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