful Sound


Great Walks

Three of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks are situated close to Te Anau. Two of the Great Walks start at Lake Te Anau plus there are plenty of local Te Anau walks. 

Great Walks

Milford Track

The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s best-known walks and hikers come from around the world to walk its paths. The 53.5 km track starts at Glade Wharf (at the tip of Lake Te Anau), where you walk to the finishing point of Sandfly Point in Milford Sound. This track can only be walked in one direction and will take 4 days to complete; each night is spent at a pre-booked hut. You’ll trek through magnificent scenery - mountains, forest, wetlands, waterfalls, and wonderful bird and animal life. The Milford Track is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that is highly recommended.

Kepler Track

This 60km loop track can be walked in both directions, it starts/finishes at the Kepler Track car park at the southern end of Lake Te Anau.  It will take between 3 – 4 days to complete and requires advanced bookings for campsite and hut accommodation. The Kepler Track will introduce you to stunning Fiordland scenery: the fiords, Lake Manapouri and the Murchison Mountains, plus much more, It’s a highlight for everyone that walks it.

Routeburn Track

This 32km track (one way) will see you walk over valleys, travel through mountain ranges and take in some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery. There are two starting and finishing points and the track can be walked in either direction, one track end is at the Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy and 68 km from Queenstown). The other is at The Divide (on the Milford Road, 85 km from Te Anau), or you have the ability to make this a circuit by linking up with the Greenstone and Caples Tracks. Most walkers will take 3 days/2 nights for this walk and there are huts and campsites enroute.

Accommodation in Te Anau

Staying at the Bella Vista Te Anau motel puts you in close proximity to these amazing locations, walks and attractions. We are the closest Te Anau accommodation option the township and literally, a stone's throw from the Te Anau lakefront. Owners Ray & E-min are passionate and knowledgeable about the Fiordland area and are happy to talk you through the various cruise, walking and tour options and help find the right fit for you.



Te Anau accommodation

Getting to Te Anau

For those Kiwis that have never travelled to this part of New Zealand, we recommend you take the step and book a few nights in Te Anau. Only this way will you get a real appreciation for the outstanding beauty our country offers.  For those overseas travellers, Te Anau and the Fiordland National Park region is a must-do inclusion for your New Zealand itinerary.

We hope the Te Anau weather turns it on for you so if you know when you want to travel, call the Bella Vista motel today and we’ll help you take care of the rest!


New Zealand's Best Hot Pools


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When these cold temperatures head our way there is nothing quite like soaking our bodies in a heaven sent hot pool. Easing away all our aches and pains and taking some time out to relax from our busy lives.

We’ve searched high and low to put together our pick of the top ten hot pools in New Zealand using the best recommendations of our Bella Vista moteliers. For all you need to know of the best places to soak, where to stay and how to get there – take a read below!
 

Kerosene Creek – Rotorua/Taupo

We’re going to let you in on a bit of a secret with this one, located on the road between Rotorua and Taupo is a very special place – Kerosene Creek.  To get there head south from Rotorua, about 0.5km past the Murupara turnoff is Old Waiotapu Rd, it’s approximately 2.2km down this road.

Waiting for you when you arrive is an unbelievable hot springs experience, a basic corrugated iron shed has been built to accommodate bathers changing and once you’re all sorted you’ll jump into a natural hot pool in a surreal bush setting. It doesn't get much better than this, so relax and take in the raw back country beauty of this little gem.

When heading to Kerosene Creek, take your pick of either our Taupo accommodation or Rotorua motel accommodation. Or perhaps make a weekend out of it book into both! Check out Bella Vista Motel Taupo and Rotorua Bella Vista for some fantastic deals.

Kerosene Creek


Polynesian Spa – Rotorua

Treat yourself to some luxury and indulgence at Polynesian Spa.  Two natural springs feed into the 28 hot mineral pools at Polynesian Spa. Allow the thermal properties of this water to work its wonder on your skin, aching muscles and body.

This is also the place to go for a spot of pampering, with the Polynesian Spa offering a comprehensive spa therapy menu including geothermal mud wraps, massages, facials. Take some time to unwind and let Polynesian Spa work its magic.

Book into Bella Vista Motel Rotorua when you’re thinking of visiting the Polynesian Spa, its central location sees you only 7 minutes from the spa complex.
 

