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.
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.
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!
Our Travel Designer Paivi's verdict on one of Queenstown's popular after-dark winter activities
I was lucky to be invited for a Veuve Clicquot Wednesday night ski. Considering I hadn’t skied for a few years I was a little apprehensive.
Myself and a colleague hopped on a bus from NZ Ski snow centre. We sat back and enjoyed the views. At every corner and turn we were happy we did not drive up ourselves.
On arrival we went through the rentals. Being a Wednesday afternoon there were definitely no queues there and staff was very helpful. Even the boots fitted my colleague who usually has difficulties finding boots that fit. They fitted so well that she actually went and bought the exact boots afterwards!
Once we were geared up we headed for the lifts. There was some delay at Coronet Express and queue was building up. We decided to head for the Greengates and I am glad we did as it was the last run of the day at Greengates. Greengates runs are not lit up and the natural daylight was fading.
The snow as good, the temperature was comfortable and it wasn’t too windy. I was skiing down the mountain with a big smile on my face. I was enjoying it more than I thought I would after so many years. They say it is like riding a bike and that it comes back to you and yes that’s exactly how it was!
We did about 6 runs before we headed to the Peak Club for some Veuve Clicquot and nibbles. We also heard about the new products Coronet Peak offers this winter:
- Veuve Clicquot Wednesday night ski. Avoid the crowds and hit the slopes Wednesday afternoon from 4pm until 9pm. This is a new addition to the usual Friday and Saturday nights.
- Heidi’s Hut Dinners. This special dining experience is limited to 40 seats only every Friday & Saturday night during August & September.
- Peak Club Day Pass. Coronet Peak’s Ultimate Luxury Product is the Peak Club Day Pass. Includes VIP parking, Peak Club Lounge Access including meals & drinks and a Lift pass including First Tracks & Night Ski.
- Twilight Pass. The Twilight pass is perfect for late-risers wanting to get a full day of skiing and experience the fun of night skiing at Coronet Peak. Twilight Passes are valid from 12.30pm to 9pm at Coronet Peak only, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays until early/mid-September. Same price as regular day pass – perfect after a night night out in Queenstown!
After the Veuve Clicquots warming us up we did a couple of more runs before jumping back on the bus to Queenstown. We had such a great night and I am glad I got the opportunity to enjoy it!
Explore 5 ski fields:
Here’s a fast 5 on our regions ski fields:
Coronet Peak caters to the crowds, has terrain for all levels of skier and is closest to downtown Queenstown.
The Remarkables has recently had an upgrade with more carparks and a new base building, it’s north facing with all day sun and has terrain for all levels
Cardrona Ski Resort is known for being family friendly with wide tracks and generally isn’t as crowded as Coronet Peak or The Remarkables. They also have the new “Chondola” ski lift which has gondola cabins on the traditional chairlift.
Treble Cone has great off-piste terrain and with the longest vertical slope, making it a favourite for advanced skiers and boarders.
Soho Basin is a private cat-skiing field for up to 24 guests and is aimed for those that are intermediate and above. This year they will be grooming some tracks to have the option between fresh powder and groomed. A chef prepared hot lunch is also included.
Tip: We’re here to help! We can arrange your transport and in-house ski, board & boot fittings. And our new favourite treat is a Salt Float, ideal for the easing of muscle pain, relaxes the nervous system and reduces inflammation – the perfect remedy after the strain of the slopes.
Our 4 ways to relax in your Touch of Spice villa.
1. If skiing isn’t your thing or your muscles want a break from the slopes, we can arrange for an in-house massage/facial/treatment or book you into a top day-spa
2. Want to make the most of your villa? Enjoy a 5-course degustation dinner with wine match all prepared, cooked and served for you by a private chef.
3. If your villa doesn’t have a spa pool, we can arrange for a portable spa pool to be set up at your villa for the duration of your stay. Bliss!
4. Take an art tour with our private guide, Kate who will tailor an itinerary to your art preference visiting both public and private galleries.
Tip: A Touch of Spice curator is at your disposal to arrange any of the following for your stay with us.
