Golf, wine and islands
It is my pleasure to share this 11-day itinerary for your upcoming trip to New Zealand with you. New Zealand is an amazing country filled with lush green rainforests, majestic snow-capped mountains as far as the eyes can see, and an incredibly diverse coastline. During your travels, you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with native wildlife, taste award winning local wine, and relax at some of the country’s best lodges nestled away in the solitude of Mother Nature.
I hope you find this itinerary to meet your needs. I have incorporated a wide range of activity options to meet your vast interests. Planning this trip has been a joy because I find your travel style enchanting. I love offering travel itineraries that hearken back to how travel once was—spontaneous, quirky, intelligent and individual.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome to New Zealand! Upon your arrival in Auckland, you will be met by your local guide, Jono, and will be transferred to your awaiting helicopters for your departing flight to Kauri Cliffs Lodge in the Bay of Islands. Jono will walk you through your itinerary and answer any questions you may have before you depart. During your scenic flight, enjoy the bird’s eye view of the North Island while you soar just below the clouds. You will escape the vibrant city of Auckland and fly over the rainforest canopies and wind your way up the Hibiscus Coast to the Bay of Islands. The Bay of Islands is a collection of 144 sub-tropical islands on the east coast of the North Island. Head into the native rainforests to search for the elusive kiwi bird, or spend the day sailing on a private yacht through the islands hunting for the best white sandy beach to sink your toes into while watching the sun set over the horizon.
You will spend your afternoon enjoying a round Golf at Kauri Cliffs. This magnificent course is set high on the cliff tops with fifteen holes that view the Pacific Ocean and six of which are played alongside cliffs which plunge to the sea. This par 72 championship golf course has it all—panoramic vistas, length, variety, and unique challenges.
Enjoy a glass of champagne as you check into the luxury lodge, Kauri Cliffs Lodge. Situated on 6,000 acres on Matauri Bay, you will have a 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean from your luxury suite. After taking in this view, head to the main dining room with your husband for your dinner reservations. I highly recommend trying the New Zealand—it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Day 2: Bay of Islands relaxation
Per your request, enjoy another round of Golf at Kauri Cliffs this morning. This afternoon is at your leisure to relax at the lodge. If you’re feeling a little jet lag from your flight, I recommend scheduling a treatment at the world renowned Kauri Cliffs Spa. The spa is nestled in a Totara forest overlooking a fern-fringed steam and native gardens. You may like to enjoy the wonderful Spa treatments on offer or simply take a stroll or a golf cart to enjoy one of Kauri Cliffs three private beaches. Alternatively, you may like to enjoy a helicopter excursion over Northland. You will fly over the Bay of Islands right up to Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand. You will see giant sand dunes of pure white silica sand fringed by crystal clear water. Your pilot will stop at a secret secluded beach where you can enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch prepared by the chefs at Kauri Cliffs Lodge. Jono will help you pair your picnic lunch with a bottle of local New Zealand wine of your choice.
Day 3: Beautiful Bay of Islands
Today is at your leisure. I have selected a few options based on your interests that also showcase the best of the region. You may like to enjoy one of the following optional activities:
Nature Walk to a Waterfall: Enjoy a wonderful walk through Kauri Cliffs’ beautiful 6,000-acre property. Hike across rolling farmland and through native bush to a stunning waterfall tucked away in the lush subtropical forest. Stop for quick, refreshing swim before continuing on your journey.
Pink Beach: Only a short distance from the Kauri Cliffs lodge, Pink Beach gets its name from the tiny rose-colored shells that cover the ground. The rocky crags and inlets are covered by huge Pohutukawa trees (also known as New Zealand Christmas Trees). This gorgeous beach is great for shelling and perfect for picnics.
Horseback Riding: A unique and exhilarating way to see the Bay of Islands is on horseback. Enjoy untouched locations rarely accessible atop one of our beautifully groomed horses. The stable offers all levels of riders the opportunity to dictate the pace through rural farmland, native forest, and ocean beach.
