Exploring the North Island
Early July I was lucky enough to spend a week exploring the North Island, visiting our villas and luxury lodges and experiencing some of the best activities on offer in the regions!
A touch of Tuscany at Ataahua Lodge
My first stop was Ataahua Lodge, a villa that is new to our Residence Collection and located just outside Tauranga. The villa has 7 bedrooms and is Italian inspired in its design, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the property! It looks out over the golf course and water and has such a large outdoor area with a stunning pool. It is the perfect retreat for family groups wanting somewhere really special to stay!
Traveling on to Rotorua
I then took a drive down to Rotorua to check in to Solitaire Lodge which is on a peninsula looking over the glass-like Lake Tarawera, such a beautiful setting! I was warmly welcomed by Wayne and Ingrid and shown around the property, including the private jetty with kayaks, perfect for a day exploring the lake!
I spent the afternoon relaxing in my suite, which had an outdoor bath overlooking the lake – absolute bliss! In the evening I was kindly hosted by Wayne for pre-dinner drinks and canapes, followed by dinner. We had a five-course meal - the courses were all delicious and complimented each other well.
A morning of relaxation
The next morning, I met up with Tu from MDA Experiences for a day of adventure in the Rotorua region! Our first activity of the day was to enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Rotoiti with Pure Cruise, on board their 53ft catamaran. This lake is just beautiful and there are so many coves and interesting spots to stop, their skipper Matt is so knowledgeable of the area and was explaining the history and all the fun things that could be done on the lake, such as geothermal springs, glowworm caves, paddleboarding and good old Kiwi fun – climbing a tree and swinging on the rope swing! We then stopped at the Manupirua Springs, only accessible by boat, for a soak in the hot springs, super relaxing!
An afternoon of Adrenaline
The afternoon was less relaxing – more adrenaline fueled – as we took on the Kaituna River for some white-water rafting! This river has multiple waterfalls, including the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world, at 7m high! I have done white water rafting before but nothing that comes close to this, feeling fear at the top of the waterfalls then such excitement at the bottom once we conquered them! Tu was incredible and really encouraged me to take on all the additional parts such as cliff jumping and swimming down a waterfall, so much fun!
Huge thanks to Tu at MDA Experiences, Pure Cruise and Rotorua Rafting for showing me what this region is really all about!
A stay at Treetops Lodge
Following my exciting day, I drove to Treetops Lodge and Estate for the night. I was welcomed by Andrew and Sandra, who showed me around the property and then to my room. I was staying in a Valley Villa and was blown away! The villa is really very large with a living area, bedroom with walk in dressing room and a beautiful large bathroom. The villas are located a short drive from the main lodge itself, and each one is provided with their own golf cart to get you to and from, which adds to the experience!
In the morning, I got up early and had breakfast then headed out on the walk to Bridal Veil Falls. There are so many walking tracks on this property, you really need to spend a lot of time here to get out and explore them! It was absolutely pouring all morning, but Treetops provided me with a coat and gumboots and off I went, and I am so glad I did, after around 40 minutes of walking through beautiful bush I reached the falls, which are absolutely stunning, well worth the walk!
A spot of lunch at Huka Lodge
I then drove to Taupo for a site visit at Huka Lodge. I was met by Hannah and shown around the property, including the stunning Junior Lodge Suites which overlook the Waikato River. Even though I have looked at photos of this property so many times I was still blown away by the setting on the river, it is so beautiful with the fast-flowing colourful water! I then enjoyed a beautiful 3 course lunch looking out over the view.
The stunning Farm at Cape Kidnappers
For my final stop, I drove to the Hawke’s Bay for a stay at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. I was full of excitement for this property as I’d heard so many wonderful things, and it absolutely exceeded expectations. From the moment I arrived, I was greeted by the lovely friendly Averil who gave me a walk around the main lodge building then took me down to my room and showed me around and gave such a great arrival experience. I was staying in a Ridge Suite, of which there are 8, just a short distance from the main lodge. The suite was absolutely beautiful, overlooking the vast property, a beautiful bedroom with large ensuite. I couldn’t fault it if I tried!
I was hosted for dinner by James, the assistant lodge manager who was great company, so friendly and really helped me learn even more about the property.
