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ARCHIVES: January 1970

A night at Mahu Whenua

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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!

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Why the South Pacific is the ideal sabbatical destination

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The idea of uplifting your family and moving to the other side of the world for 3 months used to be daunting and unrealistic. Times have thankfully now changed.

With new direct flight routes between the US and New Zealand, along with infrastructure developments allowing guests access to hi-speed internet so they can stay in top of things ‘back home’, we have seen a large growth in the number of families looking to visit New Zealand for an extended period of time.

New Zealand has long been a popular destination for family travel. It is seen as a safe place to visit, and offers such a diverse range of experiences. Families can base themselves in places such as Queenstown or Wanaka, and then explore the rest of the country on ‘getaways’.

Queenstown is particularly popular for this, and our range of private villas are ideally suited for families wanting to a ‘home away from home’ for a period of time. Local schools also allow for short-term international enrolments as the seasonal nature of the region (for example the winter ski season) often sees workers only in the area for a few months.

The time difference between New Zealand and the US also means that you can wake up, have breakfast, and then jump on a Skype call with the East or West Coast before they finish their business day. After that, how about doing a couple of hours working online before taking the family on a walk around a beautiful alpine lake?

For families that want to visit multiple countries, it’s an easy 3 and a  ½ hour flight to either Australia or Fiji from New Zealand, with fantastic family villa options in both, so why not look at an entire South Pacific experience over a period of several months.

If you have been thinking about taking the family on a sabbatical but not sure what the accommodation options are, the Touch of Spice team are here to help!

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Book your Queenstown Marathon Luxury Accommodation

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With the Queenstown Marathon fast arriving, if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to start thinking about locking your accommodation in. Fortunately, we still have a selection of luxury private villas ideal for your stay.

Ranging in size from two to five bedrooms, we can accommodate your ‘cheer squad’ of varying sizes. With fully equipped gourmet kitchens, create your carb-loaded, pre-race meals in the comfort of your accommodation and then after the race enjoy a soothing soak in the hot tub, complete with stunning lake views.

Last but not least, as an extra sweetener, the first six who book a stay over the Marathon weekend will receive a complimentary 60 minute massage*, ideal to sooth those post race muscles.

Just quote 'MARATHON' at the check-out when booking online or to your Travel Designer when enquiring. 

Here are our top three ‘Marathon-made in heaven’ properties:

1. KOHANGA LAKESIDE VILLA

Located right on the Marathon course, your friends/family will have no excuse for not cheering you on.  The property also benefits from Marathon worthy features such as an outdoor pizza oven and hot tub.

2. HYDE LOFT

More interested in the post-race festivities than putting your feet-up? You could not be in a more central location to take advantage of the great Queenstown nightlife. 

3. JACKS POINT LAKE HOUSE

Enjoy the peace and tranquility that this properties nature preserve location affords, together with it’s stand out range of features including hot tub, media room, pool table and ample outdoor lounge & dining.

*Subject to availability. Valid for the first six booking made for dates including 16th - 18th November 2018 and for Touch of Spice exclusive properties only. 

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Aroha Homestead

Perfect for winter because you can walk across to Millbrook Resort to warm your hands with a morning coffee and you also have access to their day-spa, restaurants and golf course. Aroha Homestead also features large roaring fires in the two living areas that have large comfy couches and a Sonos entertainment systems. After a big day on the slopes, there’s a spa pool to soak your muscles in while under the stars. 
Bedrooms: 5 bedrooms, sleeps 10
Closest ski mountain: Coronet Peak – 10 minutes’ drive to the base
Price: from NZD$235 per person, per night

 

Kahua Villa

Perfect for winter because it’s right at the base of The Remarkables ski field so you don’t need to travel far. There’s a Central Otago wine-wall which you can grab a bottle from to enjoy with a home cooked dinner. Plus, you have the Jack’s Point Restaurant, with its mouth-watering menu and the Jack’s Point championship golf course right on your doorstep.
Bedrooms: 4 bedrooms, sleeps 8
Closest ski mountain: The Remarkables – 5 minutes’ drive to the base
Price: from NZD$130 per person, per night

