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Providing you with the inside word on the newest and most exciting luxury travel experiences around New Zealand and the world, along with keeping you informed of our updates, travel tips, and upcoming events.

Wild about Waiheke

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With a residential population of 8,500, Waiheke Island swells to an almighty 30,000 in the summer!  So we thought it was about time we’d share with you just what makes this small island so special.

Where to stay: The Boatshed. This boutique hotel sits just above the white sandy beaches and is designed to work completely with its nautical location. Open the louvered shutters and enjoy the sea breezes from the sun lounger on your private deck – bliss!

Can’t stop thinking about: Frenchmans Hill Estate. This adorable vineyard is enveloped in lavender and exudes relaxation. The owner Luc is a man of many talents - a winemaker, viti-culturist and vineyard producer. He will have you in awe of the cellar worthy wines, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, all created on-site.

Favourite meal: A trip here wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Oyster Inn, and whilst most would rave about the oysters, I would highly recommend their fish and triple cooked chips (yes triple cooked!)

Where to drink: With its welcoming bean bags and vantage point looking out to the waters and into the beyond, Cable Bay is the place to people? watch and be seen.

Insider’s Tip:  Enjoy a coffee and cake at the Annex. This quaint 1920’s cottage has been transformed into a boutique café offering the most delectable sweet treats.

Surprising fact: Did you know that there are no streetlights on the island, so on a clear night the stars are breathtakingly clear.

Overall impression:  As soon as you step off the ferry the vivid colours from the water and trees feel like you’ve stepped into complete and utter paradise.

It’s easy to see why over 2,000 residents commute from here to Auckland each day, just to be able to call Waiheke their home. 

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Jacqui's happy days at Otahuna Lodge

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Jacqui shares details of her stay at this iconic New Zealand gem...

Recently I had the opportunity to sample one of the best luxury lodges in New Zealand with my husband Josh.   I have long admired the manicured grass lawns at Otahuna Lodge and its beautiful estate and dreamed of what it would be like to stay there. Thankfully I was lucky enough to find out!

As we pulled up to the great house we were greeted by Hall and Miles, the owners and hosts, as well as their team who were there ready to whisk away our bags and our car so we could head inside for a very welcome glass of wine.  Hall took us for a very educational wander through Otahuna Lodge telling us story after story about the original owner Sir Heaton Rhodes who built the house for his wife as a wedding gift all the way back in 1895.  Otahuna has been beautifully restored and clearly meticulously maintained by Hall, Miles and their dedicated team. And I say dedicated because pretty much all the staff we spoke to have been there for at least a decade. That’s pretty impressive in the day and age where Gen Y jump from job to job as quickly as they snap chat!

After a luxurious bath, which is my favorite thing to do when I can find a bath (and the time) we ventured into one of the beautiful drawing rooms for canapés and pre-dinner drinks. After chatting with some of the other guests who had just experienced their “best day ever” with a private guide encompassing the Tranz Alpine, hiking, and a picnic on the beach with a bottle of wine, Josh and I had a very romantic dining experience in one of the many dining spaces located throughout the Lodge. It was beautifully set up just for the two of us and we truly felt like Lord and Lady of the manor. 

The food was outstanding. Starting with a delicious prosciutto with peach and buffalo mozzarella dish the courses just kept coming and we didn’t hesitate to keep eating. We sampled everything from fresh prawns to salmon to lamb rack and braised shoulder, finishing off with the most divine desert. Each course was matched with a beautiful selection of New Zealand wines.  With very full stomachs we managed to roll into our big comfortable bed and sleep soundlessly through the night.

As with the dinner, breakfast is made on premise and being real foodies we again made the most of it.  I love homemade breads and while I know it’s not great for the waistline I couldn't hold back on the freshly made walnut sour dough and 5 grain with my perfectly cooked organic egg omelet with king salmon and goats cheese. It was a good thing we managed to squeeze in a 30-minute run before breakfast or I am not sure I would have fit my jeans as we left the building!

