With Russell being a hop, skip and a jump away from Auckland it's a great destination for a weekend away or that last minute escape. We were fortunate enough to spend a night in one of Russell's premium villas, Tahapuke.
As we approach the gates to the property, the villa itself is wonderfully hidden, giving no glimpse as to the beauty which awaits. Walking down the winding path the first thing which grabs our attention is the beautiful private beach at the front of the property – with the aqua coloured, serene water it’s hard to miss. Greeting us as we enter the door is chilled bottle of local Chardonnay and box of hand-crafted chocolates – together with the perfect setting to enjoy them in. The property itself has a wonderful large open plan kitchen, dining and living area (with three living spaces to choose from). All are luxuriously appointed with contemporary decor and furnishings and opens out onto a large decking and a portrait of stunning sea views. There are three bedrooms; all complete with TV, plus expansive windows and doors opening to your own terrace and of course the fantastic water views. All are fairly even in size - meaning that you don’t have to fight over who gets the master.
Things to do
It’s very easy to sit back, relax and zone out to the sound of the waves, however with access to your very own private island a ride over there is a must! Fortunately guests have complimentary access to both a dingy and kayaks so off we go. We opted for the lazier choice of the dingy (don’t judge us!) but for the more active types the kayak also provides guests with the wonderful opportunity to venture across the bay. Nearby fishing or sailing charters are also available, providing ample things to do. Guests also benefit from a 5 acre backdrop of native bush cascading down to the beach, which is not only incredibly beautiful but also stemmed in history; serving as a turangawaewae (or standing place) for
Maori Chief Te Keemua and his people. Two Maori Pa sites are also located at the very top of the property. As the sun beings to set, the pink colours surrounding the property are picture perfect as we head out to dinner. We make the 5 minute scroll to the town centre, head to the Duke of Marlborough for a sumptuous meal and toast ourselves to our own private piece of paradise.
Bike the Gibbston Valley wine trail
Not wanting to blow the budget but looking for something fun to do in the sun? What better way than enjoying a beautiful summers day exploring the famous Gibbston Valley by bike and tasting stunning Otago wine along the way.
Over the Top Golf in Queenstown
Think you can score a hole in one at 4,500 feet? Accessible only by helicopter Over the Top Golf at Cecil Peak is a great way to have a bit of family competition with their 4 separate tee boxes.
Taste of Waiheke
Want to experience the best wines the North Island has to offer? We can arrange a private wine and olive tour and tasting for you and a group of friends at some of New Zealand’s best vineyards located on Waiheke island.
Otaha Beachfront Lodge, Bay of Islands
Only a two minute walk to a secluded beach, this villa provides you with your very own private paradise in the Bay of Islands.
This five bedroom villa is incredibly spacious, with a modern, crisp feel– it’s definitely beachside living with a luxurious twist! It’s a great villa for entertaining with a large open plan living area and plenty of outdoor space, complete with decking, dining area and barbecue.
If you’re after the quintessential summer vacation home you’ve found it.
Whale Bay, Matapouri
Boasting a heated swimming pool, 360-degree views of the sea and only a two minute walk to the beach, this immaculately presented villa is ideal for any water lover!
The seven bedrooms can accommodate up to 16 guests, ensuring ample space for a large family or group of traveling friends. If you are looking to entertain, the outdoor furniture in front of the most amazing Italian marble open fireplace with BBQ is perfection.
What's hot this winter? Lots of things! Even if you are not a skier or snow-boarder there is plenty for you to do in New Zealand this winter. Here are our top five absolute must-dos!
1. Heli-ski from Whare Kea Chalet
One of the only places in New Zealand with ski in, ski out mountain access. Accessible only by heli, this is the ultimate ski experience. With Instagram worthy scenery, you will be the envy of all your friends. From here you will be heli-ed onto exclusive untracked, virgin snow, be taken on 10 - 12 runs and ski back into the Chalet for morning tea, lunch and aprés ski drinks.
2. Ice Driving
Think you`ve got what it takes to race a performance car on snow and ice? As the only ice driving experience in the Southern Hemisphere it`s an absolute must-do. Experience the thrills of drifting on the snow circle, driving along the expertly crafted ice tracks and creating memories that you`ll want to share with your friends.
