THE TOP ADRENALIN ACTIVITY
Highlands Motorsport Park - Described as an adrenaline version of Disneyland, this motorsport park is without a doubt unlike any other place you will visit with its range of activities to suit everyone.
THE TOP ACTIVITY TO DO FOR FREE
Queenstown is surrounded by a variety of fantastic walking tracks for every level. Our favourite, The Ben Lomond Track, is a demanding climb, but on a clear day, you will be rewarded at the summit with spectacular panoramic views of Mt Earnslaw, Pikirakatahi and Mt Aspiring. At about 800m, alpine tussocks and dracophyllum dominate the landscape with magnificent lake and mountain views.
THE TOP PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK OR TWO
Opening it’s doors late last year, Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan has already built a steadfast following by locals and visitors alike. Housed in a restored cottage, enjoy a glass of their finest whilst gazing out to the picture-perfect gardens.
THE TOP PLACE TO EXPLORE FOR THE DAY
Milford Sound’s untouched landscapes make for a truly spectacular backdrop. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages and is breathtaking in any weather.
THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
Perfect for couples – be flown by a private helicopter charter to “The Ledge” of Cecil Peak for a magical hour of tranquillity. There, overlooking Queenstown and The Southern Alps you’ll enjoy a delicious Champagne picnic in an incredible sensory moment, where the imposing scale of nature is awe-inspiring.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO START THE WEEKEND
La Cigale French Style Farmers Markets in Parnell – You can spend hours here tasting all the fresh produce and baked goods being New Zealand's largest farmers market. Leave the whole morning spare with the idea of having breakfast here.
WHAT’S FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
The sunset sea kayaking tour to Rangitoto Island is quite the experience! Leave the bay before sunset, arrive on the shore of Rangitoto Island and embark on a trek to the top which you’ll reach in time to see the cities lights turn on. Back on the mainland beach, you’ll be greeted by the smell of a Kiwi BBQ dinner. An afternoon well spent!
WHAT’S THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
A heli to Waiheke Island for a private winery tour and long lunch is what you’ll be raving to friends and family about on your return home. This quaint island is full of art, vineyards, restaurants and beaches – heaven on earth!
WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE FOR AFTERNOON TEA
Little & Friday is the sweetest little bakery you’ll find in all of Auckland. Starting from humble beginnings, prepping all week, only opening on a Friday, Little & Friday now has 4 locations across Auckland, and is open 7 days to meet the popular demand. The chocolate, beetroot & salted caramel cake is a must-try!
WHERE’S THE BEST OUT OF CITY EXCURSION
2.5 hours drive from Auckland city is the Coromandel. Head there for a day of stunning scenery, nature walks and long stretch beaches.
THE BEST WAY TO START THE WEEKEND
Start the weekend with a buzz by cruising off-road. Truly a unique outdoor adventure, experience riding through forestry tracks, sand dunes, and along the beautiful Ninety-mile beach tracks. Stop for a sand board on the dunes and enjoy the untouched scenery not accessible to the public.
THE BEST SPLURGE ACTIVITY
What better way to see the beautiful coastline of Northland than by air? See Hole in the Rock, Cape Reinga, and the large rolling sand dunes all on a scenic flight by helicopter or aircraft. Land on a secluded beach, sandboard on the dunes or pair your flight with a wine tasting at local vineyards. This excursion is a must-do splurge, leaving no stone left unturned when it comes to seeing the Bay of Islands.
THE MOST SCENIC WALKING REWARD
Completing a walk along the scenic Kerikeri River Track is just over 4 kilometres and totals 2 hours return. Enjoy exercise among the continuously changing scenery, the calling of the native birds, and the reward of two stunning waterfalls during the journey - Wharepuke & Rainbow falls.
