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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.

Our top 5 luxury New Zealand stays for 2018

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Lakefront Luxury, Queenstown | Sleeps 8 | From NZ$156 pp/pn
 How did you find staying in a villa compared with a hotel suite?
“The villa is so cleverly split across two levels, it feels spacious and homely with areas for the family to come together in. There’s the impressive dining area with the stunning views over Lake Wakatipu, the cosy media room with plush cushions and sofas you can sink into plus the jacuzzi to unwind in after a long day exploring. All facilities are yours for private use.” - LYNDAL

 

The Boathouse – The Landings, Bay of Islands | Sleeps 4 | From NZ$875 pp/pn 
What surprised you about your stay?
“Being positioned on sacred Maori land, there’s a lot of beautiful art and history ingrained in the property which I loved hearing stories about. This experiential aspect added another level of 'wow' to the stellar service, food, wine and architecture." - LYDIA 

 

The Banya, Wanaka | Sleeps 2 | From NZ$350 pp/pn
 How would you rate The Banya as a great couple’s getaway?  
"The space is peaceful and secluded, the interiors are plush and comfortable, and the bonus of having access to the infinity pool and jacuzzi was the cherry on top. We enjoyed plenty of bubbles on the bean bags on the deck, taking in the exceptional lake and mountain views. It was heaven!" - JUDI

 

Scrubby Bay, Annandale, Christchurch | Sleeps 14 | From NZ$415 pp/pn 
Annandale’s tagline is “Stay where the world can’t find you…” – how would you describe the experience having stayed at Scrubby Bay?
"The setting is dramatic, the location is completely private, and the service is faultless. We relaxed in the open air jacuzzi under the stars, ate like kings thanks to our private chef Glen and unashamedly lounged around feeling at peace with the sound of the ocean in the background. It was the ultimate paradise." - EMMA

 

Donkey Bay Inn, Bay of Islands | Sleeps 6 | From NZ$875 pp/pn 
What was it about your stay that made the best impression?
“It was the small details that made the biggest impact. The loose gemstones on the walking track down to the beach, the freshly baked scones and jam to be enjoyed whilst reading in the library, your own mini sculpture park that echo’s Barcelona’s Güell Park, and enjoying a handcrafted Donkey Bay Gin on the balcony. A truly magical experience!” - JILL

 

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The best luxury stays in the South Pacific

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There's no denying that the South Pacific offers the best of the best in luxury Resorts, Lodges & Villas. 

In 2017 Touch of Spice introduced a new portfolio called the 'Residence Collection' which brings together a selection of premium exclusively managed properties and a hand picked selection of the best luxury stays in the South Pacific. 

NEW TO THE COLLECTION:

REMUERA RESIDENCE - AUCKLAND | Sleeps 10, from $NZ10,000 per night

Our latest property to join our Auckland properties Privately positioned in an exclusive waterfront location, Remuera Residence is a secret city oasis nestled in an expansive resort like surrounds. With multiple living spaces, this property is perfectly appointed for entertaining with friends or the extended family. Drenched in all day sun, the stunning residence has panoramic views of the Orakei Basin and the Waitemata Harbor. 

THE HILLTOP RESIDENCE, KOKOMO ISLAND, FIJI | Sleeps 12 from NZ$18,000 per night

Designed for the intergenerational traveller, you can relax with peace of mind knowing that Kokomo Island is equipped with all of the facilities to cater to your needs. Whether it is indulging in culinary delights, participating in one of the many water or land activities or transporting yourself to a haven of relaxation at the Yaukuve Spa Sanctuary. 

THE PALMS RESIDENCES, VOMO, FIJI | Sleeps 8 from NZ$12,075 per night

Immediately relax and unwind from the moment you step ashore. VOMO is one of the most luxurious resorts in Fiji. Fringed with long white sand beaches on both sides of the island, plus several other small beaches, you can find your own new little spot in paradise every day

MORE OF THE BEST LUXURY STAYS

NELSON, NZ

Mahana Villa |  Sleeps 14 from $NZ$6,500 per night

Set on its own organic viticultural vineyard, and boasting its own collection of contemporary art, sit back and relax with an award-winning wine in hand , looking out over the rolling vines and towards the south pacific ocean. With own heli access, all inclusive chef prepared meals, multiple living and sleeping areas this property is great for an extended family or group of friends. Heli or drive to the amazing Abel Tasman Regional Park for walking and kayaking or take a charter boat out for activities on the water such as fishing, water-skiing and deep sea diving.

