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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.

Business Update - The Year of Change

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I think we can all agree that 2020 will be the year of change. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed, and will continue to change, life and business within the tourism industry on a global scale. We’re seeing, and personally experiencing, this ‘new world’ way of working – where being at home, in isolation - some with the kids running around, is the new business as usual. 

Last week, following government advice in the fight against Covid-19, we temporarily closed our office in Queenstown. The benefit of doing what we do is we can do it from anywhere! Seven days into lockdown here in New Zealand and our team are now fully set up and working from home.

We’ve moved out the boardroom and taken our morning coffee chatter and meetings online, using Zoom, Trello and various other online platforms to stay connected, updated and ensuring our communications are as strong as ever. Our daily brainstorms have also moved from the office sofa to online (still from a sofa), getting our creativity and ideas flowing as well as that daily dose of daydreaming that we all need. Our Friday evening Cheers to FRIYAH are still in the team calendar – we know it’s as important now more than ever to enjoy our social time, a glass of wine and take the time to talk about the wins of the week- you’d be surprised how many there really are when you think about it!

Outside of keeping ‘business as usual’, the team are finding their feet in their new routines, taking on some healthy new habits and finding inspiration in their new home offices. With the team based between Queenstown and beautiful Matakana in the North Island, it’s safe to say we don’t have to look very far to feel inspired by the beauty in our backyard.

So, we’d like to take this opportunity to reassure our global clients and partners that although we are staying home, we are still very much here. It’s in times like this we need to think about what we CAN do, not what we can’t, and as always – the Touch of Spice team can do it all! We’re as online and on-call now as always, ensuring our current inhouse and future clients are taken care of from enquiry to departure.

We’re here to inspire you and remind you that we really are all in this together. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Linked In for daily updates and give yourself that well needed (and deserved) daily dose of daydreaming. From all the Touch of Spice team – we hope to see you soon!

 

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Amazing Villas for the Ultimate New Zealand Staycation

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We can’t think of a better time to take a well needed ‘staycation’ or that well deserved hop across the ditch for a short break. With fresh mountain air, white sandy beaches, blue skies, lakes and multiple hiking trails – New Zealand really does have it all!

Now is the time to do something different! Throw off the shackles of an ordinary stay. Eat breakfast in your bathrobe and dinner in your board shorts, run down the hallway and make a splash in the pool, celebrate with friends and family with a classic kiwi bbq on the terrace – all made possible in the ultimate home from home.

Whether you’re a beach side lover or mad about the mountains, The Residence Collection and Private Villa Collection by Touch of Spice has something to suit your every need, want and desire. To make things a little easier, we asked our Travel Designers for their favourite villas for the ultimate ‘staycation’ or vacation in New Zealand – and wow do they not disappoint! Check them out and get inspired to getaway!

Kowhai Retreat

The newest villa to The Residence Collection, Kowhai Retreat is the most luxurious villa in Matakana. Only a 1-hour drive from Auckland CBD, this coastal escape has space for up to 16 across the main house and the additional boat house and shepherd’s hut, meaning no one needs to be left at home! With a private pool, hot tub, games room, sunken trampoline, heli-pad, petanque court, kayaks and e-bikes, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.

Step beyond the gated villa and spend some time exploring the exquisite local wineries, farmers markets, cafes and unique kiwi surf culture. Feel like getting out on the water?  Set sail on Kowhai’s Retreats resident vessel – a high-tech sea legs that can be driven from the property down to the water’s edge. Let one of our experienced skippers guide you from the dock upriver to the Matakana pub to indulge in the catch of the day or head out to sea to explore the surrounding bays.

We don’t know about you, but we’re can’t think of any reason not to stay at Kowhai Retreat!

 

Muriwai Estate

Only a 40-minute drive from Auckland Airport and placed on 6.6 hectares of stunning coastal land, Muriwai Estate is the ultimate haven to escape the everyday. With an effortless and breezy atmosphere combined with every luxurious touch you could imagine; Muriwai Estate is the perfect place to round up family and friends and celebrate in style. With vast gardens, a saltwater swimming pool, spa pool, separate cabana pool house, heli-pad and children’s play area, there really is space for everyone.

Spend your mornings by the pool with a book in hand, take to the rugged west coast beaches for a surf in the afternoon and taste the flavours of the surrounding wineries in the evening. This getaway spot is perfect for disconnecting from the outside world and reconnecting with those closest. Let a private chef do all the hard work for you as you sit around the terrace table, sharing memories and creating more.

