For the last seven or so weeks, the Touch of Spice teem have become pro bakers, homemade wine connoisseurs and the private in-house chefs. Alongside learning how to use that slow cooker that's been sitting in the cupboard for months, I also learnt how much I missed wining and dining around Queenstown and Central Otago.
With level two finally here (well done New Zealand!) and the opening of bars this evening, we thought we’d serve up something a little different for this week’s Discover New Zealand Series. Over the last two weeks we’ve explored 5 days in The North and 5 days in The South – this week we’re adding our 5 favourite and most adventurous Queenstown foodie experiences to the menu.
Beyond having access to some of the most exclusive tables in town, we also work with amazing local suppliers and partners that are able to serve up something you've never seen (or tasted) before. Whether you have a thirst for adrenaline, a taste for adventure or just enjoy the simplicity of being wined and dined with the finest produce, our team of Travel Designers know all the secret spots and delicious treats that the guidebooks don’t even know about!
So here it is, the dish of the day - A Taste of Adventure in Queenstown to feed your inner foodie, quench your thirst for adventure and guarantee to leave you craving for more!
The Taste of Adventure
1. Apres Ski in Style
2.Progressive Dinner Tour
3. Dine and Dine in Dusky Sound
4. Forage to Fork in Wanaka
5. Sip and Sail on the Fiordland Jewel
Apres Ski in Style with Alpine Luxury Tours
Coming to Queenstown looking for that dose of ‘vitamin ski’? Shred the slopes in the morning before jumping in a private heli and flying out to the remote Earnslaw Burn Ski – an iconic glacier with stunning waterfalls just west of Queenstown. Soar above Lake Wakitipu before landing in the valley. Discover the area and feel the spray from under one of the falls before sitting down to a glass of hot mulled wine straight from Gibbston Valley paired perfectly with a gourmet platter showcasing some of Otago’s finest produce. Finish the day back on the slopes before returning to your luxury Private Villa for an après ski bottle of wine.
Progressive Dinner Tour
One of the team’s personal favourites – join private local guide Lee from Alpine Luxury Tours and taste some of the finest flavours on offer. Start your evening at Canyon Brewery for a flight of craft beer that has been perfectly matched with a selection of nibble starters in a relax spot on the side of the famous Shotover River. For the main course you with drive through Gibbston Valley to Kinross Winery. Here you will indulge in a some of the freshest seasonal produce on offer whilst sampling a selection of the regions finest Wines. Lee will be sharing stories about the wine and winemakers themselves (and cracking out some of his own) before taking you to the renowned Aosta in Arrowtown for dessert. A must try on the menu is the tiramisu – your waiter will construct the dish at the table as you sip on the dessert wine, eagerly waiting to dig in. This tour is great if you’re short for time – three locations, local beer, wine and a delicious selection of food all in one evening.
Dive and Dine in Dusky Sound with Alpine Helicopters
Take off in a private heli from Queenstown and fly towards Dusky Sound, one of Fiordland’s most isolated a remote inlet’s in the southwest corner of the South Island. Soar over the mountain peaks and lakes before arriving at a floating helipad to transfer to a custom-built boat, ready and waiting to explore Dusky Sound. Once you’re settled on board and have taken in the stunning surroundings, your private guide will don all the gear and dive and dish up a crayfish lunch paired perfectly with some of Queenstown and Central Otago’s finest wines. If this isn’t a lunch with the ultimate view, we don’t know what is!
Forage to Fork in Wanaka with New Zeal
Fly by private heli or drive from Queenstown to Wanaka with Paul from New Zeal, your private guide for the day, for a day of hiking, rafting and drift fishing. Upon arriving at Makarora and the Haast Pass, enjoy a gentle hike down the Haast Pass Bridle Track, the first link between Otago and Westland, to David Flat where you will find rafts awaiting. Jump in and roll with the grade two waves down the Makarora River arriving at the stunning Blue Pools – a truly magical spot in the West Coast. Once through the rapids it’s time to catch some lunch. Drift fish for approximately 15km before stopping to cook up the catch of the day on the embers of an open fire for a feast that’s well deserved. Once back to Lake Wanaka, why not stop by a local venison farm to pick up some fresh produce for dinner? We can organise for a private chef to do all the work for you in your private villa to finish off the day in style.
Sip and sail on the Fiordland Jewel
Last and by no means least, explore the renowned Milford Sound by heli and boat. Fly from Queenstown over the soaring peaks, landing on top of the sound for the picture-perfect shot before touching down on the private heli-pad of the Fiordland Jewel. This luxurious private yacht will then take you around the sound, under the iconic waterfalls and right up to the Tasman Sea where you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for the migrating dolphins and whales. Once docked up in the bay indulge in a freshly caught and prepared sea food lunch – three delicious courses served up with a side of unforgettable views. After lunch, take off from the top deck to return to Queenstown. Feel like staying longer? Enjoy a nights stay on the Jewel - kayaking, dining and relaxing in the rooftop hot tub on the perfect slice of floating luxury in the sound.
