A couple of weeks ago a few of our team were invited to spend a night at Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Estate and Eco Sanctuary, a beautiful luxury lodge located just 20 minutes outside Wanaka.
Whilst being so close to the Wanaka township, the lodge feels incredibly remote with no one else in sight (aside from the sheep!). Upon arrival to the lodge we were all blown away by the expansive views over the stunning green landscape and out over Lake Wanaka, taken advantage of by the large floor to ceiling windows in the main lodge area.
The lodge is relatively small, with only four main suites, and another kids bunk room which can be used if the lodge is taken exclusively. Each of the luxuriously appointed suites are different styles and offer outlooks in different and equally beautiful directions, our favourite had to be the Master Suite ‘Tui’, with it’s large open shower room and copper bathtub looking out over the mountains, how relaxing!
The lodge manager Anna and host Chris really make the experience fantastic, they are so welcoming and knowledgeable about the local area. The food we had for dinner and breakfast was so delicious, made with local fresh produce, and they had a great selection of local wines to go with this.
In the morning we went for a walk down to the Stables, these are a short walk from the main lodge and are the most stunning stables any of us have ever seen!
Mahu Whenua is a fantastic place to just kick back and relax, and equally a great place to get out and explore the expansive property. You can enjoy hiking from the property, or a helicopter can land right outside and take you on one of many heli hikes in the region. One thing that really stood out for us which is a great option for those active people, is that you can pick up e-bikes in Arrowtown, Queenstown and cycle to the property, there are trails the whole way.
Thank you to the team at Mahu Whenua for hosting us and creating a truly memorable experience for us on this beautiful property!
The idea of uplifting your family and moving to the other side of the world for 3 months used to be daunting and unrealistic. Times have thankfully now changed.
With new direct flight routes between the US and New Zealand, along with infrastructure developments allowing guests access to hi-speed internet so they can stay in top of things ‘back home’, we have seen a large growth in the number of families looking to visit New Zealand for an extended period of time.
New Zealand has long been a popular destination for family travel. It is seen as a safe place to visit, and offers such a diverse range of experiences. Families can base themselves in places such as Queenstown or Wanaka, and then explore the rest of the country on ‘getaways’.
Queenstown is particularly popular for this, and our range of private villas are ideally suited for families wanting to a ‘home away from home’ for a period of time. Local schools also allow for short-term international enrolments as the seasonal nature of the region (for example the winter ski season) often sees workers only in the area for a few months.
The time difference between New Zealand and the US also means that you can wake up, have breakfast, and then jump on a Skype call with the East or West Coast before they finish their business day. After that, how about doing a couple of hours working online before taking the family on a walk around a beautiful alpine lake?
For families that want to visit multiple countries, it’s an easy 3 and a ½ hour flight to either Australia or Fiji from New Zealand, with fantastic family villa options in both, so why not look at an entire South Pacific experience over a period of several months.
If you have been thinking about taking the family on a sabbatical but not sure what the accommodation options are, the Touch of Spice team are here to help!
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.
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!
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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Touch of Spice has really enjoyed working with the team at TIA to bring together the combined vision behind this year's TRENZ Farewell Dinner. It was a challenge after the success of the Ponsonby Central event but this year the venue is incredible and o
The good news is some of our favourite partners are back with incredible New Zealand wine and beer on offer; Isabel, Matawhero, Brookfields, Akarua, Lake Chalice and Mac along with Waiwera water and Homegrown juices.
A favourite from last year makes a return - the Kiwi Cocktail Lounge with Matty B and his team coming up with 2 new signature cocktails - the Tui Symphony and the Manuka Golden Fizz (no coupons this year) so first in first served!
Last year the food offering was incredible, a real showcase of New Zealand produce - this year make sure you don`t miss the Raw Seafood Bar at Roxy and the infamous Imperial Lane mini hot dogs. Neat Meats are back with their Lamb sliders as well as OBB organic supplying a selection of their ice-creams and sorbet for dessert.
Entertainment is always the key to a successful event and this year the line-up offers something for everyone; Hollie Smith on stage at 8.00pm and 9.00pm at Everybody`s followed by up and coming NZ vocal artist Josh Leys - DJ Kahn Hall will be on the decks at Roxy for those that want to party into the wee small hours. Good news Roxy will stay open after the official close of the event for those that want to make the most of their visit to Auckland.
