Travels

  • Rustic Elegance – Wolgan Valley Resort

    Located in New South Wales, home to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, sits Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. This lodge offers the rare opportunity to experience true luxury in a spectacular Australian bush setting. Surrounding by a beautiful backdrop, Wolgan Valley is the true epitome of luxury.

    Blue Mountains | Photo Credit: Destination NSW

    Blue Mountains | Photo Credit: Destination NSW

    Getting There

    About a 3 hour drive Northwest of Sydney, you’ll find the stunning luxury lodge of Wolgan Valley.  The drive is easy highway driving at first, before weaving into the mountains and past Katoomba.  The last part of the drive can be intimidating, as you’re winding on narrow roads down into the Valley.  We drove there in the dark, which I wouldn’t recommend for the faint of heart!

    Pathway | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Pathway | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Pool | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Pool | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Wolgan Valley Exterior | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Wolgan Valley Exterior | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Rustic Elegance – Wolgan Valley

    Once we arrived, my partner and I were collected at the car park and taken in one of the lodges 4WD vehicles up to the main lodge of the property.  Due to our late arrival, we immediately sat for dinner and were not disappointed to say the least.  The cuisine was absolutely world-class.  They have a tasting menu if your table is keen to commit, or an a-la-carte menu.  The first night we stuck to a-la-carte and then the second evening, went for the tasting menu.  Each dish was exceptionally plated and delicious.  After dinner, we were taken to our private villa.  Our villa had an open concept sitting room and bedroom, divided by a double sided fireplace; large bathroom, walk-in closet, and our own private heated plunge pool.  The feel was luxurious, but comfortable; we could have stayed there forever!

    Picnic | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Picnic | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Private Dining Room | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Private Dining Room | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Living Area | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Living Area | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Suite | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Suite | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Activities Outside the Lodge

    In the morning, we awoke to a gorgeous view that had evaded us the previous day due to arriving after dark.  We were surrounded by stunning cliffs in the middle of a valley.  Outside of our villa was a beautiful rainbow, and a few kangaroos.  Breakfast boasted an array of buffet options such as granola, fruit, cereals, pastries, juices and breads.  There was a hot menu for order as well.  Then, we headed off to horseback ride on the property.

    Rainbow | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Rainbow | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Horses | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    Horses | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

    A staff member drove us to the stables, discussed the basics of riding for those who were new to horseback riding, and paired us with a horse.  We embarked on a 90 minute trail ride through the property, and it was breathtaking.  Along the way, we spotted kangaroos, wallabies, and lots of bird life.  After our ride, we decided to tackle one of the properties numerous hiking and biking trails, spotting more wildlife along the way.

    After another exceptional dinner, we spent the evening relaxing and looking at the unhindered stars.

    Lodge Features:

    • 40 villas that accommodate travelers from single guests to family
    • Private pool with a deck surrounded by a garden of native plants and shrubs
    • Spa featuring many different treatments
    • In-room dining
    • Wifi throughout the resort
    • Access to onsite archery range
    • Access to onsite tennis courts

    As a graduate of Eastern University with a degree in Anthropology, I have always valued the experiences one can find in other cultures. I’ve spent time in Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Kenya, and backpacked across Western Europe seeing 12 countries there. I have lived in Sydney and used it as a base for travels across the country. I’ve also spent time in New Zealand; and my latest trip back was a luxury lodge tour across both islands, seeing first hand some of the most breathtaking accommodations and properties that New Zealand has to offer. With the passion and longing for every individual to experience at least one other culture in their lifetime, I have found myself at Swain; with the opportunity to bring this passion to life.

    August 14, 2017 • Australia, Luxury Lodges, Property Highlights, Sarah Herman, Travels • Views: 1673

  • Southern Ocean Lodge – Kangaroo Island

    Kangaroo Island in South Australia is brimming with native wildlife and natural beauty. While being Australia’s third largest island, roughly the size of Long Island, it only has a population of 4,000 people. Tucked in a corner of the island, on a rugged cliff facing the wild Southern Ocean, lies Southern Ocean Lodge.

