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…
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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!
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!
Eschew the shops this festive season and spend more time making memories with those that matter most. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday gone by, there’s a new addition to this holiday season that we predict will be snatching up the limelight – Say hello to Travel Tuesday.
2019 is the year to give the gift of a lifetime, unforgettable memories and ultimately, happiness. Researchers have found that experiences deliver longer lasting happiness than their material competitors, something we understand all too well.
At Touch of Spice, experience is everything! We constantly have our finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest unhidden gems throughout the South Pacific. Our passion is crafting unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that promise to always take our guests above and beyond the norm. Which got us thinking – if we could wrap up our gifts of a lifetime, what would they be? Whether it’s something for the ultimate adrenaline junkie, foodie, wine lover or wilderness explorer, here’s our team’s ultimate gift wish-list for 2019!
(Prepare yourself - this dose of ‘Travel Tuesday’ inspiration might have you running for the airport sooner than expected!)
River Journey - Charlotte, CEO
You mention River Journey in the office and Charlottes eyes light up. This is the ultimate gift for wilderness explorers - What more could you want for than jet boating in a glacial lake, rafting down a gentle river through tropical bush land and trekking to finish at a rugged South Coast beach? Stay in DOC hunts along the way, trek through untouched forests, bird watch, share amazing stories and enjoy all types of luxury you wouldn’t traditionally find in the wild. Sip mulled wine and graze on a gourmet platter upon arriving at your hut. Enjoy a homemade feast from your private guide, matched perfectly with Central Otago wines of course, and take a private jetboat or heli out the next day to make sure you exit in style! It’s the perfect gift for that inner adventurer.
A day with Christchurch Heli’s - Amy, Senior Marketing & Product Manager
Any talk of Christchurch and Amy is in! Lifting off from her favourite Residence Collection property – Dancing on Moonlight, fly off for a day of discovery. With whale watching from the air in Kaikoura followed by a freshly caught and prepared seafood lunch served by an alpine tarn, it’s a day of appreciating the sights and flavours of New Zealand’s oceans. Explore the mountain tops, trying your best to spot the native birds and share stories with your guide along the way. Fly from the peaks to the vineyards and tantalise your taste buds at the famous Pyramid Valley Vineyard. Perhaps pick up a bottle or two for home and finish the day with a sunset flight home – a day for foodies and nature lovers alike!
Rolling around Rotorua - Sammy, Senior Travel Designer
Sammy is a lover of the North Island. After visiting our beautiful property Ataahua Lodge a couple a months ago, Sammy discovered what Rotorua really had to offer. Start the morning at the home of zorbing, picking one of the four mountain side-tracks and placing your bets on who can roll the fastest. After finding your feet, try your hand at the rolling tracks on Redwoods famous mountain bike tracks before rolling down the rivers of Rotorua on an adventurous rafting trip. Take on the 7-metre waterfall at the end and finish the day with a splash – a gift for adrenaline junkies!
Wine and Dine in luxury - Lyndal, Property Manager
Not all experiences need to include helicopter rides or adventure. Lyndal, our Property Manager, has a passion for design, interiors and local (most of the time homegrown) food and wine. Lyndal would enjoy nothing more than a glass of stunning Central Otago Wine served along side a chef prepared meal in her favourite Residence Collection property – Bob’s Cove Luxury Retreat. Start the day with a private wine tour to some of Gibbston Valleys most exclusive wineries – squeeze the grapes, sample the best and meet the wine makers themselves. Select a couple of your favourite bottles before stopping by a local farm to collect some fresh produce and returning home. Finish the day with a chef prepared meal with close friends and family overlooking stunning Bob’s Cove, and simply enjoy a slice of true luxury in the comfort of the ultimate home from home. The Perfect gift for the full family to enjoy, foodies and wine lovers – a true taste of luxury in Central Otago.
