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.
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.
It's awards season in Hollywood and all the celebrities are out and about strutting heir stuff in the most extravagant of attire, celebrating their success on the big screen. Well, we think itâ€™s time we recognise some of our famous villas!
For ‘best in a television series or blockbuster movie’…and the nominees are...
Wyuna House for 'use of territory in Lord Of The Rings'
4 bedroom | 5 bathroom | 8 people max | From NZ$175 pp, per night*
Wyuna is set amongst the iconic 'middle earth' territory in Glenorchy where numerous Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed. The endless amount of beauty in the diverse landscape can be appreciated from inside Wyuna House, where the interiors complement the surroundings as you look through the large bay windows. With cladding in local schist and cedar plus timber floors, walls and ceilings, this house has a warm lodge feel and sits harmoniously amongst its picturesque setting.
Hurakia Lodge for 'photo-shoot worthy backdrop on America's Next Top Model'
5 bedroom | 5 bathrooms | 10 people max | From NZ$250 pp, per night*
Hurakia Lodge was chosen to showcase the beauty of New Zealand to the American market. The lodge sits on Rakino Island and has magnificent views of Waiheke Island and Auckland city in the near distance. The villa features wide open areas and floor to ceiling windows to maximise the feeling of space, as well as being able to fully absorb the stunning scenery.
Bridgeview Luxury Apartment for 'being host to Germany's Next Top Model'
Viaduct Apartment | 2 bedroom | 2 bathroom | 4 people max | From NZ$460 pp, per night*
It only made sense for a gorgeous property to host to the gorgeous German Next Top models, so Bridgeview Luxury Apartment was the top pick. Auckland central, stunning viaduct, city and harbour bridge views plus divine interiors.
It's no wonder that the apartment is currently being leased out long term... luckily we also have the Viaduct Apartment which is situated in the same building as Bridgeview and offers the same deluxe feel and views.
Te Hihi Estate for 'supporting stage in the X-Factor New Zealand 2015'
5 bedroom | 5 bathroom | 10 people max | $920 pp, per night*
Spoiler alert: When the judges of X-Factor have their 'home auditions', the properties aren't their actual homes.
It's become expected that the judges home auditions are at extravagant properties that 'wow' viewers to create an illusion of how the celerity judges must live.
Te Hihi Estate has copious amount of 'wow'. From the outdoor fire, swimming pool, to the onsite golf course, tennis court, gym and private spa. The villa itself boasts french-country styling with home comforts.
World renown travel experts, Quintessentially have written an article on Queenstown accommodation - and it's pretty neat to say that 7 of the 8 recommendations are from our portfolio:
If an adventure packed holiday is what you are seeking then look no further, as New Zealand offers a plethora of adrenaline fuelled adventures that are perfect for family, group or couple vacations.
Quintessentially Travel recommends heading to Queenstown, located in the southern lakes region of the South Island where you can embark on a thrill seeking adventure. Go jetboating, bungy jumping, white water rafting and skydiving, as well as heading to the slopes of this premier four season lake and alpine resort. For those who prefer to wander with nature there’s also plenty of hiking and biking trails, guided tours, boat cruises, scenic flights and spa and wellness centres.
Aspen House, Queenstown
This exquisite private 4 bedroom villa boasts spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu and snowcapped Remarkables Mountain. Request a private chef or enjoy an in house massage to complete the personalised service that the Aspen House offers. This traditional and rustic villa boasts modern amenities, a media room, an outside log fire and a hot tub. It will be hard for you to get out and explore New Zealand’s sumptuous surroundings.
Situated in the heart of Queenstown City, Forty Two is ideally located close to the town leaving you free to explore the local culture. Enjoy uninterrupted views of Lake Wakatipu from the balcony, entertain guests after a day of exploring with the traditional kiwi bbq in the courtyard, or unwind by the bespoke log fireplace, admiring the beautifully infused classical materials that blend seamlessly with its surroundings in this 3 bedroom villa.