THE BEST FAMILY EXCURSION
Indulge in a private boat charter for the day as you level sail around the islands alongside dolphins and whales. Relax on the large trampolines while you are served lunch you’ve caught. Experience navigating the vessel at the helm and learn about the area from the knowledgeable hosts. Enjoy a swim, kayak, paddleboard or hike if you wish to anchor. Each experience is curated to the guest's desires.
THE BEST PLACE TO GO FOR A SWIM IN THE OCEAN
?At the northern end of Paihia lies Te Tii Bay, a golden sand beach lined with native pohutukawa trees. Te Tii is a generally calm beach suitable for swimming and fishing and has a popular children’s playground at one end.
For spectacular scenery and wine look no further than Marlborough, in the north-eastern tip of the South Island. Our Travel Concierge Jill went on a recent visit there to sample the ‘best of the best’.
Where to stay:
The experience of staying here starts from the minute you drive through the gates, with a winding path taking your through perfectly manicured gardens and streams. On arrival I was met by Peter, the general manger. He made me feel at home and his knowledge of the area and the historic lodge was very insightful. Originally a nun's convent, it has been transformed to a Lodge with 10 luxurious suites.
I was shown to my suite on the second floor and enjoyed the huge bath and garden views. The guests all dined together and the food was some of the best I’ve ever had!
Marlborough Lodge is located just 7 minutes from Blenheim airport and is the perfect spot stay to experience the wine region!
Bay of Many Coves
I was lucky enough to take the stunning heli flight from Marlborough Lodge to Bay of Many Coves in the Marlborough Sounds. Kim greeted us and showed us around the grounds. Each suite felt private and had perfect views. We enjoyed a degustation meal in the relaxed dining area and had breakfast the next morning outside while watching the sunrise.
The in-house hot chocolate is a must!
Where to eat: Hanz Herzog Organic Winery
A trip to Malborough wouldn't be complete without getting to sample this dining experience. Hanz Was a fantastic host – the food, the wine and the setting were excellent in this boutique winery!
What to do: Wine tour
Boasting nearly 80% of New Zealand’s wine industry, you can’t visit Marlborough without sampling their wines. With so much choice available a wine tour is a great way of trying the very best in the region. Favourites include the family run Waipara Hills, methode specialists No 1 and the world renowned Cloudy Bay.
Hidden treasure: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
The biggest surprise of the trip was Omaka! I couldn’t believe this huge museum full of Peter Jacksons planes and historic collections were in Blenheim! I’m no aviation expert but it is a definite must for every visitor to Blenheim!
Earlier this month several members of the Touch of Spice team had the pleasure of partaking in Wildwire’s Via Ferrata and if you don’t know what exactly what Via Ferrata is, don’t worry, we hadn’t a clue either!
Via Ferrata is basically a protected climbing route originating from Europe – think rock climbing but with iron rods acting as your steps.
The day started with a drive to the climb’s location by Twin Falls, approximately a 20 min drive from Wanaka.
Before we embarked on our climb our guide pointed to the spot where we would be heading up to, and jaws proceeded to drop. It felt so high that nightfall would be more likely to arrive before we made it up there!
However, 2 hours later we made it to our destination and along the way we got to experience an activity like no other. Our ascend included climbing, not only on the iron rods but on sheer rock faces, traversing across bridges and tight ropes and getting up close to the spectacular Twin Falls. The experience concluded with lunch at the peak of our climb, right by the waterfall and views like no other.
Our experience was made all the more enjoyable by our guide for the day, Pedro. They often say that it’s the people that make the place and in this instance they couldn’t be more right. His enthusiasm together with ability to gauge our weaknesses provided us with the encouragement to challenge our fears and get a real sense of accomplishment.
Wildwire advise that if you can climb a ladder, you can do this – and they’re not wrong. The only thing stopping you is your mind! If you find the courage to embark on this activity you will be awarded with awe-inspiring views and real sense of achievement.
The adrenalin buzz lasted the entire evening and we all couldn’t wait to share this Wanaka treasure with everyone.
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.
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.