 

Alpine Retreat

Perfect for winter because of the mountain views that allow you to inspect the snow levels, the outdoor fire & seating for après ski wine & cheese, the cosy bedrooms and welcoming living space. Plus there's the drying room so your gear is crisp and warm the next day’s skiing.
Bedrooms: 5 bedrooms, sleeps 10
Closest ski mountain: Coronet Peak – 10 minutes’ drive to the base
Price: from NZD$110 per person, per night

 

Hyde Loft

Perfect for winter because if you’re not comfortable driving, you don’t need a car, as you’re in the centre of it all! You have Spring Day Spa downstairs, endless restaurants around you, and transport to the ski mountain is a short stroll away. The loft is luxurious and perfectly positioned for enjoying the apres ski nightlife.
Bedrooms: 2 bedrooms, sleeps 4
Closest ski mountain: Coronet Peak – 10 minutes’ drive to base
Price: from NZD$275 per person, per night

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10 reasons why you have to visit Laucala Island Resort

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Laucala (pronounced Lau-tha-la) Island is the latest luxury Fijian resort to join the Touch of Spice portfolio of the best luxury stays in the South Pacific.

I was lucky enough to stay at Laucala recently and experience why this particular resort is the go-to for celebrities around the world.

It’s hard to put into words how truly amazing Laucala was, but here are my top 10 reasons why Laucala is the ultimate luxury getaway!

 

Super Luxe Villas
The oceanfront villas are amazingly gorgeous, luxurious yet modestly unpretentious.  They haven’t overlooked a thing in these Villas.  From freshly roasted nuts and locally grown plantain chips served every afternoon, to delectable sweet treats baked fresh every day and a very generous selection of wines, spirits and of course Red Bull. The Villa itself was a haven that you didn't need to leave.  Three brightly painted coconuts sat at our front gate used to indicate “come in” “stay away” or “clean me please!”.  All of the beachfront villas have private pools and direct access to your own part of the white sandy beach.

 

Lush locally made bathroom amenities
The attention to detail, craftsmanship, talent, and skill of all the people involved in running Laucala Island is evident everywhere, right down to every handmade amenity. The body oils, soaps, shampoo & conditioners, body wash, bath bombs and body scrubs were perfectly crafted by the local Fijian staff using the island’s own natural resources.

 

The Epic Pool 
The massive lagoon-style pool that sits at the heart of the resort is a masterpiece. Divided into three areas, the pool includes tropical manmade islands as well as Laucala’s iconic 25-metre-long glass cube. The swim-up-bar serves all day cocktails, my favourite being freshly made chili Margaritas!

 

Exceptional staff
Over 400 staff maintain this 1400-hectare piece of tropical paradise to service a maximum of just 80 guests. Absolutely nothing is too much trouble true to the reputation of Fijian hospitality.

 

Anything is possible!
Anything can be done at Laucala at any time – even a midnight massage is doable! No reservations are ever required and so whether it be a romantic dinner for two, a last-minute decision to go for a dive, golf lessons with a golf pro, or urgent laundry and dry cleaning. You can take your holiday at your pace and find your own “island time”.  Stays at Laucala include all food and beverages so you can indulge from dawn till dusk at your leisure.

 

The Rock Lounge
With its roof-top-treehouse design, uninterrupted never-ending ocean views and the most spectacular sunsets, The Rock Lounge is where I spent 50% of my daylight hours! With cloud-like lounger chairs, delicious finger food and gins coming without even asking, I never wanted to leave.

 

The Farm Tour
As one of the largest Fijian Islands, Laucala is passionate about sustainability. All the organically grown crops and farmed animals on the island provide the majority of products provided and I mean all the way down to the limes in my margarita.