Conservation is everything
Whilst here I got to explore the property, visiting the Cape Sanctuary and learning about their conservation efforts, do a property tour to the outer edges of the farm and the dramatic coastline and have a site visit through all the room categories (that Owners Cottage, WOW!). The Farm at Cape Kidnappers was just voted the #1 lodge in New Zealand and Australia and #4 in the world, and I can definitely see why!
After departing Cape Kidnappers, I went for a site visit to Summerlee Luxury Retreat. This is a large 8-bedroom home with beautiful coastal views. It has a large outdoor area, pool, croquet and tennis court. It’s the perfect spot for a family retreat!
A beautiful ending to the week
Finally, to end my time I had a visit at Craggy Range Winery. I met with Georgia and Kristine who showed me around all the accommodation options here, such a great spot in amongst the vines! The newly built River Lodges and the four-bedroom Lodge are just stunning, so well done! I then had lunch at the restaurant here which was just beautiful, this winery is really high end and definitely a must do when in the Hawke’s Bay!
This was such a wonderful week visiting some top spots in the North Island and some truly spectacular properties!
A truly quintessential New Zealand Lodge
Myself and my partner were very lucky a couple of weeks ago to experience a stay at the beautiful Lindis Lodge.
Nestled in the pristine Ahuriri Valley here in the South Island of New Zealand, The Lindis captures the purity and stillness of nature alongside a modern and sophisticated luxury lodge.
Arriving at the lodge
Driving through the vast surrounding land, we were instantly made to feel at home upon arrival. The hosts were warm - their love of their surroundings really showed and it was clear to see why. The snow peaked mountains and sound of the Ahuriri River gave a sense of tranquility that we were more than ready to enjoy.
Let the Views wash over you
After we were shown to our Master Suite at the end of the building, we took advantage of the clear blue skies to explore the valley. We jumped on the e-bikes and worked up our appetite whilst discovering the many trails and tracks that led to the working farm.
To ease the cycle pains, I sunk into the bath and got lost in the valley views. Who knew a dip in a tub could be so scenic – a must for any stay!
Dinner was served in the main room and it was simply magical. Italian chefs pay homage to the abundance of local produce – a true sense of farm to table dining at the highest standard.
A truly beautiful and exquisite stay - everything we know to define New Zealand.
Thank you to The Lindis for a stay that won’t be easy to top!
It's simple – great ingredients make great food...
This week I was lucky enough to be invited to experience the degustation dinner at Amisfield Bistro. Set just beyond Queenstown (about a 15-minute drive) on the way to Arrowtown you can find the truly beautiful Bistro and Winery of Amisfield.
With a glass of bubbles on arrival, the venue came to life
Floor to ceiling windows framed the vineyards and the crackling of the wood burning fireplace reminded you of the wintery evening outside. From the 24-seat private dining room to the courtyard and main dining area, the high ceilings and open space had a rustic charm that oozed finesse.
The trust was in the chef and the menu was set
The seven-course menu was paired with a selection of Amisfield wine – each beautifully crafted to really showcase the best of the best in New Zealand. As each course was served, the pairing between the food and wine really started to come to life. The Paua Pie, the Amisfield signature, was named New Zealand dish of the year for 2017 and 2018 - and wow was that a standout! Between the buttery pie, the hidden truffle dug out of edible soil and the Cardrona Valley lamb shoulder, it was a real taste of sea, land and earth of the highest quality.
As the evening flowed, the surprises kept on coming
The eye was in the detail from start to finish with every course delicately constructed with flare. I wouldn’t want to give them all away but… have you ever seen truffle butter that looks like a rock? Better yet, have you ever tasted truffle butter that looks like a rock? As each dish and wine was presented to the table, the knowledge of the staff really came out - passion flowed through the food, to the waiters and into the venue leaving you feeling like you’d caught the Amisfield buzz.
An evening that will be hard to top
As three small desserts were served (the deer milk ice cream was my personal favourite) with a beautiful 2018 Amisfield Lowburn Terrace Riesling, I can safely say I felt utterly spoilt. An evening of delicious dishes, a passion for produce and amazing company left me planning my return before I’d even finished my wine.
Thank you again Amisfield. I'll be seeing you again soon!
We believe time is one of the last true luxuries.
With festive season fast approaching, it’s all about spending more time with the family and exploring as you do it.