3. Dog Sledding
Experience a northern tradition in the Southern Alps of New Zealand! Enjoy the exhilaration as your sled cuts through the mountain trails, with no noise other than the sound of your dogs` feet shuffling through the snow. You can experience these amazing animals from the basket of a guided sled or, for the more adventurous, on the back of your own team, driving them through the stunning alpine trails.
4. Snow shoeing
A great opportunity to visit the untouched back country of Otago, experiencing beauty which is inaccessible to many. If you envisage large tennis rackets on your feet, have no fear, things have got a lot more `high-tech` and you`ll feel as if you`re floating on snow.
5. Aprés ski amongst the stars
No winter holiday is complete without a spot of aprés ski! Enjoy one of Queenstown`s best kept secrets, The Deck offers stunning views of Queenstown and the stars, while enjoy cocktails and delicious food wrapped up in a blanket next to the open fire.
The Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ is back and ready for you to join in and enjoy the fun, and best of all it??s all free! From the 21st to 30th August, all the action will be taking place at Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak and Snow Farm NZ, so whether
Billed as the biggest party on southern snow, the on-mountain action is accompanied by an awesome festival programme based at the two Game Villages in downtown Queenstown and Wanaka.
You`ll get to watch Winter Olympic, Paralympic and X Games stars from around the World compete for glory in the FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Skiing World Cups at Cardrona Alpine Resort, ski racing at Coronet Peak, cross-country skiing at Snow Farm NZ and curling at Naseby`s international rink.
If it`s too cold up the hill for you, the festival in town is packed with daily entertainment and an awesome line up of live bands including New Zealand`s very own Ladi 6 and Kora - all free to watch!
If the Winter Games sounds like an event you would love to experience then make sure you book your luxury accommodation now to ensure you`re not left disappointed. We have an extensive selection of private villas perfectly suited for both couples and large groups of family and friends. All properties include designer bathroom amenities, luxury linen, WiFi and Sky TV.
To top off your Queenstown or Wanaka experience while enjoying the Winter Games NZ, we will provide you with a complimentary concierge service during stay with us.
If you can`t make it down to experience the Winter Games NZ you can also watch the live stream at wintergamesnz.kiwi along with the coverage on TV3.
Gay Ski Week is just around the corner, waiting for you to come and enjoy the winter festivities in Queenstown. With events and activities running from 29th August to 5th September, there is something for everyone. Gay Ski Week is the Southern Hemispher
New to the event line-up this year at Gay Ski Week is "Highlands Hook Up" an adventure day hosted by Highlands Motorsport Park, where "speed dating" will take on a whole new meaning! Also, new for 2015 is the "LYC Wet and Wild Foam Party" at Loco Cantina where you can dance the night away in foam filled fun.
If Gay Ski Week sounds like an event you would love to experience then make sure you book your luxury accommodation now to ensure you`re not left disappointed. Touch of Spice has an extensive selection of private villas perfect to suit both couples and large groups of family and friends. All properties are gay friendly and include designer bathroom amenities, luxury linen, WiFi and Sky TV. To view accommodation available in Queenstown click HERE, or contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
To top off your Queenstown experience while enjoying Gay Ski Week, Touch of Spice will provide you with a complimentary concierge service while staying in one of our villas. For more information contact the team at email@example.com or on +64 3 450 0855.
I was lucky enough to enjoy the Queen's Birthday long weekend with my family in the beautiful lake side town of Wanaka in the South Island of New Zealand. Wanaka is an absolutely stunning location and the perfect getaway either for a family holiday or
The Residence - Villa South Pacific
This villa is an absolute jewel with views to die for! Built on an elevated plateau Villa South Pacific provides the most gorgeous backdrop looking out to Lake Wanaka, Treble Cone, Mt Roy and Mt Aspiring.
With the open fire crackling in front of you, a good book and a glass of the regions finest, this Villa feels like home. Sue the owner had pre-pared two pizzas for our arrival which she cooked in the pizza oven. They were supposed to just be for the kids but they were so crispy and delicious we couldn`t help ourselves. With its rustic Mediterranean decor and ideal location, being walking distance from both Wanaka township and the lake front my family and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay here.