 

Dancing on Moonlight

Just a 15-minute drive from Christchurch Airport, a long-gated driveway welcomes you to Dancing on Moonlight – the ultimate private sanctuary. This working horse stud farm comes with its own private 9-hole golf course, blueberry and walnut orchards, hot tub and of course a luxurious lodge. The best part about it all? The whole place is energy positive thanks to its innovative solar power credentials.

Wake up in one of the three sumptuous bedroom suites. Enjoy a coffee in bed as you watch the sun rise over the stunning gardens. Roll out of bed and start each morning feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to seize the day. Take off from the front lawn in a private heli and discover your backyard that is Canterbury. Fly to the coast for a spot of whale watching before collecting the catch of the day and flying to an alpine tarn for a delicious gourmet lunch – true flavours of the coast. Get active on an alpine hike or simply sit back and enjoy the view before flying to an exclusive winery to sip some of the finest wines the region has on offer.

Grab a bottle or two to take home, let a chef prepare dinner and relax as the sunsets over the Canterbury fields.

 

The Elms at Lake Hayes Villa One

Only a stone throw from Queenstown Central and with historic Arrowtown just around the bend, The Elms at Lake Hayes Villa One is the perfect getaway for a group of friends looking to indulge in the flavours of Otago. With views overlooking the stunning Lake Hayes, there’s a real sense of living in a watercolour painting. Relax on the terrace with a coffee in the morning before taking a stroll around the lake – or why not meander along to Akarua Wines, Kitchen by Artisan for a delicious brunch to start the day off right.

Villa one is perfectly placed to wine and dine around. With renowned Amisfield Winery and Bistro on the doorstep, Wet Jacket Winery and Cheesery just down the road and the Gibbston Valley a short drive away – you’ll be spoiled for choice! Join a private wine tour and let the guide do all the driving. Sit back, relax and taste the finest, freshest flavours on offer before returning to your luxurious retreat at The Elms.

 

The Views at Aspen House

A slice of mountain side paradise overlooking Queenstown CBD, The Views at Aspen House will leave you breathless. With panoramic views overlooking the iconic Remarkables Mountain Range and Lake Wakitipu, feel the stress of work and city life melt away as you get lost in the majestic beauty of Queenstown. With room to sleep the full family and space to entertain in style, a getaway to Queenstown should be on everyone’s cards.

Discover all that Queenstown has to offer throughout the day – whether it’s an active adventure, ski day on the Remarkable Ski Fields, afternoon of wine tasting or a relaxing spa day, there really is something to suit everyone.

Return to the ultimate home from home - the open plan kitchen, dining, lounge and bar being the perfect to host an intimate family dinner or evening entertaining friends. Or why not cook up a feast on the private courtyard BBQ? With covered outdoor seating and fireplace, you can dine alfresco all year round. Let the children relax with a movie in the media room as you sip a glass of bubbles from the private sap pool. The Views at Aspen House is perfect for enjoying family time and that well deserved you time.

 

Otaha Beachfront Lodge

Needing a break from city life? Otaha Beachfront Lodge in the Bay of Islands is your own little slice of paradise to get away from it all. With space to sleep ten, this spacious home is the perfect spot to simply get away from it all with those that matter most.

Rise and shine to panoramic ocean views, jump down onto the beach and get a morning surf in before breakfast is even on the table. Dine on the terrace and find the perfect spot to sit back with your morning coffee, read a book or simply watch the waves roll in. Wander off on a walking track from the front door and have a day in nature or jump into a private heli from the lawn and make your way to the renowned Kauri Cliffs for an afternoon of golf.

Otaha Beachfront Lodge is a place where the whole family can feel a sense of freedom – where space, fresh air and picturesque beaches go hand in hand.

 

Hyde Loft

Stay on the doorstep of Central Queenstown at Hyde Loft. Centrally located overlooking lake Wakitipu, you’ll feel the buzz from the town as you settle into this luxurious two-bed apartment.

With Queenstowns signature bars, boutique stores and award-winning restaurants only a step beyond the front door, Hyde Loft is the perfect little sanctuary to jump into Queenstown one minute and retreat the next. Perfect for two couples travelling together or a small family getaway, experience Queenstown the way the locals do. Swing from the original bungy bridge, jet boat, zipline and luge or go above and beyond, heli-hiking, stand-up-paddle board on a glacial lake or indulge in a picnic of local produce on top of a mountain peak.