Which got us thinking…
What better way to get the family hyped up for a festive getaway than the thought of hopping from the beaches in the north to mountain top lakes in the south?
And here we have it!
From Ataahua in Bay of Plenty to The Dacha in Wanaka – seven days that are rare to find and impossible to forget.
Day 1: Arrive at Ataahua - Relax, unwind and enjoy a chef prepared meal in the antique dining room.
Day 2: Rise and shine with an espresso on the terrace. Fly to White Island and hike an active volcano before white water rafting in Rotorua. An adrenaline fueled day for the whole family.
Day 3: Explore Mount Maunganui and experience a fighter jet flight along the coast. Back at the villa, share a pizza with the family and get those marshmallows toasting on the outdoor fire.
Day 4: Enjoy the villa in the morning – yoga, in-house massage or game of tennis perhaps? Fly to The Dacha in Wanaka for a family al fresco dinner prepared by a chef.
Day 5: Take to the air and fly into the depths of the Fiordlands. Why not land on an alpine peak for a family picnic lunch before going back at The Dacha to unwind with a movie in the cinema with the children.
Day 6: Today is about adventure! Explore the adrenaline capital of the world, Queenstown. Bungy, jet boat, or SUP on a mountain top lake – the sky is the limit! Rest easy on your last night in The Dacha – watch the sunset over the lake before the stars come out.
Days 7: Depart wondering when you can come back and do it all over again
Sink into tranquility in the spa or smash through the silence and bomb in the pool – this private Italian-inspired oasis is all yours.
We are thrilled to introduce and announce that the stunning Ataahua Lodge is the latest addition to our Residence Collection.
A touch of Amalfi - just outside Tauranga
Only 25 kilometres from Tauranga Airport, enter through the wrought iron gates and drive the palm lined drive towards the villa. A natural oasis to unwind, relax and accept carpe diem.
Lined with world-class artworks, antiques and venetian furniture, fall into an Italian inspired world where family, food and beauty form the heart of the home.
Aperitivo on the terrace? Buon appetito
An open gourmet kitchen leads to the living area and onto the first of the two dining rooms. A step further takes you to large bifold doors leading outside. Enjoy alfresco antipasto or tear apart a pizza from the woodfired oven with the family.
A hideaway for adults and children alike
Feeling fancy? Indulge in a chef-prepared meal in the formal antique dining room before following the curved staircase down to the wine cellar and tasting room. Let the children wind down with a movie in the cinema while you sip a digestivo or glass of New Zealand’s finest.
A dreamlike spot for morning coffee
Ataahua has a total of six suites spread between two floors as well as the separate Pavilion. Sink into the plush beds that all feature views of the luscious grounds. Separate from the main villa is The Pavilion – a private sanctuary with ocean views where rolling out of bed will feel better than ever.
Do you prefer to drink your bubbles or sink into them?
From the bedroom to bathroom – whether you choose to drink your bubbles or sink into them, let the mind unwind as you gaze into the gardens and accept feelings of la bella vita (… the good life).
Let them dream of adventure
The spacious shared room is lined with motorbikes and surfboards letting the imagination run wild. Travelling with entourage or friends? The guest suite has a lounge, bathroom, kitchenette and is separate from the main house – the key to privacy.
Step outside into your own private oasis
In the private pavilion, a step beyond the villa, wake up in a secluded oasis. As the sunrise pours through the terrace doors, take in the picturesque garden and ocean views – mornings you can’t wait to wake up to. No bad thing when you have a hot yoga studio, adjoining gym and walks with endless sea views.
Roll out of bed into a whatever activity takes your fancy
Roll out of bed and straight into an active day. The private gym, tennis court and bikram yoga studio will get you working up a sweat before jumping in the pool.
Alfresco dining with a difference
A real taste of Italy – prepare, bake and enjoy your own pizza straight from the outdoor oven, served with a glass of wine from the cellar. New Zealand meets Italy - Alfresco dining just like at Nonna’s house in Verona.
Submerge yourself in stillness
Float into tranquillity and get lost in the clouds - an afternoon soak in the spa pool will calm the mind and relax the body. Or feel like smashing through the stillness and bombing in the pool? Go ahead – it’s your space after all.
Get competitive and find your champion
Singles or doubles? Get your whites on and battle it out in your own Ataahua Tennis Open. Observe from the side-lines before sinking some hoops on the basketball court – a tournament to keep everyone entertained.