The Adrenaline - Oxbow Lodge
Easily one of the most awesome adult playgrounds ever and not just for the boys either! Sprint boats, knife throwing, a "Gun Club", dirt buggies, helicopter rides, they have it all - it had the girls screaming and even the boys! Our three kids aged 8 - 13 couldn`t get enough of it. The hosts Darb and Lloyd are incredibly hospitable and ensured that everyone had an amazing time.
The Relaxation - Minaret Station
This was my third visit to Minaret and it just gets better each time! Accessible only by helicopter, the flight in is absolutely magical as you come in through the Southern Alps and land in what feels like the middle of nowhere. You might be in one of the remotest parts of the country but the cuisine is exquisite; dining on lamb racks, paua soup and chocolate mousse in complete luxury while enjoying some of New Zealand`s finest wines. Minaret Station is a must for everyone, plenty of star studded celebrities have been here - the kids were so excited just by the names in the guest book!
The Beauty - Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka is the heart of this beautiful town; it demands your attention and will take your breath away. It`s so serene and so vast; you could never tire looking at it. Whether you want to exercise around it or on it, or just relax and enjoy the view you will no doubt agree with me when I say it`s one of the most tranquil and untouched places in New Zealand.
The Adventure - Whare Kea Chalet
Getting to check out Whare Kea Chalet was definitely a highlight of the weekend. Only accessible by helicopter, with the most stunning views (quite honestly photos just don`t do it justice!). It`s the perfect location for a romantic proposal, a scenic lunch with friends or an ultimate overnight activity trip during both summer and winter. With the ability to go heli-skiing or hiking right on your door step it`s definitely one of Wanaka`s best kept secrets!
Wellness â€“ the hottest topic on the planet right now.
Every time I log into social media I’m either reading an article about it or looking at a recipe full of goodness and health that I want to cook. We all seem to be looking for ways to improve our general health and detoxify our lifestyles. If you are anything like me, you are no doubt busy juggling everything from family to business and you'll be well aware of the toll it can take on your well-being. So finally I did something about it and went to Aro-Ha Wellness Retreat in Glenorchy, New Zealand to see what it was all about!
Upon arrival at Aro-Ha you`re greeted with a cup of delicious detox tea (caffeine free of course), along with a very light healthy snack.
Our accommodation had amazing views, and a simplistic, Zen inspired design. No TV`s or stereos and only communal bathrooms. You do however have WiFi, at Aro-Ha they appreciate that there are some people that just have no choice but to stay partially plugged in.
Our afternoon was spent doing a small 1.5hour hike around Wyuna Reserve where Aro-Ha is situated followed by a yoga class and the first of many amazing vegan meals. Never has vegan food tasted so amazing. Rani and Tony the two residence chefs do an incredible job of turning carrots, courgettes and various types of micro greens into the most amazing delicacies.
Woken at 6am to do our morning yoga. Several downward dogs later it was time for our breakfast smoothie. Much to our surprise our chia seeds, protein powder and berry smoothie was so filling it kept us energized for a 3.5hour hike into the gorgeous Routeburn, before returning to Aro-Ha for a late lunch.
The afternoon was spent doing HITT training before the best part of the day, the massage!
Then onto more yoga - this time focused on stretching and was much needed after hiking and HIIT training. We were well and truly knackered and in bed by 9pm.
Day 3, 4 and 5 involved a combination of the activities we`d done the previous day.
Five days later I left glowing, calm, partially detoxed (I probably need more than 5 days to be fair) and with a complete mind shift about what real wellness is. I learnt about mindfulness.
Mindful eating - slowly and appreciating what I am consuming.
Mindful listening - actually listening to someone rather than jumping in wanting to finish their sentences for them or solve their problems immediately.
Mindful walking - instead of having my head down busy compiling emails in my head, actually taking in the surroundings of where I am and appreciating the moment.
Most importantly I learnt to say "I have a beautiful life" at the end of most of my sentences - because the reality is, I do. Yes I work hard and a lot, I have a big commitment with my business and a busy family life - but I have a beautiful life.