Can`t wait to see you there.
Touch of Spice Team
Take a look at our favourite top 10 Mother's Day gifts - all of which are New Zealand inspired....
1. Anything from Deadly Ponies - check out their new winter range, loving the goat fur!
2. Nellie Tier hand cream - perfect for the handbag or beside the bed.
3. Coast New Zealand new Baby Mac Blankets - great for those cold winter nights.
4. A stunning piece of New Zealand inspired jewellery from our friends at New Zealand Mint.
5. A bottle of Akura Brut and a subscription to HOME magazine - the perfect combination for a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
6. Voucher for a mani/pedi at SPRING spa in their St Heliers or Queenstown locations.
7. A round of golf for your mother and her friends at one of New Zealand`s stunning courses. How do we choose? The Hills, Jack`s Point, Kauri Cliffs, Kinloch ???..
8. A two night stay at the stunning Cityscape Studio Apartment in Parnell - a chance for her to get away from the family...
9. ...or a weekend winter escape to The Lodge at Walter Peak.
10. Dinner with her friends on the balcony of a luxury inner city apartment, where everything is taken care of.
Winter is definitely here in Queenstown! We have snow on Coronet Peak and the Remarkables Ski Field the autumn leaves have blown off the trees and May is here.
It`s time now to retreat inside Eichardts Hotel & Bar at lunch time for their delicious Seafood Chowder and a glass of the 2010 Valli Pinot Noir.
May doesn`t mean "quiet season" though! We were at La Rumbla in Arrowtown on Friday night and they had a packed house! Big smiles on the owners PJ and Sam faces that night. We enjoyed our favourite La Rumbla tapas of the Lamb Loin, Stuffed Octopus and the Crunchy Chicken washed down again with the 2010 Valli Pinot Noir. As you can see we are trying to make sure we have our fair share of this award winning Pinot before it`s all gone!
Earlier in the week we enjoyed an amazing meal at The Spire Hotel. This dining experience is now on my top 5 picks for Queenstown. We started our evening with some delicious thai inspired tapas in the bar and then headed through to the restaurant for the Beef Cheek Curry and Pork Belly Salad. I highly recommend this bar and restaurant. Their very talented cocktail bartenders will make you whatever you feel like and put their own personal twist on your version.
It`s been a weekend of luxury too as we were fortunate enough to spend the weekend at Tree Tops Lodge in Rotorua. The great team of Vanessa, Dan and Marie Claire along with Chef Harrie took fantastic care of us. We indulged in Spa Treatments after a big hike up Kakako Hill and enjoyed two nights of four course dinners and all the wine and cocktails we could endure. Fantastic and highly recommend you go there for a winter break.
Back in the office The Touch of Spice team are very busy with enquiries for winter,filling up our Touch of Spice Villa Portfolio for the coming ski season. We still have some availability so if you`re planning your Queenstown winter ski trip and need some help contact the team today on firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help you arrange everything from your Queenstown accommodation through to your ski hire, restaurant bookings and heli ski time.
The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is just around the corner and if your keen to come down and enjoy the fun you really need to book your tickets asap! We have some beautiful new houses coming on line this month and we`ll be sharing those with you in our newsletter update shortly.
Over Queens Birthday weekend the Michael Hill International Violin Competition is on at the Queenstown Memorial Centre and this will be our 7th year of involvement with this prestigious competition. If you are a fan of the arts contact us today to talk about the Queenstown accommodation packages we have with The Sofitel hotel for the event weekend.
Our partners The Sofitel Hotel Queenstown are also offering all Touch of Spice guests 25% off all Food & Beverage outlets at the hotel (with the exclusion of the Jervois Steak House) - if you haven`t tried breakfast at The Left Bank now is the time!
Media Release April 8, 2013: Queenstown-based Touch of Spice has been selected as one of the world??s best luxury travel experts by influential magazine Cond? Nast Traveller.
Owner and CEO Jacqui Spice is the only New Zealander to be featured in the first edition of the UK magazine`s `little black book`, fittingly entitled `The Experts`.
The book is a veritable `who`s who` of the world`s travel industry, featuring what it calls "exceptional individuals who transform trips into adventures, who have the personal history and expertise, the stories and the access, to set them apart from all that is humdrum."