AC Baths – Taupo

This one is ideal for the whole family, in fact, AC Baths are almost a rite of passage for kiwi kids young and old. AC Baths offers an awesome all-weather, family-friendly pool complex. There are hours of fun to be had with a large outdoor pool, two toddler areas, two 25-metre lane pools, an indoor learn to swim pool, two hydroslides, a Tarzan swing, four private thermal mineral pools, a sauna and a delicious café. All of the pools in the complex are thermally heated using natural hot water. It’s a wonderful day out for all, so put this one on the to-do list for sure.

The perfect place to book your Taupo motel is Bella Vista Taupo, it’s an easy 4 minute drive to the AC baths and wonderfully central to Taupo activities and dining.
 

Te Aroha Mineral Springs – Te Aroha

The waters of Te Aroha have played a famous role in health and healing for over 100 years. The mineral spring flowing from beneath Mt Te Aroha provides the source to these magical hot springs, and this relatively unknown hot pools complex offers a quieter, more intimate soak. The mineral salts in the natural spring water are therapeutic, and for bathing, you have the choice of porcelain claw-foot baths or one of the many traditional wooden tubs. If you have a special occasion check out the romance packages, massages and beauty therapy treatments are available here.

Staying at Bella Vista Hamilton allows you to make a day trip out of a visit to Te Aroha Mineral Springs, pack a picnic and be there in less than an hours driving. Bella Vista Motel Hamilton offers a superb choice, positioned slightly out of the CBD in a quiet neighbourhood.
 

Glacier Hot Pools – Franz Josef Glacier

If you’re looking for something that’s next level memorable, you’ll need to visit the Glacier Hot Pools in Franz Josef Glacier. This has to be one of the most unique hot pool experiences you can get, set in a rainforest on New Zealand’s West Coast these pools are a haven of tranquillity. Three pools weave their way through the lush forest where nature has set the temperature between 36 – 40 degrees centigrade.  Buy a single entry or a day long pass depending on your mood and head along to discover Te Puna Mahaki – The pool of calmness, Te Puna Makoha – The pool of tranquillity and Te Puna Marino – The pool of serenity, all named by the local Maori tribe.

Bella Vista offers two great options in this part of the world - the wonderful Franz Josef accommodation just a short stroll from the hot pools and Fox Glacier accommodation if you want to be based further south.  Try either Bella Vista Franz Josef or Bella Vista Fox Glacier and book your home away from home.
 

Glacier Hot Pools


Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa

People come from near and far to relax in this beautiful setting. Take some time to appreciate the views around you, as every which way you turn it’s postcard like mountains or native forest. Hanmer is the epitome of relaxation and these pools go a long way to contribute to this.  There’s something for everyone here with private pools, rock pools, sulphur pools, kids pools, hydroslides, you name it!! The natural beauty of this location allows you to escape from reality and enjoy the healing waters of these pools.

When you’re on the lookout for Hanmer Springs accommodation, book into the Qualmark 4 star rated Bella Vista Motel Hanmer Springs for an exceptional stay - it's as good as any Hanmer Springs hotels!


Morere Hot Springs – Gisborne

Soaking in the heated ancient seawaters of Morere Hot Springs is something pretty magical. Set amongst 364 hectares of lush rainforest, the hot springs are piped to a series of private and public pools for all to enjoy. Therapeutic, medicinal and unforgettable, make sure you BYO BBQ food to make a day of it and don’t forget to try out the spectacular rainforest walks in the area when you need a break from the water.

When looking Gisborne motels, our recommendation is the friendly and welcoming Bella Vista Motel Gisborne - a very highly rated Gisborne accommodation option.


Onsen Hot pools – Queenstown

Queenstown has exceeded itself yet again with an out of this world hot pools facility in a breathtaking location, with views out over the Shotover River Canyon. You’ll find true relaxation calling, as you take a break from the hustle bustle of exploring and partaking in Queenstown adventures, or perhaps it’s an evening trip to the pools after a day skiing on the Queenstown mountains. The cedar hot tubs at Onsen each comfortably seat four people, and once you’re in you’ll not want to get out ever again! Don’t forget to book in advance for this one to ensure you don’t miss out.

There are many Queenstown accommodation options; if you’re looking for one that’s central to town and highly ranked on Trip Advisor, Bella Vista Queenstown is for you.