 

The Butler Trays at Plantation House
Occupying an elegant colonial-style mansion, Plantation House served the best array of breakfast treats I’ve ever encountered in all my travels. The Butler’s Trays can’t be missed with three different trays to choose from, my go-to had to be The Healthy Tray which included; Wholemeal Waffles with Agava Syrup, Rye Flour Crepes with Laucala honey & tropical fruits, Fresh Herb Cream Cheese & Crudites, an assortment of energy balls and Yogurt & Fruit Coulis. No better way to start the day! Alongside this is a complete choice of breakfast options, a heart-stopping array of freshly baked goods and an amazing selection of freshly squeezed juices using fruit straight off the island.

 

The devil is in the details
On my first night the staff had noted that I’m partial to a gin & tonic, and by the time we arrived back to our suite post massage, the gin decanter sitting in our bar had been filled with extra just in case we were to run dry.

 

Private Airstrip
If traveling by private charter or jet, the island has the added convenience of its own runway, avoiding any necessity for transfers from the mainland. Another upside is that the island has its own air and maritime exclusion zones, meaning the island is truly off limits to prying paparazzi.

For Laucala Island reservation inquiries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch through info@touchspice.co.nz

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Kokomo Island Uncovered

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Representing the very best in luxury stays in the South Pacific requires a very thorough understanding of what is on offer inside and out - which is why I came up with the clever idea of combining celebrating my wedding anniversary with a visit to the stunning Kokomo Resort, Fiji. (Lucky me)!!

Kokomo Resort recently joined our Touch of Spice “Residence Collection” portfolio of luxury stays which is a handpicked selection of the very best luxury accommodation available throughout the South Pacific region. 

 “The Residence Collection” was formed  in late 2017 to meet the increasing swell of high net worth visitors to our part of the world. This leading collection has attracted all sorts of international guests such as well known celebrities and diplomats, through to acclaimed entrepreneurs  and royalty.

So it was imperative that I fly to Fiji to Kokomo Island to research all it has to offer, from the cocktail menu to the bathroom amenities to make sure it delivers a guest experience of the calibre expected from Touch of Spice guests.

Kokomo Island is an hour’s flight away from Nadi.  You can get here by Kokomo’s very own Sea Plane (a twin otter) or by Helicopter – we opted for the Helicopter.

Landing on the top of the island, General Manager (Martin Persson) greeted us with a golf cart at the ready.  He whisked us quickly down to reception taking us past the resort pool complete with waterfall, kids club, teenagers hang out and pizza oven, past the Yaukube Spa Sanctuary and a couple of very large 5 bedroom Residences, down through to Reception where we received the traditional Fijian welcome by the resort staff.  While listening to their incredible voices we were given fresh coconut water (served in real coconuts) which was a welcome refreshment in itself after the hour long flight in.

Our two-bedroom Bure was located right on the water, complete with our own pool and a very private beach.  A welcome bottle of Veuve was chilling on ice alongside a personalised card and a platter of local fruits.  

While I’m in the business of luxury and have a general expectation of what will be on offer at resorts such as this, the first few moments of arrival into our room always remain magical.  I love the excitement and the child-like exploration of uncovering everything on offer.  And nothing had been spared here at Kokomo – the outdoor and indoor showers both have full complement of bathroom amenities all Kokomo’s own brand complete with body scrubs, body lotions, sunscreens, mosquito sprays, toothbrushes and razors and everything in between.  The mini included a full complement of Nespresso coffees & T2 Teas as well as a fridge full of sodas and waters plus a delicious jar of freshly made cookies (tempting me to open).

We were at this stage quite hungry, so to avoid cracking the cookie jar we wandered along to the outdoor restaurant & bar - “Walker D’Plank”.  

Located in a small cove near the arrival jetty on the island Walker D’Plank is set into a rockface, overlooking the water reminding me very much of a similar spot my husband and I had been to in St Barths on our honeymoon

With colourfully painted tables and chairs, friendly staff, a fresh sea breeze and a very enticing cocktail menu, we settled in for an afternoon of Asian-inspired seafood delights, consumed at the laid-back pace of the Bob Marley music playing.  We were treated to fresh sashimi tuna and crayfish followed by stir-fried Asian flavoured noodles and chicken.  I ordered a Bloody Mary (as one should) and it arrived with freshly squeezed tomatoes – no bottled tomato juice here!

