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!
Last weekend the Touch of Spice team were lucky enough to experience a brand-new concept dinner tour brought to life by Lee and Emma from Alpine Wine Tours. These unique dinner tours aim to take in some of the top eating and imbibing experiences from Queenstown through to Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley in one brilliant evening of food and paired wine.
A Trio of Entrees at Canyon Brewery
We began our evening with a cocktail at Sundeck Rooftop Bar where we met with Lee for a brief catch up before the tour began. From here we met our wonderful guide for the evening Rob who swiftly got us off to our first stop - Canyon Brewery. Sitting by the fire we sat down and were immediately greeted by the drinks that we had pre-ordered. Being a brewery for this stop we could choose from either paired wines or beers to accompany our delicious first course (a trio of goats cheese Bellini, mystery wonton and crispy pork banh bao bun). I opted for the wine which included some of the areas finest tipples from Quartz Reef bubbles to begin, through to Mount Difficulty’s famous Roaring Meg Pinot Noir.
Main Course & paired wine at Kinross Winery
The next stop saw us touring through the valley behind Arrowton through to the Gibbston Valley and our next stop at Kinross Winery. As well as producing their own wine Kinross works with local wineries that don’t have their own cellar door to offer tastings of their wine to visitors. Tucked up in the alpine chalet style dining room we sat and chatted whilst our wonderful host poured us a selection of wine from these wineries. Valli Pinot Noir was a favourite, as well as Kinross’ own ‘Liquid Gold’ Pinot Gris. All but two of the group had opted for the pork belly which went down extremely well. A new seasonal addition to the menu was the blue cod which I will certainly be trying on our next visit!
Delectable dessert at Aosta
Last, but certainly not least on our terrific tour was the newest addition to Arrowtown’s buzzing food scene – Aosta. Marrying local produce with cooking techniques from the 45th Parallel in the northern hemisphere (which happily happens to be northern Italy) Aosta has created a truly unique dining experience.
We were thrilled when we found that the tiramisu many of us had opted for was going to be made at the table. In a truly theatrical fashion we watched, mesmerized as our host carefully wrapped the base and scoop of ice cream in a cream as the dessert span on a spinning plate. The dessert was then hollowed out as real espresso was poured to soaked in. The worst part was watching and waiting before we got dig in – but we certainly weren’t complaining as we sat, watching, waiting with bated breath to see if it tasted as brilliant as it looked.
After Aosta it was back into Queenstown we went! What a brilliant night.
What did we think, and would we do it again?
This is a truly brilliant concept that means if (like many) you only have a short time in Queenstown you can squeeze three completely different dining experiences into one evening. Usually this would be too much and involve all sorts of logistical challenges you wouldn’t want to think about on holiday. Happily, Lee and the team make it incredibly easy, with simple pickups, convenient drop offs and pre-ordering that means the whole evening flows without a hitch.
It’s not very often you can say you started with beers and wines by the fire at a brewery, before dinner with three paired wines from three different vineyards, before finally being treated to a theatrical show and one of (what must be…we suspect) the best desserts in town. It is certainly something we would consider doing again, even as locals for a birthday, celebration or get together with friends. It would also be a brilliant option if you have friends visiting and want to showcase the regions food and wine all in one evening without having to lift a finger yourself!
Thank you to Rob and Lee for a brilliant evening and showing us what it is all about. Thank you to Canyon Brewery, Kinross Winery and Aosta for putting on a brilliant evening. It is safe to say the Touch of Spice team may certainly be back!
Spice up your Spring with a Short Break by Touch of Spice
Whether it’s a celebration or simply a good old excuse to get together with friends and family, our exclusive villas combined with experiences only available to you on a Touch of Spice break, will have you making memories in no time.
Be inspired with our exclusive Short Breaks
Need some inspiration? Peer into wine barrels at an exclusive cellar door not open to the public, enjoy a day in the Southern Alps that’ll take you from fish to fork and farm to table all in a day, with plenty of action along the way. Check out our new series of Short Breaks exclusive to Touch of Spice to inspire you. The best part? Combine these packages with one of the villas in this offer and receive one nights accommodation free - read on to find out more.
