Arrive in New Zealand and be driven straight to Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour to board the ferry across the sparkling waters of the Waitemata to Waiheke Island. This tiny island has a wonderful, laid back atmosphere and is fast becoming recognised for its excellent vineyards. Spend 2 nights at The Boatshed, a boutique seaside property inspired by the early 1900s boatsheds that scatter the country’s shores. Spend your days enjoying the award-winning vineyards, sophisticated al-fresco restaurants, artists’ studios and galleries or simply relax on one of the island’s deserted, golden beaches.
From here, return to the mainland by ferry or by helicopter, and travel down to Rotorua to soak up some of the stunning lake views, Maori culture and native New Zealand forests that cover the ’lake district’. Your stay here is at Treetops Lodge, set in the middle of a huge country estate just 20 minutes from Lake Rotorua. The views from the Lodge are spectacular; with panoramic vistas over the vibrant green forest. The views are at their best in the early morning when mist fills the valley. There is plenty of opportunity for biking and walking and a fabulous experience in this region is taking a helicopter flight to White Island, an active volcanic island in the Bay of Plenty.
Following your stay in Rotorua, drive down to the Hawkes Bay wine region, for a stay at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, a stunning, country property with incredible attention to detail and delicious food. Set in the most dramatic location atop cliffs that plunge into the Pacific, it is a superb property with a wealth of activities on offer, from hot air balloon flights to wine tasting at some of New Zealand’s most renowned vineyards.
Once you have sampled some of Hawkes Bay’s finest vintages, fly on to the South Island where you will spend 3 nights at Edenhouse. This prestigious, small lodge is situated within 48 acres of private gardens and is perfectly positioned to explore both Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. The Park is only 30 minutes away and is famous for its golden beaches, turquoise waters, native bush and pristine marine environment.
Further south still on the East coast is a little town called Kaikoura - famous for its abundant marine life and the most amazing place to go whale watching or even swim with pods of wild Dusky Dolphins. Your base during your time in Kaikoura is in one of the sublimely luxurious Tree Houses at Hapuku Lodge. With amazing views of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, staying in a Tree House (albeit in total luxury) is a nostalgic nod to youth.
From Kaikoura, head to the city of Christchurch and fly across to the lakeside town of Queenstown. Whilst this pretty alpine town is known for its extreme sports, there are plenty more relaxing things to do and it is also the gateway to the stunning Fiordland National Park, showcasing both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. It is also a great area for biking, horse riding and wine tasting - the Central Otago region produces the most fantastic Pinot Noir. Your base for the following 2 nights is Eichardts Hotel, right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the heart of the town.
From Queenstown, you will be flown by helicopter into the heart of the Mount Aspiring National Park for a stay at New Zealand’s first luxury tented lodge, Minaret Station. With only four luxurious tents in a remote glacial valley, the property is only accessible by helicopter and is the ultimate alpine getaway. Each tent comes complete with wall-to-wall sheepskin carpets, king-size beds and a full en-suite bathroom as well as a private deck with its own hot tub offering spectacular views of the glacial valley beyond. At night you can relax in the camp’s ‘Mountain Kitchen’ with its own dining room and living area with open fire. Here chef Leungo Lippe whose previous kitchens include Marco Pierre White's Michelin starred L'Escargot in London, prepares tantalizing delicacies at three thousand feet.
From Minaret Station you will be flown back to Queenstown by helicopter and will drive along the edge of Lake Wakatipu to the stunning Blanket Bay. This extraordinary luxury lodge is built from local wood and stone and blends seamlessly into the jaw-dropping landscapes, with immaculate service and beautiful accommodation. Spend your final days enjoying the lake, riding through the grounds or taking a helicopter trip from the front lawn across the mountains to Milford Sound.
When to travel
The climate in New Zealand is incredibly pleasant, with warm and balmy summers and cold crisp winter months with wonderful clear, blue skies. The warmer high-season months of November to April are perfect for outdoor exploration. The colder months of June to August are the best time to ski.
Both North and South Islands are drier on the east coast, rather than on the west, where mountain ranges act as a trap for the moisture-rich winds from the Tasman Sea. It is also worth remembering that it is usually a few degrees cooler on the South Island than the North Island and as New Zealand has a maritime climate, the weather can change rapidly.
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Location and directions
Waiheke Island, Rotorua, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Kaikoura, Queenstown, Mount Aspiring National Park & Glenorchy
Explore both the north and south islands of New Zealand. Visiting Waiheke Island, Rotorua and Hawkes Bay in the north before heading to the south island and Nelson, Kaikoura, Queenstown, Mount Aspiring National Park and Glenorchy.
How to get there
22-hour flight to Auckland via Hong Kong. The Boatshed is a 35-minute fast ferry ride from the Downtown Auckland.