With the holidays just around the corner, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can easily give the gift of Otahuna. I also highly recommend “The Best of North and South Package” where guests can enjoy 3 nights each at Otahuna Lodge and Wharekauhau Country Estate, another award-winnning luxury lodge on the North Island, and pay for only 5 nights. 

Keep an eye on special deals for Touch of Spice clients at Otahuna Lodge on our Facebook page and Instagram feed.

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The gastronomy & astronomy experience

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It all begins late afternoon when you and your partner are collected from the grounds of your villa by Heli. The outlook from above fills you with excitement as you look out over city hustle, down past mountain ranges and over dazzling blue lakes. You are on your way to a secret location, where a glam, pop-up restaurant for two has been built especially for the occasion. Your private chef prepares a five course, delicately crafted degustation, each plate somehow more delicious than the last and all individually wine matched.

The show continues and you’re chauffeured by a champagne stocked limousine, though more Lord of the Rings-esque scenery. Your final stop is the Dark Sky Reserve, where you’re greeted with canapés before entering the observatory for a private night of comets, planets and constellations.

How does it end? Surely with a proposal, but we’ll let you decide.

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Seeing is believing!

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Five of New Zealand's best million dollar views.

1. 50 Aspen Grove - Queenstown
 

The view from the infinity pool is impressive, to say the least.  

Panoramic windows throughout the house allow the glassy lake and snow-capped mountains to surround you at all times - whether you're cooking up a storm in the kitchen or gazing out to the starry sky from your bed.

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2. Princes Wharf - Auckland
 
Princes Wharf is the ultimate in urban luxury, with its premium location in the heart of the city.

Large, glass sliding doors bring an open-air, seaside ambiance and let the view right into the apartment, and the balconies continue along the entire exterior - nothing comes between you and your million dollar view.

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3. Rahimoana, Eagles Nest -Bay of Islands
 
Set atop its own private peninsula overlooking the spectacular Bay of Islands – this 75 acre estate definitely makes the most out of these awe-inspiring location.
 
Rahimoana, Eagles Nest’s flagship villa, is the epitome of luxury in New Zealand and offers guests some of the most outstanding views in New Zealand from its private horizon edged infinity pool.

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4. Blanket Bay - Central Otago
 
If it's fresh country-air, views of glassy lakes and alpine peaks which stir you, Blanket Bay has generous measures of all three.

It is widely heralded as one of New Zealand's very best luxury accommodations.  You'll find it difficult not to slow down, breathe deeply and enjoy the majestic surroundings of Lake Wakatipu. 

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5. Treetops Lodge - Bay of Plenty
 

Views from the suites here overlook the forest canopy, which is a stunning sight of endless green folds and tumbles across the many valleys in front of you.

There's something incredibly therapeutic about being surrounded by all this green and nature, listening to a chorus of birdsong and feeling like you're on the top of the world.

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Our Top 5 Spring Adventures

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With the arrival of the spring shoulder season, the influx of international tourists has slowed, and you have a rare opportunity to explore the beauty of New Zealand without the crowds. Here are my top picks:

1. Private boat charter in the Marlborough Sounds

Shake off those winter blues in stunning Marlborough Sounds, where the mountain meets the sea. Relax in luxury, swim with the dolphins or go diving. It's an opportunity to create memories even greater than the views!

Stay: Bay of Many Coves. Reward your tired limbs with a tranquil soak in the spa pool overlooking their private jetty and the surrounding hills. 

2. Hawke’s Bay wine tour

Have a highly experienced guide take you off the beaten track to discover some stunning Hawke's Bay wines and meet the people with the passion who create them, providing you with an exclusive experience that most visitors will never get.

Stay: The Lodge at Craggy Range. The perfect retreat for foodies, featuring a chef’s kitchen, open fire-place dining and an in-lodge sommelier service. 