See why New Zealand is No.1 on the hot list!
New Zealand is No.1 on the Hot List with many industry specialists noting that high-end travellers are flocking here for safe, authentic luxury experiences and being on the front line here at Touch of Spice - you can tell! We have been busier than ever and it’s the summer that just keeps on going. We have been curating some fantastic experiences all over the country for our clients and having a lot of fun doing so along the way. From planning once in a lifetime family holidays, secret getaways for high profile celebrities and road trips, to curating a surprise wedding anniversary for one of our repeat clients, every day we are putting together something special for our guests. Here are some of our highlights:
Addicted to St. Mary`s Residence
St. Mary`s Residence is one of our favourite new properties in Auckland and one of the highlights that we have found in the accommodation world of New Zealand. Located in one of the city`s most characterful and central neighbourhoods the exclusive, single reservation policy guarantees guests enjoy the ultimate in comfort and privacy, and elegant d?cor, culinary excellence, and an architectural `Wow` factor combine to make the Residence a discreet haven of seclusion perfect for a couple`s discovery of the city.
Click here to find out more about St Marys Residence.
Roadside Picnic with Wild Earth
Perched on a picturesque piece of land with views out over Lake Tekapo we set up a stunning gourmet picnic with Quintin and the wonderful crew from Wild Earth. End result was a very bespoke curated experience, happy clients and a venue we had never used before - State Highway 8!
Wedding Anniversary by Heli
We love curating once in a lifetime experiences for our clients and being given the brief to create a surprise 20th Wedding Anniversary was right up our alley!
Their 4 day itinerary in Queenstown was a complete surprise to them and their highlight was the anniversary dinner by helicopter. Flying from White Point to Earnslaw Burn, only accessible by heli, a stylish Marquee awaited with a stunning dining table set for 8 guests, with crystal, gold and silver glassware and crockery. Stunning floral centrepieces with emerald greens and lilies as they symbolise 20th Wedding Anniversaries.
We where given the task to curate a corporate family experience over 4 days - and what better way to start the week then to remind everyone how to play out at Oxbow Lodge, then experience extreme heli golf at Over the Top Golf and settle in for the night at a luxury hotel. What happened over the next 3 days, you will have to ask us to find out :)
Chocolates, champagne, red roses, diamonds, candles, romance, and fireworks! Yes it was Valentine's Day over the weekend and we hope your other half remembered!?
In case he or she didn’t get it quite right this year (or even if you did!) Touch of Spice are always here to help with the get out of jail free card and some great ideas to keep the romance going for the next 12 months or set you up with ideas for his or her next birthday or even anniversary!
Here are some of my favourite New Zealand romantic escapes- enjoy!
Slip away to a heavenly spot in the Bay of Islands. Located on the water`s edge at Wairoa Bay, close to The Landing jetty, The Boathouse looks out to 144 islands in the Bay of Islands and beyond.
Enjoy a delightfully sophisticated glass of wine from the Landings selection and a gourmet delivered dinner while watching the sun set across the bay.
Cosy up in a blanket and enjoy the ever changing ocean and sky, islands, sunsets, wildlife and the sounds of the waves rolling onto your own private beach while enjoying Rahimoana, the world`s ultimate holiday villa. Drenched in all day sun, this stunning villa sits on a 44 acre private headland with panoramic views of New Zealands famed Bay of Islands. With over a kilometer of beach and ocean frontage overlooking unlimited deep water anchorage, this iconic, one of a kind masterpiece also features a 25 meter infinity pool overlooking your own private beach, helipad, and acres of pristine private land and native bush.
A perfect romantic sojourn in Auckland begins in the sophisticated urban setting of St Marys Boutique, located in one of the city`s most characterful and central neighbourhoods. Our exclusive, single reservation policy guarantees guests enjoy the ultimate in comfort and privacy, and elegant decor, culinary excellence, and an architectural `Wow` factor combine to make the Residence a discreet haven of seclusion perfect for a couple`s discovery of the city.
