New Zealand has long been on my must do list! Each year, I send many clients to the North and South islands to explore beaches and mountains, quirky towns, the ancient Maori culture, breathtaking golf courses, and to experience dart boating, bungee jumping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, glacier climbs, heli-rides, and skiing. There are countless incredible, cozy lodges in which to unwind – each completely unique, with bespoke and customized service, staff, and setting that make you feel very much at home! I have at least a dozen favorite MUST DO places to suggest, but on this trip I will highlight the ones that I can. Keep in mind that when I plan your New Zealand holiday, providing as much lead time as possible will help me to get you in to the most sought after lodges in a nice flow from North to South or South to North with out too much zig–zagging. With less time, we may need to be more flexible on the routings. Either way, you will feel completely cared for. The gastronomic and wine options in New Zealand are very much worth the trip. Some consider New Zealand one big farm with spectacular beef and lamb dotting every hill, but the bountiful seafood all around and the award winning vineyards producing Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Shiraz (just to name a few) will keep you well-satiated throughout the journey!
I started my visit in the far north of the North Island in Kerikeri. After landing in Auckland, a short 35 minute flight whisked me up to the spectacular Bay of Islands and on to the famed Relais & Chateaux property, Kauri Cliffs.
The relaxing nature of this perfectly elegant and homey lodge in the tropical Northland was the perfect antidote to jet lag and a climatizing my southern blood to the cool climates of New Zealand.
Arriving to the incredibly beautify, understated and elegant Kauri Cliffs.
Nothing like beating the first day’s jet lag with a picnic at the Pink Beach. What a feast complete with the incredible fish, vegetables and wines from the area!
Today we head out to do some touring with a local Mauri (a Native Kiwi). We visited a Saturday Market which is the true gathering spot for the locals.
New Zealand Chocolate is some of the best!
A historic government building from the Europeans who settled the area.
Dinner at Kauri Cliffs is served wherever you might like it. This evening in the library was definitely unforgettable!! Feast your eyes…..
Next stop to The Landing.
The homes on this spectacular setting are top quality craftsmanship with views to knock your socks off. This is a wonderful place for families who want to settled in with a chef, a wine maker, privacy, and activities-galore!
The first home we saw was the Boathouse – perfect for an active family on the beach. basketball court, multiple barbecue and entertainment spots, all the bells and whistles.
This home is located overlooking the vineyard and the coast and has glass walls that open or close depending on the weather. Loved the privacy and setting here!
Finally, the creme de la creme was the main house with its own wine cellar, star gazing roof top, incredible indoor and outdoor public areas – this is the place for a big birthday celebration with friends or family! WOW!
The Landing has its own wine maker and all the wines are included in the price of your rental. We had a marvelous afternoon with the wine maker who admits that his wines are not where he wants them with such a young vineyard but each year we tried simply got better and better! No complaints whatsoever! Lovely!
And the chef may have prepared the most healthful and flavorful meal of the week – that is saying something! It was SIMPLY Wow!
What a delightful surprise to depart in such style after a lovely afternoon.
We were guests in the 4 bedroom presidential villa, affectionately nicknamed by us as “Villa Rockstar” as that is how we felt staying here!
It was a true WOW to be some of the first guests at Helena Bay. This over the top, no expense-spared resort is made up of five one-bedroom villas and approximately 50 staff. The location alone is incredible with some of the most beautiful and private beaches in the world and a working farm.
The food is all grown on the farm – livestock, produce, fruit – and only what is needed beyond that is imported. The chef is from Don Alfonso in the Amalfi coast and his whole concept of cooking is SIMPLICITY – let the flavor of the product shine through on its own! Wow, did we eat the most gorgeous foods and chef was right!
Today we toured the grounds – visiting the sheep, cows, and gardens! Truly incredible to see how a farm is run and to be able to enjoy the fruits of it all with a cooking class!
The service at Helena Bay is mind blowing! 50 employees take care of up to 10-14 guests tops! They do not miss a beat, know your preferences, and can not do enough for you!
One more delicious dinner…..
All good things must come to and end….but not really – how about being picked up by the fastest and sleekest helicopter operating in New Zealand? I am most definitely up for it! This shaved off a 3 hour drive to the Auckland airport. We definitely suggest at least a heli or two for our clients. The best way to set up a golf trip of New Zealand is via helicopter – heli-golf anyone?
Our views from Helena Bay all the way to Auckland are below…
From the airport we departed Auckland on the North Island bound for the South Island and marvelous Queenstown, Adventure Capital of the World!
There are many wonderful places to stay in the Queenstown area. The question is do you prefer to stay outside the city in a stunning lodge immersed in nature or inside the city in a chic hotel within walking distance to all?
Matakauri Lodge – Stunning!!
Next stop Blanket Bay – New Zealand’s Ultimate Alpine Escape! Cozy, comfortable, and quite possibly perfect!
Off on a heli-glacier ride and landing –
Jet boating on the Dart River –
For those wanting to be in the wonderful city center of Queenstown, THE place to stay is Eicharts Private Hotel which is walking distance to everything, but chic enough to not want to leave! Eicharts Private Hotel has nearby wonderful residences and a terrific sister hotel – The Spire Hotel. Just outside of town in a lovely residential neighborhood, we love Azur Lodge.
Quaint shops, fun restaurants and live music await those who chose an in-town location.
A couple of shots of the fabulous Eicharts Private Hotel –
The ultimate thrill, Bungee jumping. Believe me, this was not planned nor ever even remotely on my radar, but as they say, “When in Rome….do as the Romans do!” Or in this case, do as the Kiwis! How could I resist when I got to personally meet the co-founder of Bungee jumping and being at the exact spot of the original Bungee jump – the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown.
It is completely exhilarating and I am still pinching myself. I did it! Check!
Farewell, New Zealand! I will absolutely with out question return! One of my most favorite trips and places ever. Your kindness, hospitality, and genuine love of life shines through! As you say, “Sweet As!”
If you have a minute and 44 seconds, check out my epic jump video – still makes my hands sweat!