Spa at Kauri Cliffs: Relax, rejuvenate and revive your body and spirit in a tranquil space where nature prevails. The Spa is nestled at the edge of a Totara forest and overlooks a verdant fern glen and winding stream. Each treatment room is equipped with a shower and changing area, has floor to ceiling views and opens into a private outdoor space where guests can enjoy garden inspired treatments al fresco and fireside.
Sea Kayaking: There is no better way to explore this subtropical paradise than by sea kayak. You will depart from Kauri Cliffs Lodge with your private guide and head to the Cavalli Coast. The Cavalli Islands are a special place. Whether you visit them by boat or view them from Matauri Bay, their beauty will enchant you. The Cavalli’s are the final resting place of the Rainbow Warrior, which is one of the top five dive sites in Northland now that the sea life and coral have taken hold. The coastal area nearby and islands themselves offer many secluded beautiful beaches. Enjoy a two-hour sea paddling adventure, through pristine waters and along the gorgeous coastline of New Zealand’s Northlands. Your guide will tailor your adventure to be as gentle or as challenging as you like.
No matter what amazing opportunity you choose to approach the incredibly diverse New Zealand landscape, your guide, Jono, will be with you the whole time to make your experience smooth and unforgettable. Cognizant of how much you value memories, I have also hired a professional photographer to follow you along on your journey today to record your adventures for years to come.
Day 4: Taupo
This morning you will take a private scenic flight to your next destination—Taupo. The enchanting town of Taupo sits at the edge of the vast blue waters of Lake Taupo, a volcanic caldera that feeds Huka Falls, a dramatic, crystal-blue cascade that can only be reached by bike or foot. After a long day of hiking through the rainforest nestled in the shadow of the snowcapped mountain peaks, grab your swimsuit and head to the local hot springs for a night of relaxation. Taupo is nature’s ultimate playground and you will spend the next few days experiencing the very best the region has to offer.
You will be staying at the historic Huka Lodge, founded in 1924 as a fishing lodge. Located on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge lies in the middle of 17 acres of extensive, manicured gardens. Per your request, I booked the Alan Pye Cottage, a charming English cottage surrounded by lush gardens with views of rolling green lawns. Wake up to the sweet perfume of native roses and take a dip in your own private infinity pool. The famous lodge has housed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Charles Lindbergh, and other famous guests.
Day 5: Wine and fish
This morning, depart from the lodge by four wheel drive vehicle with your guide for a full day flyfishing on the Tongariro River. The Tongariro River is one of the best fly fishing rivers in the world, absolutely teeming with Rainbow and Brown trout. Put on your waders and cast your fly into the same river that Queen Elizabeth did during her stay at Huka Lodge. During the day your guide will share his knowledge of the stream pool by pool. Whatever fish you may catch can be brought back to the Lodge and cooked up for lunch by the chef. Bon appetite.
Tonight, you will have a romantic candlelight dinner in the spacious underground wine cellar in the Main Lodge. Surrounded by hundreds of fine vintages, the chef will prepare a 5-course meal featuring only the finest New Zealand ingredients just for you and your husband. Each dish will be prepared with award-winning New Zealand wine. Enjoy everything from sweet sparkling wine to a classic chardonnay.
Day 6: Hawke’s Bay golf
Spend your morning at the relaxing Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa. Relax in the silica-rich natural thermal bathing pools before enjoying a two-hour couple’s massage to ease your muscles. Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa has a long Maori history. The Maori value the healing and therapeutic benefits of the Wairakei Terraces and now you will experience the powers of the waters and clays too.
After a relaxing morning at the natural spa, Jono will take you to Hawke’s Bay. Hawke’s Bay is a stunning coastal region on the east coast of the North Island. Discover the quaint coastal villages, secluded sandy beaches dotted between seaside cliffs, and the hidden wineries tucked amongst the native forests in this award-winning wine region.
This afternoon, enjoy a round of golf at Cape Kidnappers. This simply studding Tom Doak designed course is the sister course to Kauri cliffs. This par 71 course is unlike anywhere else in golf, with holes positioned on the cliff edge, dropping away to the waves far below in Hawke’s Bay.
If you liked Kauri Cliffs, you will love The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. Set atop over 6,000 acres of rolling pastureland, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers offers 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. The lodge combines rustic and modern to create the perfect romantic destination.
