18

Feb

Travel Spotlight: New Zealand

Category: Blog, Travel Spotlight // Comments

We recently booked a trip around New Zealand for some very special clients. One of them happens to be blogging about her travels with some amazing photographs, so we thought we would just share her blog post rather than trying to describe it to you ourselves! Because what is better than hearing it directly from the client?!

Check out her funny and amazing post packed with pictures here, and get ready to have major travel envy!!

New Zealand

THE VIADUCT HARBOR, AROUND THE CORNER FROM MY APARTMENT

Hellllooooo party people! So sorry that it has taken me this long to post… Internet has been extremely limited for the last couple weeks. Couple things: I am not a witty writer, so posts will contain mostly pictures. But let’s be real, everyone likes pictures more anyways, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Also, to really tap into my kiwi spirit, I will do my best to use kiwi lingo wherever possible… like ‘reckon’, ‘heaps’, ‘cheers mate’, and ‘good on ya’. Enjoy!

Mom, Dad, and I spent the first 4 nights in the Viaduct Harbor of Auckland looking for an apartment for me to live in during the school year. We ate tons of food and explored the area, going to Devonport across the bay, and Piha on the west coast. The Viaduct itself is plain gorgeous, and I found a place to live right on the harbor and only ten minutes walking distance to school.

New Zealand

VIEW OF AUCKLAND AND THE SKY TOWER FROM DEVONPORT

New Zealand

PIHA BEACH, WEST COAST OF THE NORTH ISLAND

New Zealand

BLACK SAND BEACHES OF PIHA

New Zealand

PIHA, WEST COAST OF THE NORTH ISLAND

Next, we left Auckland and began our two week journey around the country. First stop: Waiheke Island, where we stayed by the beach in Onetangi Bay and drove around the island visiting bays, beaches and especially wineries. Only word to describe the island? Breathtaking. And the pictures don’t do it justice.

New Zealand

ON THE FERRY TO WAIHEKE ISLAND

ONETANGI BAY, WAIHEKE ISLAND

ONETANGI BAY, WAIHEKE ISLAND

New Zealand

MUDBRICK WINERY, WAIHEKE ISLAND

New Zealand

UNREAL SCALLOPS AT MUDBRICK WINERY, WAIHEKE ISLAND

New Zealand

VIEW FROM MUDBRICK WINERY, WAIHEKE ISLAND

New Zealand

DROVE AROUND A CORNER AND FOUND THIS VIEW… NO COMMENT

New Zealand

New Zealand

PODERI CRISCI WINERY, WAIHEKE ISLAND

Our next stop was a little town called Russel in the Bay of Islands. We drove four hours up the coast to stay in this quaint little town. We walked, hiked, went to the beach, ate a lot, and took a speed boat out to a “hole in the rock” and a cave (I was too scared to take pictures of that one, oops).

New Zealand

FIRST DIP IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE, RUSSELL, BAY OF ISLANDS

New Zealand

NEW BEST FRIEND, RUSSELL, BAY OF ISLANDS

New Zealand

VIEW FROM THE TOP, RUSSELL, BAY OF ISLANDS

New Zealand

SAND DUNE, SOMEWHERE IN NZ ON OUR WAY TO THE WEST COAST

Next, we drove west towards the Waipoua National Forest to see the Kaori Tree. This tree is so perfect, that 98% of the trees on New Zealand were cut down years ago, and now the remaining 2% are incredibly protected in the Waipoua Forest.

Once again, the pictures don’t do these trees justice. They. Are. Huge. You feel like you have to whisper when you see them. We stayed at an adorable Bed and Breakfast just outside the forest, where I made some more friends… you’ll see…

“THE LORD OF THE FOREST”, WAIPOUA FOREST

“THE LORD OF THE FOREST”, WAIPOUA FOREST

New Zealand

“THE FOUR SISTERS”, WAIPOUA FOREST

New Zealand

“THE FATHER OF THE FOREST”, WAIPOUA FOREST

New Zealand

MY NEW PIG FRIEND HOLLY… WAIPOUA LODGE

New Zealand

MY OTHER NEW PIG FRIEND, BESSY, WAIPOUA LODGE

After a night in the Lodge, we drove back down to Auckland and headed to the airport. It was time to say goodbye to our rental car, formally named “The Burgundy Beast,” and head to Blenheim and the Marlborough Wine Region in the north part of the South Island.

In just two days we went to 8 different wineries and tried at least 35 different wines. We also spent a few hours visiting a Word War I Aviation Museum and a nearby coastline.

New Zealand

THE BURGUNDY BEAST… CHEERS!

New Zealand

WINE TASTING, MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION

New Zealand

THE VINES, MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION

New Zealand

ME AND POPS, MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION

New Zealand

GORGEOUS WINERIES, MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION

New Zealand

New Zealand

GRAPES FOR DAYS, MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION

New Zealand

ME AND MA, MARLBOROUGH WINE REGION

New Zealand

WWI AVIATION MUSEUM, BLENHEIM

New Zealand

NOT TOO SHABBY, RANDOM COASTLINE NEAR PICTON

Our last stop was a short 21 minute flight to the capital of New Zealand – Wellington. We went for one reason only… The International Rugby Sevens Tournament. The rugby was great, but more than anything it was one big costume party.

For you Gauchos reading this, it was equivalent to an Isla Vista Halloween weekend, but jammed into a stadium. And the rain didn’t stop anyone.