BAY OF ISLANDS, NZ

The Cooper Residence, The Landing | Sleeps 12 from NZ$13,000 per night

Set in a private gated community on a headland site with 360-degree views of the surrounding ocean and countryside, this magnificent house is decorated and detailed to the very finest standards.

Rahimoana, Eagles Nest | Sleeps 8 from NZ$10,000 per night

A multi-award winning presidential villa, which rests atop its own private headland, offers the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. Rahimoana epitomizes the refined elegance of modern minimalism

QUEENSTOWN, NZ

Lodge at The Hills | Sleeps 12 from NZ$32,000 per night

From grand entrances and voids to the intimate nooks, the Lodge marries intimacy with scale. Set in a private section of a members-only golf course, yet only 20 minutes from Queenstown's restaurants, shopping and activities. 
 

Stelvio | sleeps 10 from NZ$20,850 per night

Stelvio is a world-class property that has no stone left unturned in its attention to detail and function. Sitting proud and private on top of Queenstown Hill with uninterrupted 180-degree views of the township, lake and mountain ranges. 

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The best things to do in Queenstown this summer

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THE TOP ADRENALIN ACTIVITY
Highlands Motorsport Park - Described as an adrenaline version of Disneyland,  this motorsport park is without a doubt unlike any other place you will visit with its range of activities to suit everyone. 

THE TOP ACTIVITY TO DO FOR FREE
Queenstown is surrounded by a variety of fantastic walking tracks for every level. Our favourite, The Ben Lomond Track, is a demanding climb, but on a clear day, you will be rewarded at the summit with spectacular panoramic views of Mt Earnslaw, Pikirakatahi and Mt Aspiring. At about 800m, alpine tussocks and dracophyllum dominate the landscape with magnificent lake and mountain views. 

THE TOP PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK OR TWO
Opening it’s doors late last year, Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan has already built a steadfast following by locals and visitors alike. Housed in a restored cottage, enjoy a glass of their finest whilst gazing out to the picture-perfect gardens.   

THE TOP PLACE TO EXPLORE FOR THE DAY
Milford Sound’s untouched landscapes make for a truly spectacular backdrop. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages and is breathtaking in any weather. 

THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
Perfect for couples – be flown by a private helicopter charter to “The Ledge” of Cecil Peak for a magical hour of tranquillity. There, overlooking Queenstown and The Southern Alps you’ll enjoy a delicious Champagne picnic in an incredible sensory moment, where the imposing scale of nature is awe-inspiring. 

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CATEGORY : Summer, Queenstown

Our top Auckland activity picks for this summer

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WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO START THE WEEKEND
La Cigale French Style Farmers Markets in Parnell – You can spend hours here tasting all the fresh produce and baked goods being New Zealand's largest farmers market. Leave the whole morning spare with the idea of having breakfast here.

WHAT’S FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
The sunset sea kayaking tour to Rangitoto Island is quite the experience! Leave the bay before sunset, arrive on the shore of Rangitoto Island and embark on a trek to the top which you’ll reach in time to see the cities lights turn on. Back on the mainland beach, you’ll be greeted by the smell of a Kiwi BBQ dinner. An afternoon well spent!  

WHAT’S THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
A heli to Waiheke Island for a private winery tour and long lunch is what you’ll be raving to friends and family about on your return home. This quaint island is full of art, vineyards, restaurants and beaches – heaven on earth!

WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE FOR AFTERNOON TEA
Little & Friday is the sweetest little bakery you’ll find in all of Auckland. Starting from humble beginnings, prepping all week, only opening on a Friday, Little & Friday now has 4 locations across Auckland, and is open 7 days to meet the popular demand. The chocolate, beetroot & salted caramel cake is a must-try!

 

WHERE’S THE BEST OUT OF CITY EXCURSION
2.5 hours drive from Auckland city is the Coromandel. Head there for a day of stunning scenery, nature walks and long stretch beaches.

