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Bella Vista's Blog

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!  


Essential guide to Dunedin

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From surf beaches, to hip cafes, hidden street art and charming wildlife, the southern city of Dunedin, boasts plenty of beautiful attractions for its compact size. Even so, you could miss the top spots, so here’s an essential guide to the best things to do in Dunedin, whether you’re staying a night or a week at our Dunedin motels.


Best street art  

Wander down hidden city lanes and around street corners and discover a 30-strong collection of stunning painted walls by New Zealand and international artists. Pick up an Art Trail map from the local Dunedin i-Site Visitor Centre and take this self-guided 90-minute walk. Along the way, explore the city’s interesting southern fringe with its character architecture, boutiques and the historic Dunedin Railway Station, once New Zealand’s grandest and busiest station. This is now the departure point for the spectacular Taieri Gorge Railway journey, regarded as the world’s best slow train trip. This is only 5 minutes drive from our Dunedin motels


Best Dunedin beaches  

Ask any local this question, and they’ll point you in the direction of St Clair Beach, a perfect spot to visit on a sunny day and one of the best sea-side walks in Dunedin. Stroll along the dunes bordering the beach, watch surfers catch a wave or hang out at one of the cafes or bars on the popular Esplanade. Continue walking to the less populated St Kilda Beach, where you might spot playful sea lions frolicking in the sand. If keen on swimming, Brighton Beach is your best bet, just 20 minutes from our Dunedin motel accommodation.  


Most epic Dunedin views 

Take a 14 minute drive up from our motel accommodation in Dunedin to Mount Cargill, one of the highest lookout points over the city. You’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the city, harbour and Otago Peninsula. There’s a couple of short walking tracks including the Organ Pipes from the summit, surely one of the most unusual walks in Dunedin. The 30-minute track steps up fallen columns of rock towards a level platform, providing views of the Organ Pipes or basalt columns caused by the volcanic formation of the Otago Peninsula millions of years ago. Drive through charming Port Chalmers and pop into the Union Co Café for a locally roasted espresso and fresh baked goods from smoked fish pies to chocolate chunk cookies. There might be no better beef rendang pie in all of Aotearoa, New Zealand! 


Steepest street treat 

Close to our motel in Dunedin and nearby the Dunedin Botanic Garden sits Baldwin Street, officially the steepest street in the world, unless you believe the Welsh who vigorously dispute the claim. Once upon a time, Baldwin Street hosted the annual Jaffa and trolley races. Where one chocolate-centred sweet or crazy trolley driver took out line honours as the fastest down hiller in the land. Plodding your way up suburban Baldwin Street is one of the essential things to do in Dunedin, alongside plenty of puffing visitors determined to make it to the top.  


Best brunch, burgers or brews  

A stroll through the city’s Warehouse District will reveal plenty of great cafes like Heritage Coffee or the Vogel Street Kitchen and the mouth-watering Mama’s Donuts. The burgers at Good Good attract locals from all over Dunedin. Drop into the Duke of Wellington if you relish imported British beers or treat yourself to a tour and craft beer tasting at either Emerson's, a local Dunedin institution or the legendary Speights Brewery. One of the best restaurants in Dunedin in terms of bang for bucks is Plato. Classic New Zealand dining in a waterfront character building with sea views of the Otago Harbour. Savour freshly caught salmon or their signature fish pie, and experience genuine southern hospitality.  


Best time travel  

For an interesting history lesson, check out the Toit? Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin to learn about New Zealand’s oldest city. This immersive experience showcases the first people history of founding M?ori and the arrival of Otago settlers from Scotland. Best of all this is a free Dunedin activity with a focus on student learning, so perfectly pitched for families. A visit to the one and only Larnach Castle Dunedin on the Otago Peninsular, will take you back in time to when landed gentry, like politician William Larnach ruled New Zealand. Now privately owned, this Victorian-era castle took sixteen years to build, bankrupting William and costing him his life. Some fear it’s haunted! Today the castle boasts a 3,000 square foot ballroom, which hosts regular high teas, and a pretty tower, providing stunning views of the Peninsula. 

Whatever your interests, there’s plenty of fun things to do in Dunedin. Contact the Bella Vista Motel team for maps, tour bookings or information on any Dunedin attractions. We’re only too happy to help. 

Best Walks in Christchurch

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With a Garden City reputation to uphold, beautiful walks in Christchurch are plentiful and varied. From the well-groomed paths in Hagley Park to the windswept tracks traversing the Port Hills, these free Christchurch activities are suitable for all fitness levels.  We’ve done the hard yards by rounding up the city’s five best walking tracks, including a few with delicious food along the way. 