Stay for 4 Nights and only Pay for 3 Nights
Save up to 25% this Spring on bookings of four nights or more (terms and conditions apply*).
- Book a 4 night stay & only pay for 3 nights
- Book an 8 night stay & only pay for 6 nights
- Book a 12 night stay & only pay for 9 nights
What homes can I book?
This offer applies only applies to certain homes in our Private Villa Collection which you can view here.
When can I book this offer?
Book any time between 1st August and 27th November 2019.
When can I stay if I book this offer?
To stay any time between 1st September and 30th November 2019.
The (not so) small print
Here are our full Terms & Conditions of the offer.
- Applicable to certain villas only in our Private Villa Collection
- Offer applies to bookings made directly with Touch of Spice or via a travel agent
- Only applies to bookings of four nights or more. Every fourth night is free
- Applies to bookings made between 1st August 2019 and 27th November 2019
- Applies to stays between 1st September 2019 to 30 November 2019
- All bookings are subject to availability and our standard terms and conditions for villa rentals apply
- We will provide our standard terms and conditions at the time of bookings
Sink into tranquility in the spa or smash through the silence and bomb in the pool – this private Italian-inspired oasis is all yours.
We are thrilled to introduce and announce that the stunning Ataahua Lodge is the latest addition to our Residence Collection.
A touch of Amalfi - just outside Tauranga
Only 25 kilometres from Tauranga Airport, enter through the wrought iron gates and drive the palm lined drive towards the villa. A natural oasis to unwind, relax and accept carpe diem.
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.
Aperitivo on the terrace? Buon appetito
An open gourmet kitchen leads to the living area and onto the first of the two dining rooms. A step further takes you to large bifold doors leading outside. Enjoy alfresco antipasto or tear apart a pizza from the woodfired oven with the family.
A hideaway for adults and children alike
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.
A dreamlike spot for morning coffee
Ataahua has a total of six suites spread between two floors as well as the separate Pavilion. Sink into the plush beds that all feature views of the luscious grounds. Separate from the main villa is The Pavilion – a private sanctuary with ocean views where rolling out of bed will feel better than ever.
Do you prefer to drink your bubbles or sink into them?
From the bedroom to bathroom – whether you choose to drink your bubbles or sink into them, let the mind unwind as you gaze into the gardens and accept feelings of la bella vita (… the good life).
Let them dream of adventure
The spacious shared room is lined with motorbikes and surfboards letting the imagination run wild. Travelling with entourage or friends? The guest suite has a lounge, bathroom, kitchenette and is separate from the main house – the key to privacy.
Step outside into your own private oasis
In the private pavilion, a step beyond the villa, wake up in a secluded oasis. As the sunrise pours through the terrace doors, take in the picturesque garden and ocean views – mornings you can’t wait to wake up to. No bad thing when you have a hot yoga studio, adjoining gym and walks with endless sea views.
Roll out of bed into a whatever activity takes your fancy
Roll out of bed and straight into an active day. The private gym, tennis court and bikram yoga studio will get you working up a sweat before jumping in the pool.
Alfresco dining with a difference
A real taste of Italy – prepare, bake and enjoy your own pizza straight from the outdoor oven, served with a glass of wine from the cellar. New Zealand meets Italy - Alfresco dining just like at Nonna’s house in Verona.
Submerge yourself in stillness
Float into tranquillity and get lost in the clouds - an afternoon soak in the spa pool will calm the mind and relax the body. Or feel like smashing through the stillness and bombing in the pool? Go ahead – it’s your space after all.
Get competitive and find your champion
Singles or doubles? Get your whites on and battle it out in your own Ataahua Tennis Open. Observe from the side-lines before sinking some hoops on the basketball court – a tournament to keep everyone entertained.
Tropical gardens just a stones throw away
Take a tour or meander through the tropical gardens and discover the botanical variety. With world-class artworks placed throughout the gardens and villa, explore the local Maori art and sculptures on display.