It’s time to try and taste something new. Get in touch with the team today and let us serve up something truly epic.
Wow – how are we almost at seven weeks of lockdown already? Part of me is questioning where the time has gone - the other part is questioning how on earth I’ve managed to stay somewhat sane! After reading my stack of travel magazines front to back, watching all the wanderlust documentaries on Netflix, changing my desktop background to a paradise beach and contemplating afternoon margaritas on an almost daily basis, I think it’s safe to say I’m more than ready to get away!
Whether you’ve been working from home, spending all your time with the kids or itching to get space from your other half (or all three), the freedom to get away from it all is almost here. With the outlines of Level Two released this week and with domestic travel soon to be open for business, now is the time to get excited about getting out there and seeing what all our international travellers have been ranting and raving about for years!
With that being said, I'm excited to share our second itinerary in our Discover New Zealand Series – a selection of exclusive experiences and itineraries we are sharing weekly here and on our Instagram and Facebook, to spark up that imagination and get you ready to explore New Zealand in 2020.
Last week we shared a South Island Itinerary and it seems only fair that we show some love to the North Island this week. So here we have it – The Best of The North, five days making a splash in the beautiful Bay of Islands, where you can forget the desktop background and dive straight into paradise as those afternoon margaritas are served up in style!
Discover the North Island
DAY 1: Arrive Auckland, New Zealand – Private vehicle transfer to Bay of Islands and The Glasshouse (2 nights)
DAY 2: Discover The Glasshouse with guided kayak tours, fishing charters, scuba diving, a round of golf or guided Kauri forest walks
DAY 3: Transfer to Eagles Nest after enjoying a boat trip to Poor Knights Island (3 nights)
DAY 4: Northland heli excursion with gourmet lunch
DAY 5: Enjoy a day at leisure at Eagles Nest with a round of golf, a bike ride through Russell, horse trekking, fishing and nature cruises on offer
DAY 6: Depart from Kerikeri
Touch down in Auckland, the City of Sails of New Zealand, and prepare to discover the North Island. Arriving in Auckland, you will experience a Maori cultural welcome by your private guide who will transfer you to The Glasshouse, Northland. Enjoy an Auckland tour, learning of the culture and history along the scenic drive taking in the coastal views as you approach The Glasshouse. Embrace the tranquility and natural beauty that surrounds you as watch the sunset over the Pacific from the comfort of this retreat.
ACCOMMODATION: THE GLASSHOUSE
From the moment you pop your welcome Champagne and get lost in the spectacular 180-degree panorama – you’ll realise you’re in for an unforgettable stay at The Glasshouse. This spacious and architecturally designed one-bedroom retreat has everything you need to spend time exactly how you choose - whether it’s getting cozy by the outside fire, enjoying a long shower with ocean views or napping in a hammock. Enjoy a private chef cooked dinner from the comfort of The Glasshouse or indulge in an inhouse massage – all available through the onsite team.
Discover the glasshouse. Whether it’s getting active exploring or relaxing with a book, The Glasshouse has something for everyone. If you’re able to tear yourself away from the comforts of The Glasshouse, there’s so much to enjoy on Kauri Mountain Point and beyond. Explore the 20-acre peninsula itself, with its own tracks and secret coves from which you can swim, fish, kayak or simply take in the views. There’s also some large natural rock pools, which gently warm in the sun and are perfect for taking a dip.
Explore Poor Knights islands. Transfer from The Glasshouse to Eagles Nest with splash of adventure.
Twenty three kilometers off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast and washed by warm currents swept south from the Coral Sea, the Poor Knights Islands are an international icon. A total marine and nature Reserve - and pending World Heritage Site - the 11 million year old Islands’ volcanic origins provide spectacular drop offs, walls, caves, arches and tunnels. Board your privately chartered boat and choose from snorkelling, diving, kayaking, paddle boarding or fishing for an afternoon that will be remembered!
ACCOMMODATION: EAGLES NEST
With a horizon lap pool splayed out across the front of the villa overlooking the ocean and private spa alongside, Eagles Nest creates seamless flow between living and the stunning surrounding environment. The walls of Eagles Nest are adorned with art by famous New Zealand artists, and with the property overlooking the historical site of Waitangi, it is the perfect place to reflect, be inspired and unwind.
Take to the air and explore the rugged coastline of Bay of Islands. Departing from Eagles Nest, fly high over spectacular harbours and beaches for a birds eye view of this amazing region and its 144 islands. Land at a private airfield and enjoy a luxury vehicle tour to the tip of New Zealand where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch at the serene Tapotupotu Bay.