Day 7: Hawke’s Bay wine
Today, you will be met at the lodge by your local guide for a full-day Wine and Sightseeing Tour of Hawke’s Bay. Sunny Hawke’s Bay is home to New Zealand’s second largest wine region. Since 1851, Hawke’s Bay produces award-winning Bordeaux-blend reds and impressive Syrah. This tour will give you the best sights of the Hawke’s Bay and can be arranged to suit your interests. Visit century old family-run wineries, where you will meet the winemakers and be treated to behind-the-scenes tours, blendings and barrel tastings normally off-limits to the general public. You will also have a chance to meet local artists in their studios and view their work.
Day 8: Journey to the South Island
This morning you will fly with your guide to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Vibrant Queenstown sits along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and amongst the dramatic snow-covered Southern Alps. The magic here is tangible: the pristine beauty of cedar-clad ranges unfolding their beautiful profiles northwards towards snow-capped peaks. It is also intangible: an ineluctable urge to venture towards that misty horizon.
On arrival in Queenstown, you will head to the luxury alpine lakeside retreat, Matakuari Lodge. Each luxury room has a balcony with panoramic views of the native forests and mountains. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to settle into your beautiful new surroundings.
Day 9: Milford Sound
Today enjoy a Milford Sound Helicopter Excursion with Glacier Landing. Your flight sweeps through the Southern Alps and over the secluded alpine lakes and lush forest of Fiordland National Park. You will fly the full length of the fiord before reaching the rugged West coast with several landings en route where you may like to take a stroll on a glacier or black sand beach. Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most majestic natural wonders. Some say it’s even the eighth wonder of the sound. From high above you will see towering peaks, cascading waterfalls, and amazing wildlife. This is a moment you will remember for the rest of your life.
Following your flight enjoy a personalized Winery Excursion in the Southern Lakes Region. Visit the Gibbston Valley wine region where extreme conditions have led to pioneering winemaking, consistently superb wines, and worldwide recognition. Enjoy a wine cave tour and wine tasting following lunch at Amisfield Winery, the architecturally award-winning winery known for its “Grown Not Made” philosophy.
Day 10: Queenstown adventures
Today is at your leisure to enjoy the facilities at the lodge. Based on your preferences, you may like to enjoy one of the following optional activities:
Dart River Jet Boat Wilderness Safari: Enjoy a spectacular Jet Boat journey through the Dart River, surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and glacial valleys frozen in time. Take an easy guided walk through the ancient native forest and learn about the unique flora and fauna, as well as the fascinating Maori and colonial history of the area. Journey by 4WD coach via a scenic back-road route, while hearing stories about the surrounding countryside and stopping to view scenery that has formed the epic backdrops for many international films, including “The Lord of the Rings.”
Guided Local Walk on the Routeburn Track: Relish the invigorating 6.5km (4 miles) walk up the wide and smooth track to Routeburn Flats with time to linger by the river as it meanders across the alpine meadow. As you walk your guide will point out the unique flora and birdlife of the Routeburn Valley. Enjoy a hot drink with lunch at Routeburn Flats Hut, while taking in the splendor of the surrounding mountains.
Round of golf at Jack’s Point: This 18-hole, 72-par golf course is designed by John Darby, the designer of the Hills, Millbrook, and Clearwater golf courses. Jack’s Point is surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range and set on Lake Wakatipu. It traverses through the wetland to the lake edge, encountering steep bluffs, indigenous vegetation, and wildlife.
Day 11: Departure
After an amazing 11 days in New Zealand, it is time to head back home with beautiful memories to last a life. Take a moment to enjoy the majestic mountains, the shores of the crystal clear waters of the lake. Enjoy a final glass of sweet local wine while quietly strolling the gorgeous gardens of the Lodge. Jono will bring you to the Queenstown Airport for your departing flight to back to Auckland. Upon arrival into Auckland, you will be transferred to the International Terminal to say farewell to New Zealand on your departing flight home.
Margaret, it has been my pleasure to plan this itinerary for your New Zealand adventures. Please do call if I can be of any help.