Hollyford Track New Zealand with guide
Try any of these five authentic experiences when visiting New Zealand – from saving kiwi to hiking an ancient river valley.
With fewer than 68,000 kiwis left in the world, seeing New Zealand’s rare national bird up close is an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. At Cape Kidnappers, a luxury lodge in the Hawke’s Bay, guests are invited to enter a 3,000-acre kiwi breeding sanctuary on the Kiwi Discovery Walk. Help a guide locate and monitor the wellbeing of one of 400 breeding pairs living within the predator-proof enclosure. Watch an endangered bird gently lifted from its burrow.
Help weigh it, measure its beak, check its tiny flightless wings, transmitter and ID band. Hold it for a photo before carefully returning it to its underground nest. Know you’re playing a part in the conservation of one of New Zealand’s most iconic and threatened birds.
Cape Kidnappers Kiwi Discovery Walk
Indulge your appetite
Succulent lamb, fresh seafood and world-class wine are found throughout New Zealand, but some experiences have all bases covered when it comes to showcasing the country’s best. One weekend a year – at a high-end sports lodge about 45-minutes’ drive from Taupō – storytelling, fine food and wine converge. This spring, it’s happening again. In mid October, a dozen guests will arrive at Poronui Lodge for the 15th annual Poronui Table, a rolling three-day feast held at different locations on the lodge’s expansive Central Plateau property.
A collaboration between Wairarapa chef Martin Bosley, traditional Māori chef Tom Loughlin and Martinborough winemaker Larry McKenna, the backcountry weekend includes wine tasting, fine dining, an afternoon barbeque and a traditional Māori hangi (earth oven meal). Between eating and drinking,
guests can fish for trout in the gin-clear waters of the Mōhaka River, cycle, relax or join chef Tom on a hīkoi (walk) of the lodge grounds to hear tribal stories and check traditional tuna (eel) traps.
Poronui Blake House exterior
Poronui Table Hangi
Relax under the stars
A decade ago, the unpolluted night skies of Aoraki Mackenzie in the South Island were declared an International Dark Sky Reserve. At Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, located in the 4,300 square kilometre reserve, owners Kaye and Luke Paardekooper open their private wine cellar and observatory to guests nightly.
Begin with a glass or two of Central Otago pinot noir in the cellar. Then step into the observatory as the roof opens to form a window to the dark sky.
Peer through a six-inch refractor telescope to see planets, star clusters and, in the right conditions, the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). Suited to the astro-curious through to the seasoned astrophotographer (you’re welcome to bring your own camera or use the in-house DSLR). Private stargazing is the perfect add-on to the retreat’s special event degustation dinners. Guests staying in the Ashley Mackenzie Villa can end the night’s star tour in their private hot tub overlooking Lake Pukaki with views of Aoraki Mt Cook in the distance.
Ashley Mackenzie Villa at Mt Cook Retreat
Ashley Mackenzie Villa private hot tub at Mt Cook Retreat
The night sky above Mount Cook Lakeside Retreat Villa
Sail away for the day
The northern tip of Te Waipounamu (New Zealand’s South Island) is one of the country’s most bountiful regions; a destination of sunshine, sauvignon blanc and sailing. Combine the lot on a day out with Cloudy Bay Vineyards. The half- or one-day Sail Away experience takes up to six guests deep into the Marlborough Sounds on Voila, the vineyard’s 54-foot sailing yacht with a team primed to keep you sated. Enjoy a wine-paired lunch, featuring Cloudy Bay’s sauvignon blanc – possibly New Zealand’s most famous white wine.
Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins surfing your wake and New Zealand fur seals feeding in the Sounds’ many inlets and coves. Anchor at Meretoto (Ship Cove), a sheltered and forested bay, accessible by boat only and reputedly favoured by early Māori and British navigator James Cook alike. Sip a glass of Cloudy Bay’s crisp, bubbly Pelorus on the homeward leg.
Cloudy Bay Sail Away experience
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
The ancient ice-carved fiords, lakes and valleys of Fiordland National Park in the south-west of Te Waipounamu (New Zealand’s South Island) are recognised as a great natural area of the world. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Area, Fiordland National Park is home to the Hollyford Valley, a wilderness of thousand-year-old beech trees, gushing waterfalls and mountain-fed rivers.
Immerse yourself in the remote region on the four-day Hollyford Wilderness Experience with Ngāi Tahu Tourism. Start at Queenstown or Te Anau to walk, jet boat and helicopter high above the wild West Coast into Milford Sound. Learn about early Māori and settler history from knowledgeable guides. Stay in private lodges. Dine on the best Kiwi cuisine, beer and wine
Hollyford Wilderness Experience
Private lodge along the Hollyford Track
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