Following an exhilarating day on the slopes, escape to this unparalleled 4 bedroom luxury retreat, combining the rustic Central Otago bold statements with accents of art deco flair, to bring you a bespoke ambience throughout the villa. Take in the beauty of New Zealand’s natural surroundings and its beautiful landscape through the floor to ceiling windows.
One of three luxury apartments, this 3 bedroom villa is perfect for those seeking a secluded and architectural delight in the heart of Queenstown. Contemporary styled throughout and complete with a media room, ski room, hot tub and underfloor heating so you can sit back and relax after an adventurous day. Take in the grandiose surroundings of the mountain peaks and Cecil Peak on the uber gorgeous and luxurious deck spa.
An uber luxurious 3 bedroom villa, boasting an extensive living area to make this property perfect for family holidays or a getaway with friends. Relax by the fire after a day of activities, or indulge in a spa treatment at the Matakauri Lodge besides the villa. Situated in the heart of the town this villa is the perfect retreat all year round.
Taimana Central Apartment
Taimana Central Apartment offers sophistication and elegance right in the heart of Queensland. This 3 bedroom property is ideal for families, and includes modern amenities, a bbq and plush bespoke furnishings that create the perfect ambience. Retreat to the terrace and take in the remarkable views of Cecil Peak and Walter Peaks.
BAY OF ISLANDS
Discover New Zealand's hidden culture at the beautiful and historic Bay of Islands. With its golden beaches and glistering waters, tranquil harbours, dramatic coastlines and enchanting forest you will certainly be in paradise!
The Landing Residences, Bay of Islands
Enjoy waterfront views in this sumptuous and spacious 5 bedroom villa, with rare and bespoke Maori and Pakeha artwork and artefacts. Sleeping up to 10 guests, this villa is perfect for families and large groups. Complete with a heli-pad, private beach access, pizza oven, wine cellar and private study, this abode caters to every need.
Jacqui's pick: Seascape – Christchurch
I couldn’t rave more about how romantic this property is. A real no-fuss, yet ultra-modern, world-of-your-own jewel that allows you to forget all of life’s matters.
The remoteness (only accessible by heli or 4WD), outdoor Jacuzzi, fire pit, natural feel of the interiors plus the private chef made our stay a lifelong memory.
Nic’s pick: The Cooper Residence - Bay of Islands
This property provides the ‘wow’ factor in every corner! It seamlessly blends luxurious furnishings with fascinating Maori artefact's and historic artwork; giving an entirely unique villa experience. It has jaw dropping coastal views, a private beach, and they even produce their own wine there with private wine tastings available – what more could you ask for! Even as a born and bred kiwi I would holiday there in a heartbeat.
Nora’s pick: Hawke's Bay Haven - Hawke's Bay
Haven by name, haven by nature! I’m not at all green fingered but the immaculate gardens are those expected only in fairy-tales. If, like me, you want to have some serious rest & relaxation whilst on holiday, then this is the place to go. The property comes complete with swimming pool, outdoor dining cabana, wood fireplace, BBQ, tennis court (....the list could go on!), making it hard to find a reason to leave!
Clare’s pick: Otaha Beachfront Lodge – Bay of Islands
If only I could live here, I would be the most content person that there ever was. The energy that the space provides is something I wish I could bottle up – it has an enormous sense of calmness which is only heightened by the private beach that you have at your disposal. The light wood styling, the designer furnishings and the floor to ceiling windows collaborate together in complete harmony. I can’t wait for you to see what I mean!
Sarah's pick: Kumanu – Queenstown
My ultimate favourite would be Kumanu. Its interior design is unique and its location is remote. A true retreat to get away from it all, relax in the hot tub, in the multiple lounge areas or by the outdoor fire with a glass of pinot noir! Absolute bliss!
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.
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.