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Kangaroos | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Getting There

    The drive from the airport to the lodge is about an hour long. Look out for wallabies, kangaroos, and koalas along the way because there are over 800,000 combined, so wildlife encounters are guaranteed. Then, out of nowhere, the polished iron gates of Southern Ocean Lodge appear. The whole property eludes a sense of exclusivity.  After passing through the secured gateway, it’s another 10 minutes up a bumpy road until you reach the lodge. It all feels very remote. The property is completely off the grid; it relies on solar power and rainwater. It doesn’t even have an exact address!

    With panoramic views of the bush and aqua sea, the great room at Southern Ocean Lodge invites the landscape inside. Coastal colors and recycled woods create a comfortable and relaxed environment. The young, international staff are friendly and welcoming.

    SOL Great Room | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Great Room | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Balcony | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Balcony | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Exceptional Food & Wine

    The food and beverages at Southern Ocean Lodge are exceptional because the chef is proud to focus fully on South Australian cuisine. First, start the day with either a hot or cold breakfast, whether a warm bircher muesli to avocado toast with tomatoes. Then for dinner, enjoy the catch of the day, ranging from king fish, abalone, and octopus. Finally, there’s many desserts which utilizes native herbs and sweeteners, like local blue gum honey. The lodge also has a classic menu for picky eaters, which is nice if you’re not as adventurous. In addition, you can whip up a cocktail of your choice from the stocked open bar, or pour a refreshing glass of South Australian wine at any time of day.

    South Australian Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    South Australian Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Cuisine from SOL | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Cuisine from SOL | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    SOL Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    SOL Cuisine | Photo Credit: Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    The Interior

    21 glass-fronted suites curve along the coastline. The wall-to-wall windows allow an unobstructed view of the dreamlike scenery. The bathrooms are spotless, and the view from the shower is particularly memorable. Aligned with the lodge’s local focus, the artwork in all suites is commissioned from Kangaroo Island artisans. Each suite is sophisticated, yet comfortable.

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Bathroom | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Bathroom | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    SOL Exterior | Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge

    Activities Outside the Lodge

    As for the experience outside of the lodge, there’s many opportunities to get immersed in the island’s natural attractions. Small group guided excursions are offered daily. Ranging from coastal walks to barbeques, the tours allow guests to encounter the wildlife with exclusive access and a touch of luxury.

    Lodge Features:

    • 21 luxurious suites with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows
    • Restaurant with local fare, indoor and outdoor seating, and ocean views
    • Spa incorporating local traditions
    • Wine cellar featuring South Australian vintages
    • Plunge pool
    • Lounge with fireplace and panoramic views
    • Boutique with unique gifts and island mementos
    • Reference library stocked with books, DVDs, and CDs
    • Wifi throughout the lodge

    Though I was born and raised in Philadelphia, a city that values tradition, my path of life has been not so standard. I’ve lived on the East and West coasts of the United States, and have ventured over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, studying food and wine in Italy, and working in the travel industry in Australia. Travelling across the globe has allowed me to recognize my true passion: helping others experience this beautiful, yet varied world that we live in. I have a wandering soul that continually urges me to visit new countries, meet new people, and learn new things; I love to adventure to faraway destinations, discovering unfamiliar cultures, and tasting their local cuisine.

  • Silky Oaks Lodge in Daintree Rainforest

    Queensland, also known as Australia’s “sunshine state,” is home to a 110-million-year-old rainforest—Daintree National Park. The park is a World Heritage-listed site and nestled on the edge is Silky Oaks Lodge. This lodge blends casual and contemporary design, amongst the most tranquil surrounds.

    Silky Oaks Suite | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Silky Oaks Suite | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Getting There

    Located 90 minutes north of Cairns and just 20 minutes from Port Douglas, Silky Oaks Lodge is in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest.  The drive is easy and beautiful, as Captain Cook highway leads the way up the coast.  Set on the Mossman River, this lodge provides an immersive rainforest experience while still pampering you with the finest luxury amenities.  Upon arrival, my partner and I were greeted with welcome cocktails at a table for two. While overlooking the Mossman River, we went over our itinerary for the next two days.  We enjoyed our welcome cocktails while our treehouse was being prepared.  Chilled wine, a handwritten note, lit candles, and soft music greeted us as we walked in, and a sense of peace immediately flooded us.  Each treehouse has a large outdoor porch with a hammock, and all the amenities you could wish for.