We know settling into winter can be a troublesome time and so we want to soften the blow with some incredible introductory rates for winter stays at Lake Hayes. For a limited time you can stay in this delectable five bedroom home from just $3500 per night.
Why consider a winter break at Lake Hayes?
Despite being just a 10 minute drive from Queenstown airport The Homestead at Lake Hayes offers complete tranquility. Sink into nature with lake views and unadulterated access to the nearby walking and cycling tracks surrounding the lake that meander their way all the through to Arrowtown. Once you have been exploring and taken in enough of the seamless lake and mountain views retire to the fireside and warm up in style.
The perfect spot for a multi-generational winter escape
With five wonderful bedrooms this property offers a brilliant option for a multi-generational getaway. The estate offers more than enough space for three generations to enjoy each others company without treading on each others toes. While the youngsters run around the grass, playing hide and seek in the Sequoia trees, the grown ups can unwind over a glass of Central Otago's finest.
Booking a winter stay at The Homestead
View more about The Homestead at Lake Hayes or get in touch with one of our Travel Designers to find out more. A minimum five night stay applies and all bookings are subject to availability - please contact one of our Travel Designers to find out more.
Get away from it all and enjoy a short break this winter...
Talk to one of our Travel Designers about this exclusive Australian and New Zealand Residents' Winter Special at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.
What does the special offer include?
- A special nightly rate
- Luxurious suite accommodation
- Pre-dinner drinks and canapes
- Gourmet dinner
- Full breakfast and complimentary non-alcoholic mini-bar
- A choice of unlimited green fees on the award-winning golf courses OR
- A rejuvenating 60-minute spa massage treatment per person per night stayed
Prices: NZ$775 + 15% GST per person, per night based on double occupancy. For an upgrade to a Deluxe Suite add $150 + 15% GST per night to the package.
The small print
This offer is valid for booking from 1 April until 31 May 2019 and is valid for travel from 1 May up to and including 30 September 2019. Conditions apply, subject to availability and change.
Touch of Spice CEO Jacqui Spice has been awarded Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Travel Specialist’ accolade for the third year running, following six previous accolades.
We’re thrilled our CEO and Founder Jacqui has been named a ‘Top Travel Specialist’ by Condé Nast Traveler for the third consecutive year. This marks the seventh occasion Jacqui has been acknowledged by Condé Nast Traveler for her unparalleled knowledge and talent when it comes to promoting and managing luxury villas throughout New Zealand.
What goes into becoming a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist?
This accolade is awarded to Travel Specialists who have a uniquely in-depth understanding of the area they curate and promote, offering travellers and agents alike the best advice available.
At Touch of Spice we spend our time working hard, curating luxury stays and most importantly bringing these stays to life, through unique experiences and little ‘touches’ that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. At our Queenstown office our team of Travel Designers work with Jacqui to turn ordinary journeys to New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific into memorable experiences.
A note from Jacqui
“I feel incredibly privileged to be presented with this award for the seventh time. My team and I spend our days doing whatever we can to bring our client’s requests to life in ways they never thought possible. We strive to ensure every moment we have a hand in creating, becomes a memory that lasts a lifetime, and so it’s wonderful to be recognised (once again) for the service we provide.”
About Condé Nast Traveler
Condé Nast Traveler are the self-proclaimed leaders of news on all things travel, driving the most up-to-date and engaging updates on the travel industry, through both their printed magazine, expertly curated daily emails and enthralling online articles.
What is a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist?
Only a select few are given this admirable accolade, awarded to whom they deem “the right experience maker” who “will intuit your desires before you even know what they are — then they’ll make them happen.” – Paul Brady and Christine Cantera, Condé Nast.
At Touch of Spice we embody this notion on a daily basis. We want you to run down the hallways, bomb in the pool and generally make the most of what our private escapes can offer. Despite representing some of the most incredible and exclusive properties in the region, we know it’s not about the accommodation itself. Although exquisite spaces, with unique levels of luxury, escapism and privacy are of course crucial – it’s ultimately about the experiences and the memories created – that we hope will last long beyond the journey home.