3. Horseback riding through the lupine blossoms in Glenorchy

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For about 4-5 weeks at the end of each year, the middle of New Zealand’s South Island bursts into colour — purples, pinks, blues and yellows sprout up along lakesides and in riverbeds, making the already stunning views even more incredible.

Stay: Wyuna House and wake up to some of the world’s most outstanding views. 

4. Heli-fishing in Rotorua

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Catch the season opening buzz from 1st October in the Maori heartland and trout fishing capital of the world. There isn't a more satisfying meal than when you've caught and cooked it yourself.

Stay: Treetops Lodge and enjoy access to seven streams, on-site trout fishing, four lakes, and over 70 kilometres of adventure trails.

5. Golf in style around Central Otago

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There's dramatic scenery, lush greens and world class facilites to see! So have a heli-chauffeur guide you to all the premier courses, from mountain-top tees with biodegradable balls, to exclusive member only grounds with art collections. It’s an experience to remember!

Stay: Jack’s Point Lake House. On the doorstep of Queenstown, this ultimate luxury play pad boasts modern furnishings, a spa pool, pool table, cinema room and unparalleled views. 

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CATEGORY : Luxury Travel

Extreme Skiing in New Zealand

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Our winter hiding spots & exclusive adventures

The ski season is just kicking off in New Zealand, one of the world’s premier snow sports destinations. But we aren’t talking about any old skiing here. Soar to the top of jagged peaks for some daredevil heli-skiing, zoom down the best off-piste terrain, venture into the backcountry for some cat skiing, and end our adrenalin-fuelled days relaxing in luxury at the finest villas, chalets, and lodges in New Zealand. 

Offering plenty of sunshine, majestic lakes, snow-capped alpine beauties, and an unrivalled selection of activities and attractions, it comes as no surprise that Queenstown, New Zealand, is as popular a winter destination as it is a summer one.

Queenstown is nestled in the Alps close to four ski resorts and fabulous backcountry terrain. Typically the ski season starts on piste by mid-June with helicopter access to the Southern Alps being mid-July through to October. We can offer exceptional skiing and boarding on exclusive terrain with untracked, virgin snow. On and off-piste, the extensive range of activities has been designed to suit everyone’s ability and desires.

To help you out further, we can offer professional in-house ski ftting when renting equipment, free chains and GPS with Thrifty car rentals for the month of August, and complimentary value-add recommendations such as spa upgrades, two-for-one offers and complimentary drinks.

Whare Kea Chalet

Accessible only by helicopter, this luxury chalet offers unparalleled accommodation and a spectacular base for those seeking the ultimate alpine adventure in an exclusive location—high in the mountains on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park. It sleeps eight in four bedrooms with four bathrooms.

This is one of the few places in New Zealand with ski-in, ski-out mountain access, which makes for the ultimate ski experience. With striking natural beauty in every direction, your photo-posting on social media will make you the envy of all your friends. From here, you will be helied onto exclusive untracked virgin snow, be taken on 10–12 runs, and then led back into the chalet for morning tea, gourmet lunch, and après-ski drinks.

You can completely tailor the chalet experience to suit your requirements, from a short day trip with a relaxing lunch and a glass of wine on the balcony to multi-night accommodation with action-packed alpine adventures. Whatever you choose, you’ll have a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience in this secluded mountain paradise.

Whare Kea Chalet starts from NZD$2,000/night.

Kumanu
Kumanu is a faultless luxury retreat in rural Queenstown, with stunning views across the Wakatipu Basin and beyond. Being at the centre of Queenstown’s three elite ski resorts, you have the opportunity try a field each day. With the perk of huge lawn space, heli-skiing is an obvious choice.

Kumanu sleeps eight in four bedrooms with fve bathrooms. Every room provides a feeling of serenity and calm yet draws you in seamlessly to the landscape. From the airy dining room with its ambient open fireplace, to the magnificent chef’s kitchen, which adjoins a cosy lounge. It is well equipped and appointed for winter with its large spa pool, ski storage, Cinema room plus indoor & outdoor fires.