    Silky Oaks Lodge | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Silky Oaks Lodge | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Suite | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Activities Outside the Lodge

    We spent nearly all of our time outside, taking advantage of every recreational activity the lodge had to offer.  First, we got a picnic backpack from the kitchens and hiked a gorgeous trail that ended at a huge flat rock with a rope swing into the river. Then we kayaked and swam in the natural-looking outdoor heated stone pool. We also went on a sunset bike ride through the corn fields outside of the rainforest.  You name it, Silky Oaks has it.  After the end of an active day, we made our way back to the main lodge for dinner.

    Billabong | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Billabong | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Pool | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Pool | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography

    Unforgettable Dining Experience

    The Treehouse Restaurant – one of Northern Queensland’s premier dining experiences, is a unique open-sided restaurant that features unobstructed rainforest and river views set above the trees.  The food was exceptional, focusing on seafood given its close proximity to the ocean.  The menu showcases the freshest local produce and Australian wines.  There are a-la-carte options, or you can pre-book your dinner for a two or three course option.  I highly recommend booking at least the two course option, as you’ll want to take advantage of the world-class food the lodge has to offer.  After dinner, it was time to turn-in for the night, falling asleep to the sounds of the rainforest and flowing river.

    Treehouse Lobby | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Treehouse Lobby | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch Dining | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Jungle Perch Dining | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Treehouse Restaurant | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Treehouse Restaurant | Photo Credit: Silky Oaks Lodge

    Lodge Features:

    • 50 treehouses and riverhouses with a balcony and hammock, outdoor table and chairs
    • Restaurant with sensational rainforest and river views
    • Spa offering rejuvenation through healing waters
    • Outdoor, natural-looking, heated stone pool
    • Jungle Perch positioned over the Mossman River, providing views of the Daintree Rainforest
    • Air conditioning, ceiling fans, fully stocked mini bar and a turn-down service every night

    As a graduate of Eastern University with a degree in Anthropology, I have always valued the experiences one can find in other cultures. I’ve spent time in Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Kenya, and backpacked across Western Europe seeing 12 countries there. I have lived in Sydney and used it as a base for travels across the country. I’ve also spent time in New Zealand; and my latest trip back was a luxury lodge tour across both islands, seeing first hand some of the most breathtaking accommodations and properties that New Zealand has to offer. With the passion and longing for every individual to experience at least one other culture in their lifetime, I have found myself at Swain; with the opportunity to bring this passion to life.

  • Six Must-Do Food Experiences in Australia’s Gourmet Capital

    Melbourne is brimming with culinary experiences and has plenty on offer to satiate an appetite of any size. Whether dining like a local down the city’s laneways and hidden alleys, seeking out the latest spot for brunch or the best cup of coffee in town, or indulging in a many-course fine-dining degustation, the city is home to more must-visit restaurants and cafes than one could ever see in just one visit – even locals struggle to fit them all in!

    Lake House dining room and wine cellar

    Dining room and wine cellar | Photo credit: Lake House

    Victoria’s love of food extends beyond the state’s capital and sampling the local produce in the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula or further afield is a popular pastime for locals and visitors alike. And it is no surprise with so many regional restaurants serving instagrammable meals overlooking equally photogenic views. To make the most of a visit to Melbourne food aficionados should aim to tick off the following six must-do food experiences:

    Fine dining Melbourne style
    Australasia’s number one restaurant and ranked 33 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, Attica is a must-visit for anyone serious about fine-dining. Here, chef Ben Shewry creates beautifully balanced, modern cuisine integrating native Australian ingredients wherever possible. The focus is on sustainably developed produce, and dishes include rarely-used plants and herbs foraged from the adjacent garden as well as from broader Victoria. From the Lilly Pilly and Illawarra plum pine used in signature dessert The Native Fruits of Australia, to saltbush leaves, marron, native peppers and nuts, the flavours of Attica sing Australia. Shannon Bennett’s Vue de monde on the 55th floor of the Rialto Tower takes diners on a journey with its innovative cuisine and spectacular setting. The menu has French influences but is steeped in Melbourne’s history and uses primarily Victorian produce and indigenous ingredients. Kangaroo, marron, wallaby and native herbs are all regular fixtures on the menu which also offers diners a high-end take on the classic Australian Lamington. The restaurant’s dramatic decor sees traditional white table cloths replaced with kangaroo leather, curtains made of 100% Victorian wool and chairs crafted from old telegraph poles, making for a uniquely Australian setting. The experience is topped off with spectacular views over the Melbourne city skyline and Port Phillip Bay.