Tropical gardens just a stones throw away
Take a tour or meander through the tropical gardens and discover the botanical variety. With world-class artworks placed throughout the gardens and villa, explore the local Maori art and sculptures on display.
During the month of April our team spent a couple of afternoons pulling wiling pines on Queenstown Hill. After a breathtaking ride up the Queenstown Gondola and a short walk on the Ben Lomond track, we find the Touch of Spice plot that we take care of each year to make sure the Douglas Furs don’t take over our beloved mountains.
Why pulling and not planting?
Normally you would think environmental sustainability would be about planting trees, not pulling them out of the ground, but in this case, the pines self-seed and grow wild. Not only do they take over the mountains, once the non-native trees form a thick canopy, nothing else can survive, threatening many New Zealand species. A recent article in Stuff provides a more detailed overview of the threat to our biodiversity.
Pulling pines literally consists of us scrambling over our plot on the mountainside, pulling out little seedlings by hand (protected by gardening gloves of course) or for larger pines, using some loppers flexing our gym formed muscles to get rid of the offending pine.
Together we can do so much
Not only is an afternoon pulling pines a great way to support our wonderful community and help to sustain the beauty that is Queenstown, but it’s a fantastic way for the team to spend some time together out of the office, in our high vis vests. This year, the sun was shining both afternoons, and of course the backdrop is spectacular. Our patch is now looking rather clear of wilding pines, but they will be back, so here’s to Autumn next year for another go at pulling pines.
A special thank you to Tom who we arrange our yearly trips with. Tom has the fun job of using the chainsaw on the larger trees and even taught us how to enjoy the variety of coprosma berries (for those brave of us to try).
Pines to pints
And of course, what better way to finish off an afternoon of hard labour, than a well-deserved cold pint at Frank's Eatery (a second home to some of the team here at Touch of Spice).
We know settling into winter can be a troublesome time and so we want to soften the blow with some incredible introductory rates for winter stays at Lake Hayes. For a limited time you can stay in this delectable five bedroom home from just $3500 per night.
Why consider a winter break at Lake Hayes?
Despite being just a 10 minute drive from Queenstown airport The Homestead at Lake Hayes offers complete tranquility. Sink into nature with lake views and unadulterated access to the nearby walking and cycling tracks surrounding the lake that meander their way all the through to Arrowtown. Once you have been exploring and taken in enough of the seamless lake and mountain views retire to the fireside and warm up in style.
The perfect spot for a multi-generational winter escape
With five wonderful bedrooms this property offers a brilliant option for a multi-generational getaway. The estate offers more than enough space for three generations to enjoy each others company without treading on each others toes. While the youngsters run around the grass, playing hide and seek in the Sequoia trees, the grown ups can unwind over a glass of Central Otago's finest.
Booking a winter stay at The Homestead
View more about The Homestead at Lake Hayes or get in touch with one of our Travel Designers to find out more. A minimum five night stay applies and all bookings are subject to availability - please contact one of our Travel Designers to find out more.
Autumn spice is in the Queenstown air
Indulge in a luxury getaway at one of our exclusive properties this Autumn and get one night free for every four you stay.
Stay for four nights and pay for three all the way through until the end of June 2019.
Choose from a wealth of pristine properties - book directly with us via phone, email or through our website and let our Travel Designers redefine your autumnal stay in Queenstown.
Where is your dream stay?
Te Kohanga Rua | Sleeps 4 across 2 bedrooms - 1x queen, 2x split king|1x bathroom | $350 per night.
Hyde Loft | Sleeps 4 across 2 bedrooms - 1x super king,1x king|2x bathroom | $1,150 per night.
Falconer Rise | Sleeps 6 across 4 bedrooms - 2x queen, 2x single, 1x bunk |2x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $700 per night.
Taimana | Sleeps 6 across 3 bedrooms -1x queen, 4x split king |2x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $1,150 per night.
One @ 25 Belfast | Sleeps 4 across 2 bedrooms - 1x queen, 1x split king|2x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $525 per night.
Arrow Cottage | Sleeps 6 across 3 bedrooms - 1x queen, 2x split king |1x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $600 per night.
