Global travel may be out of our hands right now, but discovering New Zealand is well and truly in our grasp. With four weeks of lockdown under our belts and world-wide recognition around the success of New Zealand’s fight against Covid-19, the reality of domestic travel finally feels like it’s on the horizon.
Like many, my 2020 international trip has been put on hold, and I’ve found myself back at the drawing board, trying to find the perfect dose of vitamin 'sea' and 'ski' to cure my itch to travel. Which got me thinking - getting away doesn’t have to mean going far. I started daydreaming of the hidden gems that lie in my own backyard and it's unique destinations - for the world renowned wines I could sip, the tropical bays I could make a splash in, for the Jurassic inspired parks that I’ve never explored, the flavours I’ve yet to taste and the adventures I’ve still to take. It made me realise how much I’ve still to experience at home. How New Zealand really does have it all, and most importantly, the Kiwis who know how serve it up in a truly epic style!
Staying home for now simply means discovering later – and what better place to start that your own backyard? So, let’s get excited ready to discover New Zealand and the places that most will only get to dream of in 2020!
2020 is the season to go above and beyond your usual ski season in Queenstown. Ever tried your hand at dog-sledding through a glacial valley? What about ice driving? One day in neighboring Wanaka and you will have both ticked off your bucket list! Looking to go to new heights? Join a private guide and fly to a peak in the majestic Mount Aspiring National Park for a day of ice hiking before relaxing with a well-deserved and perfectly chilled glass of bubbles at the top. Looking for a day away from the snow? Take advantage of the world-renowned Gibbston Valley on a privately guided tour. Gain access to some of the most exclusive cellar doors in the region, meet the wine makers themselves and find your favourite to take back to your Private Villa Collection home for an evening around the fire with friends ands family.
Discover the Garden City and experience it’s natural beauty like never before. Ever soared above the famous hector dolphins and blue whales of Kaikoura? What about indulging in a freshly caught seafood lunch by an alpine tarn? Let your private guide prepare the feast whilst you try your hand at clay-bird shooting before getting active on a hike along a ridge line. Looking for luxurious accommodation? Stay at the stunning Dancing on Moonlight and have access to your own private 9-hole golf course, orchards, cabana spa pool and tennis court – for a Short Break in Christchurch to remember.
Bay of Islands
Escape to our very own Bay of Islands where crystal clear waters, blue skies, tropical bays, and world class diving await. Fly by private heli from Auckland airport, taking in all the sights from above and regaining that feeling of ultimate freedom. Land on your own private beach and indulge in a gourmet picnic with only the dolphins knowing where you are. SUP in the bay or jump in a kayak to explore further afield before jumping on board your privately chartered boat for a spot of deep-sea fishing at Poor Knights Islands. Return to ‘Somewhere’ in the Bay of Islands where your private chef will cook up the catch of the day as you sit back with a G&T as the sun goes down.
Fiordland National Park
Discover the Jurassic Park in your back yard as you fly over the majestic and mystical mountains of Fiordland National Park. Never visited? Do it ultimate style – fly from Queenstown over the cascading peaks and falls of Milford Sound, landing on The Fiordland Jewel – a luxurious privately chartered boat in the middle of the sound for a delicious three-course lunch. Feast on the freshly caught crayfish as well as the unforgettable sights as you cruise through Milford like a VIP. Finish the day with an alpine landing for that picture postcard shot, with nothing and no one between you and an unforgettable view.
I think we can all agree that 2020 will be the year of change. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed, and will continue to change, life and business within the tourism industry on a global scale. We’re seeing, and personally experiencing, this ‘new world’ way of working – where being at home, in isolation - some with the kids running around, is the new business as usual.
Last week, following government advice in the fight against Covid-19, we temporarily closed our office in Queenstown. The benefit of doing what we do is we can do it from anywhere! Seven days into lockdown here in New Zealand and our team are now fully set up and working from home.
We’ve moved out the boardroom and taken our morning coffee chatter and meetings online, using Zoom, Trello and various other online platforms to stay connected, updated and ensuring our communications are as strong as ever. Our daily brainstorms have also moved from the office sofa to online (still from a sofa), getting our creativity and ideas flowing as well as that daily dose of daydreaming that we all need. Our Friday evening Cheers to FRIYAH are still in the team calendar – we know it’s as important now more than ever to enjoy our social time, a glass of wine and take the time to talk about the wins of the week- you’d be surprised how many there really are when you think about it!
Outside of keeping ‘business as usual’, the team are finding their feet in their new routines, taking on some healthy new habits and finding inspiration in their new home offices. With the team based between Queenstown and beautiful Matakana in the North Island, it’s safe to say we don’t have to look very far to feel inspired by the beauty in our backyard.
