Kiwi Wonders: An Exclusive Luxury Adventure in New Zealand

Jul 08, 2024 Avatar Katie Cadar Katie Cadar

I have just returned from an extraordinary journey, an experience for just five agents, thanks to Tourism New Zealand. After passing a qualifying test, we were handpicked to form an exclusive group of Signature agents who, though strangers initially, quickly formed a strong camaraderie.

We flew business class with Fiji Air, which was fantastic. A few hours of layover gave us time to enjoy the lounge, which had decent food and showers.

After arriving in Auckland, we connected to a flight to Napier, where we stayed at Cape Kidnappers. We stayed at a charming golf resort, now a Rosewood property, greeted by the general manager with champagne. The individual bungalows had a rustic, country feel with stunning scenery, welcoming décor, large bathrooms, and comfortable living areas. We took jeeps out to spot kiwi birds hiding in bushes then to a riverbank to look for glowworms on the walls of the cave. The view from my balcony was breathtaking, with a sweeping view of the natural landscape of the sea.

Next, we flew to Queenstown, the adventure capital with jet boats and a winter solstice celebration with the ski season that had just begun. In Queenstown, we stayed at Eichardt’s, which is a beautiful Relais Chateaux property in the heart of town. The Parlor is a room that offers cocktails and tea in the afternoon, perfect for meeting fellow travelers. The view from the hotel of the lake and town was spectacular.  We dined at a cool restaurant with Indian cuisine adjacent to the Spire.

A breakfast with a great view kicked off a day that included a wine tasting at Mt Rosa. We also visited Arrowtown, where we indulged in sweets at the Remarkable Sweet Shop.

Next, we headed to Ayrburn, known for its vineyards, restaurants, shops, and upcoming rooms. It was an enjoyable day excursion from Queenstown, with a memorable lunch, upstairs in one of their restaurants.

From there, we flew back to Christchurch, taking a helicopter to a homestead called Flock Hill. When we landed, we were captivated by the breathtaking scenery. Their chef, Taylor Cullen, created one of our favorite dining experiences on this trip. It was so memorable that we wanted to stay at the table for seconds and thirds! The homestead’s living room offered exquisite views. The property is perfect year-round, offering summer activities like horseback riding and winter skiing. As of now there are four rooms for guests in the homestead, so it is open for exclusive use. By December they will open their villas, hosting up to 36 guests. The accommodation was spacious and inviting.

Leaving Flock Hill by helicopter, we landed on the lawn of the lovely Victorian Estate, Otahuna, another Relais Chateaux hotel. With stained glass windows, working fireplaces in each unique bedroom, gigantic bathrooms, sheep to feed, a garden to explore, we couldn’t have been happier. Otahuna has only 7 rooms and feels like your own delightful country home. Our hosts were two charming (and hilarious) American men, who ensured our stay was unforgettable. At Otahuna, Executive Chef Jimmy McIntyre gave us a cooking lesson in pasta making.

Christchurch, still recovering from past earthquakes, presented a mix of old and new. We explored the city, which was quite chilly in June, fortified with a stop for coffee, Flat White, with scones.

On the drive to our next lodge we visited Greystone Winery for a wine pairing lunch. The wines of New Zealand are delicious! Continuing on the coast, spotting sea lions, and we stayed at Hapuku Lodge. It was a modern and cozy lodge consisting of three lodge rooms and five treehouses

Another helicopter ride took us to a sheep station where we watched dogs work their magic.  it was so much fun to watch the dogs at work. The food was excellent, the accommodation was simple but relaxing. If you want to experience a working sheep station, this is a place to consider. This was in Middlehurst Station and is perfect for a small retreat or family group.

Our journey continued to a national park, Abel Tasman, at the top of the island with white sandy beaches, accessible only by helicopter or boat. Following our flyover visit, we landed in Nelson and stayed at a lovely 6-room lodge, Pihopa, which hosts an old church on the property where an abundant breakfast is served. From Pihopa we drove to see Okoro Villa in the hills overlooking Nelson.

We enjoyed a guided tour of a botanical garden, and learning about the Māori people, the indigenous people of New Zealand. After the botanical garden we spent some time in a contemporary art museum in Nelson called The Suter.

Our final leg took us back to Auckland. Despite the cold, the Park Hyatt, with its Māori art and playful dog Beau, provided the best hotel experience in the city.

The last morning was sunny and picturesque. We took a scenic drive around Auckland, and although our plane was delayed, our tour operator showed us more of the wonderful city. Fiji Air provided excellent service on the way home, with flatbeds making the long flight incredibly restful.

If you’re feeling inspired by this incredible New Zealand adventure, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you plan your luxurious trip to explore this amazing destination!