Onsen Hot Pools


Ngawha Springs Hot Pools – Kaikohe

Another well-kept secret that only a few are privy to is the tranquil Ngawha Springs in the Northland region. Located in an area rich in culture, kind locals and peaceful surroundings, the hot springs in this area are top notches. Slightly acidic and rich in ammonia, bicarbonate, boron and mercury (which is not typical of other springs in New Zealand) every one of the 15 pools is sourced by an individual spring, dictating its own temperature (some hot, some cold). The pools also vary in colour and clarity, determined by the mineral composition and individual underground source. When one of the pools is called ‘The Doctor’ you get a real understanding of the health and well-being properties available here.

If you book in and stay at Bella Vista Whangarei you can be changed and sit in one of the Ngawha Springs Hot Pools in just over an hour.


Maruia Hot Springs – Lewis Pass

As far as boutique hot pools are concerned, this one’s got it in the bag. Utilising the 100% pure geothermal spring water of the area and generating all of their own hydro-power, the mind and body will slip away into utter relaxation. Maruia offers views of the surrounding Southern Alps and an eco-wellness experience like no other. With 19 Wellness Stations situated across both the indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy, for a complete ‘wellness journey’ allow at least 2.5 hours.

Take your pick of Bella Vista accommodation options for a visit to Mauia Hot Springs – Bella Vista Nelson, Bella Vista Christchurch, Bella Vista Hanmer Springs or Bella Vista Greymouth are all within driving distance.

Maruia Hot Pools


For further information about hot springs and thermal pools refer to a terrific website called NZ Hot Pools which we found. It offers smart facts about every hot pool and thermal spring in the country. Or check out our latest video update below.
 


Ski Queenstown this Winter. 10 Local Tips


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

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

Queenstown accommodation can start to get a little crazy over the ski season, but there’s a room with your name on it at Bella Vista Motel Queenstown. This terrific motel has just been recognised by Trip Advisor as the number one motel in Queenstown, it’s central to town, modern, well priced, includes a ski drying room and storage, and offers studios, one, two and three bedroom unit options. So book in early and secure your pick of dates for the upcoming skiing season.

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

                     Remarkables Ski field


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

Queenstown Skiing -10 Local Tips 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Remarkables

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

Mountain Stats:

·         3 terrain parks

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

·         1943M high 468M vertical drop

Getting there:

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

Kids Options:

Taking your children to the mountains can sometimes be a challenging prospect, if you would prefer to explore the mountain without kids in tow, The Remarkables offers two fantastic kids clubs that will see your children progress with their skiing, make new friends and ensure they are fed and happy!

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

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

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

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

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

                          Queenstown Remarkables


Cardrona

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

Mountain Stats:

•    Base Area Elevation: 1670m

•    Highest Lifted Point: 1860m

•    Vertical Rise: 600m

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

Getting there:

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

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

Kids Options:

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

Equipment Hire:

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

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

                            Cardrona


Coronet Peak

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

Mountain Stats:

·         2 Terrain parks

·         1649M highest point, 481M vertical drop

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

Getting there:

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

Kids Options:

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

Equipment Hire:

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

Mountain Tip:

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

 

We’re lucky enough in New Zealand to have some of the best skiing right here in our own backyard. People travel from near and far to ski and board on our beautiful mountains. If you’ve never been skiing in Queenstown before, we challenge you to join us down here at Queenstown Bella Vista this winter and see what all the fuss is about. 


Bella Vista Queenstown - Our Top 10


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As part of a new regular series, the team at Bella Vista have decided to share ten of their favourite things, from local eateries to adventure activities. These updates will give you an idea of some great things to do right around New Zealand, both the top tourist attractions and few ideas which are a little more off the beaten track.

Our top 10 things to do and see in and around Queenstown

Queenstown is often described as the jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s tourist destinations and it is certainly a spectacularly impressive location. Nestled on the shores of the immense Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the Southern Alps and The Remarkables, Queenstown is not only an amazing destination in its own right, but acts as a gateway to the many delights and must-see attractions around the region. Bella Vista Motel Queenstown is a great place to base yourself being only a couple minutes from the town centre, offering a great range of room options.

1. Walter Peak cruise on the TSS Earnslaw

Where else in the world can you undertake a lake cruise on a 100 year old steam boat? This marvellous trip is a credit to Real Journeys who allow you to step back in time with friends or family and enjoy a cruise across the lake, a BBQ lunch at the historic Walter Peak homestead and a shearing demonstration typical of many New Zealand farms. Enjoy an old-fashioned sing along around the on-board piano on your return journey.