21 Lakefront | Sleeps 8 across 4 bedrooms - 1x king, 3x split king|4x ensuite, 1x guest bathroom | $1,250 per night.
25 On The Terrace | Sleeps 8 across 4 bedrooms – 1x king, 2x queen, 1x split king|3x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $900 per night.
Alpine Retreat | Sleeps 10 across 4 bedrooms – 1x king, 2x split king & 1x king, 2x single in a self contained unit|1x ensuite, 2x bathroom | $1,100 per night.
Fifteen | Sleeps 6 across 3 bedrooms – 1x king, 2x queen |1x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $1,050 per night.
Casa Vista | Sleeps 4 across 2 bedrooms -1x queen, 2x single|1x bathroom | $450 per night.
Highview | Sleeps 6 across 3 bedrooms - 2x queen, 2x single|1x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $525 per night.
Ridge View | Sleeps 8 across 4 bedrooms - 3x queen, 1x split king|2x ensuite, 1x bathroom | $800 per night.
Penthouse on Hallenstein | Sleeps 7 across 4 bedrooms – 1x super king, 1x king, 1x queen, 1x single|1x esnuite, 2x bathroom | $875 per night.
The (not so) small print
Terms and conditions apply: Stay for 4 nights and pay for 3. This offer is valid for bookings between now and the 30th June 2019. Only valid on direct bookings over the phone, via email or through our website. All bookings are subject to availability.
Get away from it all and enjoy a short break this winter...
Talk to one of our Travel Designers about this exclusive Australian and New Zealand Residents' Winter Special at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.
What does the special offer include?
- A special nightly rate
- Luxurious suite accommodation
- Pre-dinner drinks and canapes
- Gourmet dinner
- Full breakfast and complimentary non-alcoholic mini-bar
- A choice of unlimited green fees on the award-winning golf courses OR
- A rejuvenating 60-minute spa massage treatment per person per night stayed
Prices: NZ$775 + 15% GST per person, per night based on double occupancy. For an upgrade to a Deluxe Suite add $150 + 15% GST per night to the package.
The small print
This offer is valid for booking from 1 April until 31 May 2019 and is valid for travel from 1 May up to and including 30 September 2019. Conditions apply, subject to availability and change.
Touch of Spice CEO Jacqui Spice has been awarded Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Travel Specialist’ accolade for the third year running, following six previous accolades.
We’re thrilled our CEO and Founder Jacqui has been named a ‘Top Travel Specialist’ by Condé Nast Traveler for the third consecutive year. This marks the seventh occasion Jacqui has been acknowledged by Condé Nast Traveler for her unparalleled knowledge and talent when it comes to promoting and managing luxury villas throughout New Zealand.
What goes into becoming a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist?
This accolade is awarded to Travel Specialists who have a uniquely in-depth understanding of the area they curate and promote, offering travellers and agents alike the best advice available.
At Touch of Spice we spend our time working hard, curating luxury stays and most importantly bringing these stays to life, through unique experiences and little ‘touches’ that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. At our Queenstown office our team of Travel Designers work with Jacqui to turn ordinary journeys to New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific into memorable experiences.
A note from Jacqui
“I feel incredibly privileged to be presented with this award for the seventh time. My team and I spend our days doing whatever we can to bring our client’s requests to life in ways they never thought possible. We strive to ensure every moment we have a hand in creating, becomes a memory that lasts a lifetime, and so it’s wonderful to be recognised (once again) for the service we provide.”
About Condé Nast Traveler
Condé Nast Traveler are the self-proclaimed leaders of news on all things travel, driving the most up-to-date and engaging updates on the travel industry, through both their printed magazine, expertly curated daily emails and enthralling online articles.
What is a Condé Nast Traveler Travel Specialist?
Only a select few are given this admirable accolade, awarded to whom they deem “the right experience maker” who “will intuit your desires before you even know what they are — then they’ll make them happen.” – Paul Brady and Christine Cantera, Condé Nast.
At Touch of Spice we embody this notion on a daily basis. We want you to run down the hallways, bomb in the pool and generally make the most of what our private escapes can offer. Despite representing some of the most incredible and exclusive properties in the region, we know it’s not about the accommodation itself. Although exquisite spaces, with unique levels of luxury, escapism and privacy are of course crucial – it’s ultimately about the experiences and the memories created – that we hope will last long beyond the journey home.