The Bridle Path to Lyttleton (1 hour 30 minutes one-way) 

For the full Port Hills monty, leave your car at the Christchurch Gondola carpark and walk up the steep Bridle Path - a favourite amongst fit Christchurch locals - towards the Gondola station. Here you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the city, the golden Canterbury Plains and pristine Southern Alps. Grab a refreshment at the summit’s Red Rock Café before descending towards Lyttleton on the Bridle Path. Imagine walking in the footsteps of the early settlers, who would ride a horse or donkey over the Port Hills to Christchurch. Rather than endure an arduous boat ride around the coast. 

Once in Lyttleton, check out the quirky Spookie Boogie for the best coffee, sweet treats and hidden garden setting, in this historic hillside village.  A short ride on the number 28 bus back through the Port Hills tunnel, will return you to the Gondola carpark.  


The Stan Helms Track to Lyttleton - from the Gondola station (30 minutes one-way) 

Your express option is to take the Christchurch Gondola up to the summit, then walk downhill towards picturesque Lyttleton on the Stan Helms Track, a short walk from the Gondola’s summit station. Head west along the Crater Rim Walkway and take the track after the Bridle Path. The one-kilometre track zigzags down to the end of Harman’s Road, where 15 minutes later you’ll reach Lyttleton. This easier option will keep the family happy (and preserve the legs) before hopping on the 28 bus back to the Gondola carpark. The start of the walk is 20 mins by car from our motel accommodation in Christchurch


Harry Ell Track (2 hours return) 

Another popular walk in the Port Hills, this 2-hour loop from the Victoria Park Visitor Centre is one of those tracks which provides big rewards for very little effort. Despite its gentle incline, you’ll get surprising views of the city and Alps, discover the Memorial site of the 19th Infantry Battalion and possibly spot beautiful Kereru (wood pigeon) in Victoria Park. One of the best hill-top places to eat in Christchurch is the Sign of the Kiwi café. Locals give five-star reviews for its stunning views, great coffee and delicious food. 


The City Promenade along the Avon River (1 hour return – without stops) 

This awesome 4-kilometre walk is designed to showcase the must-see activities in Christchurch. Highlights along the way include the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, the Bridge of Remembrance, the Christchurch Arts Centre plus vibrant bars and cafes. You may even chance upon lovers dreamily punting up the Avon River past draping leafy trees. This track is the perfect way to discover local life at the heart of Christchurch, including the delightful Margaret Mahy playground.  The Promenade is about 20 minutes drive from our motel in Christchurch.


Godley Head to Taylors Mistake (2 hours return) 

We had to include a superb coastal walk on our ‘best walks of Christchurch’ list.  About 40 minutes away from our Christchurch motel

The Godley Head Coastal Walk follows Taylors Mistake Beach before climbing to the Head, once a wartime defence battery. Take in the surfing action of Taylors Mistake, panoramic views of Pegasus Bay, the Kaikoura mountains and the North Canterbury hills. Sometimes even dolphins and white flippered penguins make an appearance. From Godley Head, you’ll see Lyttleton Harbour, Banks Peninsula, and the Pacific Ocean. Given its high ratio of insta-worthy views, this well-formed track is one of the most scenic walks in Christchurch.  

So pack your walking shoes and drink bottle because Christchurch is a great place for trailblazers and nature-lovers. Ask the Bella Vista Motels Christchurch team for information on free activities, places to eat and wonderous walks. We’ll happily provide the latest weather report and point you in the right direction.  

Taste Christchurch: The Foodies Guide

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Christchurch is enjoying a culinary revival with fantastic new eateries, bars and cafés complementing a vibrant food scene. No one wants to eat a dud meal while traveling places, right? So, we've compiled a gastro guide to the best restaurants in Christchurch for your eating pleasure. 


Brunch or lunch best cafes in Christchurch 

At Unknown Chapter Coffee Roasters, you might just discover the best French toast and coffee in town! With a menu consisting of breakfast burritos, eggs any style and fresh healthy salads, this café is one of the best places to eat in Christchurch. The peppermint slice and cheddar muffins are great cabinet fare if you’re after lunch on-the-run.  

An all-day option close to the Christchurch motel, is Strawberry Fare. While popular with the locals for its stunning chocolate-themed dessert platters and gateaux, this eatery serves up light savoury dishes too like hot smoked salmon with tasty apple slaw or slow roasted duck confit. So it’s the great food combined with views over Hagley Park which makes this longstanding café one of the tastiest things to do in Christchurch 


For the best steak restaurant in Christchurch 

Where New York-sized steaks meet Canterbury prime-rib, is where you’ll find Bloody Mary’s. Choose your cut of Angus, Wakanui, or Angus Hereford at this all-day upmarket diner.  Guests drool over the 7-day aged steak, especially the 300g Mary's cut with a side of hash brown and truffle mash. This place serves up hearty brunch options too. It's a great 21 minute stroll from our Christchurch motel


For Christchurch best fine-dining restaurants  

Head to Inati for a special lunch or dinner. Book the 6 or 8-course ‘Trust Us’ menu as chef Simon Levy, once head Gordon Ramsay's head chef, has also sharpened his knives at London’s Claridge’s and The Ivy. This team have earnt their cooking stripes! Trust us in that you’ll sample dishes you’d ordinarily never choose but enjoy immensely. Artichokes with cottage cheese, duck trumpets with rhubarb jam, or smoked venison tartare may be laid before you. But be warned, this Chef’s menu changes often! 

