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!
A wellness weekend with The Luxury Network, Hyoumankind and Touch of Spice
This Spring The Luxury Network New Zealand sent out special invitations to a number of lucky ladies giving them the opportunity to escape reality for a night and get away with Touch of Spice and new wellness brand Hyoumankind. Photographer Tatiana Skorik came along and snapped some beautiful shots of us enjoying champagne on the deck overlooking the ocean, dinner cooked by Des Harris and Hyoumankind's beautiful new wellness products.
Muriwai Estate – an escape to end all escapes, just a stone's throw from Auckland
The night away from the hustle and bustle of city life took place at Muriwai Estate – part of The Residence Collection by Touch of Spice – a portfolio of exclusive use luxury homes across New Zealand. Muriwai Estate is just a 40-minute drive or 15 minute helicopter ride from Auckland City Centre. It is the dream location for multi-generational getaways, product launches, photoshoots, filming or events for up to 100 people.
Our partners at Hyoumankind
Guests were met by a glass of champagne by Jacqui Spice, Sofia Ambler from The Luxury Network and Steph Wyborn from Hyoumankind – a wellness company who have recently launched their pioneering set of pillows that help you get the most out of life – both whilst awake and whilst you are resting.“Asleep or awake, when your body is supported and comfortable you are poised to get the most out of life.”
Hyounmankind started with the aim of helping you to sleep soundly, wake up feeling fresh and ready to get the most out of your day, every day. Hyoumankind combine design with science to build the best shape for you to rest your head and relax. Their range extends from smaller travel sized pillows to specialist support pillows for different areas of your body.
Dinner with Hunting Lodge Chef - Des Harris
After time to relax, unwind and shake off a week of work, the ladies were treated to a seasonal al-fresco three course dinner cooked by Des Harris – ex fine-dining chef and Head Chef at the nearby Hunting Lodge Winery. The food was incredible!
Breakfast and morning yoga overlooking the wild west coast
After a quiet night of rest, the wellness break concluded with a morning yoga session overlooking the wild west coast of New Zealand and a delicious breakfast. A little escape from city life just a stone's throw from Auckland!
It was brilliant partnering with our friend Sofia Ambler at The Luxury Network New Zealand and we can’t want to see what Hyoumankind has in store over the coming years. Having tried one of their pillows, we’re sleeping better already!
Forget the Christmas carols and letters to Santa, get the sun cream and bucket list at the ready; The Holidays are coming!
We do Christmas a little differently here in Queenstown – when most are sitting around the fire with a glass of mulled wine, we’re sipping mimosas under the sun and filling our day with adventures of a lifetime!
Imagine waking up in a luxurious home from home, the sun is shining, brunch served with a side of mountain views and instead of unwrapping the usual gifts, you get to tick some of Queenstowns top experiences off that bucket list.
Whether you’re already booked up, looking for some last-minute Festive Availability or planning for 2020, our Travel Designers will do all the gift wrapping for you giving you a family Christmas you’ll be talking about for years to come.
So here it is, our gift to you - Our guide to Christmas Day in Queenstown. Treat yourself, t’is the season after all.
1. The Classic TSS Earnslaw
2. Get your adrenaline pumping – Skippers Canyon Jet
3. Christmas lunch on a peak – Fly to Milford with Glacier Southern Lakes Heli
4. Dine in luxury with a private chef
5. Lord of The Rings Discovery with Nomad Safari
An iconic day when visiting Queenstown. Sail across the stunning Lake Wakitipu in the traditional 1912 TSS Earnslaw steamship. watch as the coal is shovelled into the giant steam engines before making your way to the on-board bar for a glass of bubbles to sip from the top deck. Watch as the mountains float by, their scale making you feel like a pin prick in the lake, before arriving at Walter Peak Farm. Take a tour of the high-country station by horse back or bike, indulge in a gourmet BBQ dinner and say cheers to a very merry Christmas under the sun. Sail back across the lake to finish your day trip and prepare for your next adventure with the family.
What would a visit to Queenstown be without blasting through the rivers on a jet boat? Get that ultimate adrenaline fix on the Skippers Canyon Jet Boat. Start with a scenic drive down one of the world most dangerous roads, Skippers Canyons, through the rich gold mining land and stunning scenery. Getting there is half the adventure! Once on the boat, hold on tight and get that adrenaline high as you blast through the canyon walls at 80kmh with 360-degree spins along the way. Blast past some Lord of The Rings sights before making the drive back to Queenstown. A Christmas gift for the full family.
Milford Sound Extended with Glacier Southern Lakes Heli
Take off from Queenstown and be transported into a land of discovery in Milford Sound. Fly the length of Milford Sound past sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls, out to the Tasman Sea where you will land on a wild West Coast beach. In Milford, enjoy a short nature walk and gain that iconic Mitre Peak Shot before enjoying an exhilarating flight past spectacular rivers, valleys and mountains with blue-green ice falls.
Looking for something more? Enjoy your Christmas Lunch on top of a peak with your pilot preparing a gourmet platter served alongside a glass of bubbles over-looking the vast valleys and glacial lakes – a Christmas feast you won’t forget.
Dine in luxury with a private chef
Looking for a more relaxed Christmas dinner? Spend the afternoon exploring Queenstown and perhaps work up an appetite on the Queenstown Hill Track or one of the many walking tracks in the area. Return to your luxury home in the evening to a fully prepared fest from your own private chef. Sip a glass of bubbles on your terrace, let the kids wind down with a Christmas movie in the cinema or take a dip in the hot tub before dinner is served. Spend the evening with the family and let the chef take care of everything else.
Lord of the Rings Discovery with Nomad Safari
Set off from Queenstown on an adventure safari packed with breath-taking scenery, thrilling 4WD action whilst discovering LOTR filming locations. Visit the filming locations of Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings (Argonath), Gladden Fields, the Ford of Bruinen and more. Travel an historic gold mining road (Skippers Canyon), following the Arrow River, stop for a refreshing afternoon picnic and take the opportunity to try your hand at gold panning – a huge part of the history of the region. Take in the spectacular panoramic views over the Wakatipu Basin before returning to Queenstown. Forget watching the movies, it’s about being part of it!
So tell us, how do you see your family celebrating Christmas in Queenstown? Whether it's this year or next, talk to one of our Travel Designers today and get into the festive spirit!