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!
The team and I were lucky enough to be invited by Eichardt’s to enjoy their newest addition the, Pacific Jemm, over a lunchtime cruise.
As soon as we stepped on board, we were greeted by friendly smiles, and a glass of bubbles, which in my opinion is the best way to start a cruise. The weather was also on point which provided perfect cruising conditions.
On this trip we cruised the corners of Lake Wakatipu before stopping for a delicious BBQ lunch, which was served on the top deck. The food was a mixture of meats and salads, providing enough variety for everyone's taste buds.
Below deck the Pacific Jemm boasts four bedrooms all equipped with luxury linen, their own entertainment systems and bathroom facilities - the master including a spa bath.
A personal favourite of mine was the sun lounger on the front of the boat which is perfect for a spot of sunbathing and conversations with friends. Here you can also take in the amazing views that this cruise has to offer.
We cruised around Lake Wakatipu for approximately three hours before docking back in Queenstown central. This is an excellent daytime activity, especially for those looking to cruise in style while enjoying all of the luxuries that this boat has to offer.
Thank you to the team at Eichardt's for this fantastic day out!
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!
Posted By Nora on
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!
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
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
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
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
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
Finding a local in Queenstown is like finding a needle in a haystack, so you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot when you hear the ever-apparent New Zealand accent of, Paddy, your guide, greet you on arrival.
The conversation runs freely during the drive out to Moke Lake. Stunning reflections, snow-capped mountains and sheep scarpering off in every direction and we were yet to arrive at our destination.
Suited and booted we headed past the boundary of Moke Lake and into the working high-country station of Ben Lomond. Climbing Cliffs, drifting around corners, and flying through rivers, past gold miners sledging for gold in a 6-seater buggy, this is 100% pure New Zealand.
Paddy throws in the occasional fun fact about the land, the history and the region, he is engaging and charismatic, answering any question we threw at him. We still can’t believe our luck with the weather, a typical Autumn morning, Jack Frost has visited and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. We are blazing the countryside with only sheep in sight thinking how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful corner of the world.
Pre-Lunch we meet the farmer and his wife sitting at their beautiful farmhouse enjoying bacon and eggs, it doesn’t get much more Kiwi than that. Paddy takes us up to the viewpoint and the climax for the trip; 1000m above sea level, snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, silver beach, and sheep is all we can see for miles while enjoying a picnic lunch and taking in that fresh rural air.
This is the perfect trip to escape the crowds, whether it’s a corporate group, a family getaway or a private trip for two, there is something to gain for everyone. Full of history, adrenaline, and fresh air, it is a must-do activity to get off the grid for a full or even half a day.
For further info on this tour, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or + 64 3 450 0855
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!
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.
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire.
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