Could Story, in historic Little Regents Street, be the city’s best kept dining secret? Locals are keen to keep this place on the down-low given the popularity of the Chef’s mystery 3-courses for $75. The story lies in the ever-changing nightly menu. One night it could be Mushroom Ravioli followed by chocolate mousse, the next night, lightly grilled Venison in an oyster sauce. All you need to know is incredible food and flawless, friendly service combine to make Story one of the best restaurants in Christchurch.   


For the best cheap eats in Christchurch 

Let’s take things down a notch or two to the Thai Container. Close to the motel accommodation in Christchurch, is this cheap and cheerful, no fuss pop-up, which serves up tasty fresh Thai food like spicy fried chicken, trusty Pad Thai and fragrant green curry.  Or for a quick healthy fix, head for top-rated Kinji for Japanese-style tapas like Cajun-spiced garlic tuna, wagyu beef sushi or salmon sashimi. You can’t go wrong with either option. 


For the best burgers in Christchurch 

If you’re craving a big, juicy, delicious burger then Bacon Brothers has you covered. With a mission to create the best burgers around and over 18 delicious options, there’s a choice for everyone. They’ve even ‘burgered’ coconut bacon and deep-fried cauliflower to cater for vegans too.  And their hand-cut fries are a must-have side. With most burgers under $18, this is another of Christchurch’s best cheap eats. If all you can think of is burgers its only 6 minutes by car from the Christchurch accommodation.


Best bistro style fare 

Our pick is 5th Street for their vibrant buzz, stylish decor, and innovative flavour-packed menu. Imagine a slow roasted Lamb Shoulder with side couscous salad, triple cooked potatoes, and a burnt Basque cheesecake to finish. Or Himalayan salt block cured fish served with broccoli doughnuts and seaweed butter. Sounds great right?  

The menu changes often at 5th Street, inspired by seasonal produce and the need to keep their regular diners coming back for more.    

There’s plenty of great places to eat in Christchurch, so whatever your tastes, please ask the Bella Vista Motel Christchurch team for up-to-date information and local dining recommendations. 

Your Getaway Guide to Christchurch

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Planning a short break or a few days with the family in Christchurch? Rediscover a city once famed for its well-groomed gardens, now going places with a vibrant rebuild, great eateries and fun attractions.  The city is still green and beautiful, but this gateway to the South has blossomed into an exciting creative destination, since the transformative 2011 earthquake. Here’s our guide on the top ten things to do in Christchurch.  

Number one is to head for the Christchurch Gondola, an 862-metre cable car ride up the side of Mt Cavendish, for spectacular 360-degree views of the city, the plains, the Southern Alps, Lake Ellesmere and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re keen on stretching your legs, take the scenic track down the Bridle Path Walk, back to the gondola carpark.    

Tick off number two and three on your list by heading into town.  Stroll through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens to discover the finest collection of exotic and native plants in the country before dropping into the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch locals are so justifiably proud of. With free entry, kids will love climbing through the moa cave, digging for fossils, visiting the paua house and walking ‘back in time’ down an old Christchurch street (complete with horse and penny farthing cycle!) This is a lovely 30 minute stroll from the Christchurch motel accommodation to get you slap bang in the middle of a beautify park. 

By now you’re probably feeling peckish. So, amble down to pedestrian mall New Regents Street (our number four destination) to sample some of the best restaurants in Christchurch and the street’s 1930’s style Spanish Mission architecture. Pick up a quick bite, like the whitebait fritters at Café Stir or dine at the top-rated Twenty-Seven Steps (visitors rave about their aged beef fillet with hasselback potatoes). If it’s coffee you’re hankering after, drop into The Caffeine Laboratory or indulge yourself with a late-afternoon cocktail at The Last Word or The Institution. 

Activities five, six and seven on our list will delight both young and old. The excellent Margaret Mahy playground, named after the famous children’s author, is tucked alongside the Avon River and one of the fun stops on the Christchurch Tram’s route. The playground features a double flying fox, large slides, colourful climbing frames, even a splash pad (and for the big kids, great food and coffee trucks on the weekend). Its only a life saving 4 minutes away by car from our Christchurch motel

Want to cool off? Then head to the thrilling International Antarctic Centre Christchurch near the airport, to play in the snow at replica Scott Base, hang out with little Blue Penguins and hop on a rugged Hagglund ride. You’ll feel like an intrepid explorer! 

