The best thing about winter in New Zealand is that you can have a day on the ski fields in amazing ‘pow pow’ one day, and have that and so much more the next. Here at Touch of Spice, we know that not everyone is a skier. Some prefer to look at the snow-covered mountains from a heli rather than through some goggles, others might rather skip the snow altogether and head straight for the Après ski – sipping some of the finest wine available in the region. Or maybe you’re a Queenstown local and looking to escape to the winterless north for a slice of paradise for a long weekend?
Whatever the reason, no matter your style, Touch of Spice have out-of-this-world, snow free days to let you experience something different this winter. Whether you’re planning a big family escape, a romantic weekend away, an active getaway with friends or to simply find some peace and quiet following the school holidays, the Touch of Spice Team will match your individual needs and wants with a dreamy stay for a truly unforgettable experience.
Join your private guide on an exclusive walking track along Lake Wakitipu at the base of Cecil Peak. Follow the flat bush track towards McKinnons Creek for brunch before flying by private heli towards Mt Nicholas Station where you will collect and harvest honey straight from the hives. Jump back in the heli and soar towards Buzzstop in Queenstown where you will spin your honey and prepare your own sample to take home with you.
A High-Country adventure like no other. Experience the thrill, excitement and adrenaline rush as you conquer diverse terrain on a four-wheel drive buggy. You'll get geared up and prepared for a bit of dust, mud and a ton of fun. Once at the station, learn a new skill with clay target shooting and archery. Whether you're a beginner or a pro, coaches are on hand to help you hit the target. Next up, take a seat next to New Zealand's very own World Rally Car Champ, Hayden Paddon and experience life in the fast lane. Finish your day of adventure with a gourmet dinner and a glass of local Pinot Noir.
Only a short drive from Auckland airport, arrive in the wild west of the North Island for a day of adventure.Take to the rugged coast and let the fresh, salty ocean air wake you up with a morning of blow-karting along the beautiful black sand surf beaches of Muriwai. Catch your breath after an adrenaline fuelled morning and take a more leisurely approach to discover this coastline. Saddle up and meander along the beach by horseback to the edges of the Waitakere Ranges, some of the most stunning bushland in New Zealand, lookout for some native birds and be in awe with nature.
Fly or sail from Auckland to the stunning paradise island of Waiheke. Upon arrival, meet your private guide for the day Julie Biuso (Ambassador for Le Codon Bleu Institute New Zealand & award winning chef and writer) for a tour of her favourite island spots. Meet the bakers, producers and vintners as you indulge in their delights. Collect produce from private orchards, gardens and fishermen before arriving at Julie's private slice of paradise to cook alongside her or relax in the sun with a local glass of wine. Sit down in the courtyard with a delicious meal, serving up the best treats the island has on offer, with someone who knows it best.
Take to the tropical waters in Bay of Islands in a privately chartered 54ft sailing catamaran. Choose from sunbathing and relaxing on the top deck, kayaking, snorkeling, SUP or looking out for the dolphins swimming by. Relax with a chilled glass of bubbles a a private chef prepares a BBQ on deck for a day of total relaxation and tranquility.
And just like that, winter is almost here! With Queens birthday weekend just gone, it was amazing to see so many of our clients and our team take advantage of the freedom of the long weekend. A buzz returned to Queenstown, the restaurants and bars felt alive, our guides were back to doing what they do best, and our Travel Designers got more excited than ever about the winter season ahead.
With snow predicted to fall by next week, the wintery playground of Queenstown will be coming to life. Whether you’re a skier, boarder, dog-sledder, ice driver or glacier rock climber, Queenstown and the South Island has the powder for every snow junkie – but what’s a getaway without some luxurious accommodation to retreat to after adventurous days?
We know time is precious which is why we want to help you make the most of it. With Exclusive Stay | Pay Deals and Offers now available on selected Private Villas, you can get away for longer and treat the family to free nights whilst you do it! Think shredding by day, sinking into the hot tub by evening and relaxing by the fire or in the media room at night – before doing it all over again!
So whether you’re looking for a short break, week long getaway and more, our Travel Designers can take care of all the arrangements for you, booking your luxury accommodation and treating you to some world class experiences that most will only get to dream of this winter.
Need some more inspiration? Check out the team’s favourite snow day activities below and let’s get ready to make this winter one to remember.
Soar to remote and exclusive ski fields and shred in complete privacy on the untouched powder of the day. Your pilot will be waiting to serve up a delicious glass of local mulled wine for an apres ski and view to remember.
Fly by private heli to the Isobel peak for a challenging yet insanely rewarding day. Grab your ice axe, don the crampons, get the harness connected and set off along the alpine trek with a specialist private guide. Discover the crevasses, keep your balance as you walk along the ridges and embrace the views that only most can dream of.
Experience the thrill of a sled dog team as you run through the high trails of the Southern Alps. Whether you’re driving yourself or riding along in the basket with an experienced musher at the helm, you’ll feel like a slice of Alaska has landed in your backyard.
Cruise across pristine snow at an altitude of up to 6,000ft above sea level in a private snow mobile tour exploring the dramatic landscapes and taking in the views whilst on the move. The day will be finished with a private heli flight back to Queenstown to make sure you don’t miss out in any of the picture-perfect moments.
Whatever your style, New Zealand has it. Get in touch today and let's get planning!
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.
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.