The next flight leg is over spectacular and remote scenery such as the white silica sands of Parengarenga Harbour and Great Exhibition Bay. Land at Hole in The Rock and experience the islands unique history, culture and ecological significance.
Fly back down the east coast over the Kerikeri Peninsula and the stunning Cavalli islands before landing back at Eagles Nest.
Discover Eagles Nest. A day at leisure here will allow you to explore the wilderness of the Bay of Islands – it’s tropical beaches and secluded bays, its cuisine and the nature that makes this one of New Zealand's hottest spots.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, foodie or explorer, a day at leisure at Eagles Nest will have something for everyone. Get active on the bike tracks around Russell, tee-off in one of the many surrounding world-class golf courses, relax on a horse trek, fish for your dinner or simply let the flavours of the North come to you in one of the many markets. Whatever leisure means to you, Eagles Nest can make it happen.
Depart from KeriKeri Airport in awe of the five days of adventure gone by.
With almost six weeks of isolation and lockdown under our belts, it’s safe to say the team have learnt a few things – yes you can run out of things to watch on Netflix, daily yoga does in fact help keep you sane, we might not all be pro bakers, we aren’t all naturally blonde and that Will our Events Manager can grow a rather healthy beard!
We’ve also learnt that cabin fever really does leave you itching to get away! As a team who spend most of the hours in the day dreaming up some of the most out-of-this-world experiences and stays throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific, I can confidently say that lockdown has got us dreaming more than ever before.
We’ve been working hard alongside many of our local and nationwide suppliers and Luxury Lodge partners over the last week, brainstorming a variety of day experiences, short breaks and immersive itineraries that will show New Zealand in a way that even the locals have never seen – after all, what better place to start exploring than your own beautiful backyard?
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing a variety of exclusive experiences and itineraries to spark up that imagination and get you pondering about wandering around New Zealand in 2020.
First up: five days going off the beaten track in the South Island, where being in the wilderness has never felt so luxurious and a trip from Queenstown to Christchurch has never looked so tempting.
Discover the South Island
DAY 1: Arrive Queenstown, New Zealand – Fly by private heli to Minaret Station (2 nights)
DAY 2: Discover Minaret Station with heli hiking, biking, fly fishing, jet boating and ridgetop Champagne
DAY 3: Explore Wanaka with your private guide before transferring to The Lindis (1 night)
DAY 4: Heli transfer from The Lindis to Seascape Annandale via Mount Cook (2 nights)
DAY 5: A day at Seascape – mountain biking, yoga, clay target shooting, farm tour and 4WD ATV adventure followed by a private chef
DAY 6: Depart from Christchurch
Welcome to queenstown. Touch down in the adventure capital of New Zealand and prepare to discover the South Island. Stepping out of Queenstown Airport you will be welcomed by stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains – a quintessential South Island view.
Met by your private guide you will take a private heli heading for beautiful Wanaka and Minaret Station. Listen to the tales of the landscape from your guide, take in the picture postcard views from above and feel at one with nature when you touch down. Settle into your private chalet, meet your hosts and embrace the tranquility of your surroundings.
ACCOMMODATION: MINARET STATION
Minaret Station Luxury Lodge, accessible only by helicopter, is set in a remote glacial valley surrounded by towering peaks. Minaret Station’s team of experienced guides are renowned for the private helicopter experiences they share with guests. Touring Fiordland and our national parks, backcountry fishing, hiking, heli skiing and guided hunting, to name a few. Minaret Station offers lifelong memories for both guests staying at the lodge, or elsewhere.
Discover Minaret Station. Explore the wilderness of New Zealand’s fiords and mountains on a range of unique experiences. Choose from private helicopter tours into the Fiordland National Park, mountain biking, guided hiking, fishing, hunting and heli-skiing on some of New Zealand’s most exclusive slopes.
Relax in the evening with a chef prepared meal, taking in the experiences gone by, as the sun sets over the valley. The lodge’s mountain kitchen follows a pasture-to-plate philosophy and offers a fine dining experience based on locally sourced, seasonal produce. A mountain escape unlike any other.
Today you will transfer from Minaret Station to The Lindis, on an adventure like no other with your expert guide.
Take off from Minaret Station by private heli, landing at Wanaka Airport to commence your journey to The Lindis by luxury 4WD via the Thomsons Gorge Track. Stop off at New Zealand’s only haunted hotel – St Bathans for lunch before continuing across to Canterbury via the Omarama Saddle and into the Ahuriri Vally towards The Lindis. A 4WD adventure that will take you well and truly off the beaten track.
ACCOMMODATION: THE LINDIS
Built to blend in and minimise its environmental impact, The Lindis is a lodge like no other. Located on 6,000 acres within the Ahuriri Valley it provides guests with a true retreat within absolute seclusion. The roof line follows the natural undulations of the land creating a sense of belonging within the valley. The Ahuriri Valley (pronounced A-hu-riri) is a dramatic landscape of rugged mountain country, wetlands, tussock lands and beech forest. In harmony with the valley the interior of The Lindis combines natural rock and timber materials with elegant furniture and artworks to create an inviting environment.