Whatever your style, whatever the occasion – anything is possible from Hyde Loft.

Get in touch today!

So whether you’re lucky enough to call New Zealand home or your just looking for an excuse to escape the hustle, bustle and chaos of your everyday, our team of Travel Designers know the perfect spots to make a ‘staycation’ or vacation, a getaway that will be spoke about for years to come. 

 

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The Ultimate New Zealand Valentine's Day Experiences

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It’s February which means one thing – it’s the season to celebrate love!

Valentine’s day is a day to show love to someone special. Whether you’re married, engaged, dating or single, treat your other half or yourself to a day you won’t forget.

Leave the supermarket flowers where you find them and use February as the month to have an experience of a lifetime. Getaway for that romantic weekend you’ve been promising each other or take the plunge and go off the grid in a well-deserved trip of self-love - Why shop at Hallmark when you can check out some of the South Pacific’s hidden gems?

So here we have it – the perfect Valentines gifts for the both the romantics and the singles, those looking to pop that special questions and those looking to answer their own, experiences of a lifetime to share with your other half, amazing friends or to keep all for yourself!

1.      Stay at The Glass Pods at The Lindis

Go off the grid and venture into the wilderness of the Ahuriri Valley at The Lindis. Sleep in a mirrored glass pod under the stars, be in awe of nature and getaway from the stresses of the everyday. Discover the Valley by day and relax in your own private hot tub as the sunsets – the perfect retreat to take that shared time or that well deserved you time.

2.      Cascata in Queenstown

Stay in one of our exclusive Residence Collection homes Cascata, only a stone throw from stunning Queenstown. Take the plunge during the day (proposal or bungy!), discover iconic Queenstown and relax in the evening at the entertainer’s paradise that is Cascata. Sink a glass of bubbles with friends on the rooftop terrace before hitting the town or sink into the hot tub with a glass of local pinot noir with your other half – perfect for getting the gang together or escaping with your one and only.

3.      Picnic on a peak

Take off from Queenstown and get taken above and beyond in a scenic flight to the awe-inspiring Milford Sound. Soar over the waterfalls, peaks and tourists below before landing on a rugged West Coast beach. From the coast you'll fly to a mountain top peak for a gourmet picnic - lunch with a side of once-in-a-lifetime views. Enjoy the picture postcard landscape overlooking the dramatic landscape and say cheers to you, the view and the special person/ people around you.

4.      Wellness and wine

The ultimate getaway for just the two of you or a small group of your best girlfriends – our Wellness and Wine short break has everything a weekend away would need. Rise and shine to yoga on the terrace, indulge in chef prepared meals and savour and sip some of the finest wine from some of Central Otago’s most exclusive wineries. This short break is as good for the soul as it is for making memories with those you love.

Let us help you make memories and create those unforgettable moments that you’ll talk about for years to come this Valentines Day. Get in touch of our team today – we’re experts in wrapping up gifts of a lifetime!

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Our Day With Canyoning New Zealand

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The afternoon started when we met our fantastic guides from Canyoning New Zealand, Adam and Andrew, in central Queenstown on a very hot and sunny Saturday afternoon! We were briefed on what the afternoon had in store for us - getting us geared up and raring to go. After a scenic, 30 minute drive through Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley wine region, we arrived to our departure point for the canyon.

Ready for an adventure

Upon arrival, we were handed wet suits, socks, boots, helmets and a harness – everything you need to stay warm and safe in the canyon. As soon as were suited and booted we went to lay in the shallow river to cool off from the roasting sun whilst we had our safety briefing. When the guides were happy that we knew what to expect and how to maneuver our way through the canyons, we were off!

After a short walk to the entrance of the canyon, we were in! Now, walking through shallow water to start with didn’t sound or look like it would be difficult - but pair that with slippery rocks and we really did have to watch our step. From here it was around 2 hours of sliding, stepping and abseiling through the canyon.

Amazing guides from start to finish

Our guide, Adam, was on hand throughout to make sure we made every movement as safely as possible, building our confidence and keeping us right - although he did make the jumping, sliding and abseiling look a lot more effortless than what we did!!

At the end of the canyon, we unzipped our wetsuits and had a lovely 15 minute walk out of the canyon back to the vans where we de suited and booted for our return back to Queenstown.