No trip to Christchurch would be complete without reflecting on local life before and after the February 2011 earthquake. In one afternoon, it changed the city forever. The Quake City exhibition, the 185 White Chairs Memorial and the Cardboard Cathedral are all excellent yet sobering reminders of the resilience and strength of the local Cantabrians and their determination to rebuild a world-class city.  Lest we forget. Which is why the Quake-themed experiences need to make your ‘things to do Christchurch’ top ten list.  

For advice, a city map or tour recommendations, please ask your Bella Vista Motel Christchurch team for help. We’re here to make your visit a treasured memory. 

Best walks in Blenheim and Marlborough

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Enjoy the best walks whilst staying at our Blenheim motel

You’re spoilt for choice for local walks in Blenheim and the Marlborough Region so pack your trainers or hiking boots.  We often get asked about free things to do in Blenheim, so love to recommend the easy hidden trails on our doorstep or scenic hikes through the hills in the surrounding countryside whilst you're staying with us in our Blenheim motel

Pollard Park is a short stroll from the hotel and a must for rose lovers.  A large, wooded park, it features a lovely stream, criss-crossed by bridges, well-tended gardens and best of all for the kids, a playground, including a fenced-in space for the little ones!  An ideal picnic spot and a picturesque place to spend a few hours, this is one of the most family-friendly walks in Blenheim. Take some bread as the ducks are plentiful and hungry. 

A short drive from our motel in Blenheim, The Wither Hills Farm Park traverses a 1,100ha working sheep and cattle farm. One of the best walks around Blenheim, the Wither Hills walking tracks provide many lookout spots across the Wairau Valley, affording panoramic views of Cloudy Bay. Or you can choose to stick to the foothills for a gentler stroll. 

The Taylor River Reserve meanders from central Blenheim along the scenic Taylor River, right up to the Taylor Dam Reserve (near the Wither Hills Mountain Bike Park). As one of the more popular walks in Blenheim, this concrete 5km return track provides an easy gradient with plenty of shady trees and lots of river spots to paddle in. This is a shared trail with bikers and a popular exercise area for dogs.  

Take a bite of the stunning 72km Queen Charlotte Track, one of the more popular day walks around Blenheim, this hike can be enjoyed in stages by taking a water-taxi ride from Picton, an easy half hour drive from the Blenheim motel. Grab a coffee and lunch supplies from Gusto café prior to boarding then sit back and enjoy up close views of the stunning Marlborough Sounds – seals, bobbing penguins or dolphins often make an appearance to surprise and delight passengers.  

Disembark an hour later at Ship Cove, the start of the Queen Charlotte Track, to start a 17km undulating trek through native forest and sparkling coves, back towards Endeavour Inlet. Billed as a five hour walk, a moderate level of fitness is required and good sturdy hiking shoes as the track can be steep and slippery in places. Take plenty of water too. 

Fortify yourself with a refreshing dip and Gusto’s mega sandwiches and ginger crunch topped by large pieces of crystalised ginger. You’ve earnt it before your return water taxi ride back to Picton. 

Get your walking shoes on and ask for trail maps or information from the Bella Vista Motel team. We’ll happily point you in the right direction of the best walks in Blenheim.  

Best restaurants in Blenheim to brag about

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While Blenheim is a popular destination for wine-lovers, the town’s best kept secret is the number of critically acclaimed restaurants both centrally located and based in nearby vineyards. Some of the best places to eat in Blenheim are close to the Blenheim motel so whether you’re a fine diner or a leisurely luncher, we’ve rounded up the best restaurants in Blenheim for your eating pleasure.  



Put this restaurant on your list of ‘Blenheim things to do’. Inspired by a small town in southern Brazil, Gramados blends the best of South American cuisine with the fresh flavours and produce of Marlborough. In Brazil, eating is not only about the food, but also the hospitality and this little restaurant is big on both! Ranked by critics as the best ‘everyday eats’ restaurant in New Zealand, the menu boasts authentic dishes like slow-cooked pork belly with Brazilian guava sauce or a smoky black bean stew with spicy chorizo, pork ribs, Manuka smoked bacon. Their famous Chocolate Volcano dessert might just tip you over. Stop it, we hear you say! With most mains under $40, you’re spoilt for choice with vegetarian and gluten-free options too. Make sure to book ahead, as even mid-week, this popular eatery is buzzing.   



Close to the Blenheim motel, you’ll find Quench, one of the only places to eat in Blenheim with a happy hour from 4pm - 7pm if you just want to pop in for a drink. With a varied wine list and a classy low-key vibe, the menu highlights local fare with the knowledgeable team serving up hearty delicious meals ranging from the twice cooked Pork Belly to a tender Lamb Fillet. Don’t be surprised if happy hour turns into a long happy night especially on Fridays, when diners can wine, dine and tap their toes to live music.   