Explore Mount cook. Take off from The Lindis by private heli and head for the highest peak in New Zealand – Mt Cook.
Fly over the vast mountain peaks and dramatic valleys below as you make your way to the famous Mt Cook – a must see for any visit to the South Island. Fly around the top of Aoraki/Mt Cook viewing the unbelievable scenery that unfolds from the top of New Zealand’s highest peak.
Land on the Tasman Glacier and experiencing the “natural silence” of this very special place with so much to offer, hanging glaciers, rivers of ice and views of the incredible West Coast and Tasman Sea. From Mt Cook, fly over the carved icebergs of the Tasman Terminal Lake to your coastal accommodation – Seascape Annandale, rural Canterbury. Sit back and relax as the views hit you in continuous waves. Take a dip in the private hot tub after meandering along the ocean front bay.
Seascape Annandale is a picturesque private bay, above which an ultra-modern retreat provides a truly unique experience.
Inside, a king-size bed sits upon a dais, a step up from the living area and fireplace, so the incredible view dominates the space. The modern bathroom matches the rest of Seascape for drama – an arrowslit window capturing a view of the dramatic rock formations along the coast and leading to the outdoor spa.
From within, it appears you are floating on the open sea and 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.
Day of leisure at Seascape Annandale. Seascape’s magnificent location provides a wealth of opportunities for adventure and discovery right on your doorstep. Choose to explore the beautiful farm on a privately guided tour, get active with a hiking or biking adventure or get up close and personal with nature with a kayak or nature cruise, spotting hector dolphins, fur seals, blue penguins and bird colonies.
If you’re looking to go further than Seascape, enjoy an afternoon in the quaint seaside French town of Akaroa where you can relax on a day cruise, fish, jet boat, sea kayak and explore the cafes, bistros and quirky shops.
Depart from Christchurch Airport in awe of the five days of adventure gone by.
Global travel may be out of our hands right now, but discovering New Zealand is well and truly in our grasp. With four weeks of lockdown under our belts and world-wide recognition around the success of New Zealand’s fight against Covid-19, the reality of domestic travel finally feels like it’s on the horizon.
Like many, my 2020 international trip has been put on hold, and I’ve found myself back at the drawing board, trying to find the perfect dose of vitamin 'sea' and 'ski' to cure my itch to travel. Which got me thinking - getting away doesn’t have to mean going far. I started daydreaming of the hidden gems that lie in my own backyard and it's unique destinations - for the world renowned wines I could sip, the tropical bays I could make a splash in, for the Jurassic inspired parks that I’ve never explored, the flavours I’ve yet to taste and the adventures I’ve still to take. It made me realise how much I’ve still to experience at home. How New Zealand really does have it all, and most importantly, the Kiwis who know how serve it up in a truly epic style!
Staying home for now simply means discovering later – and what better place to start that your own backyard? So, let’s get excited ready to discover New Zealand and the places that most will only get to dream of in 2020!
2020 is the season to go above and beyond your usual ski season in Queenstown. Ever tried your hand at dog-sledding through a glacial valley? What about ice driving? One day in neighboring Wanaka and you will have both ticked off your bucket list! Looking to go to new heights? Join a private guide and fly to a peak in the majestic Mount Aspiring National Park for a day of ice hiking before relaxing with a well-deserved and perfectly chilled glass of bubbles at the top. Looking for a day away from the snow? Take advantage of the world-renowned Gibbston Valley on a privately guided tour. Gain access to some of the most exclusive cellar doors in the region, meet the wine makers themselves and find your favourite to take back to your Private Villa Collection home for an evening around the fire with friends ands family.
Discover the Garden City and experience it’s natural beauty like never before. Ever soared above the famous hector dolphins and blue whales of Kaikoura? What about indulging in a freshly caught seafood lunch by an alpine tarn? Let your private guide prepare the feast whilst you try your hand at clay-bird shooting before getting active on a hike along a ridge line. Looking for luxurious accommodation? Stay at the stunning Dancing on Moonlight and have access to your own private 9-hole golf course, orchards, cabana spa pool and tennis court – for a Short Break in Christchurch to remember.
Bay of Islands
Escape to our very own Bay of Islands where crystal clear waters, blue skies, tropical bays, and world class diving await. Fly by private heli from Auckland airport, taking in all the sights from above and regaining that feeling of ultimate freedom. Land on your own private beach and indulge in a gourmet picnic with only the dolphins knowing where you are. SUP in the bay or jump in a kayak to explore further afield before jumping on board your privately chartered boat for a spot of deep-sea fishing at Poor Knights Islands. Return to ‘Somewhere’ in the Bay of Islands where your private chef will cook up the catch of the day as you sit back with a G&T as the sun goes down.