Being in the Canyon was great! Although we had only walked 5 minutes from where we had parked the vans, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, far away from normal life! You can see the sky throughout the canyon and the sun shone in keeping us warm the whole way. It is really quite amazing to see just how steep the walls of the canyon are.

The perfect summer day out!

I loved my canyoning experience and will definitely go back for more! This half day experience was 4 hours door to door and was a great introduction to Canyoning that I would recommend to anyone wanting to give it a go!

Thank you Canyoning New Zealand!

 

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Experience the America's Cup 2021 with Larry Keating & Friends

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America’s Cup expert and New Zealand’s top luxury travel and experience curators join forces to launch the Larry Keating & Friends America’s Cup project; curated by Touch of Spice, Love My New Zealand and Larry Keating himself.

Setting the scene for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021

Around the table they thrash out course expectations, unique waterside venues, an epicurean kiwi lunch menu and which vineyards are best - combined with all important aspects, such as how jet lag is going to affect guests who have travelled from the other side of the world, to be here for the sporting spectacular that is the 36th America’s Cup. Together, Jacqui Spice, Sharon Stewart and Larry Keating are setting the scene for sailing lovers worldwide, travelling to Auckland in 2021.

Welcoming sailors with open arms

From December 2020 through to March 2021 they will be working with individual travellers, couples, groups and yacht clubs from around the world to ensure they make the most of their time in New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup. Together, they are curating unique and unrivalled experiences, both on the ground and out on the water. From touching down, to settling into luxury beachside accommodation, to setting sail as part of (what will undoubtedly be) Auckland’s most dazzling sailing event to date.

Our aim? Cutting through the noise with real, tangible & authentic experiences

As a team they have an unrivalled passion for both New Zealand and the America’s Cup - the excitement, the nerves, the challenge, the fear, the adulation, the joy and the thrill of world-class competition. Together, they want to carefully curate how the world experiences this event, showcasing luxury Auckland, our people and our culture, whilst celebrating some of the greatest maritime history around the world.

What does a day with Larry Keating & Friends look like?

Start the day exploring Auckland’s famous fish markets with your own private guide, before lunch at a mystery venue, paired with wine from Waiheke Island’s nearby Man O’War Bay vineyard. Head out for an afternoon of America’s Cup action, with exclusive viewing access, guided by our experienced skippers, on board historic round the world racing yachts (Steinlager 2 & Lion NZ) from the New Zealand Sailing Trust. End the day unwinding, sipping on a G&T as the sun goes down. Dine with Larry Keating as he gives you a private viewing of one of his incredible films, screened in an intimate boatshed, on your own private beach.

It's not just about the sailors…

Collectively, they are offering accommodation and experiences for every kind of sailor coming to New Zealand, including those who may be more interested in sitting and sipping on a glass of Waiheke’s finest than sitting out on the rail, feeling the ocean spray! They are ready for travellers wanting everything from a sprinkle of race days amongst an orchestrated North Island itinerary, to getting out on the water and in on the race action every day.

The depth of the experience

This partnership is about bringing Auckland and the America’s Cup to life in a way only they know how; through the warmth of the nation, hospitality of the city, with off-grid experiences, incredible places to stay, local delicacies to try and people to meet - resulting in an experience unrivalled by other providers.

Experts in every field - from sailing to sundowners...

Curating these America’s Cup journeys with a collaborative approach ensures each stay is curated by experts in their field. From unrivalled luxury accommodation and destination management with Touch of Spice, to incredible hands-on experiences curated by Sharon Stewart (Love My New Zealand), and exclusive and insightful time with an America’s Cup expert – Larry Keating. Together, the team are looking forward to intricately weaving their uniquely in-depth America’s Cup experiences into the thrill of a stay in the world-class host city.

Want to know more about our experts?

About Larry Keating

  • Larry Keating is well known in America's Cup circles and for his award-winning book 'Exposed – The Dark Side of The America’s Cup' nominated as one of the Best Books for 2018 by Yachting Year.
  • Having travelled the world extensively for over 40 years, ten of those sailing around the Mediterranean with wife Deborah in their yacht Chinano, Larry is a passionate yachtsman who built a strong interest in America’s Cup history, working at various levels in the international sports media, from photography to broadcasting.
  • Larry’s experience has taken him to ten America’s Cup events, two Olympic Games and found him crewing in the 1989/90 Whitbread Around the World Race.
  •  As a film producer/raconteur, Larry has interviewed some of the world’s most famous characters; Olympic sports stars and Hollywood actors to Nelson Mandela.
  •  A true-blue Kiwi, Larry's knowledge of New Zealand is vast, having lived and travelled the length and breadth of the country.