The Tamarind 

Fancy some of the best spicy flavours of Southern India in the South Island? Then head to the Tamarind for a taste trail around the Kerala region and enjoy dishes like pan-sautéed beef with spices, fennel seeds and coconut chips or green lipped mussels sauteed with onion, garlic and garam masala.  The menu also boasts a large selection of tempting vegetarian dishes including the Chef’s special, an eggplant masala cooked in ginger, garlic and coconut milk. Best of all this this family-run eatery is both BYO and regarded as one of the best restaurants in Blenheim with mega five-star reviews.  


Herb and Olive  

For a healthy brunch served with steaming organic Kokako coffee, head to the popular Herb and Olive, named after the owner’s two children. Craving greens? Then choose the sprout slaw topped with halloumi or for a sweet-savoury combo, the French toast with bacon is rated top-notch.  Vegans are also well catered for with offerings like tasty Mexican beans served with avocado and coconut yogurt. If you’re ticking off your Blenheim things to do and wanting lunch on the go, grab a tasty cheese scone from their delicious array of cabinet food. The café also supplies local milk, honey and Kokako coffee beans to locals and visitors in-the-know.  



Arbour is not only one of the best places to eat in Blenheim but possibly the entire country. But who are we to boast? Come try this fine-dining restaurant for yourself.   

Arbour offers feasting menus. You can keep it simple with the ‘Eat Local’ menu, or go all out with ‘The Many’ menu, which can feature sourdough with whipped butter, locally raised New Zealand King Salmon, foraged onion flowers, diamond shell clams, lamb shoulder croquettes, wild venison, or fresh pasta with a mild goats’ curd and walnuts.  

The tasting menu changes out seasonally but rest assured, it’ll include a delectable dessert too. Bookings are highly recommended. And you can relax and take a taxi home knowing its only 11 minutes from our Blenheim accommodation.  


Ask our guest services team at the Bella Vista Motel for restaurant recommendations to suit your tastes, because as locals, we know the best things to do in Blenheim.   

Five Best Things to do in Blenheim

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Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a leisurely visit, there are so many things to do in Blenheim, you’ll be planning a return visit. Situated in the heart of the wine-growing Marlborough region and with a reputation as New Zealand’s sunniest town, many activities in Blenheim can be enjoyed all year round. Here’s a locally curated list of the five best things to do in Blenheim, both near the Bella Vista Blenheim motel or a short drive away. 


Enjoy your stay at our Blenheim motel

1. Eat and drink your heart out Blenheim-style  

You can’t visit Blenheim without tasting Cloudy Bay clams, the region’s world-famous Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough mussels or the delicious local cheeses. Experience one of New Zealand’s top restaurants, Gramados ranked by Trip Advisor as the country’s top “everyday eats” destination, with delicious mains such as Brazilian fish moqueca and slow-cooked pork belly, for a pinch under $40. 

There are more than 30 wineries close to Blenheim, and most of them offer cellar door tastings making this one of the top Blenheim attractions for visitors. The Cloudy Bay estate, one of the region's first winemakers has an outstanding reputation for hospitality and food. Enjoy a glass of their Pelorus Methode Traditionelle paired with creamy oysters from the clear waters of Te Matuku Bay. In winter, savour a classic glass of Sauvignon curled up next to the Estate’s cosy indoor fireplace. 


2. Stroll around the Marlborough Farmers market 

Keen to mix with the locals? Then include the Marlborough Farmers market on your Blenheim to do list. Touted as New Zealand’s original Farmers’ Market, it runs every Sunday between 9am-12pm at the A&P Showgrounds and showcases the regions freshest seasonal fruit, vegetables and produce. All this fun is only 4 minutes away by car from our Blenheim accommodation.


Things to do when you stay at our Blenheim motel

3. Visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre 

A short drive or bike ride from the Blenheim motel will take you to the Omaka Aviation Heritage centre, just one of many Blenheim attractions unique to the area. Discover the lifelike WWI and WWII exhibits featuring the talents of Weta Workshop and some of Sir Peter Jackson’s rare collection of historical aircraft.  For aviation enthusiasts, book a joy ride in a classic Boeing Stearman and marvel at the stunning Marlborough scenery far below, across the Wairau Valley to the broody Richmond Ranges.  


Relax and enjoy your stay in our Blenheim motel

4. Cycle amongst the vines  

One of the more popular things to do in Blenheim is to hire a bike and enjoy a self-guided cycling tour around the Marlborough wine region. Cruise sedately between Blenheim-based cellar doors like Lawson Dry Hills or Wither Hills and sample local wines or pause for a leisurely lunch at a vineyard restaurant. Spend the afternoon cycling down groomed trails or quiet back roads or ditch the bike for a cruisy snooze under leafy vines.  