2. The historic gold mining Arrowtown settlement

Enjoy a wander around the Lakes District Museum or the Chinese Goldminers settlement, gaining an insight as to how hard life once was for the thousands who participated in the gold rush of the 1860s. Or simply relax in the small village atmosphere, enjoy a walk by the river or visit one of the many excellent eateries for a bite and a drink.

                          Arrowtown


3. Shotover Jet

Queenstown has a reputation for thrill-seekers and the Shotover Jet ticks most of the boxes. Recently celebrating 50 years of operation, the iconic red jet boats have been powering through the Shotover River canyons at high speed giving every passenger a brilliant, fast and fun, white knuckle ride.

4. Amisfield Winery

If you’re looking to get a flavour of some of the impressive wines the region offers, head to Amisfield winery. Overlooking the idyllic Lake Hayes, you can sample some of Amisfield’s finest Pinot Noir or aromatic white wines. There is a sumptuous bistro onsite - the menu is sure to get your taste buds buzzing.

5. Hydro Attack!

A favourite of the Bella Vista Queenstown team, the latest and greatest adventure activity to join some illustrious forbearers is the Lake Wakatipu based Hydro Attack, “the ultimate blend of shark and machine”. Queenstown is the only place in the world to offer the experience of your life in this submersible watercraft that accelerates to 80kph in under 4 seconds and leaps from the lake up to 5.5 metres. Strap in and hold on!

                                   Hydro Attack Queenstown


6. Gondola and luge 

For a slightly more sedate experience, take a trip up the Queenstown gondola to the Skyline building perched atop Bob’s Peak. The view from the top is simply breath-taking as you survey a huge swath of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown town, all set against The Remarkables rising to over 2,300 metres as a back-drop. Look out for the identifiable terracotta roof which marks out Bella Vista Queenstown down below.  A range of refreshments are available at the top, as is the popular luge track where, apparently, one ride is never enough.

7. Kelvin Heights

Another option for a slightly easier pace is to take the water taxi from the town basin out to the Kawarau Falls and take a walk along the Kelvin Heights path. Nestled on the southern shores of the Frankton Arm, the walkway offers beautiful lakeside views and as you round the peninsula, some impressive public art displays.

8. Take a day trip to Glenorchy

Located roughly an hour north of Queenstown, this small town is popular for day-trippers who enjoy the journey there as much as the destination. An outdoor enthusiasts paradise, there is plenty of activities on offer including the chance to visit the surrounding region which was used as a base for many of the Lord of the Rings film locations. Continue further north to Paradise or around the head of lake to Kinloch which are both worth a visit. (Please make sure your vehicle is insured for gravel roads).

9. Eating out

There are so many great restaurants in Queenstown it is hard to pick a favourite but dinner at the lakeside Botswana Butchery is highly recommended and will not disappoint. 

10. Milford Sound - last but certainly not least!

The day trip to Milford Sound is a long outing but so breathtakingly worth it. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound is a must see. Enjoy the journey through the Fiordland National Park as well as the cruise on the fiord - which will take you out to the Tasman Sea. If you’re seeking a quick return home which doubles up as another spectacular sightseeing opportunity, catch a flight back to Queenstown airport which traverses the Southern Alps and then a transfer home to Queenstown Bella Vista. 

                                 Milford Sound


Bella Vista Whangarei - Our Top 10


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As part of a new regular series, the team at Bella Vista have decided to share ten of their favourite things, from local eateries to adventure activities. These updates will give you an idea of some great things to do right around New Zealand, both the top tourist attractions and few ideas which are a little more off the beaten track.   

Our Top 10 things to do and see in and around Whangarei

1. Whangarei Falls 

At 26 metres high, this waterfall is a local landmark and a must see. It is like stepping back in time -  picturesque and tranquil.
 

                                   Whangarei Falls


2. AH Reed Memorial Park

Featuring a stunning canopy walkway, stroll amongst New Zealand's largest and most famous trees. Five hundred year old Kauri trees stand proudly within this lovely pocket of ancient forest. Delightful.

3. Town Basin and Art Trail

This is the heart of Whangarei town. Enjoy a bite to eat, view visiting international yachts, a spot of shopping, or a riverside stroll. An ever-changing landscape by tide and season, this is a great location.