Explore untouched backcountry
Proudly wearing our ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ badge, let us show you what all the hype is about in one of our many once-in-a-lifetime backcountry experiences. From snowmobiling and dog sledding to heli-skiing and, snowshoeing have a look at our inspirational winter packages here.
At Coronet Peak, when the sun goes down, the lights turn on! From 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm, Wednesday – Saturday the mountain remains open, a D.J. plays live and the pizza oven stays hot. It’s a nightlife like no other!
Tip: have dinner and a mulled wine on the mountain for the full experience!
Queenstown is famed for being a romantic getaway due to its calming atmosphere and dramatic beauty. An all-time favourite and the epitome of romance is ‘Picnic on a Peak’. Fly by private charter helicopter to The Ledge for a magical half hour of tranquillity. There, overlooking The Southern Alps in complete peace, enjoy a delicious chef-prepared Champagne picnic for two. It’s an incredible sensory moment, where the imposing scale of nature is awe-inspiring.
Multi-generational travel is the preferred trend when it comes to spending family time together, so not to worry because Queenstown has got the kids covered too! From steamship cruises and farm tours to luging and ziplining. And if the adults are wanting some time out, we can arrange for babysitters and ski lessons. Our deluxe family package – is the ideal time to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences with your children.
For a pint-sized town, Queenstown is a mecca for boutique shopping. From international heavyweights such as Louis Vuitton, Zimmerman, and Canadian Goose all the way through to highly regarded New Zealand designers such as Karen Walker, World and Zambesi. Visit Seletti Concept store, Angel Divine, Untouched World and Louis Vuitton to find your holiday memento.
Queenstown is renowned for its waterfront nightlife.
- For a sophisticated bar: visit The Lodge Bar
- For phenomenal cocktails and 360 views: visit The Sundeck
- For nibbles that turn into drinks that turn into dancing: visit Little Blackwood
- For a live band: visit Blue Door
Tip: make Fergburger & Bakery your last stop before heading home. Open until 5:00am.
Clicquot in the Snow 2nd – 5th August
Winter PRIDE week 1st – 9th September
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.
Our winter hiding spots & exclusive adventures
The ski season is just kicking off in New Zealand, one of the world’s premier snow sports destinations. But we aren’t talking about any old skiing here. Soar to the top of jagged peaks for some daredevil heli-skiing, zoom down the best off-piste terrain, venture into the backcountry for some cat skiing, and end our adrenalin-fuelled days relaxing in luxury at the finest villas, chalets, and lodges in New Zealand.
Offering plenty of sunshine, majestic lakes, snow-capped alpine beauties, and an unrivalled selection of activities and attractions, it comes as no surprise that Queenstown, New Zealand, is as popular a winter destination as it is a summer one.
Queenstown is nestled in the Alps close to four ski resorts and fabulous backcountry terrain. Typically the ski season starts on piste by mid-June with helicopter access to the Southern Alps being mid-July through to October. We can offer exceptional skiing and boarding on exclusive terrain with untracked, virgin snow. On and off-piste, the extensive range of activities has been designed to suit everyone’s ability and desires.
To help you out further, we can offer professional in-house ski ftting when renting equipment, free chains and GPS with Thrifty car rentals for the month of August, and complimentary value-add recommendations such as spa upgrades, two-for-one offers and complimentary drinks.
Accessible only by helicopter, this luxury chalet offers unparalleled accommodation and a spectacular base for those seeking the ultimate alpine adventure in an exclusive location—high in the mountains on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park. It sleeps eight in four bedrooms with four bathrooms.
This is one of the few places in New Zealand with ski-in, ski-out mountain access, which makes for the ultimate ski experience. With striking natural beauty in every direction, your photo-posting on social media will make you the envy of all your friends. From here, you will be helied onto exclusive untracked virgin snow, be taken on 10–12 runs, and then led back into the chalet for morning tea, gourmet lunch, and après-ski drinks.