5. Cruise the Marlborough Sounds 

Add the stunning Marlborough Sounds to your must-do Blenheim attractions. Made up of ancient sunken river valleys including the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds, the area is a comfortable half-hour drive from our Blenheim motel accommodation. Best experienced on the water, book the top-rated Greenshell Mussel Cruise from Havelock or jump on the Picton Mail Boat Cruise, both great ways to explore hidden inlets and see first-hand how the local’s live in one of New Zealand’s most picturesque spots.  Don’t be surprised if a pod of dolphins pops up and surf alongside so keep your camera handy. 

Whatever your interests, the things to do in Blenheim are plentiful and fun. Contact our guest-services team at the Bella Vista Motel for information on tours or other Blenheim attractions. We’re only too happy to help. 

Best Walks in Ashburton: Lakes, Views and a Famous Hollywood Set

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Often missed by Tekapo-bound road trippers, the Ashburton region is home to some stunning day hikes and mountain bike trails featuring endangered birds, towering mountains, braided rivers, waterfalls and lakes. Nature lovers can hike our backcountry trails in splendid solitude all day without encountering anyone else.  Here we’ve rounded up a few of the best walks and MTB tracks in Ashburton and the surrounding area, based on visitor recommendations and local knowledge.   


Hakatere Conservation Park 

Just an hour’s drive east from our Ashburton motel accommodation is the Hakatere Conservation Park located around the Ashburton Lakes between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers. Covering nearly 60,000 hectares of rugged mountain country, forest and sparkling rivers, the park is home to many interesting day walks and Mountain biking tracks. 


Mt Sunday Track

Immortalised in Lord of the Rings as the fortress city of Edoras, is a gentle 90min return walk in the Hakatere area. One of the most popular things to do in Ashburton is to climb Mt Sunday.  The track is flat, except for the final 10-15 minutes before you reach the summit.  At the top (‘my precious’), you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the mountains, grazing cattle, the Rangitata river valley and the Southern divide. The kids will enjoy scuttling over cute bridges to view the opaque cascading waters below. Whether you’re a Lord of the Rings fan (or not), exploring Mt Sunday is one of the great free things to do in Ashburton.  

Ashburton NZ hikes

The Lake Heron tracks

The Lake Heron tracks provide various options depending on your energy levels, from 1.5km up to 10km duration. Discover kettle holes, native birds and panoramic views over the lake and surrounding mountains. For a one-hour return hike, head up the Lake Hill track from the car park through tussock to the summit trig and keep an eye out for black-fronted terns, oystercatchers, Australasian grebes, ducks, swans, and skylarks. Or jump on your Mountain bike and do a loop from Castle Ridge station to Lake Emily , Manuka Hut, Double Hut and finish at Lake Heron or head down The Stour River for one off the most amazing journeys and finish on The Ashburton Gorge Road.


The Lake Clearwater tracks 

The Lake Clearwater tracks are another easy option in providing a 10-km lakeside loop track  Lake Emma is a 13 km loop track and Lake Camp is a 4 km loop either walking or Mountain-biking. For the more adventurous head around the lake's northern shores up to Mystery Lake or onto the TeAaroa walkway or a special walk would be to the Top of MT Guy. Check the weather forecast before heading out as with all Alpine tracks, conditions can change quickly.  

Afterwards head to the popular Staveley Store and Café, for a restorative ice cream or coffee, reputedly the best brew in the region and one of the best places to eat Ashburton-style fare. This is an hour's trip home to your Ashburton motel.


The Ashburton – Hakatere River Trails

The Ashburton – Hakatere River Trails has tracks for walkers and mountain bikers.These much-loved tracks follow the Ashburton River and meander from town through riverside willows. The MTB track is about 11.5km loop and the river walkway has been built to avoid collisions.For those wanting more of a rail trial type ride, we have a track down to Lake Hood on the South side of the Ashburton River which is 7km  This is a great thing to do in Ashburton 

There are plenty of other wonderful walks and mountain biking tracks within the Ashburton area. So pack your hiking shoes and MTB and come stay at the cosy Bella Vista Motel Ashburton to check out the many beautiful walks and MTB tracks in Ashburton and the Canterbury region.

Eat Your Way Through Ashburton’s Best Restaurants

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For a charming little town, at the heart of the “food basket” of New Zealand … Hakatere. there are so many great places to eat in Ashburton. 

Whether you’re staying for one night or a few, there’s plenty of variety to keep you well-fed and watered. Here’s our foody guide to a few of Ashburton’s best restaurants, cafes, and cheap eats all within a hop skip and a jump of our Ashburton accommodation


Best Hearty Fare in Ashburton 

There is nothing like a hearty meal at the end of a busy day of adventure or busy work meetings. Our motel accommodation in Ashburnton is pretty close to some great ones so here are our top picks for hearty meals.