The Pods at The Lindis - Judi, Villa & Guest Experience Manager
After staying at the stunning Lindis a few months ago, Judi has been itching to go back! And just when she thought a stay at The Lindis couldn’t get any better, they introduce The Pods. Sleeping under the stars in a private, mirrored glass pod overlooking the stunning Ahuriri Valley means star gazing at night and rising to the sun in the morning. Watch as the ever-changing weather rolls in from the luxury suite or sip bubbles in the private deck front hot tub. With the main lodge only a stone’s throw away from The Pods, dinner and drinks will be served in the main restaurant – a meal Judi still raves about. Finishing your evening with a spot of star gazing will make for a stay like never before – the perfect gift for you and your other half.
Need some more inspiration? Talk to one of our Travel Designers today and let us craft the perfect gift to give this holiday season. Let us make 2020 a year to remember!
The holiday season is about two things and two things only – Family and food! There are few joys in life as simple as digging into a feast with your loved ones, reminiscing about the year gone by and getting excited for the new year ahead. So, we thought we’d give you some food for thought, a conversation for starters and a dollop of inspiration for the ultimate dream spots to spend the holiday season in 2020 (if you can wait that long!)
Situated on the stunning and breath-taking island of Waiheke, Omaru Bay is the ultimate slice of paradise in New Zealand’s North Island. With seven bedrooms sleeping 18, space is of no concern. Relax into the slow pace of island life, let the kids run wild on the lawn and take that well deserved you time with a morning dip in the infinity pool. Spend your afternoons on your private beach, kayak from a private jetty and sink into the tranquility that comes with surrounding ocean views.
The expansive deck and open plan living, dining and kitchen area are the perfect spot to indulge in a feast, toast with a glass of champagne and celebrate the holiday season with those that matter most.
Lined with world-class artworks, antiques and venetian furniture, fall into an Italian inspired world where family, food and beauty form the heart of the home - a natural oasis to unwind, relax and accept carpe diem. Enjoy alfresco antipasto or tear apart a pizza from the wood fired oven with the family in the expansive gardens. Feeling fancy? Indulge in a chef-prepared meal in the formal antique dining room before following the curved staircase down to the wine cellar and tasting room. Let the children wind down with a movie in the cinema while you sip a digestivo or glass of New Zealand’s finest.
Just 15 minutes from Christchurch Airport, Dancing on Moonlight is the ultimate private sanctuary to escape with the family. A working horse stud farm with its own private golf course, stunning luxury lodge, hot tub and orchards makes for a retreat like no other. Join a private chef and forage in the orchards, serving straight from the farm to the table some of the freshest produce on offer. Feel like getting more involved? Take a cooking lesson with your private chef and serve the family a tasty homegrown and home prepared meal under the trees in the blossoming gardens. The whole place is energy positive thanks to its innovative solar power credentials – a touch of eco-luxury that everyone can get on board with.
Indulge in dinner with a side of lake and mountain side views at The Dacha. With retractable doors the length of the home, welcome the outside in as you sit down with the family for a feast. Looking for a family adventure? Join a private guide for a Hook to Fork experience – hiking, rafting and drift fishing, take the catch of the day and then let a private chef do all the hard work as you sit back and relax after a day of activities.
Thinking about coming away with more than just the family? The Elms at Lake Hayes Collection is the perfect spot for family and friends traveling together. This collection of three lakefront adjoining apartments gives space, luxury and stunning views in abundance. Choose from one, two or three apartments and enjoy a long lunch on the top floor balcony or a BBQ on the ground floor terrace – whatever your flavour, The Elms at Lakes Hayes will hit the spot!
Feel like dining out? Only a five-minute walk from renowned Amisfield Bistro and Winery, treat everyone to lunch overlooking the vines or a full degustation dinner. Amisfield serve the finest local produce alongside perfectly matched wines – a taste sensation that should be on every holiday bucket list.
Need some more inspiration? Chat to one of our Travel Designers today and get excited for what the 2020 holiday season could serve up!
Whether you’re taking part or cheering on from the side lines, the Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon is one of the most exciting and active weekends in Queenstown's very busy calendar. Set amongst the natural wonders, dramatic valleys and mountain ranges that give this magnificent town it’s worldwide recognition, runners from all over the world will be coming together for the challenge of a lifetime. With challenge comes reward and what better way to treat yourself than some R&R in some of Queenstown's most exclusive homes.