Completely satiated we decided to burn off some calories with paddle boarding and snorkelling around the nearby coral and then it was back to our Bure where a private chef was waiting to cook us up a seafood BBQ banquet of scallops, prawns, fish and crayfish.  With a  hankdering for a freshly made chilli margarita, a bartender arrived almost immediately and whipped them up on the say. Needless to say – heaven.

That was our first blissful day, and there have been several days just like this with kayaking, tennis, more lunches at Walker D Plank, walks around the island and relaxation activities like 90 minute massages and sunset yoga.   At night we have been enjoying the 5 course degustation on offer yet again sampling the fresh fish and crayfish from the local waters. 

While I spent the morning getting on top of emails this morning my husband Josh went off deep-sea fishing catching a huge mackeral we enjoyed for lunch – tonight we are dining on his freshly caught snapper cooked whole just for us.  At Kokomo if you don’t like what the Chef has on the menu (which is hard to imagine) you can order whatever you want.  If you want a chicken curry instead of lobster cocktail or you want a toasted sandwhich or steak and eggs, they will make it for you.  Nothing is a problem on Kokomo (if fishing isn’t your thing you can also opt for a catamaran tour on the water)

Kokomo has certainly lived up to and exceeded all my expectations and I know that our Touch of Spice customers are in great hands here.

Tomorrow we head to Laucala, which is next on the hit list for The Touch of Spice Residence Collection.

(It’s a tough job but someone has to do it).

Kokomo Private Island is on promotion for its 1st anniversary with an offer of stay 4 nights and receive a complimentary night’s stay. Book by 30 April. Travel dates 20 March – 30 June 2018. Email info@touchofspice.co.nz to enquire.

 

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Our latest loves

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Tihi Chalet, Queenstown

Sleeps 8 | 4 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From NZ$190 pp pn
Your Scandinavian chic property with outstanding, uninterrupted lake and mountain views and luxe interiors.

 

The Edge, Wanaka

Sleeps 10 | 5 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From $110 pp pn
A retreat where every morning you have your coffee in absolute peace overlooking majestic mountains, and end your day in the soak tub with a wine in hand under the stars. 

 

Mudbrick - The Lodge, Waiheke Island 

Sleeps 6 |3 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From NZ$215 pp pn
A truely experiential stay. Relax and unwind at the gorgeous lodge, wander over to the two different onsite restaurants or treat yourself to an ocean swim & coastal stroll.

 

Blanket Bay Villa, Glenorchy

Sleeps 8 | 4 bedroom | 4 bathroom | From NZ$1,725 pp pn
Enjoy all the benefits of a luxury lodge, but in privacy. The villa has been designed and built to the highest spec and every element of your stay has been carefully considered. 

 

Cascata, Queenstown

Sleeps 8 | 4 bedroom | 3 bathroom | From NZ$1,250 pp pn
The very ultimate in entertaining. Everything about Cascata is glamorous; from the glass elevator and rooftop terrace to the top-of-the-line sound system and elite appliances.  

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Our top 5 luxury New Zealand stays for 2018

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Lakefront Luxury, Queenstown | Sleeps 8 | From NZ$156 pp/pn
 How did you find staying in a villa compared with a hotel suite?
“The villa is so cleverly split across two levels, it feels spacious and homely with areas for the family to come together in. There’s the impressive dining area with the stunning views over Lake Wakatipu, the cosy media room with plush cushions and sofas you can sink into plus the jacuzzi to unwind in after a long day exploring. All facilities are yours for private use.” - LYNDAL

 

The Boathouse – The Landings, Bay of Islands | Sleeps 4 | From NZ$875 pp/pn 
What surprised you about your stay?
“Being positioned on sacred Maori land, there’s a lot of beautiful art and history ingrained in the property which I loved hearing stories about. This experiential aspect added another level of 'wow' to the stellar service, food, wine and architecture." - LYDIA 

 