So, we’d like to take this opportunity to reassure our global clients and partners that although we are staying home, we are still very much here. It’s in times like this we need to think about what we CAN do, not what we can’t, and as always – the Touch of Spice team can do it all! We’re as online and on-call now as always, ensuring our current inhouse and future clients are taken care of from enquiry to departure.
We’re here to inspire you and remind you that we really are all in this together. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Linked In for daily updates and give yourself that well needed (and deserved) daily dose of daydreaming. From all the Touch of Spice team – we hope to see you soon!
We can’t think of a better time to take a well needed ‘staycation’ or that well deserved hop across the ditch for a short break. With fresh mountain air, white sandy beaches, blue skies, lakes and multiple hiking trails – New Zealand really does have it all!
Now is the time to do something different! Throw off the shackles of an ordinary stay. Eat breakfast in your bathrobe and dinner in your board shorts, run down the hallway and make a splash in the pool, celebrate with friends and family with a classic kiwi bbq on the terrace – all made possible in the ultimate home from home.
Whether you’re a beach side lover or mad about the mountains, The Residence Collection and Private Villa Collection by Touch of Spice has something to suit your every need, want and desire. To make things a little easier, we asked our Travel Designers for their favourite villas for the ultimate ‘staycation’ or vacation in New Zealand – and wow do they not disappoint! Check them out and get inspired to getaway!
The newest villa to The Residence Collection, Kowhai Retreat is the most luxurious villa in Matakana. Only a 1-hour drive from Auckland CBD, this coastal escape has space for up to 16 across the main house and the additional boat house and shepherd’s hut, meaning no one needs to be left at home! With a private pool, hot tub, games room, sunken trampoline, heli-pad, petanque court, kayaks and e-bikes, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.
Step beyond the gated villa and spend some time exploring the exquisite local wineries, farmers markets, cafes and unique kiwi surf culture. Feel like getting out on the water? Set sail on Kowhai’s Retreats resident vessel – a high-tech sea legs that can be driven from the property down to the water’s edge. Let one of our experienced skippers guide you from the dock upriver to the Matakana pub to indulge in the catch of the day or head out to sea to explore the surrounding bays.
We don’t know about you, but we’re can’t think of any reason not to stay at Kowhai Retreat!
Only a 40-minute drive from Auckland Airport and placed on 6.6 hectares of stunning coastal land, Muriwai Estate is the ultimate haven to escape the everyday. With an effortless and breezy atmosphere combined with every luxurious touch you could imagine; Muriwai Estate is the perfect place to round up family and friends and celebrate in style. With vast gardens, a saltwater swimming pool, spa pool, separate cabana pool house, heli-pad and children’s play area, there really is space for everyone.
Spend your mornings by the pool with a book in hand, take to the rugged west coast beaches for a surf in the afternoon and taste the flavours of the surrounding wineries in the evening. This getaway spot is perfect for disconnecting from the outside world and reconnecting with those closest. Let a private chef do all the hard work for you as you sit around the terrace table, sharing memories and creating more.
Just a 15-minute drive from Christchurch Airport, a long-gated driveway welcomes you to Dancing on Moonlight – the ultimate private sanctuary. This working horse stud farm comes with its own private 9-hole golf course, blueberry and walnut orchards, hot tub and of course a luxurious lodge. The best part about it all? The whole place is energy positive thanks to its innovative solar power credentials.
Wake up in one of the three sumptuous bedroom suites. Enjoy a coffee in bed as you watch the sun rise over the stunning gardens. Roll out of bed and start each morning feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to seize the day. Take off from the front lawn in a private heli and discover your backyard that is Canterbury. Fly to the coast for a spot of whale watching before collecting the catch of the day and flying to an alpine tarn for a delicious gourmet lunch – true flavours of the coast. Get active on an alpine hike or simply sit back and enjoy the view before flying to an exclusive winery to sip some of the finest wines the region has on offer.
Grab a bottle or two to take home, let a chef prepare dinner and relax as the sunsets over the Canterbury fields.
Only a stone throw from Queenstown Central and with historic Arrowtown just around the bend, The Elms at Lake Hayes Villa One is the perfect getaway for a group of friends looking to indulge in the flavours of Otago. With views overlooking the stunning Lake Hayes, there’s a real sense of living in a watercolour painting. Relax on the terrace with a coffee in the morning before taking a stroll around the lake – or why not meander along to Akarua Wines, Kitchen by Artisan for a delicious brunch to start the day off right.
Villa one is perfectly placed to wine and dine around. With renowned Amisfield Winery and Bistro on the doorstep, Wet Jacket Winery and Cheesery just down the road and the Gibbston Valley a short drive away – you’ll be spoiled for choice! Join a private wine tour and let the guide do all the driving. Sit back, relax and taste the finest, freshest flavours on offer before returning to your luxurious retreat at The Elms.
