Our latest destination infatuation is undoubtedly New Zealand’s Marlborough region. To say it has something for everyone wouldn’t just be a cliche, it’d be an enormous understatement. Not just in terms of activities, but also in terms of price. Whether you’re travelling on a budget or have a little more room to splurge, Marlborough caters to both ends of the spectrum (and everything in between). Here, we explore the luxury side…
No luxurious trip is complete without a private guide and that’s where Sounds Connections comes in. A family-owned business boasting local guides, Sounds Connections is like your personal key to Marlborough, unlocking all kinds of otherwise unavailable experiences. Whether you’re into water-based activities (hellloooo fishing charters) or something on firmer ground (gourmet wine tour, anyone?), Sounds Connections can design something just for you. Private tours are available by request only and quoted after consultation. Group tours start from around $69.00 NZD.
Taking a Sounds Connections private tour? Make sure you ask for them to use their local knowledge, make a few phone calls and get you into to have a little tasting with the winemakers at smaller vineyards that don’t typically allow the public in as they don’t have commercial cellar doors. If you’re looking for a tip, we absolutely love Greywacke – just make sure you say hi to Dixie for us!
Should you only be in Marlborough a short time, but want to get at least a little wine action into your stay (of course you do – the Marlborough region produces more than 75% of all wine produced by New Zealand) make a beeline for Wither Hills. Here, you can taste straight from the barrel, eat grapes of more than 30 varieties directly from the vines during harvest and (duh) sample wine. Pick a warm day and take it all in from the spectacular walled garden whilst lounging in custom-made beanbags.
If you’re a bit of a wine warrior, you’ll want to stay in the region and you can’t go past Timara Lodge. Set amid 600 acres of pastures, spectacular gardens (home to more than 350 rose bushes and a daffodil lawn, amongst other delights) plus a lake (shown above) to take your evening tipple beside. Happily, said evening tipple is included in the room rates, along with hors d’oeuvres, dinner, breakfast, airport transfers, full laundry service and wifi. Rooms start at $700.00 NZD per person per night.
On the other hand, if you’re thinking of a destination more aquatically-oriented, Marlborough has that covered too. A full 20% of New Zealand’s coastline is in Marlborough alone thanks to the Marlborough Sounds. This particularly special part of the world sees mountains rise directly out of the water creating seemingly endless coves to explore. Bay of Many Coves boutique resort is located in a particularly secluded cove and offers a selection of one, two and three bedroom apartments, a day spa and – of course – a private beach. One bedroom apartments are priced from around $635.00 NZD, but for the ideal experience check out their packages.
Sometimes, land and water just don’t cut it and you need to survey the scene from the air. There arguably isn’t a better way to take in a place than from a helicopter – floaty and serene and ideal for taking the kind of pictures your friends will use as their desktop wallpaper. For that matter, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a picnic somewhere only accessible by helicopter. Windhawk Helicopters offers a heli picnic package for $980.00 NZD.
Prefer your food on white linen rather than a tartan rug? Head to Hans Herzog. More than just an uber-selective vineyard (the entire plantation covers only 11 acres), Hans Herzog himself holds 500 years of wine making lineage, selling up the family estate in Switzerland to move to Marlborough. Of course, you don’t offload 500 years of family and industry history to do something by halves and absolutely everything at Hans Herzog is the best of the best. The restaurant is possibly the only of its kind in the world; wines are offered with matched food rather than the more common inverse (the 7 course menu is $253.00 NZD). Don’t be fooled into thinking the food isn’t the priority – only chefs with Michelin star restaurants on their resume grace the kitchen here. Seating only thirty lucky folks a night, you’ll need to make a reservation and if you’re going to go to the trouble of making reservations… why not check out their accommodation? It’s only available to restaurant guests, after all.
Extreme luxury? Marlborough has it in spades.