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Connoisseur highlights: 5 tantalising experiences to try in New Zealand

While New Zealand provides many a guest an outstanding holiday, it also provides lovers of luxury, connoisseurs of distinction and individuals of impeccable taste an exquisite opportunity to blend the finer things in life. From fine dining, helicopter cruises, fly-fishing and inspired shopping to gorgeous blue oceans, sea-food cruises and delicious wines, you can do it all in New Zealand. Regardless of your age, gender or preference for luxury, there is an amazing array of experiences that can be created and enjoyed in New Zealand that range from the adrenalin-fuelled to the mellow and dreamy. Couture For a luxurious fashion hit, the hottest new couturier and bespoke label, Dadelszen, has reached a sensational high note within the couture corridors of New Zealand’s fashion world. The highly curated space for men and women to view premium labels has created a much-anticipated level of design that is testament to personalisation and customisation. The appointment only sessions with the Dadelszen team attest to the fact that every detail of your shopping experience is taken care of in sophisticated style. Dadelszen offer a range of casual to more formal fabrications, all smart yet elegant and simple. Beautifully cut trousers, slacks and skirts create the perfect partner to cashmere. While flowing silk and cotton dresses hug the body in luxurious style. From the valet parking as you arrive, to the welcome you receive when you enter the exquisite space, this experience is designed to entice your senses. Every desire is sure to be met in the lavish space filled with the finest fabrics from around the world. Whisky Think whisky and you tend to think of Celtic mists swirling across the Scottish Highlands, or old barrels sitting on peat floors on the outskirts of Dublin. Yet, New Zealand has a thriving whisky trade, with tours and tastings to suit the most discerning palette. There is an interesting history to whisky, or water-of-life as it was referred to in days gone by. The most common tale is that the Irish monks brought distilling perfumes back to Ireland from their journeys to Mediterranean countries and used these to distil a fine golden liquid, fragrant and aromatic. Whatever the truth, whisky has become a currency of fine drinking around the world. And lest we under-estimate the development of whisky in New Zealand, a 1988 bottle of whisky made in Willowbank was recently awarded “southern hemisphere whisky of the year” in the Whisky Bible. The tradition in New Zealand started way back in the 1830’s with the arrival of the Scottish settlers and has gone on to great heights. Whisky tours to the likes of the Cardrona Distillery with its fine tradition of whisky craftsmanship is set to enlighten even the well-informed connoisseur. A tour that is designed to offer insights into their water source and how the malt is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled and of course, matured into the fine tasting spirits they have become famous for is a highly rated experience. The Cardrona Distillery also offers a limited number of casks to a few private buyers to create a personal purchase of their own blend. The cask is filled and left to mature; the taste of a barrel is custom made with a hint of vanilla, floral or dried fruit flavours. The unique blend develops into an expression of the individual; a test of time and flavour for the whisky connoisseur. Fishing the seas and the rivers If fishing is your thing, then a heli-fishing experience is sure to set your spirit soaring. Imagine flying over the Hauraki Gulf and the surrounding islands, watching whales and dolphins gliding through the sea. Observe the sting rays in their marine habitat, all from the comfort of your chartered helicopter. Depart from Auckland and head out to one of the idyllic fishing spots along the Hauraki Gulf and the surrounding islands. Some of the best fishing in the world can be found along the sub-tidal reefs of the North-East coastline. A trip out with Heletranz, the pioneers of heli-fishing who have a reputation for making fishermen very happy, is sure to get anyone excited. And with all your equipment needs taken care of including rods, reels, tackle and bait you have nothing to worry about except catching the big one. If your visit takes you to the South Island