Ms Spice was handpicked by the Cond? Nast UK team for her dedication to seeking out the ultimate private escapes in New Zealand, the Pacific and Australia.
"Jacqui and her `cracking team of spies` are eternally on the prowl for hidden gems and sought-after activities. Privacy is her (Jacqui`s) forte, because that`s what she and her clients insist on," said editor Daisy Finer.
"She can arrange heli-skiing escapades, diving in the magical Bay of Islands and personalized shopping tours in party spot Queenstown, followed by teeing off while teetering on a mountain ledge."
"She also holds the key to a catalogue of swanky, shiny yachts and luxury villas set in vineyards."
Touch of Spice is New Zealand`s original and longest-established luxury concierge company specialising in creating bespoke holidays for their personal and corporate clients.
Carefully hand selecting activities, accommodation and unique experiences based on individual`s requirements, Ms Spice said they were "extremely knowledgeable" about New Zealand and their personalized service, valuable connections and exclusive suppliers were unrivalled in the industry.
"As one of the pioneers in luxury concierge services in New Zealand it`s an absolute privilege to have been chosen as one of the world`s expert travel specialists by such a prestigious publication", said Ms Spice.
"The Touch of Spice team and I are constantly searching for that distinctive villa, boat or home that`ll `wow` our clients and we`re always on the lookout for those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that no-one else knows about."
The Expertsis billed as the ultimate guide to travel. It has been distributed with the April issue of Cond? Nast Traveller magazine in the UK as well as clients of prestigious private banking company Coutts.
The ipad-sized guide has tips and `must do`s` from around the world that it says people would normally receive from only their closest friends. The most unique experiences from across the globe are featured, from the world`s finest gastro experiences to the best places to quench a thirst, where to track down the most unusual art pieces to the quirkiest adventure guides, must-do shopping vacations and ultimate wildlife trips.
Touch of Spice has firmly established itself as the country`s leading luxury lifestyle company since its inception eight years ago in Queenstown.
"We pride ourselves on our dedicated and professional services and nothing is ever out of our reach. The word `No` simply isn`t in our vocabulary and we`ve conjured up even the most unusual requests for our clients," Ms Spice said.
One more sleep until the Urbis Designday! What's been happening with our installation with Kathryn Wilson Footwear and Coastal Design? Check out the Urbis interview with Jo Eddington below...
When the three-way collaboration between Coastal Design, shoe designer Kathryn Wilson and leading concierge company Touch of Spice was announced, everyone was fascinated to see what would emerge. With Urbis Designday only a few days away, Urbis spoke to designer and owner of Coastal Design, Jo Eddington, about what`s in wait for Designday guests visiting the showroom.
Q Can you describe your installation in five words?
???You`ll have to come see!
Q What is waiting for Designday guests when they arrive at Coastal Design?
Im pretty excited to make our debut at Urbis Designday 2012. I won`t give too much away though! We`ve taken the theme Colour in Motion and put our own unique and fun twist on it, so expect vibrant, rich colour???drama ???and a few quirky surprises!
Q What has been the best thing about working with Kathryn Wilson and Touch of Spice?
The best thing is the incredible buzz and excitement around creating something unique and fun for our first Designday. Kathryn is a great friend so I was thrilled to collaborate with her as my creative partner. She`s an incredibly talented designer with amazing ideas ??? anyone who knows Kath knows how infectious her energy is so that has been great. As soon as we sat down together we immediately knew what we wanted to do and we set about bringing our vision for Designday to life. That`s when Jacqui and the Touch of Spice team stepped in. It is brilliant to have them involved; their ability to pull off first class events is renowned New Zealand wide, so they are taking care of every last detail to bring our ideas to life. How lucky are we! We are also fortunate to have some fantastic sponsors on board including BMW, Veuve Cliquot, M.A.C, Westpac Private Bank, Kim Crawford Wines, Natural Tree Products, Vide Flora and more.
Q Any stressful moments in the preparation?
None so far - just lots of good energy! We`ve got a cool support team working crazy hours this week to make the day great and we`re all just really excited. I`m looking forward to seeing everyone and hoping they enjoy our installation, as we plan on having seriously good fun on Saturday.