    Lake House dining 2

    Fine dining experience | Photo credit: Lake House

    Laneway eating
    Some of Melbourne’s best eating and drinking can be found in and around the city’s labyrinth of interconnecting laneways. Unmarked doors, sets of stairs, or what looks like a no through road, are all likely to lead to a favorite local dining haunt. The city’s original laneway tapas bar MoVida, perennially popular Chin Chin, Tonka, Cumulus Inc. Brooks of Melbourne, Coda, Izakaya Den and Supernormal are just some of the names to look out for. The laneways are also central to Melbourne’s cafe and bar culture with rooftops and basements offering more hidden secrets and surprises – from Japanese tea houses to Chinese dim sum diners, coffee grinders and speakeasy style cocktail bars and everything in between. Those unsure of where to start can take a tour with the likes of Hidden Secrets Tours, Melbourne Food Experiences or Melbourne Walks to discover the city’s cafe culture, specialist coffee, cocktail and bar scene and plenty more besides.

    Melbourne-Food&WineMFW_822-575

    Laneway eating |Photo credit: Melbourne Tourism

    Coffee and breakfast like a local
    Melbourne has long been regarded as the coffee capital of Australia and is one of the leading cities for coffee in the world. Since the first espresso machines landed on Victorian soil in the 1950s, the city’s reverence for the bean has continued to prosper. The emergence of specialist roasters has contributed to an obsession with new ways of brewing and the origin of coffee beans. Whether it is a hole in the wall coffee joint in the laneways, or a quick coffee on the go – Melbourne has a cup to suit every taste with some favorites including Traveller, Cup of Truth, Seven Seeds, Dukes, The Sensory Lab, Auction Rooms and Dead Man Espresso. Tours and interactive experiences offer the opportunity to understand the history and culture that has fueled this city-wide obsession – try coffee cupping sessions with Seven Seeds, or a full-day coffee roasting session at Market Lane Coffee. Hand-in-hand with Melbourne’s coffee obsession, eating out for breakfast or brunch is a huge part of Melbourne life, on par with dinner as a social occasion and opportunity to sample artisan produce from around Victoria. Favourite breakfast haunts include St Ali, Industry Beans, Pope Joan, Proud Mary, Top Paddock, and Cumulus Inc. At these locations and more, Melbourne’s multi-cultural heritage, innovation and produce are presented on every plate – from fancy pressed lamb belly to Baba ghanoush, fresh fig and caper currants; from potato cheddar waffle to smoked brisket, zuni pickles and sour cream.

    Coffee cups at a South Terrace cafe,Fremantle

    Coffee for two | Photo credit: South Terrace Cafe

    Ultimate Yarra Valley indulgence
    A hot air balloon flight at sunrise is the best possible introduction to Victoria’s premier wine growing region. Global Ballooning enables early-risers to float serenely over the Yarra Valley’s stunning scenery of rolling vineyards, lush green pastures and story-book forests and land in one of the Valley’s flagship wineries, such as Domain Chandon or Rochford Estate to enjoy a champagne breakfast with local sparkling and artisan produce. The birthplace of Victorian viticulture, the Yarra Valley is Victoria’s premier wine region home to more than 80 world class wineries producing award-winning cool climate wines and 60 boutique cellar doors, making it the perfect destination for an intimate wine tasting or behind-the-scenes experiences. Big producers such as De Bortoli and Yering Station sit alongside specialist boutique wine makers who are quietly making a name for some of the most interesting and brave blends and varietals in the country. In addition to wine, the region now produces a growing selection of craft beers and cider showcased through the Yarra Valley Cider and Ale Trail.The region is dotted with farm gates and artisan producers including dairies, chocolataries and organic produce. This sophisticated, romantic and decadent food and wine region is within an hour’s drive of Melbourne can be enjoyed on a private tour or a self-drive itinerary.