The Banya, Wanaka | Sleeps 2 | From NZ$350 pp/pn
 How would you rate The Banya as a great couple’s getaway?  
"The space is peaceful and secluded, the interiors are plush and comfortable, and the bonus of having access to the infinity pool and jacuzzi was the cherry on top. We enjoyed plenty of bubbles on the bean bags on the deck, taking in the exceptional lake and mountain views. It was heaven!" - JUDI

 

Scrubby Bay, Annandale, Christchurch | Sleeps 14 | From NZ$415 pp/pn 
Annandale’s tagline is “Stay where the world can’t find you…” – how would you describe the experience having stayed at Scrubby Bay?
"The setting is dramatic, the location is completely private, and the service is faultless. We relaxed in the open air jacuzzi under the stars, ate like kings thanks to our private chef Glen and unashamedly lounged around feeling at peace with the sound of the ocean in the background. It was the ultimate paradise." - EMMA

 

Donkey Bay Inn, Bay of Islands | Sleeps 6 | From NZ$875 pp/pn 
What was it about your stay that made the best impression?
“It was the small details that made the biggest impact. The loose gemstones on the walking track down to the beach, the freshly baked scones and jam to be enjoyed whilst reading in the library, your own mini sculpture park that echo’s Barcelona’s Güell Park, and enjoying a handcrafted Donkey Bay Gin on the balcony. A truly magical experience!” - JILL

 

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Mountain Carting at Cardrona Alpine Resort

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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!

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Jacqui's happy days at Otahuna Lodge

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Jacqui shares details of her stay at this iconic New Zealand gem...

Recently I had the opportunity to sample one of the best luxury lodges in New Zealand with my husband Josh.   I have long admired the manicured grass lawns at Otahuna Lodge and its beautiful estate and dreamed of what it would be like to stay there. Thankfully I was lucky enough to find out!

As we pulled up to the great house we were greeted by Hall and Miles, the owners and hosts, as well as their team who were there ready to whisk away our bags and our car so we could head inside for a very welcome glass of wine.  Hall took us for a very educational wander through Otahuna Lodge telling us story after story about the original owner Sir Heaton Rhodes who built the house for his wife as a wedding gift all the way back in 1895.  Otahuna has been beautifully restored and clearly meticulously maintained by Hall, Miles and their dedicated team. And I say dedicated because pretty much all the staff we spoke to have been there for at least a decade. That’s pretty impressive in the day and age where Gen Y jump from job to job as quickly as they snap chat!

After a luxurious bath, which is my favorite thing to do when I can find a bath (and the time) we ventured into one of the beautiful drawing rooms for canapés and pre-dinner drinks. After chatting with some of the other guests who had just experienced their “best day ever” with a private guide encompassing the Tranz Alpine, hiking, and a picnic on the beach with a bottle of wine, Josh and I had a very romantic dining experience in one of the many dining spaces located throughout the Lodge. It was beautifully set up just for the two of us and we truly felt like Lord and Lady of the manor. 

The food was outstanding. Starting with a delicious prosciutto with peach and buffalo mozzarella dish the courses just kept coming and we didn’t hesitate to keep eating. We sampled everything from fresh prawns to salmon to lamb rack and braised shoulder, finishing off with the most divine desert. Each course was matched with a beautiful selection of New Zealand wines.  With very full stomachs we managed to roll into our big comfortable bed and sleep soundlessly through the night.

As with the dinner, breakfast is made on premise and being real foodies we again made the most of it.  I love homemade breads and while I know it’s not great for the waistline I couldn't hold back on the freshly made walnut sour dough and 5 grain with my perfectly cooked organic egg omelet with king salmon and goats cheese. It was a good thing we managed to squeeze in a 30-minute run before breakfast or I am not sure I would have fit my jeans as we left the building!

With the holidays just around the corner, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can easily give the gift of Otahuna. I also highly recommend “The Best of North and South Package” where guests can enjoy 3 nights each at Otahuna Lodge and Wharekauhau Country Estate, another award-winnning luxury lodge on the North Island, and pay for only 5 nights. 

Keep an eye on special deals for Touch of Spice clients at Otahuna Lodge on our Facebook page and Instagram feed.

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