then a fly-fishing experience at the Lindis will be a triumph. The Lindis is perfectly situated for fly-fishing on one of the greatest stretches of water for fly-fishing in the world, the Ahuriri River. This river is internationally renowned, and has been rated top 5 in the world. The river runs directly in front of the Lindis lodge so guests can stroll down to the water’s edge to see the trout, glistening as they go rushing through the clear waters. What could be better than an afternoon spent in the quiet landscape swishing a silken line out over the river? Not only does the Lindis offer a spectacular range of activities but it is also one of New Zealand’s newest luxury lodges, created with sleek architecture that flows into the landscape, blending beautifully into the terrain. Each of the suites offers an uninterrupted view of the surrounding Ahuriri Valley, and is designed for luxury and comfort. With private sitting area, both inside and out, this lodge lends itself to indulgent relaxation in sublime style. Hand in hand with the luxurious suites is refined cuisine that pays its deepest respects to local produce. The head chef and his team prepare seasonally fresh ingredients in a uniquely New Zealand style, all paired with the finest wines, for a dining experience that is designed to be savoured. Luxury seafood cruise Another great way to dine in style is to go on a privately chartered seafood cruise, where being served the freshest seafood is just one part of the overall fine-dining experience. Gorgeous fresh platters containing King salmon, Cloudy Bay clams, and delicious Greenshell mussels are just some of the delights to be tasted. The sea-food is accompanied by well-paired wines to create an indulgent and unforgettable luncheon out at sea If like most, you are concerned about the nutritional quality and sustainability of the salmon, then rest assured, Marlborough Sound King salmon is raised in one of the cleanest environments in the world. The sea farms start at the Springs near Takaka, and extend all the way down to the cool deep waters of the Sounds. And that’s why a claim to the best salmon in the world hails from the Marlborough Sounds of New Zealand is one made in confidence. Activities to unwind There are golf packages that include trips to the golfing capital, Queenstown, in the South Island at signature courses like Jacks Point, Millbrook and The Hills. A trip to the Bay of Islands on New Zealand’s North Island could include a round at the magnificent Kauri cliffs, a world-class golf-club that has been ranked 18th best in the World by Golf Magazine’s world top 100. These trips are all handled by experts and all the transport, travel and logistics can be outsourced for a truly relaxing holiday. Understandably though, golf is not for everyone. If adrenalin-sport is on your agenda, a day spent racing around a purpose-built racetrack at Highlands motorsport would be better suited. Steering a 4-cylinder Radical SR3, similar to the Le Mans vehicles, with aerodynamic bodywork for increased downforce, reduced drag and slick tires for exhilarating corners is great fun. Or take the slopes for a ski with Southern Lakes Heliski, who offer an amazing 17 mountain ranges and over 800 runs to choose from. That should definitely energise you as you plan one of the best days of your life out on the slopes. There are numerous packages to choose from, depending on your mood and ability. The guides and pilots are highly trained and adept at providing world-class experiences for both skiers and snowboarders. You just need to pitch up, head out with the team onto one of the pristine ranges and have fun. Lunch is served on a snow table amidst the breath-taking scenery, and after a few more trips you’ll be taken back to base. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, luxury is different for everyone, and a connoisseur’s taste is made up from a culmination of experiences. Find your beauty, your personal choice of defining luxury and become the connoisseur of your best life. Take your next trip to New Zealand to fly, fish, ski, sleep, dive, eat and build your own basis for judging the finer things. Veronika Vermeulen is Director of Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. has been offering 100% tailored journeys and private guided luxury experiences in New Zealand since 2000. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Veronika Vermeulen