Fiordland National Park
Discover the Jurassic Park in your back yard as you fly over the majestic and mystical mountains of Fiordland National Park. Never visited? Do it ultimate style – fly from Queenstown over the cascading peaks and falls of Milford Sound, landing on The Fiordland Jewel – a luxurious privately chartered boat in the middle of the sound for a delicious three-course lunch. Feast on the freshly caught crayfish as well as the unforgettable sights as you cruise through Milford like a VIP. Finish the day with an alpine landing for that picture postcard shot, with nothing and no one between you and an unforgettable view.
I think we can all agree that 2020 will be the year of change. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed, and will continue to change, life and business within the tourism industry on a global scale. We’re seeing, and personally experiencing, this ‘new world’ way of working – where being at home, in isolation - some with the kids running around, is the new business as usual.
Last week, following government advice in the fight against Covid-19, we temporarily closed our office in Queenstown. The benefit of doing what we do is we can do it from anywhere! Seven days into lockdown here in New Zealand and our team are now fully set up and working from home.
We’ve moved out the boardroom and taken our morning coffee chatter and meetings online, using Zoom, Trello and various other online platforms to stay connected, updated and ensuring our communications are as strong as ever. Our daily brainstorms have also moved from the office sofa to online (still from a sofa), getting our creativity and ideas flowing as well as that daily dose of daydreaming that we all need. Our Friday evening Cheers to FRIYAH are still in the team calendar – we know it’s as important now more than ever to enjoy our social time, a glass of wine and take the time to talk about the wins of the week- you’d be surprised how many there really are when you think about it!
Outside of keeping ‘business as usual’, the team are finding their feet in their new routines, taking on some healthy new habits and finding inspiration in their new home offices. With the team based between Queenstown and beautiful Matakana in the North Island, it’s safe to say we don’t have to look very far to feel inspired by the beauty in our backyard.
So, we’d like to take this opportunity to reassure our global clients and partners that although we are staying home, we are still very much here. It’s in times like this we need to think about what we CAN do, not what we can’t, and as always – the Touch of Spice team can do it all! We’re as online and on-call now as always, ensuring our current inhouse and future clients are taken care of from enquiry to departure.
We’re here to inspire you and remind you that we really are all in this together. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Linked In for daily updates and give yourself that well needed (and deserved) daily dose of daydreaming. From all the Touch of Spice team – we hope to see you soon!
We can’t think of a better time to take a well needed ‘staycation’ or that well deserved hop across the ditch for a short break. With fresh mountain air, white sandy beaches, blue skies, lakes and multiple hiking trails – New Zealand really does have it all!
Now is the time to do something different! Throw off the shackles of an ordinary stay. Eat breakfast in your bathrobe and dinner in your board shorts, run down the hallway and make a splash in the pool, celebrate with friends and family with a classic kiwi bbq on the terrace – all made possible in the ultimate home from home.
Whether you’re a beach side lover or mad about the mountains, The Residence Collection and Private Villa Collection by Touch of Spice has something to suit your every need, want and desire. To make things a little easier, we asked our Travel Designers for their favourite villas for the ultimate ‘staycation’ or vacation in New Zealand – and wow do they not disappoint! Check them out and get inspired to getaway!
The newest villa to The Residence Collection, Kowhai Retreat is the most luxurious villa in Matakana. Only a 1-hour drive from Auckland CBD, this coastal escape has space for up to 16 across the main house and the additional boat house and shepherd’s hut, meaning no one needs to be left at home! With a private pool, hot tub, games room, sunken trampoline, heli-pad, petanque court, kayaks and e-bikes, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.
Step beyond the gated villa and spend some time exploring the exquisite local wineries, farmers markets, cafes and unique kiwi surf culture. Feel like getting out on the water? Set sail on Kowhai’s Retreats resident vessel – a high-tech sea legs that can be driven from the property down to the water’s edge. Let one of our experienced skippers guide you from the dock upriver to the Matakana pub to indulge in the catch of the day or head out to sea to explore the surrounding bays.
We don’t know about you, but we’re can’t think of any reason not to stay at Kowhai Retreat!
Only a 40-minute drive from Auckland Airport and placed on 6.6 hectares of stunning coastal land, Muriwai Estate is the ultimate haven to escape the everyday. With an effortless and breezy atmosphere combined with every luxurious touch you could imagine; Muriwai Estate is the perfect place to round up family and friends and celebrate in style. With vast gardens, a saltwater swimming pool, spa pool, separate cabana pool house, heli-pad and children’s play area, there really is space for everyone.
Spend your mornings by the pool with a book in hand, take to the rugged west coast beaches for a surf in the afternoon and taste the flavours of the surrounding wineries in the evening. This getaway spot is perfect for disconnecting from the outside world and reconnecting with those closest. Let a private chef do all the hard work for you as you sit around the terrace table, sharing memories and creating more.