Cleavers Corner Gastro Pub:

Delivers impressive service and is a popular choice in town. The food is full of flavour, tasty and presented well. This is a delight. This is only 4-minute drive from our Ashburton accommodation. Its the perfect place for a quiet business meeting during the day and in the evening you can unwind and enjoy a delicious range of burgers, grill and snacks.

Speights Ale House:

Casual, comfortable dining with awesome staff that take pride in what they do. A great space to enjoy a meal out with friends or family with quality food. This is only 5 minute's drive from our motel accommodation in Ashburton and our customers get 10% discount when you show your Bella Vista room key

Lake House:

Ashburton is so fortunate to have the Lake House on its doorstep. Excellent service and a lovely outlook over the water make it a relaxing setting. The food is excellent and the deserts are extra yummy! 

The Fine Lion:

The location and ambience are rather special. The first-floor location and extensive balcony dining are unique in Ashburton. Service is attentive, The food is superb with great attention to detail. 

Panther's Rock

Although a short drive away, Ashburton proudly claims the Panther’s Rock as its own because this Mayfield-based restaurant, open for weekend brunch and weeknight dinners, consistently receives five-star reviews.  Named after an alleged sighting of a big cat that made national headlines, the Panther’s Rock serves up big mouth-watering flavours. Cuts of prime Canterbury Porterhouse steaks and Ribeye with homemade mushroom sauce, locally caught Salmon, green-lipped mussels and pulled-pork burgers feature on the menu. With lovely rural views, cosy fireplaces and friendly owners, head here for one of the best things to do in Ashburton.


For the best Asian food in Ashburton  

For a taste of the exotic or those of us who love their spice, we have some great options for Asian cuisine. From Taiwanese to Thai you won't be disappointed by the choice. Here is our list of top picks whilst you are staying at our Ashburton accommodation.

The Formosa:

A tasty twist on Taiwanese cuisine in the heart of Ashburton is only 3-minute's drive from our Ashburton motels.  From the minute you walk in you are made to feel welcome in this beautifully designed restaurant. The food is superb, the desserts are beautifully presented and very flavoursome, Excellent service. 

Miyabi Top in Town:

Indian /Japanese authentic cuisine and beautiful people who take good care of you. The Best Indian in town and offering a 10% discount showing your Bella Vista motel accommodation key.

Koji Japanese:

This is a little gem, and only a minute in the car from our Ashburton motels. The food is just delicious, fresh and tasty. The staff is always friendly and accommodating. It has a nice feel to it because they have decorated the entire walls with bamboo to give it atmosphere 

Ton Thai:

The atmosphere is delightful with friendly superb service. The food is tasty, plentiful and delivered quickly. A great place to take your family or group of friends. 

While not a new restaurant in Ashburton, it's Sweet and sour chicken, orange pork, and Kumara fries tossed in plum powder are local favourites.  Small plates include Teriyaki sushi, Spicy chicken bao or pulled pork buns. 


For the Best Cafés in Ashburton 

We love our coffee here, and our local cafes make it easy for us to indulge. 

  • Visit the Somerset Grocer’s Café for delicious cabinet food, a varied menu, even a Kapiti ice cream bar making this one of the more kid-friendly places to eat in Ashburton. While you eagerly await your Big Breakfast or Nourish bowl – a tasty blend of chicken, avocado and zesty orange dressing, browse the gourmet goods and gifts on offer.  
  • Robert Harris: Easy and Handy location,  just along the road, heaps of parking, great coffee, Breakfast is the best-allowing chargeback arrangements to the Bella Vista Ashburton Motel for corporate customers 
  • Millhouse Kitchen: Love the outdoor space here, especially in the summer, Great coffee, chargebacks to the motel are an option, Good parking and only 2 minutes from our Ashburton motel accommodation 
  • Triangle Espresso: Offering a lovely space to enjoy a coffee and either chill or work at the window seat has an uplifting feel, right down to inspirational quotes and lovely prints of nature and plants on the walls, I just love it! Happy friendly staff that love what they do. 


For the Best Bakery in Ashburton  

While other bakeries are vying for the best places to eat in Ashburton, Harvey’s Bakehouse takes the cake. The mark of a great baker are their pies and Harvey’s has a reputation for light, flaky pastry and yummy fillings like pepper steak, smoky beef and BBQ bacon. This friendly home-style bakehouse also serves up traditional sweet treats like Rocky Road, custard-piped brioche and black-forest cheesecake. It is truly a great Ashburton cheap eats option just a 10-minute jaunt from the Ashburton motel.  