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CATEGORY : Summer, Auckland

Our top Bay of Islands activity picks for this summer

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THE BEST WAY TO START THE WEEKEND
Start the weekend with a buzz by cruising off-road. Truly a unique outdoor adventure, experience riding through forestry tracks, sand dunes, and along the beautiful Ninety-mile beach tracks. Stop for a sand board on the dunes and enjoy the untouched scenery not accessible to the public.

THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
What better way to see the beautiful coastline of Northland than by air? See Hole in the Rock, Cape Reinga, and the large rolling sand dunes all on a scenic flight by helicopter or aircraft. Land on a secluded beach, sandboard on the dunes or pair your flight with a wine tasting at local vineyards. This excursion is a must-do splurge, leaving no stone left unturned when it comes to seeing the Bay of Islands. 

THE MOST SCENIC WALKING REWARD
Completing a walk along the scenic Kerikeri River Track is just over 4 kilometres and totals 2 hours return. Enjoy exercise among the continuously changing scenery, the calling of the native birds, and the reward of two stunning waterfalls during the journey - Wharepuke & Rainbow falls.

THE BEST FAMILY EXCURSION
Indulge in a private boat charter for the day as you level sail around the islands alongside dolphins and whales. Relax on the large trampolines while you are served lunch you’ve caught. Experience navigating the vessel at the helm and learn about the area from the knowledgeable hosts. Enjoy a swim, kayak, paddleboard or hike if you wish to anchor. Each experience is curated to the guest's desires.

THE BEST PLACE TO GO FOR A SWIM IN THE OCEAN
If you’re after an afternoon relaxing on soft white sand or a swim in the ocean, Tapeka Beach is place for you. This little get away also offers  the occasional dolphin and whale sighting, as well as a public reserve under the  old Norfolk pine trees.

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CATEGORY : Summer, New Zealand

ICE DRIVING

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Last week I was invited to experience the ultimate in ice driving at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds (SPHG).

Having recently being awarded "international proving ground of the year" verifying their status as a world leading testing ground, I knew I was in for a real treat! And fun fact - top automobile manufacturers secretly go here to test their cars!

‘Let the drifting begin’ I said!

Feeling very excited (but in a butterflies floating inside me kind of way) I drove up to the site to be met by stunning views of the valley and sheets of snow. We were each thrown a set of keys that unlocked a luxury Audi that was to be slid across the immaculately groomed mountain environment. The moment of truth.

Luckily, I wasn’t completely left to my own devices though. Via radio, we received expert tuition from industry leading race car drivers talking us through challenges such as the giant slalom and snow drift circle – it truly was an unbelievable experience!

It’s an adrenaline must do, the feeling of being in a Fast & Furious movie set is unbeatable… and I have the videos & photos to prove it all.

And yes, I did ask but and you can’t take the Audi home.

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CATEGORY : Winter, Queenstown, News

Falling in love with Marlborough

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For spectacular scenery and wine look no further than Marlborough, in the north-eastern tip of the South Island. Our Travel Concierge Jill went on a recent visit there to sample the ‘best of the best’.

Where to stay: 

Marlborough Lodge

   

The experience of staying here starts from the minute you drive through the gates, with a winding path taking your through perfectly manicured gardens and streams. On arrival I was met by Peter, the general manger. He made me feel at home and his knowledge of the area and the historic lodge was very insightful. Originally a nun's convent, it has been transformed to a Lodge with 10 luxurious suites.

I was shown to my suite on the second floor and enjoyed the huge bath and garden views. The guests all dined together and the food was some of the best I’ve ever had!

Marlborough Lodge is located just 7 minutes from Blenheim airport and is the perfect spot stay to experience the wine region!

Bay of Many Coves

  

I was lucky enough to take the stunning heli flight from Marlborough Lodge to Bay of Many Coves in the Marlborough Sounds. Kim greeted us and showed us around the grounds. Each suite felt private and had perfect views. We enjoyed a degustation meal in the relaxed dining area and had breakfast the next morning outside while watching the sunrise.  

The in-house hot chocolate is a must!

Where to eat: Hanz Herzog Organic Winery

 

A trip to Malborough wouldn't be complete without getting to sample this dining experience. Hanz Was a fantastic host – the food, the wine and the setting were excellent in this boutique winery! 