Just a 15-minute drive from Christchurch Airport, a long-gated driveway welcomes you to Dancing on Moonlight – the ultimate private sanctuary. This working horse stud farm comes with its own private 9-hole golf course, blueberry and walnut orchards, hot tub and of course a luxurious lodge. The best part about it all? The whole place is energy positive thanks to its innovative solar power credentials.
Wake up in one of the three sumptuous bedroom suites. Enjoy a coffee in bed as you watch the sun rise over the stunning gardens. Roll out of bed and start each morning feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to seize the day. Take off from the front lawn in a private heli and discover your backyard that is Canterbury. Fly to the coast for a spot of whale watching before collecting the catch of the day and flying to an alpine tarn for a delicious gourmet lunch – true flavours of the coast. Get active on an alpine hike or simply sit back and enjoy the view before flying to an exclusive winery to sip some of the finest wines the region has on offer.
Grab a bottle or two to take home, let a chef prepare dinner and relax as the sunsets over the Canterbury fields.
Only a stone throw from Queenstown Central and with historic Arrowtown just around the bend, The Elms at Lake Hayes Villa One is the perfect getaway for a group of friends looking to indulge in the flavours of Otago. With views overlooking the stunning Lake Hayes, there’s a real sense of living in a watercolour painting. Relax on the terrace with a coffee in the morning before taking a stroll around the lake – or why not meander along to Akarua Wines, Kitchen by Artisan for a delicious brunch to start the day off right.
Villa one is perfectly placed to wine and dine around. With renowned Amisfield Winery and Bistro on the doorstep, Wet Jacket Winery and Cheesery just down the road and the Gibbston Valley a short drive away – you’ll be spoiled for choice! Join a private wine tour and let the guide do all the driving. Sit back, relax and taste the finest, freshest flavours on offer before returning to your luxurious retreat at The Elms.
A slice of mountain side paradise overlooking Queenstown CBD, The Views at Aspen House will leave you breathless. With panoramic views overlooking the iconic Remarkables Mountain Range and Lake Wakitipu, feel the stress of work and city life melt away as you get lost in the majestic beauty of Queenstown. With room to sleep the full family and space to entertain in style, a getaway to Queenstown should be on everyone’s cards.
Discover all that Queenstown has to offer throughout the day – whether it’s an active adventure, ski day on the Remarkable Ski Fields, afternoon of wine tasting or a relaxing spa day, there really is something to suit everyone.
Return to the ultimate home from home - the open plan kitchen, dining, lounge and bar being the perfect to host an intimate family dinner or evening entertaining friends. Or why not cook up a feast on the private courtyard BBQ? With covered outdoor seating and fireplace, you can dine alfresco all year round. Let the children relax with a movie in the media room as you sip a glass of bubbles from the private sap pool. The Views at Aspen House is perfect for enjoying family time and that well deserved you time.
Needing a break from city life? Otaha Beachfront Lodge in the Bay of Islands is your own little slice of paradise to get away from it all. With space to sleep ten, this spacious home is the perfect spot to simply get away from it all with those that matter most.
Rise and shine to panoramic ocean views, jump down onto the beach and get a morning surf in before breakfast is even on the table. Dine on the terrace and find the perfect spot to sit back with your morning coffee, read a book or simply watch the waves roll in. Wander off on a walking track from the front door and have a day in nature or jump into a private heli from the lawn and make your way to the renowned Kauri Cliffs for an afternoon of golf.
Otaha Beachfront Lodge is a place where the whole family can feel a sense of freedom – where space, fresh air and picturesque beaches go hand in hand.
Stay on the doorstep of Central Queenstown at Hyde Loft. Centrally located overlooking lake Wakitipu, you’ll feel the buzz from the town as you settle into this luxurious two-bed apartment.
With Queenstowns signature bars, boutique stores and award-winning restaurants only a step beyond the front door, Hyde Loft is the perfect little sanctuary to jump into Queenstown one minute and retreat the next. Perfect for two couples travelling together or a small family getaway, experience Queenstown the way the locals do. Swing from the original bungy bridge, jet boat, zipline and luge or go above and beyond, heli-hiking, stand-up-paddle board on a glacial lake or indulge in a picnic of local produce on top of a mountain peak.
Whatever your style, whatever the occasion – anything is possible from Hyde Loft.
So whether you’re lucky enough to call New Zealand home or your just looking for an excuse to escape the hustle, bustle and chaos of your everyday, our team of Travel Designers know the perfect spots to make a ‘staycation’ or vacation, a getaway that will be spoke about for years to come.
It’s February which means one thing – it’s the season to celebrate love!
Valentine’s day is a day to show love to someone special. Whether you’re married, engaged, dating or single, treat your other half or yourself to a day you won’t forget.