About Us and Jacqui Spice

  • With a background in super yachts, Managing Director & Founder Jacqui Spice is a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist, a Virtuoso Preferred Partner and an Ultraluxe Community member.
  • Touch of Spice have been specialising in bespoke experiences, boutique luxury accommodation, and customized destination management across New Zealand, Australia and Fiji since 2005.
  • Their portfolio of luxury accommodation is a handpicked collection of premium holiday homes, private residences, boutique hotels and exclusive lodges. Their tailored services include a personal travel designer to organise whatever clients may desire.
  • Jacqui and her team strive to ensure every moment spent on a Touch of Spice itinerary becomes a lifelong memory.

About Love My New Zealand 

  • Love My New Zealand are simply put - all about the experience. Curators of the most amazing activities, Sharon, the director's relationships and networks mean behind the scenes access to some of the most incredible things to do, more so that any guidebook norm.
  • Each experience is designed around the guest as no two people are the same.
  • You can paint with an Auckland artist in the morning and listen to the only living Maori art historian in the world whilst a private chef cooks up a storm in his studio.
  • Drive the back country of Auckland going from black sand beaches to deep lush rainforest in Range Rovers and make handmade pizza dough overlooking the ocean.
  • You can stay overnight on a sailing vessel and sleep in Sir Peter Blake's bunk after a BBQ on a white sandy beach as the wind gently moves the main sail back and forth under the stars.

Press & Contact Details

For more information on accommodation options, packages and experiences please contact:

info@touchofspice.co.nz

For press enquiries, images and to find out more contact:

Megan Duncan | megan@touchofspice.co.nz 

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New Year, New You, New Adventures

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The new year is life’s very own crisp, clean and brand-new diary…365 days of opportunities, adventure and excitement! 2020 brings a whole new decade into view and now is the time to decide what you will write on the pages of this shiny new chapter.

With the new year also comes those resolutions. Being almost at the end of the first month of the year – are your resolutions still hanging in there? Whether your goal is to get active, spend more time with the family, disconnect to reconnect, taste new flavours or discover your wild side, we’ve got some suggestions on how to make (and most importantly keep) those resolution.

So here it is -our top 5 ways to spend more time in 2020, taking those resolutions above and beyond!

Spend more time…

1. Getting active

Get active at new heights! Fly to an alpine lake amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island and prepare for the ultimate workout with our partners at New Zeal. Warm up with some stand up paddle boarding on a glacial lake before kicking in the cardio with a hike along the ridge line and climb to the peak. Feel like a champion at the top as you overlook the unimaginable 360 views – an end of work out treat like never before. Make your way back down the lake, take a dip if you’re feeling brave enough, and reward yourself with a gourmet picnic – perfect for refueling after your alpine training session. Fly back to Queenstown by the same private heli and wind down in your private villa after a day of active adventure.

2. With the family

2020 is the year to take that well deserved (and needed) family getaway you’ve been dreaming out. With more and more families choosing to travel together, grandparents to grandchildren, finding the ultimate home from home has never been easier. With both our Residence Collection and Private Villa Collection, we have hand selected homes that only most get to dream of, for the ultimate escape. Let the kids run wild on the lawn, eat breakfast in your boardshorts and let a private chef to all the hard work for you. It’s about spending quality time with those that matter most – now that’s the real luxury!

3. Disconnecting, to reconnect

Go where the wifi is weak and feel inspired to venture offline and really connect with the moment. Accessible by only private heli, Minaret Station is the escape from it all you didn’t know you needed. Rest easy in one of the individual chalets overlooking the valley, where being at the foot of the mountain has never felt so luxurious. Take a private tour of the surrounding land in a hike, discover the waterfalls and enjoy a picnic on a mountain peak. Looking to go further? Fly to the stunning Dusky Sound (where you’ll be completely offline), board a private boat and sail the Sound. Dive for crayfish for lunch that a private guide will prepare for you before returning to the Station feeling completely connected with the heights and depths of the nature around you.