A slice of mountain side paradise overlooking Queenstown CBD, The Views at Aspen House will leave you breathless. With panoramic views overlooking the iconic Remarkables Mountain Range and Lake Wakitipu, feel the stress of work and city life melt away as you get lost in the majestic beauty of Queenstown. With room to sleep the full family and space to entertain in style, a getaway to Queenstown should be on everyone’s cards.
Discover all that Queenstown has to offer throughout the day – whether it’s an active adventure, ski day on the Remarkable Ski Fields, afternoon of wine tasting or a relaxing spa day, there really is something to suit everyone.
Return to the ultimate home from home - the open plan kitchen, dining, lounge and bar being the perfect to host an intimate family dinner or evening entertaining friends. Or why not cook up a feast on the private courtyard BBQ? With covered outdoor seating and fireplace, you can dine alfresco all year round. Let the children relax with a movie in the media room as you sip a glass of bubbles from the private sap pool. The Views at Aspen House is perfect for enjoying family time and that well deserved you time.
Needing a break from city life? Otaha Beachfront Lodge in the Bay of Islands is your own little slice of paradise to get away from it all. With space to sleep ten, this spacious home is the perfect spot to simply get away from it all with those that matter most.
Rise and shine to panoramic ocean views, jump down onto the beach and get a morning surf in before breakfast is even on the table. Dine on the terrace and find the perfect spot to sit back with your morning coffee, read a book or simply watch the waves roll in. Wander off on a walking track from the front door and have a day in nature or jump into a private heli from the lawn and make your way to the renowned Kauri Cliffs for an afternoon of golf.
Otaha Beachfront Lodge is a place where the whole family can feel a sense of freedom – where space, fresh air and picturesque beaches go hand in hand.
Stay on the doorstep of Central Queenstown at Hyde Loft. Centrally located overlooking lake Wakitipu, you’ll feel the buzz from the town as you settle into this luxurious two-bed apartment.
With Queenstowns signature bars, boutique stores and award-winning restaurants only a step beyond the front door, Hyde Loft is the perfect little sanctuary to jump into Queenstown one minute and retreat the next. Perfect for two couples travelling together or a small family getaway, experience Queenstown the way the locals do. Swing from the original bungy bridge, jet boat, zipline and luge or go above and beyond, heli-hiking, stand-up-paddle board on a glacial lake or indulge in a picnic of local produce on top of a mountain peak.
Whatever your style, whatever the occasion – anything is possible from Hyde Loft.
So whether you’re lucky enough to call New Zealand home or your just looking for an excuse to escape the hustle, bustle and chaos of your everyday, our team of Travel Designers know the perfect spots to make a ‘staycation’ or vacation, a getaway that will be spoke about for years to come.
It’s February which means one thing – it’s the season to celebrate love!
Valentine’s day is a day to show love to someone special. Whether you’re married, engaged, dating or single, treat your other half or yourself to a day you won’t forget.
Leave the supermarket flowers where you find them and use February as the month to have an experience of a lifetime. Getaway for that romantic weekend you’ve been promising each other or take the plunge and go off the grid in a well-deserved trip of self-love - Why shop at Hallmark when you can check out some of the South Pacific’s hidden gems?
So here we have it – the perfect Valentines gifts for the both the romantics and the singles, those looking to pop that special questions and those looking to answer their own, experiences of a lifetime to share with your other half, amazing friends or to keep all for yourself!
Go off the grid and venture into the wilderness of the Ahuriri Valley at The Lindis. Sleep in a mirrored glass pod under the stars, be in awe of nature and getaway from the stresses of the everyday. Discover the Valley by day and relax in your own private hot tub as the sunsets – the perfect retreat to take that shared time or that well deserved you time.
Stay in one of our exclusive Residence Collection homes Cascata, only a stone throw from stunning Queenstown. Take the plunge during the day (proposal or bungy!), discover iconic Queenstown and relax in the evening at the entertainer’s paradise that is Cascata. Sink a glass of bubbles with friends on the rooftop terrace before hitting the town or sink into the hot tub with a glass of local pinot noir with your other half – perfect for getting the gang together or escaping with your one and only.
Take off from Queenstown and get taken above and beyond in a scenic flight to the awe-inspiring Milford Sound. Soar over the waterfalls, peaks and tourists below before landing on a rugged West Coast beach. From the coast you'll fly to a mountain top peak for a gourmet picnic - lunch with a side of once-in-a-lifetime views. Enjoy the picture postcard landscape overlooking the dramatic landscape and say cheers to you, the view and the special person/ people around you.
The ultimate getaway for just the two of you or a small group of your best girlfriends – our Wellness and Wine short break has everything a weekend away would need. Rise and shine to yoga on the terrace, indulge in chef prepared meals and savour and sip some of the finest wine from some of Central Otago’s most exclusive wineries. This short break is as good for the soul as it is for making memories with those you love.