Leave the supermarket flowers where you find them and use February as the month to have an experience of a lifetime. Getaway for that romantic weekend you’ve been promising each other or take the plunge and go off the grid in a well-deserved trip of self-love - Why shop at Hallmark when you can check out some of the South Pacific’s hidden gems?
So here we have it – the perfect Valentines gifts for the both the romantics and the singles, those looking to pop that special questions and those looking to answer their own, experiences of a lifetime to share with your other half, amazing friends or to keep all for yourself!
Go off the grid and venture into the wilderness of the Ahuriri Valley at The Lindis. Sleep in a mirrored glass pod under the stars, be in awe of nature and getaway from the stresses of the everyday. Discover the Valley by day and relax in your own private hot tub as the sunsets – the perfect retreat to take that shared time or that well deserved you time.
Stay in one of our exclusive Residence Collection homes Cascata, only a stone throw from stunning Queenstown. Take the plunge during the day (proposal or bungy!), discover iconic Queenstown and relax in the evening at the entertainer’s paradise that is Cascata. Sink a glass of bubbles with friends on the rooftop terrace before hitting the town or sink into the hot tub with a glass of local pinot noir with your other half – perfect for getting the gang together or escaping with your one and only.
Take off from Queenstown and get taken above and beyond in a scenic flight to the awe-inspiring Milford Sound. Soar over the waterfalls, peaks and tourists below before landing on a rugged West Coast beach. From the coast you'll fly to a mountain top peak for a gourmet picnic - lunch with a side of once-in-a-lifetime views. Enjoy the picture postcard landscape overlooking the dramatic landscape and say cheers to you, the view and the special person/ people around you.
The ultimate getaway for just the two of you or a small group of your best girlfriends – our Wellness and Wine short break has everything a weekend away would need. Rise and shine to yoga on the terrace, indulge in chef prepared meals and savour and sip some of the finest wine from some of Central Otago’s most exclusive wineries. This short break is as good for the soul as it is for making memories with those you love.
Let us help you make memories and create those unforgettable moments that you’ll talk about for years to come this Valentines Day. Get in touch of our team today – we’re experts in wrapping up gifts of a lifetime!
The afternoon started when we met our fantastic guides from Canyoning New Zealand, Adam and Andrew, in central Queenstown on a very hot and sunny Saturday afternoon! We were briefed on what the afternoon had in store for us - getting us geared up and raring to go. After a scenic, 30 minute drive through Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley wine region, we arrived to our departure point for the canyon.
Ready for an adventure
Upon arrival, we were handed wet suits, socks, boots, helmets and a harness – everything you need to stay warm and safe in the canyon. As soon as were suited and booted we went to lay in the shallow river to cool off from the roasting sun whilst we had our safety briefing. When the guides were happy that we knew what to expect and how to maneuver our way through the canyons, we were off!
After a short walk to the entrance of the canyon, we were in! Now, walking through shallow water to start with didn’t sound or look like it would be difficult - but pair that with slippery rocks and we really did have to watch our step. From here it was around 2 hours of sliding, stepping and abseiling through the canyon.
Amazing guides from start to finish
Our guide, Adam, was on hand throughout to make sure we made every movement as safely as possible, building our confidence and keeping us right - although he did make the jumping, sliding and abseiling look a lot more effortless than what we did!!
At the end of the canyon, we unzipped our wetsuits and had a lovely 15 minute walk out of the canyon back to the vans where we de suited and booted for our return back to Queenstown.
Being in the Canyon was great! Although we had only walked 5 minutes from where we had parked the vans, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, far away from normal life! You can see the sky throughout the canyon and the sun shone in keeping us warm the whole way. It is really quite amazing to see just how steep the walls of the canyon are.
The perfect summer day out!
I loved my canyoning experience and will definitely go back for more! This half day experience was 4 hours door to door and was a great introduction to Canyoning that I would recommend to anyone wanting to give it a go!
Thank you Canyoning New Zealand!
The new year is life’s very own crisp, clean and brand-new diary…365 days of opportunities, adventure and excitement! 2020 brings a whole new decade into view and now is the time to decide what you will write on the pages of this shiny new chapter.
With the new year also comes those resolutions. Being almost at the end of the first month of the year – are your resolutions still hanging in there? Whether your goal is to get active, spend more time with the family, disconnect to reconnect, taste new flavours or discover your wild side, we’ve got some suggestions on how to make (and most importantly keep) those resolution.
So here it is -our top 5 ways to spend more time in 2020, taking those resolutions above and beyond!
Spend more time…
Get active at new heights! Fly to an alpine lake amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island and prepare for the ultimate workout with our partners at New Zeal. Warm up with some stand up paddle boarding on a glacial lake before kicking in the cardio with a hike along the ridge line and climb to the peak. Feel like a champion at the top as you overlook the unimaginable 360 views – an end of work out treat like never before. Make your way back down the lake, take a dip if you’re feeling brave enough, and reward yourself with a gourmet picnic – perfect for refueling after your alpine training session. Fly back to Queenstown by the same private heli and wind down in your private villa after a day of active adventure.