4. Tasting new flavours

Dine in one of New Zealand’s most renowned restaurants (try Amisfield Bistro, Aosta and Akarua Kitchen by Artisan if you’re in and around Queenstown) for some of the finest locally grown produce on offer – where seasonality is always the dish of the day. Or why not visit some of the many world-famous wineries in Central Otago (Cloudy Bay, Wooing Tree and Mount Rosa being some of our favourites) in a private and exclusive wine tour with our amazing partners at Alpine Luxury Tours. Let your guide Lee talk you through the flavours and varieties whilst sharing some local stories of the region. This resolution is about appreciating the land, it’s workers and the flavours it produces – it’s farm to table in one of the most scenic places on earth!  

5. Discovering your wild side

2020 is the year to go wild for a while! That doesn’t mean losing all sense of luxury, it just means going off the beaten track. The Glass Pods at The Lindis in the Ahuriri Valley is that and more. Stargaze from your private hot tub or king size suite in the glass pod, getting lost in the Milky Way before rising to the morning sun through the valley. Nestled gently into the landscape, these pods are out of sight whilst only a stone throw from the main Lindis lodge. Spend your days exploring the land fishing, trekking, biking, horse riding or rolling around the mountains on in a private off-road buggy tour. Take the time for a weekend in the wild!

So whether it’s sticking to your current resolution or making a new one, jump in with two feet, accept the challenge and reap the reward of memories that will last a lifetime!

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Jacks Raw Bar at The Cloudy Bay Shed

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Just before Christmas the Touch of Spice team were lucky enough to head out to The Cloudy Bay Shed in Central Otago for a taste of their first foray into New Zealand style summer dining – Jack’s Raw Bar. Jack’s Raw Bar blends hearty, fresh New Zealand fayre and Japanese cooking styles, with meticulous precision and truly delicious results!

Lake and Mountain Backdrops

With views of Lake Dunstan and Mount Pisa, along with the stunningly landscaped grounds it was safe to say the team were blown away by the backdrop before the food was even served. The backdrop more than aptly mimics the menu which spans dishes from New Zealand’s sea, land and mountains.

The Welcome

Lee Saunders from Alpine Luxury Tours gave us a luxury ride out to the tasting shed, where we were greeted with a glass of their delicious Cloudy Bay Pelorus Brut sparkling wine from vineyards up in the Marlborough region.

Keeping Good Company

Keeping good company with our friends Kate and Elliot from Morsel Catering and Chef Fabien we had a great time catching up. Ben Batterbury of Munch Catering was kept busy helping out in the kitchen as they put together some of the best raw New Zealand offerings we have ever tried.

Jack’s Raw Bar – The Menu – From Mountain to Sea

On the bar sat Te Matuku Bay Oysters from the crystal-clear waters of the Te Matuku Bay Marine reserve on Waiheke Island. Just a squeeze of fresh lemon and they were ready to eat - perfectly paired with the Sauvignon Blanc.

Our favourite canape of the evening was sampling the YAMA (from the Mountain) roasted nori & rice crusted venison tataki. Another favourite from the RIKU (from the land) part of the menu was the Beef Tartare with fresh New Zealand wasabi, washed down with the Pinot Noir.

The Chef behind The Jack’s Raw Bar Menu

All these creative dishes that pair New Zealand’s produce with Japanese cooking styles are from the brain of Sachie Nomura – New Zealand’s most admired pan-Asian cuisine chef. Sachie’s Kitchen is the number one rated and most-awarded cooking school in Australasia.

This is Sachie’s first ever consultation for a restaurant in New Zealand and we’re thrilled we got to experience it first-hand. Thanks for an awesome evening, we can't wait to come back!

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Muriwai Estate Wellness Retreat

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A wellness weekend with The Luxury Network, Hyoumankind and Touch of Spice

This Spring The Luxury Network New Zealand sent out special invitations to a number of lucky ladies giving them the opportunity to escape reality for a night and get away with Touch of Spice and new wellness brand Hyoumankind. Photographer Tatiana Skorik came along and snapped some beautiful shots of us enjoying champagne on the deck overlooking the ocean, dinner cooked by Des Harris and Hyoumankind's beautiful new wellness products.

Muriwai Estate – an escape to end all escapes, just a stone's throw from Auckland

The night away from the hustle and bustle of city life took place at Muriwai Estate – part of The Residence Collection by Touch of Spice – a portfolio of exclusive use luxury homes across New Zealand. Muriwai Estate is just a 40-minute drive or 15 minute helicopter ride from Auckland City Centre. It is the dream location for multi-generational getaways, product launches, photoshoots, filming or events for up to 100 people.