New Zealand

INTERNATIONAL RUGBY SEVENS, WELLINGTON

Wellington was our last stop, and we headed back to Auckland. I got settled into my apartment, and started school. Clint and Melis spent a few more days with me before flying home to Hermosa. And now it’s just me!

Cheers for now, mates!


To read this blog post in its original format, visit E Cooking Kiwi here.

For more information on visiting New Zealand, or to book your trip, contact Life:Styled today!

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Kauai Island

The internet is great and super helpful for many things, but there is so much more value in (GASP!) a working relationship with a real, live person who is immersed in the travel industry day-in-and-day-out.

As travel professionals, we hear quotes like this from time to time: “I just planned my vacation using Trip Advisor which was really helpful and gave me the list of the best hotels where I was going (etc, etc), so I don’t really see the need for a travel agent/concierge.” Or, “What can you get me that Orbitz can’t?!”  (Where do we even begin on that?!)

Read below for some fun facts that will help to shed light on why these types of websites aren’t always the end-all, be-all of travel planning.

A bona fide travel concierge doesn’t t just have a wealth of knowledge about the ever-changing travel industry, but also has a global team ready, willing and able to help plan any and all details for that special trip, once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or little romantic weekend away!

 

Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards

In 2013, the wide-ranging Travelers Choice Awards by Trip Advisor crowned a whopping 7,123 winners (we’ll spare you the full list). As always, the list includes overall top-rated hotels and resorts, along with  the “Best of” in these six categories: Bargain, B&Bs and Inns, Family, Luxury, Romance, and Small Hotels.

The Travelers Choice Awards website is in its 12th year of posting millions of user-generated hotel reviews that they later use to determine an overall ranking  based on intangibles such as: service, quality and value.

 

2013 vs 2014 Hotel Ratings

A scan of current accolades for the Travelers’ Choice Awards compared with last year’s winners highlights the mercurial nature of online reviews. Only one of 2013′s worldwide top-rated hotels made the 2014 list.

In fact, last year’s worldwide and U.S. overall winner, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu, Kailua-Kona Hawaii, not only didn’t make the worldwide list, it plummeted to ninth place among U.S. hotels. Only three hotels on 2013′s U.S. list are back in 2014, and no U.S. hotel made it to the top 10 on the worldwide list.

 

Romance & Family-Friendly Hotels

This year, two new Travelers’ Choice Best Hotel categories have been added for  families and romance. And sadly, gone is a shout-out for best service, which had spawned some curious outcomes in 2013. This stemmed from the fact that, in 2013, the Budget Clarion Inn in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (No. 4) edged out the aforementioned overall top-ranked Four Seasons Hualalai, which instead came in at a shocking fifth place.

Hopefully our readers find that last sentence as baffling as we do!  No disrespect to the Pigeon Forge Clarion, but we can think of just a FEW hotels that may deserve to be slightly ahead of it for best service on the list!

 

Life:Styled Concierge Service

To book your travel through a real, live person who can expertly craft your vacation to your specific needs and tastes from start to finish with the same specialized care and attention that they would plan their own trip, contact Life:Styled today!

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If You’re Like Us, the Holiday Season is All About Treating Yourself to Some of the Most Amazing Sweets Known to Man. This Low-Calorie Candy Cane Cocktail is the Perfect Way to cut Back and Make Room for a Little More Gingerbread!  Cheers!

Candy Cane Fizz Tini

Candy Cane Fizz-Tini:

    • 1 Ounce Dekuyper Peppermint Schnapps
    • 1 Ounce Three Olives Vanilla Vodka
    • 3 Ounce Polar Candy Cane Seltzer
    • Crushed Candy Cane for Garnish

Preparation:

    1. Wet rim of martini glass with Peppermint Schnapps and dip into crushed candy cane.
    2. Combine Schnapps and Vodka in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, strain into martini glass.
    3. Top with Polar Candy Seltzer, taking care not to bruise the bubbles. Enjoy!

source via: Fab Fit Fun

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Here’s a Fun Spin on One of Our All-Time Favorite Cocktails! The Perfect Signature Drink for Your Next Holiday Event!

Cheers & Happy Friday!

Mistletoe Margarita

Mistletoe Margarita:

    • 6 ounces Tequila
    • 8 ounces Pomegranate Juice
    • 2 ounces Sour Mix
    • 2.5 ounces Orange Liqueur (or Triple Sec)
    • 2 ounces Cranberry Juice
    • Fresh Orange Zest
    • Green sprinkles for garnish
    • Cranberries for garnish
    • Ice

Preparation:

    1. Place ice, juices, orange liqueur, sour mix and tequila in a blender.
    2. Blend on low until smooth. Dip a glass in water and then in the green sparkles to coat the rim.
    3. Pour the margarita into the glasses and enjoy!

source via: The English Room

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The holidays are here, which means lots of amazing holiday parties!  This cranberry and rosemary sangria is great for serving large groups and will be the perfect addition to one of your events!

Cranberry Rosemary White Sangria

Cranberry and Rosemary White Sangria:

    • 1 Granny Smith Apple
    • 1 Braeburn Apple
    • 1 Heaping Cup of Fresh Cranberries
    • 1 Large Sprig of Rosemary
    • 1 Bottle Pinot Grigio
    • ½ Cup White Grape Juice
    • ¼ Cup Sugar
    • 1 Can Club Soda

Preparation:

    1. Chop apples into small cubes.
    2. In a large pitcher, combine all of the ingredients and mix well so the sugar fully dissolves.
    3. Place pitcher in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour- then enjoy!

source via: Cooking Stoned

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