Veronika Vermeulen is Director of Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. has been offering 100% tailored journeys and private guided luxury experiences in New Zealand since 2000.

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  1. Like most people I’m having to work far too hard to earn a living. I like to make the most of my 24 days of annual leave. Most people I know feel that those precious days of freedom are an opportunity for special experiences and to spoil themselves and their family.

    I completely agree that whilst in New Zealand you should seize opportunities for spectacular helicopter rides, fine dining and playing great golf courses etc.

    1. I could not agree more. Especially if you see and experience things that are otherwise not accessible for large groups and crowds. “Traveling is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”

  2. One of the “best days out of your life”?
    I think if I went with Southern Lakes Heliski I wouldn’t be satisfied with just one day. With 17 mountain ranges and 800 runs I think, depending on cost (!) I’d be looking at more than one day of great skiing.

  3. One of my bizarre and quite expensive hobbies is that I like to go fly-fishing in different countries and continents. Definitely want to add New Zealand to my collection after reading this.

    1. Not bizarre over here. most of my friends are into fly fishing over here and New Zealand is a fly fisherman’s paradise. Both North and South Island has many incredible rivers and lakes for a beautiful activity as this.

  4. I never knew that New Zealand produced whisky but then again I remember people being surprised when Japan embarked on its own whisky journey.

    I hate the stuff but my husband could drink it like water if I didn’t ration him. On the subject of water he is always telling me that it is the distinctive nature of the local water that makes for the differences in taste and quality. How far is that true of the New Zealand distilleries?

    On our next trip to New Zealand, I’ll arrange some whisky tasting for my husband. And if he behaves himself I’ll volunteer to drive the hire car for the day.

    1. I love whiskey, but I’m pretty fussy about it and do prefer the sweeter bourbons. I’ve no idea about the process though so I don’t have a clue really about how important the local water is to the taste and quality. I imagine your hubby would find a tour fascinating if he’s interested in the making of it as well as the sampling. I don’t picture whiskey with NZ either. I always think of wines. I’m curious what their whiskey offerings are like now!

  5. There are so many things in life that we never get a chance to try. I find it tragic that almost everyone one of us could have an undiscovered talent.

    I enjoy driving and I think that I tend to get the best out of the i exciting cars that I drive but there has always been a niggle at the back of my mind as to whether I could have competed on a track, obviously I don’t mean F1 but just as a weekend amateur.

    For once in my life it would be so good to have control of a beast of a car. I’d love to have a drive of the Radical SR3 and just for an hour imagine that I was at Le Mons.

    1. The lifestyle in New Zealand allows many of us to get many chances to try new things. We are very blessed over her. I hope you get an opportunity to control the beast of a car one day!

  6. I’ve never actually associated shopping and couture with New Zealand. Sounds like Dadelszen is a label to look out for in the fashion world and I imagine it’s pretty popular with those who can afford the luxury for the customisation aspects. I think tailored, specially designed to personal specification products, whether clothing or jewellery or homeware, are becoming increasingly popular and sought after, but again it’s mostly for those who’ve got the finances to indulge.

    Personally I’d want to go to New Zealand to get away from buying stuff and shopping so I’d go for whiskey tours (that would be my first stop!) and outdoor activities to make the most of the natural beauty of the area. To me, NZ has always seemed like a place for being outside because of the scenery, the lush weather and the beaches and landscapes, so I wouldn’t want to spend much time indoors as it would feel like you’re missing out.

    1. Yes, most people come here to get away from things, but you can do both! We have many new and old layers to discover over here. Dadelszen clothing is amazing the quality is outstanding.

  7. Oh if only I had the money! I can see New Zealand being a destination for those with expensive taste and an eye for the finer things, but also just for those who like a more cultured experience. Although I’m not a golfer, being able to have a trip organised by the pros would be a much more convenient way to do it, less stress and hassle so you can just enjoy it without stressing about the arrangements. That’s what I find off putting about doing some activities when travelling because you end up having to co-ordinate too many things at once.

    1. A good destination managing company should take all the stress out of travel! You should walk away from a place feeling relaxed and stress-free. That is one part of a luxury experience!

  8. Two of the things I love are right in your list, Veronika, golf and cruises. There’s no better place to enjoy any outdoor activity than here, where you can expect nature to always be the star. I never expected couture though, to be something to try when in New Zealand. That’s kind of a surprise to me even if I’ve been to the country before.

    1. New Zealand has many more shades to explore than most people know. I find many travelers come here with very wrong perceptions but it is up to people like me to open travelers’ minds and let you leave our country with new impressions.

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