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    Hot air balloon over the Yarra Valley | Photo credit: Victoria Tourism

    Mornington Peninsula – an adventure for the senses
    The Mornington Peninsula has it all: abundant produce, boutique wineries, food trails, farm gates, golf courses, galleries, picturesque villages, diverse landscapes, beautiful beaches and coastal views all in one compact area, just one hour from Melbourne. It is one of few wine regions in the world that overlooks stunning coastline, with cool ocean breezes influencing the boutique cool-climate Chardonnays and Pinots for which the area is renowned. The Mornington Peninsula has more award-winning restaurants than any other part of Victoria with Port Philip Estate, The Long Table, Montalto, Terminus and Ten Minutes by Tractor all offering menus that feature local produce for a completely immersive dining experience. Visitors can get even more hands-on with fruit picking, mushroom foraging or classes in handmade sausages, wood fired pizzas or chocolate making. The ‘Wine, Food and Farmgate’ trail and map makes it easy to discover dozens of wine, food and farm-gates throughout the region and Horseback Winery Tours offers a unique way to explore the vineyards.

    Continental Hotel - Sorrento

    Enjoying the view and a glass of wine | Photo credit: Mornington Peninsula Tourism Board

    Dine and stay at Brae
    Australia’s only regional restaurant to be included in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, recently announced at number 65, Brae in the Otways serves up contemporary cuisine with a commitment to seasonal produce. Award winning chef Dan Hunter creates a daily menu that reflects the best of the hillside property’s extensive organic gardens. Each day, the highest quality ingredients are carefully selected from Brae’s on-site organic fruit and vegetable garden, local farms and ethical, sustainable producers from Victoria and beyond. Native ingredients on the menu include coastal bone fruit, ruby salt bush, muntries, quandongs, fingerlime and pepperberry, plus local and sustainably caught black lip abalone, southern rock lobster and sea urchin. The Birregurra property, one and a half hours from Melbourne, has recently added six new luxury accommodation suites so visitors now need not worry about transport to and from their indulgent degustation. The spacious suites have been constructed with sustainability in mind, using recycled materials, solar energy, harvested rainwater and a worm farm waste water system. Each suite accommodates two adults and features a star-gazing skylight, sitting area with turntable and record collection, and private outdoor seating with views to the rolling hills of the Otway Ranges. Guests can take a morning stroll in the garden, catching chefs and gardeners at work, and enjoy an in-room, house-made breakfast of organic, wood-fired sourdough bread, pastries, preserves and seasonal produce harvested from the property and nearby. It is easy to extend a visit to Brae, with many nearby activities such as platypus spotting by canoe in Lake Elizabeth, the Otways Fly Treetop Walk, and exploring the Great Ocean Road and Bellarine Peninsula.

    Article courtesy of Visit Melbourne– Official site for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

    November 9, 2016 • Articles, Australia, Destinations, Travels • Views: 2366

  • Boutique Distilleries in Victoria

    Widely renowned as home to some of Australia’s top micro-breweries, Victoria’s thirst for local, hand-crafted drinks is nowhere near ending. Over the past couple of years a number of distilleries offering everything from gin using native botanicals to small-batch whiskey have emerged and have been readily embraced by the bartending community and the public. Even more unique to the story is the fact that many of these are located within an hours’ drive of Melbourne’s city center. Turning the notion that great spirits need be created at the far ends of the Earth or near a snow capped peak on its head.

    HST - Hihou bar - Melb City

    Hihou Bar | Photo credit: Hidden Secrets Walking Tour

    Four Pillars Gin
    This small, distillery located in the Yarra Valley which launched late last year but has already received global accolades, Four Pillars Gin produce their well-received gin in small batches of just 420 bottles. Stocked in some of Melbourne’s top bars, the gin is renowned for using native Australian botanicals alongside international counterparts. Each bottle is individually numbered and hand labelled. The distillery will hold regular open days starting from mid-June. Learn more about Four Pillars Gin here.

    Melbourne Gin Company
    This locally produced gin launched mid-last year using botanicals that come from the garden at Gembrook Hill Vineyard also located in the Yarra Valley. The Gin is made using Gembrook rainwater creating a very unique and localized flavor and is available for purchase online.