So here it goes, our top 5 spots that you’ll be sprinting across the finish line for.
Only 15 minutes from the heart of Queenstown, Bob's Cove Luxury Retreat is a slice of lakefront paradise - the ultimate spot to relax after the run. Sink into the fur lined bean bag on the lawn or into one of the many sofas, whilst a private chef prepares a well-deserved feast to enjoy, with a side of glassy Lake Wakatipu views. Sleeping ten and featuring five-bathroom suites, there’s enough space here for you and all your cheerleaders to sit back, relax and enjoy the tranquillity of the surrounding mountains.
Next up we have Ladena on Queenstown Hill. Wake up to stunning panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range and feel inspired about the challenge coming your way. Take a well deserved soak in the hot tub after the race and feel the buzz from the town centre as the runners cross the finish line. Relax around the outdoor fire in the evening and embrace the feeling of ultimate achievement!
Located in the heart of Queenstown Hill, a stay at Stelvio is guaranteed to be a winner. With stunning views over Lake Wakatipu, room to sleep ten, a private gym for any final pre-race day training and a terrace hot tub for the ultimate post run soak, let your muscles relax, put your feet up and say cheers to you and the view from Stelvio.
Based on the edge of stunning Lake Hayes, The Elms at Lake Hayes is a collection of three adjoining apartments, each oozing luxurious lakefront views and space for the full team. Choose from one, two or all three of the apartments and rest assured that everything you need is on hand. Watch as the race goes by your windows, cheer on from the balcony hot tub and enjoy the buzz from beyond the town centre – the ultimate spot whether you're watching or running.
Now this was a tough one but our champion stay has to be the entertainers haven that is Cascata. Overlooking the Frankton Arm and on the back on Queenstown Hill is the home with everything. Wake up to views only most get to dream of, warm up in your private gym and get pumped with surround sound music throughout. Cross the finish line and cheers a glass of bubbles from one of the two roof top terraces, take a dip in the hot tub and let everything go with a session in the sauna. Relax in the evening with your feet up in the media room and let a private chef prepare a feast fit for a champion – you’ll deserve it!
Good luck to everyone running in 2019 and if you're thinking about taking part in 2020, we recommend getting in touch to book your accommodation sooner rather than later. Get in touch with one of our Travel Designers to get their bespoke recommendations for you. We challenge you to find more luxurious places to stay!
The day started like many, running slightly late and in dire need of coffee, but the beauty of a private guide means there’s no such thing as having to work to a timetable. So once the coffees were procured thanks to Franks Eatery, we set off with our private guide, Lee from Alpine Luxury Tours. After a quick stop to pick up his guiding partner, history extraordinaire and gold panning expert Paul, we started our adventure into Skippers Canyon.
A drive to remember
Skippers Canyon is regarded as one of the most breathtaking roads in the world. I’m not entirely sure when Mercedes designed their Sprinters they thought the luxury vans would traverse such a road. Yet, the transport was perfect, sitting high to maximize the views through the mountains, canyons, and down to the turquoise rivers below. The 360 degree visual smorgasbord enhanced by Paul’s stories of ‘bus scratch’ corner, and the ‘retirement home’ one of the pioneers built in the late 1800’s to be closer to town (still would have been an overnight by horse into town), and the last remains of the Halfway Hotel, that gold miners would overnight before heading further into the remote Skippers Canyon. Skippers Canyon is certainly one for the senses – the scenery like no other and the sound – utter peace.
Lunch was at the old school house, lovingly restored with artifacts and photos to understand the life of the families that lived in some of the most remote parts of the greater Queenstown basin.
A golden day for everyone
On the way home we stopped midway at Deep Creek, where Paul taught us how to pan for gold. The children loved it and the adults too! Everyone but me was successful at discovering gold with each pan. I tried to reason that my pans of river shingle didn’t have any gold in them, yet statistics would suggest given everyone else was successful multiple times it might in fact be my lack of: a) technique b) deft touch and c) patience. While our loot would struggle to earn a six pence, the little jar of gold that my god daughter took as a keep sake (and didn’t let it go the rest of the weekend), the memories and experience – all priceless.