2020 is the year to take that well deserved (and needed) family getaway you’ve been dreaming out. With more and more families choosing to travel together, grandparents to grandchildren, finding the ultimate home from home has never been easier. With both our Residence Collection and Private Villa Collection, we have hand selected homes that only most get to dream of, for the ultimate escape. Let the kids run wild on the lawn, eat breakfast in your boardshorts and let a private chef to all the hard work for you. It’s about spending quality time with those that matter most – now that’s the real luxury!
Go where the wifi is weak and feel inspired to venture offline and really connect with the moment. Accessible by only private heli, Minaret Station is the escape from it all you didn’t know you needed. Rest easy in one of the individual chalets overlooking the valley, where being at the foot of the mountain has never felt so luxurious. Take a private tour of the surrounding land in a hike, discover the waterfalls and enjoy a picnic on a mountain peak. Looking to go further? Fly to the stunning Dusky Sound (where you’ll be completely offline), board a private boat and sail the Sound. Dive for crayfish for lunch that a private guide will prepare for you before returning to the Station feeling completely connected with the heights and depths of the nature around you.
Dine in one of New Zealand’s most renowned restaurants (try Amisfield Bistro, Aosta and Akarua Kitchen by Artisan if you’re in and around Queenstown) for some of the finest locally grown produce on offer – where seasonality is always the dish of the day. Or why not visit some of the many world-famous wineries in Central Otago (Cloudy Bay, Wooing Tree and Mount Rosa being some of our favourites) in a private and exclusive wine tour with our amazing partners at Alpine Luxury Tours. Let your guide Lee talk you through the flavours and varieties whilst sharing some local stories of the region. This resolution is about appreciating the land, it’s workers and the flavours it produces – it’s farm to table in one of the most scenic places on earth!
2020 is the year to go wild for a while! That doesn’t mean losing all sense of luxury, it just means going off the beaten track. The Glass Pods at The Lindis in the Ahuriri Valley is that and more. Stargaze from your private hot tub or king size suite in the glass pod, getting lost in the Milky Way before rising to the morning sun through the valley. Nestled gently into the landscape, these pods are out of sight whilst only a stone throw from the main Lindis lodge. Spend your days exploring the land fishing, trekking, biking, horse riding or rolling around the mountains on in a private off-road buggy tour. Take the time for a weekend in the wild!
So whether it’s sticking to your current resolution or making a new one, jump in with two feet, accept the challenge and reap the reward of memories that will last a lifetime!
Just before Christmas the Touch of Spice team were lucky enough to head out to The Cloudy Bay Shed in Central Otago for a taste of their first foray into New Zealand style summer dining – Jack’s Raw Bar. Jack’s Raw Bar blends hearty, fresh New Zealand fayre and Japanese cooking styles, with meticulous precision and truly delicious results!
Lake and Mountain Backdrops
With views of Lake Dunstan and Mount Pisa, along with the stunningly landscaped grounds it was safe to say the team were blown away by the backdrop before the food was even served. The backdrop more than aptly mimics the menu which spans dishes from New Zealand’s sea, land and mountains.
Lee Saunders from Alpine Luxury Tours gave us a luxury ride out to the tasting shed, where we were greeted with a glass of their delicious Cloudy Bay Pelorus Brut sparkling wine from vineyards up in the Marlborough region.
Keeping Good Company
Keeping good company with our friends Kate and Elliot from Morsel Catering and Chef Fabien we had a great time catching up. Ben Batterbury of Munch Catering was kept busy helping out in the kitchen as they put together some of the best raw New Zealand offerings we have ever tried.
Jack’s Raw Bar – The Menu – From Mountain to Sea
On the bar sat Te Matuku Bay Oysters from the crystal-clear waters of the Te Matuku Bay Marine reserve on Waiheke Island. Just a squeeze of fresh lemon and they were ready to eat - perfectly paired with the Sauvignon Blanc.
Our favourite canape of the evening was sampling the YAMA (from the Mountain) roasted nori & rice crusted venison tataki. Another favourite from the RIKU (from the land) part of the menu was the Beef Tartare with fresh New Zealand wasabi, washed down with the Pinot Noir.
The Chef behind The Jack’s Raw Bar Menu
All these creative dishes that pair New Zealand’s produce with Japanese cooking styles are from the brain of Sachie Nomura – New Zealand’s most admired pan-Asian cuisine chef. Sachie’s Kitchen is the number one rated and most-awarded cooking school in Australasia.
This is Sachie’s first ever consultation for a restaurant in New Zealand and we’re thrilled we got to experience it first-hand. Thanks for an awesome evening, we can't wait to come back!