Kumanu starts from NZD$2,000/night.
 

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Our famous properties!

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It's awards season in Hollywood and all the celebrities are out and about strutting heir stuff in the most extravagant of attire, celebrating their success on the big screen. Well, we think it’s time we recognise some of our famous villas!

For ‘best in a television series or blockbuster movie’…and the nominees are...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wyuna House for 'use of territory in Lord Of The Rings'

4 bedroom | 5 bathroom | 8 people max | From NZ$175 pp, per night*

Wyuna is set amongst  the iconic 'middle earth' territory in Glenorchy where numerous Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed. The endless amount of beauty in the diverse landscape can be appreciated from inside Wyuna House, where the interiors complement the surroundings as you look through the large bay windows. With cladding in local schist and cedar plus timber floors, walls and ceilings, this house has a warm lodge feel and sits harmoniously amongst its picturesque setting. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurakia Lodge for 'photo-shoot worthy backdrop on America's Next Top Model'

5 bedroom | 5 bathrooms | 10 people max | From NZ$250 pp, per night*

Hurakia Lodge was chosen to showcase the beauty of New Zealand to the American market. The lodge sits on Rakino Island and has magnificent views of Waiheke Island and Auckland city in the near distance. The villa features wide open areas and floor to ceiling windows to maximise the feeling of space, as well as being able to fully absorb the stunning scenery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridgeview Luxury Apartment for 'being host to Germany's Next Top Model'

Viaduct Apartment | 2 bedroom | 2 bathroom | 4 people max | From NZ$460 pp, per night*

It only made sense for a gorgeous property to host to the gorgeous German Next Top models, so Bridgeview Luxury Apartment was the top pick. Auckland central, stunning viaduct, city and harbour bridge views plus divine interiors.
It's no wonder that the apartment is currently being leased out long term... luckily we also have the Viaduct Apartment which is situated in the same building as Bridgeview and offers the same deluxe feel and views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Te Hihi Estate for 'supporting stage in the X-Factor New Zealand 2015'

5 bedroom | 5 bathroom | 10 people max | $920 pp, per night*

Spoiler alert: When the judges of X-Factor have their 'home auditions', the properties aren't their actual homes.
It's become expected that the judges home auditions are at extravagant properties that 'wow' viewers to create an illusion of how the celerity judges must live.
Te Hihi Estate has copious amount of 'wow'. From the outdoor fire, swimming pool, to the onsite golf course, tennis court, gym and private spa. The villa itself boasts french-country styling with home comforts. 

 

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What's hot - Our watch list for 2016

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Jacqui's pick: Seascape – Christchurch

I couldn’t rave more about how romantic this property is. A real no-fuss, yet ultra-modern, world-of-your-own jewel that allows you to forget all of life’s matters.
The remoteness (only accessible by heli or 4WD), outdoor Jacuzzi, fire pit, natural feel of the interiors plus the private chef made our stay a lifelong  memory.

Nic’s pick: The Cooper Residence - Bay of Islands

This property provides the ‘wow’ factor in every corner! It seamlessly blends luxurious furnishings with fascinating Maori artefact's and historic artwork; giving an entirely unique villa experience. It has jaw dropping coastal views, a private beach, and they even produce their own wine there with private wine tastings available – what more could you ask for! Even as a born and bred kiwi I would holiday there in a heartbeat.

Nora’s pick: Hawke's Bay Haven - Hawke's Bay

Haven by name, haven by nature! I’m not at all green fingered but the immaculate gardens are those expected only in fairy-tales. If, like me, you want to have some serious rest & relaxation whilst on holiday, then this is the place to go. The property comes complete with swimming pool, outdoor dining cabana, wood fireplace, BBQ, tennis court (....the list could go on!), making it hard to find a reason to leave!

Clare’s pick: Otaha Beachfront Lodge – Bay of Islands

If only I could live here, I would be the most content person that there ever was. The energy that the space provides is something I wish I could bottle up – it has an enormous sense of calmness which is only heightened by the private beach that you have at your disposal. The light wood styling, the designer furnishings and the floor to ceiling windows collaborate together in complete harmony. I can’t wait for you to see what I mean!