What to do: Wine tour

 

Boasting nearly 80% of New Zealand’s wine industry, you can’t visit Marlborough without sampling their wines. With so much choice available a wine tour is a great way of trying the very best in the region. Favourites include the family run Waipara Hills, methode specialists No 1 and the world renowned Cloudy Bay. 

Hidden treasure: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

The biggest surprise of the trip was Omaka! I couldn’t believe this huge museum full of Peter Jacksons planes and historic collections were in Blenheim! I’m no aviation expert but it is a definite must for every visitor to Blenheim! 

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Wild about Wildwire!

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Earlier this month several members of the Touch of Spice team had the pleasure of partaking in Wildwire’s Via Ferrata and if you don’t know what exactly what Via Ferrata is, don’t worry, we hadn’t a clue either!

Via Ferrata is basically a protected climbing route originating from Europe – think rock climbing but with iron rods acting as your steps.

The day started with a drive to the climb’s location by Twin Falls, approximately a 20 min drive from Wanaka.   

Before we embarked on our climb our guide pointed to the spot where we would be heading up to, and jaws proceeded to drop. It felt so high that nightfall would be more likely to arrive before we made it up there!

However, 2 hours later we made it to our destination and along the way we got to experience an activity like no other. Our ascend included climbing, not only on the iron rods but on sheer rock faces, traversing across bridges and tight ropes and getting up close to the spectacular Twin Falls. The experience concluded with lunch at the peak of our climb, right by the waterfall and views like no other.

Our experience was made all the more enjoyable by our guide for the day, Pedro. They often say that it’s the people that make the place and in this instance they couldn’t be more right. His enthusiasm together with ability to gauge our weaknesses provided us with the encouragement to challenge our fears and get a real sense of accomplishment.

Wildwire advise that if you can climb a ladder, you can do this – and they’re not wrong. The only thing stopping you is your mind! If you find the courage to embark on this activity you will be awarded with awe-inspiring views and real sense of achievement.  

The adrenalin buzz lasted the entire evening and we all couldn’t wait to share this Wanaka treasure with everyone.

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CATEGORY : Summer, Wanaka

Mountain Carting at Cardrona Alpine Resort

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Over the weekend TeamSpice with partners, husbands and kids in tow were lucky enough to have a chance to check-out New Zealand’s first gravity-fuelled mountain carting adventure at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

After checking in at the ticket counter we were fitted out with helmets, gloves, goggles and personalised overalls featuring the names of racing greats, fictional and historic. Some of our favourites were Shake and Bake, Knight Rider, Mad Mike, and Nicky Lauder.

Following a short transfer and a brief safety briefing it was time to be fitted out with our carts. Designed for performance, comfort and safety, the 3-wheeled, alpine specialized carts are imported from Europe and the only of their kind in New Zealand. A few of our more hesitant riders were thrilled that the hydraulic disc brakes were really responsive, and the carts were comfortable for all shapes and sizes.

The friendly Cardrona team load the carts straight onto the lift and off once you arrive at the top, and in between you can enjoy watching the downhill mountain bikers tackle the trails. Side note:  Cardrona is also home to the home to New Zealand’s highest mountain bike park offering 345 hectares of lift-accessed terrain for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders as well as private lessons.

The mountain cart trail is over 3km long & spans all the way out to Captain's Basin. Our crew got in four laps in the two-hour window, with a few speedsters knocking out five.

                     

The verdict: we all loved this 3-wheeled fun!

We were lucky enough to get in on the last day of the summer season, and now all eyes are on Winter. Cardrona will once again host the Audi Quattro Wintergames and we’ve all got our fingers crossed for plenty of snow!

We’ll be partnering with Cardrona this winter to develop a package were our guests can purchase their ski passes directly through Touch of Spice without the need to stop into the ticket off in town or on the mountain. Combined with in-home ski and snowboard hire and fittings, guests can breeze direct from their luxury accommodation in Wanaka (we recommend Sunrise Bay, Ridge Retreat or The Dacha) and hit the slopes for first tracks. Transportation or a luxury hire 4WD can easily be included, as can private chefs, in-villa massages to soothe those tired muscles, baby-sitting services and private lessons.

Hit us up today and get those winter plans in motion, the snow will be here before we know it!

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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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