Our partners at Hyoumankind

Guests were met by a glass of champagne by Jacqui Spice, Sofia Ambler from The Luxury Network and Steph Wyborn from Hyoumankind – a wellness company who have recently launched their pioneering set of pillows that help you get the most out of life – both whilst awake and whilst you are resting.

“Asleep or awake, when your body is supported and comfortable you are poised to get the most out of life.”

Hyounmankind started with the aim of helping you to sleep soundly, wake up feeling fresh and ready to get the most out of your day, every day. Hyoumankind combine design with science to build the best shape for you to rest your head and relax. Their range extends from smaller travel sized pillows to specialist support pillows for different areas of your body.

Dinner with Hunting Lodge Chef - Des Harris

After time to relax, unwind and shake off a week of work, the ladies were treated to a seasonal al-fresco three course dinner cooked by Des Harris – ex fine-dining chef and Head Chef at the nearby Hunting Lodge Winery. The food was incredible!

Breakfast and morning yoga overlooking the wild west coast

After a quiet night of rest, the wellness break concluded with a morning yoga session overlooking the wild west coast of New Zealand and a delicious breakfast. A little escape from city life just a stone's throw from Auckland!

It was brilliant partnering with our friend Sofia Ambler at The Luxury Network New Zealand and we can’t want to see what Hyoumankind has in store over the coming years. Having tried one of their pillows, we’re sleeping better already!

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Our guide to Christmas Day in Queenstown 2019

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Forget the Christmas carols and letters to Santa, get the sun cream and bucket list at the ready; The Holidays are coming!

We do Christmas a little differently here in Queenstown – when most are sitting around the fire with a glass of mulled wine, we’re sipping mimosas under the sun and filling our day with adventures of a lifetime!

Imagine waking up in a luxurious home from home, the sun is shining, brunch served with a side of mountain views and instead of unwrapping the usual gifts, you get to tick some of Queenstowns top experiences off that bucket list.

Whether you’re already booked up, looking for some last-minute Festive Availability or planning for 2020, our Travel Designers will do all the gift wrapping for you giving you a family Christmas you’ll be talking about for years to come.

So here it is, our gift to you - Our guide to Christmas Day in Queenstown. Treat yourself, t’is the season after all.

1.     The Classic TSS Earnslaw

2.     Get your adrenaline pumping – Skippers Canyon Jet

3.     Christmas lunch on a peak – Fly to Milford with Glacier Southern Lakes Heli

4.     Dine in luxury with a private chef

5.     Lord of The Rings Discovery with Nomad Safari

The TSS Earnslaw

An iconic day when visiting Queenstown. Sail across the stunning Lake Wakitipu in the traditional 1912 TSS Earnslaw steamship. watch as the coal is shovelled into the giant steam engines before making your way to the on-board bar for a glass of bubbles to sip from the top deck. Watch as the mountains float by, their scale making you feel like a pin prick in the lake, before arriving at Walter Peak Farm. Take a tour of the high-country station by horse back or bike, indulge in a gourmet BBQ dinner and say cheers to a very merry Christmas under the sun. Sail back across the lake to finish your day trip and prepare for your next adventure with the family.

Skippers Canyon Jet

What would a visit to Queenstown be without blasting through the rivers on a jet boat? Get that ultimate adrenaline fix on the Skippers Canyon Jet Boat. Start with a scenic drive down one of the world most dangerous roads, Skippers Canyons, through the rich gold mining land and stunning scenery. Getting there is half the adventure! Once on the boat, hold on tight and get that adrenaline high as you blast through the canyon walls at 80kmh with 360-degree spins along the way. Blast past some Lord of The Rings sights before making the drive back to Queenstown. A Christmas gift for the full family.

Milford Sound Extended with Glacier Southern Lakes Heli

Take off from Queenstown and be transported into a land of discovery in Milford Sound. Fly the length of Milford Sound past sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls, out to the Tasman Sea where you will land on a wild West Coast beach. In Milford, enjoy a short nature walk and gain that iconic Mitre Peak Shot before enjoying an exhilarating flight past spectacular rivers, valleys and mountains with blue-green ice falls.

Looking for something more? Enjoy your Christmas Lunch on top of a peak with your pilot preparing a gourmet platter served alongside a glass of bubbles over-looking the vast valleys and glacial lakes – a Christmas feast you won’t forget.