For a truly romantic and memorable time together, Huka Lodge is utter perfection. Offering absolute privacy and an elegant luxury, bathed in an unforgettable atmosphere and created especially for those celebrating their love for each other.
Experience a romantic weekend in the best of the Hawke`s Bay wine region from your base at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. From stunning walks with breathtaking sea views to communing with nature by checking out the property`s own gannet colony or its kiwi reserve, Cape Kidnappers has it all. Relax over a spa treatment and beautiful lodge meals featuring seasonal produce sourced locally and from the farm`s own garden and sublime regional wines.
Take a journey to the Marlborough Sounds and nestle away in the hidden coves for a romantic weekend away. Relax in your luxury apartment, and then enjoy a soak in the hot tub under the stars. Awake to the sound of tuis and bellbirds and enjoy breakfast at the water`s edge.
New Zealand`s Split Apple Retreat is unlike anything you`ve ever visited before. A quiet, luxurious hideaway built high into a cliff-face right on the ocean, a few minutes away from the South Island`s stunning Abel Tasman National Park, it offers both every indulgence as well as the additional promise of exceptional good health.
Take time in your picturesque private bay, above which an ultra-modern retreat provides a truly romantic experience. Accessed by helicopter or by a 40-minute transfer in a 4WD Annandale vehicle across the cliff-top farm tracks. From within, it appears you are floating on the open sea, in thrall to its ever-changing moods, yet safely embraced by luxury and modern comforts. Outside, dolphins and seals often frolic in the glittering water, with only you and the tussock grass to witness them.
The Spire Hotel, Queenstown
Have some central Queenstown excitement and stay at the sophisticated award wined boutique Spire Hotel.
Set in the heart of Queenstown the Spire Hotel offers a romantic and soulful experience close to Queenstown`s vibrant shopping district, cafes and nightlife.
Treat yourself to a weekend of luxury at one of our favourites, The Matakauri Owner`s Cottage.
With uninterrupted lake and mountain views, all of the amenities one could wish for - romantic open fireplaces, and superbly decorated living areas and a perfectly located private hot tub, the best place to relax after an adventurous day out experiencing all that the Queenstown region has to offer.
Discover the perfect things to do in summer.
I've been fortunate enough to have spent the last few weeks in both the South and North Islands of New Zealand, and it's been great to see that the long awaited summer has arrived! Queenstown For us Kiwis, we all seem to be saying that these are the summers we remember from when we were kids; hot days, warm seas, blue skies and warm evenings - and the great news it that there is still more of it to come!
So what`s hot in NZ this summer?
The "Hamptons" of New Zealand continues to be a popular spot. Filled with beautiful people staying in beautiful houses and relaxing on beautiful beaches, Waiheke is the go to destination. The spot I`ve seen most regularly frequented on Waiheke this summer? Stonyridge Vineyard (something about the food and wine?). Our favourite places to stay here are Oneroa Vineyard and Hei Matau.
Beaches of the Coromandel
Ever popular with Kiwis looking for that laid back `bach` style holiday is the Coromandel region. We have a place in Opoutere and the beach is so beautiful and isolated. Many of my friends and associates frequent hot spots such as Cooks Beach, Ha Hei, Matarangi and Whangamata. This is the "fish and chips on the beach" capital of New Zealand.
Bay of Islands
I think the Bay of Islands has had the most consistently amazing weather this summer and many a friend was seen sailing, swimming and dining out at the Duke of Marlborough. My fav places in the Bay of Islands to stay are Eagles Nest, Otaha Beach and Tahapuke. Beautiful places to enjoy a cold Chardonnay on the deck overlooking the ocean.
Grab your kayak and your walking shoes and head out through the Abel Tasman. The weather is pretty much bang on every day and the natural beauty of the region can keep you active for days. Our favourite place to stay in the Abel Tasman is Split Apple Retreat and the Bay of Many Coves.
I can`t help but mention Queenstown. The weather has been incredible down south all summer - blue clear skies and warm weather resulting in bustling wineries, hot air ballooning, sky diving and paddle boarding on the regions many lakes. There are so many favourite places to stay here we can`t really choose one but our two top ones this summer have been the Lodge at The Hills and our very own Copper House.