Sarah's pick: Kumanu – Queenstown

My ultimate favourite would be Kumanu. Its interior design is unique and its location is remote.  A true retreat to get away from it all, relax in the hot tub, in the multiple lounge areas or by the outdoor fire with a glass of pinot noir! Absolute bliss!

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A Night in Russell's Best Kept Secret...

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With Russell being a hop, skip and a jump away from Auckland it's a great destination for a weekend away or that last minute escape. We were fortunate enough to spend a night in one of Russell's premium villas, Tahapuke.

The Property

As we approach the gates to the property, the villa itself is wonderfully hidden, giving no glimpse as to the beauty which awaits. Walking down the winding path the first thing which grabs our attention is the beautiful private beach at the front of the property – with the aqua coloured, serene water it’s hard to miss. Greeting us as we enter the door is   chilled bottle of local Chardonnay and box of hand-crafted chocolates – together with the perfect setting to enjoy them in. The property itself has a wonderful large open plan kitchen, dining and living area (with three living spaces to choose from). All are luxuriously appointed with contemporary decor and furnishings and opens out onto a large decking and a portrait of stunning sea views. There are three bedrooms; all complete with TV, plus expansive windows and doors opening to your own terrace and of course the fantastic water views. All are fairly even in size - meaning that you don’t have to fight over who gets the master.

Things to do

It’s very easy to sit back, relax and zone out to the sound of the waves, however with access to your very own private island a ride over there is a must! Fortunately guests have complimentary access to both a dingy and kayaks so off we go. We opted for the lazier choice of the dingy (don’t judge us!) but for the more active types the kayak also provides guests with the wonderful opportunity to venture across the bay. Nearby fishing or sailing charters are also available, providing ample things to do. Guests also benefit from a 5 acre backdrop of native bush cascading down to the beach, which is not only incredibly beautiful but also stemmed in history; serving as a turangawaewae (or standing place) for

Maori Chief Te Keemua and his people. Two Maori Pa sites are also located at the very top of the property. As the sun beings to set, the pink colours surrounding the property are picture perfect as we head out to dinner. We make the 5 minute scroll to the town centre, head to the Duke of Marlborough for a sumptuous meal and toast ourselves to our own private piece of paradise.

 

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What's hot this summer

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Bike the Gibbston Valley wine trail

Not wanting to blow the budget but looking for something fun to do in the sun? What better way than enjoying a beautiful summers day exploring the famous Gibbston Valley by bike and tasting stunning Otago wine along the way.

Over the Top Golf in Queenstown

Think you can score a hole in one at 4,500 feet? Accessible only by helicopter Over the Top Golf at Cecil Peak is a great way to have a bit of family competition with their 4 separate tee boxes.

Taste of Waiheke

Want to experience the best wines the North Island has to offer? We can arrange a private wine and olive tour and tasting for you and a group of friends at some of New Zealand’s best vineyards located on Waiheke island. 

Otaha Beachfront Lodge, Bay of Islands 

Only a two minute walk to a secluded beach, this villa provides you with your very own private paradise in the Bay of Islands.
This five bedroom villa is incredibly spacious, with a modern, crisp feel– it’s definitely beachside living with a luxurious twist! It’s a great villa for entertaining with a large open plan living area and plenty of outdoor space, complete with decking, dining area and barbecue.

If you’re after the quintessential summer vacation home you’ve found it.

Whale Bay, Matapouri

Boasting a heated swimming pool, 360-degree views of the sea and only a two minute walk to the beach, this immaculately presented villa is ideal for any water lover!
 
The seven bedrooms can accommodate up to 16 guests, ensuring ample space for a large family or group of traveling friends. If you are looking to entertain, the outdoor furniture in front of the most amazing Italian marble open fireplace with BBQ is perfection.

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