Chocolates, champagne, red roses, diamonds, candles, romance, and fireworks! Yes it was Valentine's Day over the weekend and we hope your other half remembered!?
In case he or she didn’t get it quite right this year (or even if you did!) Touch of Spice are always here to help with the get out of jail free card and some great ideas to keep the romance going for the next 12 months or set you up with ideas for his or her next birthday or even anniversary!
Here are some of my favourite New Zealand romantic escapes- enjoy!
Slip away to a heavenly spot in the Bay of Islands. Located on the water`s edge at Wairoa Bay, close to The Landing jetty, The Boathouse looks out to 144 islands in the Bay of Islands and beyond.
Enjoy a delightfully sophisticated glass of wine from the Landings selection and a gourmet delivered dinner while watching the sun set across the bay.
Cosy up in a blanket and enjoy the ever changing ocean and sky, islands, sunsets, wildlife and the sounds of the waves rolling onto your own private beach while enjoying Rahimoana, the world`s ultimate holiday villa. Drenched in all day sun, this stunning villa sits on a 44 acre private headland with panoramic views of New Zealands famed Bay of Islands. With over a kilometer of beach and ocean frontage overlooking unlimited deep water anchorage, this iconic, one of a kind masterpiece also features a 25 meter infinity pool overlooking your own private beach, helipad, and acres of pristine private land and native bush.
A perfect romantic sojourn in Auckland begins in the sophisticated urban setting of St Marys Boutique, located in one of the city`s most characterful and central neighbourhoods. Our exclusive, single reservation policy guarantees guests enjoy the ultimate in comfort and privacy, and elegant decor, culinary excellence, and an architectural `Wow` factor combine to make the Residence a discreet haven of seclusion perfect for a couple`s discovery of the city.
For a truly romantic and memorable time together, Huka Lodge is utter perfection. Offering absolute privacy and an elegant luxury, bathed in an unforgettable atmosphere and created especially for those celebrating their love for each other.
Experience a romantic weekend in the best of the Hawke`s Bay wine region from your base at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. From stunning walks with breathtaking sea views to communing with nature by checking out the property`s own gannet colony or its kiwi reserve, Cape Kidnappers has it all. Relax over a spa treatment and beautiful lodge meals featuring seasonal produce sourced locally and from the farm`s own garden and sublime regional wines.
Take a journey to the Marlborough Sounds and nestle away in the hidden coves for a romantic weekend away. Relax in your luxury apartment, and then enjoy a soak in the hot tub under the stars. Awake to the sound of tuis and bellbirds and enjoy breakfast at the water`s edge.
New Zealand`s Split Apple Retreat is unlike anything you`ve ever visited before. A quiet, luxurious hideaway built high into a cliff-face right on the ocean, a few minutes away from the South Island`s stunning Abel Tasman National Park, it offers both every indulgence as well as the additional promise of exceptional good health.
Take time in your picturesque private bay, above which an ultra-modern retreat provides a truly romantic experience. Accessed by helicopter or by a 40-minute transfer in a 4WD Annandale vehicle across the cliff-top farm tracks. From within, it appears you are floating on the open sea, in thrall to its ever-changing moods, yet safely embraced by luxury and modern comforts. Outside, dolphins and seals often frolic in the glittering water, with only you and the tussock grass to witness them.
The Spire Hotel, Queenstown
Have some central Queenstown excitement and stay at the sophisticated award wined boutique Spire Hotel.
Set in the heart of Queenstown the Spire Hotel offers a romantic and soulful experience close to Queenstown`s vibrant shopping district, cafes and nightlife.
Treat yourself to a weekend of luxury at one of our favourites, The Matakauri Owner`s Cottage.
With uninterrupted lake and mountain views, all of the amenities one could wish for - romantic open fireplaces, and superbly decorated living areas and a perfectly located private hot tub, the best place to relax after an adventurous day out experiencing all that the Queenstown region has to offer.
Discover the perfect things to do in summer.