Given we had no time constraints, we basked in the sunshine with a rather competitive stone skimming competition across the Shotover River, everyone involved, including Lee and Paul. At times it turned into straight out rock throwing to watch and hear the plop of the rocks in the pristine water to the delighted giggles of the kids.
An end to the day that was as sweet as honey
As with any perfect private guide as we headed back into Queenstown the discussions turned to what next. We finished the day at Buzzstop to sampling the honey and experiencing honey spinning. I had a bee nibble honey from my finger while also learning that bees have five eyes. Who knew? Thanks to Nick and Rosie for showcasing a great experience and a perfect way to finish a fantastic day for young and old.
Last weekend the Touch of Spice team were lucky enough to head out on the Fiordland Jewel – the luxury yacht built by Fiordland Discovery specifically designed to offer guests the opportunity to explore Milford Sound in the comfort of high-end accommodation.
Our driver Hal picked us up in Queenstown to start the beautiful drive down through southland and into the Fiordland National Park. Upon arriving at the boat were greeted by the happy, smiling crew ready to welcome us on board.
A wonderful welcome
After a short welcome we were invited to tuck into a delicious platter of snacks as the boat headed out towards the west coast. We were underway for around five minutes when we decided to brave the elements and head up to the top deck (complete with heli pad) where we were greeted by a stunning view of a rainbow.
The onboard accommodation was better than any boat we have been on. With a mixed group of couples and friends between us we were able to test out the Endeavour Cabin (2 x king singles), Captain Cook suites (Queen bed) and last but certainly not least we were lucky enough to stay in the Governors Suite that occupies the full top deck of the boat. All cabins had ensuite facilities and brilliant showers – perfect for warming up after our dip in the fiord later that afternoon!
As we meandered our way along the side of the fiord we were wowed by the scale of the mountains that surrounded us as the skipper pointed out a waterfall three times’ the height of Niagra Falls! We got up close and personal with a few and went out on to the bow of the boat from where you could really appreciate the full scale and feel the spray as the glacial cascades hit the waiting water – quite the spectacle to behold!
Water sports and swimming
Having been out to sea and felt the swell of the Southern Ocean it was time to head back into our home for the night – a private mooring in Deep Water Bay. Here the team got out the kayaks and encouraged us to go exploring. This was probably our favourite part of the day as the sun decided to poke it’s head through the clouds and beam down on us as we paddled our way along the fiord. After this a few of us decided it was time for a dip – the sun was our after all! A number of the team jumped straight off the helipad on the top of the boat – a heady mix of adrenaline and glacial water meant they resurfaced gasping but with a huge sent of achievement and smiles from ear to ear.
Delicious three-course dinner
After showers and warming up it was time for our well-earned (or so we felt) three course dinner. We sipped on Wet Jacket rose to accompany our fresh Crayfish served with a curry crayfish bisque. This was followed by incredible blue cod and a delectable gluten free brownie. For the entire duration our dietary requirements (and we had a few) were accommodated with ease.
Unrivalled knowledge & sustainability
After dinner we were treated to a talk and a show about what the Fiordland Discovery do when they don’t have guests on board. This is a lot of exploration, diving, exploring and discovering of new species living in Milford Sound that aren’t known anywhere else in the world! The team had endless knowledge that kept us enthralled.
Winding down on the top deck
After this it was time to wind the evening down in the hot tub on the top deck. As we sat, sipping local bubbles from Quartz Reef, chatting to our shipmates (a multi-generational family all the way from Sydney, and the Grandparents Portugal) we all agreed there would be no better way to explore Milford Sound. The next morning we were treated to a brilliant breakfast on the way back to the dock, ready to start our unwelcome journey home!
Thank you, Fiordland Discovery team, for having us on board! If you have any questions about heading out on the Fiordland Discovery overnight cruise, or even one of their longer excursions down to Stuart Island, get in touch with one of our team who are now experts!