For the Best Takeaway in Ashburton 

Local chip connoisseurs think the Creek Road Fish and Chip Shop serve up the best in Ashburton hands down, as good as the double-fried chips found in Belgium. Place your order over the phone as this spot gets busy on the weekend and best of all it’s only a 2-minute drive from the Ashburton motel!  A great choice for all your fast-food favourites. 

While we’ve hopefully whetted your appetite on the best places to eat in Ashburton . Please ask the Bella Vista Motel team for up-to-date information and local dining recommendations. 

Fun Ashburton Attractions for a Great Short Break

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Ashburton is not just a gateway to Christchurch or Tekapo. It’s a stunning mid-Canterbury destination in its own right, boasting great restaurants, fly fishing, the beautiful Ashburton lakes and the spectacular Rakaia Gorge for thrill seekers. Check out this short break guide for the best things to do in Ashburton and the mid-Canterbury area when you stay with us in our motel accommodation in Ashburton.  


Get Active on the Bike Trails in Ashburton

There are many mountain biking options, for every level of expertise and confidence in Mid Canterbury, You can stay and play for days on our trails. Mt Hutt Bike Park, 30 minutes drive from our Ashburton motels from downhill to cross-country trails. Cycle through some of the most spectacular high country of Hakatere Conservation Park or a short sweet ride along the banks of the Ashburton River.


Enjoy a Scenic Drive and a Cuppa

From our Ashburton motel take a 30-minute drive on the Inland Scenic Route out to the Staveley Store and Café nestled in the shadow of Mount Somers and close to some superb walks. Rumoured to serve the best coffee in the region, the sausage rolls, home-baked goods, and bacon butties make this one of the more popular places to eat Ashburton-style fare.  Established in 1876 as a general store servicing the surrounding timber mills and farms, the shop showcases goods from nearby Mt Somers Station - seasonal farm produce, lamb, venison, veal, honey and olive oil.  

But it’s the coffee that’s the real McCoy. Sit on the veranda, admire Mt Somers, and watch local life pass by over the rim of a coffee cup.  


Take a Hike in Ashburton

If you love to walk, pop up to Sharplin Falls car park and enjoy the fresh air walking through the mountain beech forest alongside Bowyers Stream. If you like a bit of huffing and puffing a climb up to Hookey’s Knob will treat you with spectacular views. My favourite is the Rhyolite Ridge Track on the Mount Somers walkway. The route takes in dynamic scenery within a landscape of waterfalls, beach forest, deep icy pools and rocky tors. 

Head for the nearby Lake Clearwater Circuit Track. The 10km hike will take around 3 hours and is considered one of the best walks in Ashburton and beyond, its an hour's drive back to put your feet up again at your Ashburton accommodation


Discover Classic Planes at the Ashburton Aviation Museum 

Located just a 5-minute drive from the Ashburton Motel, this is one of the great hidden things to do in Ashburton and a magnet for young and old aviation enthusiasts, as it’s free for kids. Did you know that Ashburton was a major air force training base in World War Two accommodating 50 Tiger Moths and military personnel?  Not many people do! The museum is now home to beautifully restored planes in its shiny new hanger and has recently acquired a retired RNZAF Skyhawk. You can easily spend an interesting afternoon here, especially on a rainy day. 


Have a Blast at the Rakaia Gorge 

There is no better way to explore the Rakaia Gorge, than with Discovery Jet, one of the more adventurous things to do in Ashburton and the surrounding area.  Drive 40 minutes inland towards Mount Hutt from the motel accommodation in Ashburton then take a thrilling jet boat ride through the Gorge and enjoy the 10 km walking track that follows the rim of the Gorge through spectacular geological areas. At the Car park overlooking the Gorge and its crystal clear blue water is a Sculpture that highlights the story of the Taniwha. It’s such a cool story about the Northwest wind and the Taniwha. 

While learning about its history and unique features, from your knowledgeable local guide.   


Chill Out in the Ashburton Domain   

Well known for its large adventure playground, this is one of the free things to do in Ashburton enjoyed by local families.Great for a bit of fresh air, take a run on the fitness track, feed the ducks on the lake, enjoy the gardens or picnic in the park and a junior bike track provides training-wheels fun for beginner riders. Only 2 minutes drive from Bella Vista Ashburton.


Savour a Taste of the Orient 

After a day in the outdoors, you’ve probably drummed up a hearty appetite.  For the best Asian food in Ashburton, book dinner at The Formosa, a tasty twist on Taiwanese cuisine and close to the motel.  One of my favourite restaurant in Ashburton, its sweet and sour chicken, orange pork, and Kumara fries tossed in plum powder are enduring local favourites.  Small plates include Teriyaki sushi, Spicy chicken bao or pulled pork buns. 

With so many things to do in Ashburton, ask our team at the Bella Vista Motel for local recommendations, especially the best places to eat in Ashburton. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out.