I've been fortunate enough to have spent the last few weeks in both the South and North Islands of New Zealand, and it's been great to see that the long awaited summer has arrived! Queenstown For us Kiwis, we all seem to be saying that these are the summers we remember from when we were kids; hot days, warm seas, blue skies and warm evenings - and the great news it that there is still more of it to come!
So what`s hot in NZ this summer?
The "Hamptons" of New Zealand continues to be a popular spot. Filled with beautiful people staying in beautiful houses and relaxing on beautiful beaches, Waiheke is the go to destination. The spot I`ve seen most regularly frequented on Waiheke this summer? Stonyridge Vineyard (something about the food and wine?). Our favourite places to stay here are Oneroa Vineyard and Hei Matau.
Beaches of the Coromandel
Ever popular with Kiwis looking for that laid back `bach` style holiday is the Coromandel region. We have a place in Opoutere and the beach is so beautiful and isolated. Many of my friends and associates frequent hot spots such as Cooks Beach, Ha Hei, Matarangi and Whangamata. This is the "fish and chips on the beach" capital of New Zealand.
Bay of Islands
I think the Bay of Islands has had the most consistently amazing weather this summer and many a friend was seen sailing, swimming and dining out at the Duke of Marlborough. My fav places in the Bay of Islands to stay are Eagles Nest, Otaha Beach and Tahapuke. Beautiful places to enjoy a cold Chardonnay on the deck overlooking the ocean.
Grab your kayak and your walking shoes and head out through the Abel Tasman. The weather is pretty much bang on every day and the natural beauty of the region can keep you active for days. Our favourite place to stay in the Abel Tasman is Split Apple Retreat and the Bay of Many Coves.
I can`t help but mention Queenstown. The weather has been incredible down south all summer - blue clear skies and warm weather resulting in bustling wineries, hot air ballooning, sky diving and paddle boarding on the regions many lakes. There are so many favourite places to stay here we can`t really choose one but our two top ones this summer have been the Lodge at The Hills and our very own Copper House.
To help take pain away from going back to work!
Going back to work after the holidays is always a struggle. But remember you can always take a long weekend to recharge, here are some of my favourites which we have arranged for clients.
The Bay of Islands
Accommodation Recommendation: Tahapuke, located on the Russell Waterfront, is a hidden treasure of peace, privacy and amazing ambiance in the Bay of Islands.
Water: The Bay of Islands has the warmest waters in New Zealand, making it the perfect location for swimming with dolphins. If you are looking for something a bit dryer enjoy a day or overnight sailing charter.
Land: Golf and Spa at Kauri Cliffs followed by a well-deserved 3 course lunch.
Live like a local in Arrowtown
Accommodation Recommendation: Arrow Cottage
Land: Wild Earth for lunch and delicious tasting session of some of their finest Pinot Noir and Rose. Follow on with an evening at the quaint Dorothy Browns art-house cinema with dinner at La Rumbla - all only 5 minutes from Arrow Cottage. Spa and golf at Millbrook which is only 5 minutes down the road too.
Air: Discover the Exclusive Earnslaw Heli trip
Accommodation Recommendation: Hawke`s Bay Haven
Land: Golf at Cape Kidnappers, cycle the Hawke`s Bay wine trail, have lunch at Craggy Range and enjoy the Farmers Market at Black Barn. A full food & wine experience!
Accommodation Recommendation: Bridgeview Luxury Apartment
Water: Enjoy a fully chartered sail to Waiheke Island and explore the island for the day or night depending on how you feel.
Land: Britomart will always keep you entertained!
Accommodation Recommendation: Bay of Many Coves
Water: Take the stunning Greenshell Mussel & Sauvignon Cruise through the Marlborough Sounds
Land: Enjoy a garden wine afternoon lunch at Herzog Estate Winery followed by a trip to the Aviation Heritage Museum or continue on the Marlborough wine cycle trail!