Dine in luxury with a private chef

Looking for a more relaxed Christmas dinner? Spend the afternoon exploring Queenstown and perhaps work up an appetite on the Queenstown Hill Track or one of the many walking tracks in the area. Return to your luxury home in the evening to a fully prepared fest from your own private chef. Sip a glass of bubbles on your terrace, let the kids wind down with a Christmas movie in the cinema or take a dip in the hot tub before dinner is served. Spend the evening with the family and let the chef take care of everything else.

Lord of the Rings Discovery with Nomad Safari

Set off from Queenstown on an adventure safari packed with breath-taking scenery, thrilling 4WD action whilst discovering LOTR filming locations. Visit the filming locations of Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings (Argonath), Gladden Fields, the Ford of Bruinen and more. Travel an historic gold mining road (Skippers Canyon), following the Arrow River, stop for a refreshing afternoon picnic and take the opportunity to try your hand at gold panning – a huge part of the history of the region. Take in the spectacular panoramic views over the Wakatipu Basin before returning to Queenstown. Forget watching the movies, it’s about being part of it!

So tell us, how do you see your family celebrating Christmas in Queenstown? Whether it's this year or next, talk to one of our Travel Designers today and get into the festive spirit!

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A fun day with Funyaks

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The day began with an early start meeting my fellow group members at The Station building in Queenstown and boarding the bus to Glenorchy. No matter how many times I drive the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy, its beauty never fails to amaze me. Sitting lake-side I watched the ripples on the lake and pondered what kind of weather the day had in store for us!

On arrival to Glenorchy, we were taken into the Dart River Adventure base building and briefed on what lay ahead. We were then kitted out head to toe in wet suits, booties, thermal jumpers, a neck warmer, a coat and to finish it off, a life jacket! We were toasty and ready for the day ahead.

We boarded the bus for a short drive just a few minutes down the road to the jetty where our jet boat awaited us. Aboard the jet boat we were given our instructions to hold on and enjoy the ride and that’s exactly what we did! Starting with a few big spins on the lake, we were then heading up the Dart River for our 50 minute jet boat ride which was full of thrills along the way. We then arrived at the totally remote beach 40km up the river in the National Park, windswept and ready to meet our guides for the rest of the day.

Here we were introduced to Morgan and Toby who would be our guides for the day and they were brilliant from start to end. Instantly making me feel at ease due to the lack of kayaking experience I had and the ever building wind which wasn’t filling me with confidence as to how easy navigating our way down the river would become! After our briefing on how to do the different strokes and navigate the boat, we were off!

The great thing about the Funyak’s is that you really can do as little or as much work as you want to do. Pair up with someone and sit in the front and all you need do is simply put in a few strokes to keep the momentum going ( the wind made sure we didn’t need much extra momentum) or sit at the back if you want the challenge of keeping the Funyak in the right direction and trust me, it is a challenge! I sat in the back and battled with the wind to keep us in the right channels along the way and I loved it!

Down-stream slightly, we were lucky enough to be able to kayak through the Rockburn Chasm which I was in ore of. The Chasm naturally formed by earthquake and then filled with water, it was beautiful and so peaceful!

Around 45 minutes after we set out,  we had arrived at our lunch spot – The Rockburn Hut. The hut belongs to the department of conversation but was donated to them by Dart River Adventures. The guides off loaded our lunch from the Funyaks and laid out a delicious spread of fresh meats, cheese, salads and lots of cake treats to keep our energy levels up!

After lunch, we were warmed and energised and we set off on our final leg of the river. As the wind had picked up by then, the guides rafted us together to navigate the rest of the river which was great (I was grateful of the rest by then!). Toby, our guide was rafted to us so we chatted to him the rest of the way down hearing many of his stories of the last 5 years working on The Dart River and just how much it has changed in that time. You can tell how much these guides love their job and why wouldn’t they!!

Once we finished the final leg, around 45 minutes later, we arrived at Paradise Beach where our busses were waiting to collect us and our Funyaks. We then had a 30 minute drive back to base where Morgan entertained us the whole way with stories of Paradise and how it came to be such a popular filming spot today!

Once we were de suited and booted, it was time for a quick drink in the old Glenorchy Pub for a catch up on all things Funyak. It really did live up to its name!

Thank you to our guides and Dart River Adventure for an amazing day out!

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