    New World Whiskey Distillery
    Located in an old airport hangar in Essendon in Melbourne’s Western suburbs, this distillery’s Starward Whiskey is developed using Australian barley and barrels but integrating maturation techniques from around the world, that along with the Victorian climate creates a distinctly Melbourne flavor. The New World Whiskey Distillery also conducts a range of Whiskey MasterClasses, dinners and open days at their workshop each month.

    Bass & Flinders Distillery
    Founded in 2009, this distillery is located on the Mornington Peninsula, just over an hours’ drive from Melbourne’s city centre. They produce a number of spirits ranging from Limóncello to grappa but are widely known for their gin. The gin is produced using alcohol from grapes instead of grains and the distillery conducts regular Gin Experience events where visitors can make their own gins using a wide range of botanicals.

    Other boutique distilleries in regional Victoria include Timboon, Bakery Hill and Triptych Distillery.

     

    Article courtesy of Visit Melbourne– Official site for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

    July 13, 2016 • Articles, Australia, Destinations, Travels • Views: 2863

  • New Zealand, Every Day A Different Journey

    New Zealand can feel like an epic, once-in-a-lifetime dream trip. But in fact, it’s the type of place worth returning to repeatedly—and one where even during a single visit, each day is intriguingly different from the last.

    How, you wonder? Well, your week in New Zealand may go something like this…

    Monday: Giving it your best shot at Over the Top Golf—what a view! Gotta be the world’s most remarkable par-three hole.

    Wednesday: Navigating the Dart River in a Funyak inflatable canoe. Around the next bend? A film location used for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbiton movies.

    Friday: Waking up to a scenic helicopter ride that whisks you away to a secluded alpine setting for a gourmet picnic paired with fantastic views.

    Saturday: Experiencing Maori culture, starting with the traditional greeting known as hangi. Done with a pressing of the noses, hangi means we are considered family.

    At home in Middle-earth_LOW_RES

    The film location used for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbiton movies. | Photo Credit: Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tour

    Such thrilling activities are just one aspect of the New Zealand journey; the range of accommodations also comes into play. Take your pick among award-winning luxury lodges, intimate B&B’s, and architecturally stunning private homes. What they have in common are welcoming hosts who really know how to deliver outstanding service and experiences. On the North Island, Wharekauhau Lodge, which is also a working sheep station, provides insight into a livelihood that still exists today.

    Wharekahau Photo Grant Sheehan (7)

    Wharekauhau Lodge | Photo Credit: Wharekauhau Lodge

    New Zealand’s lodges are also a fantastic jumping-off point for embracing the outdoors, with hiking trials and wildlife encounters just beyond the doorsteps. A great example is Blanket Bay, located in Glenorchy on the South Island. From here, you can indulge in activities including fly-fishing, heli-skiing, and horse riding. If you prefer to meet the local wildlife, head to the North Island’s The Farm at Cape Kidnappers for a Kiwi Discover Walk, which brings you up close to the farm’s native bird population.

    The-Dramatic-Coastline

    Cape Kidnappers coastline | Photo credit: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

    Your Kiwi experience starts, however, even before you check into your room. It starts when you board your flight with Air New Zealand. You are encouraged to ask the flight attendants about their favorite breakfast spots or an out-of-the-way hiking trail. Moreover, you can expect a warm, informed response from proud locals happy to share their insider knowledge. It comes straight from the heart, from an airline that is constantly renewing and reinventing itself. Air New Zealand now serves five North American getaways (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Honolulu, and Vancouver), connecting to a network of 50-plus cities in 15 countries.

    Over The Top - Milford

    Over The Top helicopter tour of Milford Sound | Photo credit: Over The Top

    The final ingredient is enlisting the service of experts who can put together your ideal New Zealand experience. Swain Destinations creates tailored, independent vacation packages, and our dedicated staff shares a unified passion and commitment to providing exceptional service to every traveler.

    Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply looking to go on a one-of-a-kind vacation, Swain Destinations will personalize your journey from start to finish —in New Zealand and beyond.

    June 25, 2016 • Articles, Destinations, New Zealand, Travels • Views: 2354