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.
Gay Ski Week is just around the corner, waiting for you to come and enjoy the winter festivities in Queenstown. With events and activities running from 29th August to 5th September, there is something for everyone. Gay Ski Week is the Southern Hemispher
New to the event line-up this year at Gay Ski Week is "Highlands Hook Up" an adventure day hosted by Highlands Motorsport Park, where "speed dating" will take on a whole new meaning! Also, new for 2015 is the "LYC Wet and Wild Foam Party" at Loco Cantina where you can dance the night away in foam filled fun.
If Gay Ski Week 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. Touch of Spice has an extensive selection of private villas perfect to suit both couples and large groups of family and friends. All properties are gay friendly and include designer bathroom amenities, luxury linen, WiFi and Sky TV. To view accommodation available in Queenstown click HERE, or contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
To top off your Queenstown experience while enjoying Gay Ski Week, Touch of Spice will provide you with a complimentary concierge service while staying in one of our villas. For more information contact the team at email@example.com or on +64 3 450 0855.
With winter having well and truly arrived, Queenstown is the go to destination for any avid skier or snowboarder, but if the slopes aren??t enough to tempt you, here are five other reasons why you should head there this winter.
1. Luxury Alpine Living
The Lodge at Walter Peak is the perfect venue for that authentic alpine living experience, without compromising on luxury. You can choose to either enjoy the peace and quiet within this tranquil setting or take advantage of the numerous winter activities on offer including their deluxe Heli Ski package.
2. The enchanted village of Arrowtown
Take a step back in time in the old gold mining village of Arrowtown, only a 20 minute drive away from Queenstown. Nestled in the mountain basin, Arrowtown benefits from 360 degree snow-capped views. What the town lacks in size it easily makes up for in the quality of their establishments, including tapas and cocktails at La Rumbla, dinner at world renowned Saffron, pre-dinner drinks the apr?s ski hideaway Blue Door and local lunch/brunch favourite The Chop Shop.
3. Where else in the world can you golf after a morning on the slopes!
Jack`s Point Escape is the ultimate in sporting accommodation. Located just 5 minutes from The Remarkables ski field and in the heart of Jack`s Point golf course, you can easily indulge in both pastimes each and every day of your holiday. Treat yourself further with a delicious stop off at the Jack`s Point Restaurant .
4. The only ice driving offering in the Southern Hemisphere
Experience the thrills of driving on ice. Try your hand at drifting on snow and driving along the expertly crafted ice tracks and gain true bragging rights amongst your friends!
5. The food & wine!
Queenstown is awash with an array of delicacies to cater to everyone`s palate, made all the more perfect for winter with their open fires. Try the `Trust the chef` menu at Amisfield, rustic fine dining at The Bunker, Asian-Fusion at Madam Woo`s and lake front bar Eichardts to name but a few.
Queenstown, New Zealand is the place to be this Spring.
Mt Hutt has an upper mountain base of 310cm of snow, Coronet Peak attracts 1000 - 4500 people daily, The Remarkables continues to attract 900 - 2500 people daily and in Wanaka both Treble Cone and Cardrona are going off!
It has been a busy few weeks with school holidays and August is shaping up to be even busier with a lot of full houses and people continuing to come to town to enjoy the ski season.
When the snow hasn`t been that great we have been booking our guests on heli flights to Milford Sound with Over the Top Helicopters, jet boat rides with Shotover Jet & Kawarau Jet and quad biking with Off Road Adventures. The one thing about Queenstown is that there is so much to see and do even when you are not skiing!
Amber & Tania our two Business Development Managers enjoyed a famil at Mountain Landing - now called "The Landing" in the Bay of Islands last week and were blown away by the new Cooper Residence. We have a special deal for the Boat House at The Landing, valid for Spring 2013 only - click here for more information.
We also welcome back Hurakia Lodge on Rakino Island this month. Perfect for a weekend getaway or a Corporate Retreat and accessible by boat and helicopter.
Winter is definitely here in Queenstown! We have snow on Coronet Peak and the Remarkables Ski Field the autumn leaves have blown off the trees and May is here.
It`s time now to retreat inside Eichardts Hotel & Bar at lunch time for their delicious Seafood Chowder and a glass of the 2010 Valli Pinot Noir.
May doesn`t mean "quiet season" though! We were at La Rumbla in Arrowtown on Friday night and they had a packed house! Big smiles on the owners PJ and Sam faces that night. We enjoyed our favourite La Rumbla tapas of the Lamb Loin, Stuffed Octopus and the Crunchy Chicken washed down again with the 2010 Valli Pinot Noir. As you can see we are trying to make sure we have our fair share of this award winning Pinot before it`s all gone!
Earlier in the week we enjoyed an amazing meal at The Spire Hotel. This dining experience is now on my top 5 picks for Queenstown. We started our evening with some delicious thai inspired tapas in the bar and then headed through to the restaurant for the Beef Cheek Curry and Pork Belly Salad. I highly recommend this bar and restaurant. Their very talented cocktail bartenders will make you whatever you feel like and put their own personal twist on your version.
It`s been a weekend of luxury too as we were fortunate enough to spend the weekend at Tree Tops Lodge in Rotorua. The great team of Vanessa, Dan and Marie Claire along with Chef Harrie took fantastic care of us. We indulged in Spa Treatments after a big hike up Kakako Hill and enjoyed two nights of four course dinners and all the wine and cocktails we could endure. Fantastic and highly recommend you go there for a winter break.
Back in the office The Touch of Spice team are very busy with enquiries for winter,filling up our Touch of Spice Villa Portfolio for the coming ski season. We still have some availability so if you`re planning your Queenstown winter ski trip and need some help contact the team today on firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help you arrange everything from your Queenstown accommodation through to your ski hire, restaurant bookings and heli ski time.
The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is just around the corner and if your keen to come down and enjoy the fun you really need to book your tickets asap! We have some beautiful new houses coming on line this month and we`ll be sharing those with you in our newsletter update shortly.
Over Queens Birthday weekend the Michael Hill International Violin Competition is on at the Queenstown Memorial Centre and this will be our 7th year of involvement with this prestigious competition. If you are a fan of the arts contact us today to talk about the Queenstown accommodation packages we have with The Sofitel hotel for the event weekend.
Our partners The Sofitel Hotel Queenstown are also offering all Touch of Spice guests 25% off all Food & Beverage outlets at the hotel (with the exclusion of the Jervois Steak House) - if you haven`t tried breakfast at The Left Bank now is the time!