Let us help you make memories and create those unforgettable moments that you’ll talk about for years to come this Valentines Day. Get in touch of our team today – we’re experts in wrapping up gifts of a lifetime!
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!
Last Friday I had the pleasure of ticking off one of the quintessential Queenstown experiences.
Where to start?
From the moment we took off, I am already extremely excited to look down and recognize places I have visited in Queenstown and the surrounding areas, including my own home! Our pilot is great at pointing out both popular and off-the-beaten spots as we make our way to Glenorchy, flying over Ben Lomond saddle and past untouched landscapes and mountain slopes.
Once we reach the Glenorchy region, the views open below us, and I can’t stop taking pictures of the braided channels formed by the Dart and The Rees rivers flowing into Lake Wakatipu. My excitement grows as we fly past picture-perfect glaciers, snow-capped peaks and icy alpine lakes, leading us closer to Milford Sound.
And here it is, just around a sheer cliff
Milford Sound shines in all its splendour below our feet! As soon as we land, I take the chance to snap a picture of the fiord with the iconic Mitre Peak in the background before boarding a scenic cruise along the fiord.I can’t believe how lucky I am with the weather – the sun shines for us the whole way out to the Tasman Sea and I treat myself to some fabulous scenery from the outdoor boat deck. On our way back, the cruise stops by the seal rock where sleepy New Zealand Fur Seals are sunbathing by the gushing Stirling Falls, one of my favourite moments as the cruise gets really close to the waterfall and you can witness it in all its power (while getting soaked too if you’re watching from the bow!)
Back at Milford Sound base, we lift off again in our helicopter for the final touch of the day: a landing on one of the wonderful mountain tops. This time, our pilot takes us on different route, partly along the main road that leads to Milford from Queenstown and partly along the stunning Hollyford valley. My camera battery is almost flat because of the amount of pictures and videos I am taking!
As soon as Glenorchy comes into sight again, the moment has finally arrived for the most awaited experience of the day: a snow landing with a sunlit Mount Earnslaw in the background!
Every time I think about this trip I cannot wipe the smile off my face, such a great not-to-miss experience for visitors in the Queenstown area.
Thank you to the team at Glacier Southern Lakes for the great day!
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.
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.
The team and I were lucky enough to be invited by Eichardt’s to enjoy their newest addition the, Pacific Jemm, over a lunchtime cruise.
As soon as we stepped on board, we were greeted by friendly smiles, and a glass of bubbles, which in my opinion is the best way to start a cruise. The weather was also on point which provided perfect cruising conditions.
On this trip we cruised the corners of Lake Wakatipu before stopping for a delicious BBQ lunch, which was served on the top deck. The food was a mixture of meats and salads, providing enough variety for everyone's taste buds.
Below deck the Pacific Jemm boasts four bedrooms all equipped with luxury linen, their own entertainment systems and bathroom facilities - the master including a spa bath.
A personal favourite of mine was the sun lounger on the front of the boat which is perfect for a spot of sunbathing and conversations with friends. Here you can also take in the amazing views that this cruise has to offer.
We cruised around Lake Wakatipu for approximately three hours before docking back in Queenstown central. This is an excellent daytime activity, especially for those looking to cruise in style while enjoying all of the luxuries that this boat has to offer.
Thank you to the team at Eichardt's for this fantastic day out!
With the Queenstown Marathon fast arriving, if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to start thinking about locking your accommodation in. Fortunately, we still have a selection of luxury private villas ideal for your stay.
Ranging in size from two to five bedrooms, we can accommodate your ‘cheer squad’ of varying sizes. With fully equipped gourmet kitchens, create your carb-loaded, pre-race meals in the comfort of your accommodation and then after the race enjoy a soothing soak in the hot tub, complete with stunning lake views.
Last but not least, as an extra sweetener, the first six who book a stay over the Marathon weekend will receive a complimentary 60 minute massage*, ideal to sooth those post race muscles.
Just quote 'MARATHON' at the check-out when booking online or to your Travel Designer when enquiring.
Here are our top three ‘Marathon-made in heaven’ properties:
Located right on the Marathon course, your friends/family will have no excuse for not cheering you on. The property also benefits from Marathon worthy features such as an outdoor pizza oven and hot tub.
More interested in the post-race festivities than putting your feet-up? You could not be in a more central location to take advantage of the great Queenstown nightlife.
Enjoy the peace and tranquility that this properties nature preserve location affords, together with it’s stand out range of features including hot tub, media room, pool table and ample outdoor lounge & dining.
*Subject to availability. Valid for the first six booking made for dates including 16th - 18th November 2018 and for Touch of Spice exclusive properties only.