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.
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 :)
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.
To help take pain away from going back to work!
Going back to work after the holidays is always a struggle. But remember you can always take a long weekend to recharge, here are some of my favourites which we have arranged for clients.
The Bay of Islands
Accommodation Recommendation: Tahapuke, located on the Russell Waterfront, is a hidden treasure of peace, privacy and amazing ambiance in the Bay of Islands.
Water: The Bay of Islands has the warmest waters in New Zealand, making it the perfect location for swimming with dolphins. If you are looking for something a bit dryer enjoy a day or overnight sailing charter.
Land: Golf and Spa at Kauri Cliffs followed by a well-deserved 3 course lunch.
Live like a local in Arrowtown
Accommodation Recommendation: Arrow Cottage
Land: Wild Earth for lunch and delicious tasting session of some of their finest Pinot Noir and Rose. Follow on with an evening at the quaint Dorothy Browns art-house cinema with dinner at La Rumbla - all only 5 minutes from Arrow Cottage. Spa and golf at Millbrook which is only 5 minutes down the road too.
Air: Discover the Exclusive Earnslaw Heli trip
Accommodation Recommendation: Hawke`s Bay Haven
Land: Golf at Cape Kidnappers, cycle the Hawke`s Bay wine trail, have lunch at Craggy Range and enjoy the Farmers Market at Black Barn. A full food & wine experience!
Accommodation Recommendation: Bridgeview Luxury Apartment
Water: Enjoy a fully chartered sail to Waiheke Island and explore the island for the day or night depending on how you feel.
Land: Britomart will always keep you entertained!
Accommodation Recommendation: Bay of Many Coves
Water: Take the stunning Greenshell Mussel & Sauvignon Cruise through the Marlborough Sounds
Land: Enjoy a garden wine afternoon lunch at Herzog Estate Winery followed by a trip to the Aviation Heritage Museum or continue on the Marlborough wine cycle trail!