You can completely tailor the chalet experience to suit your requirements, from a short day trip with a relaxing lunch and a glass of wine on the balcony to multi-night accommodation with action-packed alpine adventures. Whatever you choose, you’ll have a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience in this secluded mountain paradise.
Whare Kea Chalet starts from NZD$2,000/night.
Kumanu is a faultless luxury retreat in rural Queenstown, with stunning views across the Wakatipu Basin and beyond. Being at the centre of Queenstown’s three elite ski resorts, you have the opportunity try a field each day. With the perk of huge lawn space, heli-skiing is an obvious choice.
Kumanu sleeps eight in four bedrooms with fve bathrooms. Every room provides a feeling of serenity and calm yet draws you in seamlessly to the landscape. From the airy dining room with its ambient open fireplace, to the magnificent chef’s kitchen, which adjoins a cosy lounge. It is well equipped and appointed for winter with its large spa pool, ski storage, Cinema room plus indoor & outdoor fires.
Kumanu starts from NZD$2,000/night.
What's hot this winter? Lots of things! Even if you are not a skier or snow-boarder there is plenty for you to do in New Zealand this winter. Here are our top five absolute must-dos!
1. Heli-ski from Whare Kea Chalet
One of the only places in New Zealand with ski in, ski out mountain access. Accessible only by heli, this is the ultimate ski experience. With Instagram worthy scenery, you will be the envy of all your friends. From here you will be heli-ed onto exclusive untracked, virgin snow, be taken on 10 - 12 runs and ski back into the Chalet for morning tea, lunch and aprés ski drinks.
2. Ice Driving
Think you`ve got what it takes to race a performance car on snow and ice? As the only ice driving experience in the Southern Hemisphere it`s an absolute must-do. Experience the thrills of drifting on the snow circle, driving along the expertly crafted ice tracks and creating memories that you`ll want to share with your friends.
3. Dog Sledding
Experience a northern tradition in the Southern Alps of New Zealand! Enjoy the exhilaration as your sled cuts through the mountain trails, with no noise other than the sound of your dogs` feet shuffling through the snow. You can experience these amazing animals from the basket of a guided sled or, for the more adventurous, on the back of your own team, driving them through the stunning alpine trails.
4. Snow shoeing
A great opportunity to visit the untouched back country of Otago, experiencing beauty which is inaccessible to many. If you envisage large tennis rackets on your feet, have no fear, things have got a lot more `high-tech` and you`ll feel as if you`re floating on snow.
5. Aprés ski amongst the stars
No winter holiday is complete without a spot of aprés ski! Enjoy one of Queenstown`s best kept secrets, The Deck offers stunning views of Queenstown and the stars, while enjoy cocktails and delicious food wrapped up in a blanket next to the open fire.
The Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ is back and ready for you to join in and enjoy the fun, and best of all it??s all free! From the 21st to 30th August, all the action will be taking place at Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak and Snow Farm NZ, so whether
Billed as the biggest party on southern snow, the on-mountain action is accompanied by an awesome festival programme based at the two Game Villages in downtown Queenstown and Wanaka.
You`ll get to watch Winter Olympic, Paralympic and X Games stars from around the World compete for glory in the FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Skiing World Cups at Cardrona Alpine Resort, ski racing at Coronet Peak, cross-country skiing at Snow Farm NZ and curling at Naseby`s international rink.
If it`s too cold up the hill for you, the festival in town is packed with daily entertainment and an awesome line up of live bands including New Zealand`s very own Ladi 6 and Kora - all free to watch!
If the Winter Games sounds like an event you would love to experience then make sure you book your luxury accommodation now to ensure you`re not left disappointed. We have an extensive selection of private villas perfectly suited for both couples and large groups of family and friends. All properties include designer bathroom amenities, luxury linen, WiFi and Sky TV.
To top off your Queenstown or Wanaka experience while enjoying the Winter Games NZ, we will provide you with a complimentary concierge service during stay with us.
If you can`t make it down to experience the Winter Games NZ you can also watch the live stream at wintergamesnz.kiwi along with the coverage on TV3.