4.  Whangarei Quarry Gardens and Café 

A 16 year ongoing community project, volunteers are creating a lush haven within a former quarry. Results to date are spectacular.  A subtropical oasis.

5.  Kiwi North Whangarei Museum

A museum, kiwi house and heritage park. It is great for any age and just a short drive from Whangarei town centre. Passionate knowledgeable staff make it special.

6.  Tutukaka Coast

Rocky shores and gorgeous white sand beaches, beautiful coastal bush walks and the stunning Poor Knights Island Marine reserve. A must see and do.

                                    Tutukaka Coast

7.  Try the Marina Pizzeria

One of our favourites, located at the Tutukaka Marina. Enjoy the covered outdoor decks for a coffee and cake or pizza watching the boats go in and out. Casual and relaxed.

8.  Mt Manaia 

Impressive rock formations out at Whangarei Heads. Enjoy a vigorous walk and steady climb to the peak to enjoy much-celebrated views. At 403 metres above sea level, it will take you approximately 1.5 hours to climb. 

9.  The Cove Café, Waipu

Half an hour south of Whangarei, this eatery is a wee gem. Located just across the road from the beach. Great food, service and location. It ticks all the boxes.

10.  Helena Bay Gallery and Café

Another brilliant destination. Set within beautiful subtropical gardens, the gallery specialises in Maori and Pacific art. Drive half an hour north of Whangarei and enjoy this contemporary gallery, gardens and café with panoramic views.
 

                                    Helena Bay Gallery and Cafe

Whangarei Bella Vista is a terrific place to base yourself for business and leisure. With plenty to see and do in and around the city, a stay here also offers the perfect gateway for attractions and activities in Northland or the brilliant Tutukaka Coast.


South Island Top 10 Things To Do


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In the first of a new regular series, the team at Bella Vista have decided to share ten of their favourite things, from local eateries to adventure activities. These updates will give you an idea of some great things to do right around New Zealand, both the top tourist attractions and few ideas which are a little more off the beaten track.   

My Top 10 New Zealand Sites and Activities by Natalie Evans

Natalie is Director of Bella Vista Management and lives in Oamaru, in New Zealand's South Island.


  1. Blue cod and kumara chips from Coast, Kakanui North Otago - speaks for itself plus awesome view to boot.
     
  2. Picnic at Elephant rocks, Duntroon, North Otago - picturesque and provides a challenging climbing experience!
     
  3. Nosh Cafe on State Highway One, Waimate - their food display is a feast for the eyes.

                 
     
  4. Stroll from Friendly Bay around the harbour, Oamaru. Easy, picturesque and adjacent to the Steampunk playground which is a playground of old providing ages 6 plus with challenges. (Also not far from Bella Vista Oamaru!)
     
  5. Walk from St Kilda Beach to St Clair, Dunedin - coffee and cake, brunch or lunch at any one of the fabulous cafes and walk back along the seaside track and over the playing fields ending up at St Kilda playground - another must for those with families.
     
  6. Riverstone Cafe, just north of Oamaru. Home grown produce, terrific menu, gardens, castle, shops and playground. Just perfect.
     
  7. Bill Blair, Coppice Crafts Oamaru working from a red shed at the end of the harbour railway line at the Harbour Oamaru. Watch Bill in action making his crafts. Take home a very well built trug complete with copper nails to use to collect your fresh produce from your garden. 

                                              
     
  8. Turn right at Otematata and view Lake Benmore Dam. The largest earth dam in the Southern Hemisphere. Whilst there walk from the top of the dam on the circular walk where on a good day you will view Mt Cook in all its glory and the full length of Lake Benmore - a truly magnificent sight and great walk.
     
  9. Visit The Vines Restaurant in Waimate. Friendly hosts and a view over Waimate. Stroll around Waimate for a town streetscape straight out of a bygone era.
     
  10. Finally, my recent find - Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson. A ride on the Marahau/Abel Tasman water taxis is a must. Make sure you land at Marahau so that you can experience riding on the boat trailers direct from the beach being pulled by tractors. Walk all or part of the Abel Tasman. It's a gem because you can walk it and return daily to civilisation via water taxi if that's your preference. Nature and clean sheets - bliss (check out Bella Vista Nelson for just that!).