Where To Eat, Drink, Play & Relax
It's easy to get caught up in the beauty and action of the wilderness, the lakes and rivers, mountains and fiords, but sometimes you just need to kick back and relax for a few days. This is the time to spoil yourself with a refreshing stay at one of the luxury lodges.
There are some fabulous wines grown in New Zealand, from sauvignon blanc and riesling to pinot noir, chardonnay and the lesser known aromatics - one for every day of your stay. Many of the luxury lodges are close to excellent wine-growing regions, making a wine tour a must during your stay. And it's a bit the same with the local cuisine - there are lots of local delicacies to try. Already known widely for tender lamb and fine dairy products, New Zealand also produces excellent beef and venison, which local chefs know how to prepare to perfection. Matched with fresh local vegetables, fruits and herbs, cheeses, fish and shellfish, you can explore the length of the country from your plate. Visit a farmers market or take a cooking class to find out more.
Why not add a few rounds of golf to your unwinding days? Once again, most of the luxury lodges either have their own golf course or one nearby. Several of these are championship courses and all have been designed by top golfers. What better way to warm up before a long hike or bike ride? And after you get back, you can enjoy a luscious soak in a hut tub and a soothing massage. Each lodge has its own spa and pampering spa menu, ensuring you will leave feeling renewed and refreshed. New Zealand also has a world-class yoga and wellness retreat near Queenstown.
Below are a some ideas to pursue your passions, be they wine, food, golf, relaxation - or all of those. No matter where you are planning to travel in New Zealand there will be options available - email us for more info.
North to South we'll visit the main regions - Auckland is where you'll find the Bordeaux varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there are over 100 wineries in the area, including a number on beautiful Waiheke Island out in the Hauraki Gulf, which also produces an excellent Montepulciano. Further down the North Island is New Zealand's second largest wine region in Hawkes Bay. Here you'll find the sunny flavours - all the same wines from Auckland, with Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Across Cook Strait, at the top of the South Island is the country's largest wine region, Marlborough, which produces arguably the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. They also produce excellent Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. This region produces two thirds of New Zealand's vines. The nearby Nelson region is smaller, more boutique maybe, producing the same varieties as Marlborough and some beautiful aromatics like Gewurtztraminer. Just out of Christchurch the Waipara region is known for interesting Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Gris wines, and down in Central Otago near Queenstown they produce world-class Pinot Noir like nowhere else.
Food, delicious food - the options are exciting. New Zealand went through a time of fusion cuisine, where the flavours of the Pacific Rim were brought down under and applied to local foods, with remarkable success. But the food scene has now grown up and New Zealand has a very special local flavour all its own. With fabulous ingredients at hand like fresh lamb and beef, sea-grown salmon and shellfish, fresh-caught fish and soft tasty cheeses it's a great start. Fusion flavours are still evident at times but there's a beautiful weaving of native New Zealand flavours and foods like horopito, kawakawa, manuka honey, korengo and kumara giving a cuisine that is definitely worth exploring. Less well known is the creamy, velvety smoothness of rich ice cream and yoghurts, produced from the milk of pasture-raised dairy cows. Organic foods are also on the rise with many chefs using them wherever available.
Golf Resorts & Courses
Some of New Zealand's best golf courses are found at the luxury lodges and resorts - names like Millbrook, Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers roll easily off the tongue. Millbrook Resort is a 20 minute drive out of Queenstown, and offers very comfortable accommodation and a 27 hole golf course. This award-winning golf course has also been voted Best Golf Hotel at the 2017 & 2016 World Golf Awards and named Oceania's Best Golf Hotel in New Zealand at the World Golf Awards 2014 & 2016. Designed by Sir Bob Charles and later enhanced by Greg Norman, it will easily fill a few days. At the far end of the country, near the Bay of Islands, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs also has a spectacular golf course. Perched high above the sea, with 15 holes overlooking the ocean and the rest meandering through bush and farmland, its a challenging but beautiful place to hit a ball. Sister lodge, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay, also has a highly acclaimed golf course sitting high above the ocean. The course trails between high clifftops and deep valleys and was designed by golf architect Tom Doak.
Memorable Spas & Fitness
Imagine sinking in to a steaming hot tub, surrounded by soft native grasses and ferns, and watching a clear starry sky above. This is just the treatment needed after a three day hike through spectacular alpine country. Once again, most of the luxury lodges have a spa, with either a dedicated on-site day spa, or therapists who can come in and give you an excellent treatment. Places like Blanket Bay, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Millbrook Resort, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs and Poronui offer delicious spa options. But if you're serious about fitness and relaxation, ultra-nutrition, yoga and mediation then a 6 or 7 day stay at Aro Ha Wellness Retreat will get you in shape very quickly.