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The hottest event in winter

At face value, the chilly temperatures of a southern winter wouldn’t necessarily be the foundations for one of the hottest events on the country’s social calendar, but when that event is framed by the wintry beauty of Queenstown and the champagne is flowing, it’s the top pick.



This year’s highly anticipated Clicquot in the Snow festival from 1-4 August builds on both the local and international success which has seen this iconic winter experience become a must-attend event – or more specifically events, with a four-day itinerary packed full of things to do in and around Queenstown to celebrate the glory of winter. This will be the ninth year that Clicquot in the Snow has been held in the majestic resort town of Queenstown, celebrating all things winter with an iconic Veuve Clicquot twist.



As with previous years, there’s the opportunity to satisfy your culinary cravings with the renowned Clicquot Long Lunch at Rata Restaurant, created at the hand of renowned chef Josh Emett. The four-course degustation lunch on Friday 2 August and Saturday 3 August has been exquisitely paired with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Rosé and Vintage 2008.

On Friday 2 August, the highly anticipated Kathryn Wilson Runway Show will give an exclusive first look at the Veuve Clicquot Ambassador’s Spring/Summer 19 Footwear Collection ahead of its release later in the year. Enjoy an evening of glamour, fashion and, of course, a Veuve Clicquot twist.



If thrill seeking is more up your adventurous alley, Clicquot in the Snow will also be playing prestigious host to a husky sledding experience through the high trails of the Southern Alps. Take the helm yourself or kick back and enjoy the ride through the powder-coated tracks at Snowfarm – with a crisp flute of Veuve Clicquot in hand. To complete the dream getaway, The Hilton Queenstown will be offering exclusive experiences with a Clicquot twist to suit everyone, including the popular ‘Flute & Facial’ at its luxurious Eforea spa for the month of August.



While you’re down that way, why not take a Gondola ride to Bob’s Peak, situated high above Queenstown, and journey the hidden world of the southern night sky with Clicquot Star Gazing. Enjoy a truly unique experience as you sip from your flute of Veuve Clicquot and check out sights not visible to the naked eye. Unwind with a glass of champagne after an active day on the mountain with a Clicquot Après Bar available for the month of August at Coronet Peak, with no booking required.

For more information, to book tickets for the festival’s exceptional line-up of events and find other participating venues, visit or




Top of the South Winter Escape

In New Zealand’s sunshine capital, seasons are distinguishable by the landscapes, with fallen autumn leaves adorning the footpaths or a fresh dusting of snow blanketing the mountain ranges. The ‘Top of the South’ is a region in which winter comes into its own.




Nelson Tasman is renowned for its temperate climate and, from June through to August, crisp mornings give way to clear blue sky days, offering the perfect conditions for exploring the great outdoors. The Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest but most popular national park, but once the holidaymakers depart, it’s easy to believe you are the only one to ever experience this pristine paradise in all its glory.

Navigating the sweeping granite coastline by kayak, or stopping off for some downtime on a secluded golden sand beach in the midst of the park are ultimate winter activities. You could of course take a stroll under the native forest canopy, revelling in the sound of birdsong as it rings through the treetops and in the picturesque surroundings that are revealed before descending into one of the bays.




Slightly further south, the golden beaches of the Abel Tasman give way to an alpine village renowned for its grand glacial lakes at the Nelson Lakes National Park. A nearby ski-field keeps the snow-bunnies entertained and offers expansive views over the picturesque lakes that lay below.

Nelson Tasman is also home to one of the largest numbers of working artists and galleries in the country, and there’s no better time to immerse yourself in the creative essence of the region than winter. A cycling trip along Tasman’s Great Taste Trail will open your eyes to the diversity of artistic talent that resides here, while the National World of WearableArt and Nelson Classic Car Museum in Stoke is also well worth a visit. The weekend markets are yet another showcase of the region’s immense passion for the arts, abuzz with musicians, vocalists and performers providing entertainment for stallholders and their customers.




The sunrises and sunsets at this time of year are truly picture perfect, especially when set against the calm waters of Tasman Bay, snow-capped mountains piercing the vibrant purple hues as they emerge in the distance. And as day turns briskly to night, a wealth of new adventures await in central Nelson City. A culinary destination in its own right, you can savour local flavours and create your own moveable feast extravaganza. If you’re lucky, you might even find a fireplace or two to warm you through to the core before you call it a night.


Seek Spy, find why: Spy Valley Wines

Hidden in the heart of Marlborough, New Zealand, you’ll find family owned estate Spy Valley Wines featuring award-winning, sustainably crafted wines that capture the unique time and place of every harvest.



Six varieties of grapes are grown on more than 160 hectares of pristine vineyards. It just so happens that the winery and tasting room share the valley with a satellite communication station that finds the terroir perfect for spying too.

Unlike the world of espionage, Spy Valley wine has demanded global attention; the wine has been called ‘impossible to ignore’ and the company is among the planet’s 20 most notable new producers.

Visit Spy Valley’s family-friendly tasting room any time of year where you can relax and enjoy breath-taking scenery and award-winning architecture. Open Monday to Friday from 10:30am to 4:30pm during the winter.

If you seek a vibrant, crisp, exciting wine that surprises and delights, this is it; wines which are refreshing on hot days and comforting on cool ones. When you find one, #seekspy.


Distinctive slumbers

If the regional rebuild has demonstrated anything, it’s the innovation and determination of its habitants, as out of the box concepts, creations and contraptions come to life.



It’s certainly evident in the range of unique accommodations in greater Canterbury. From luxury tree houses to glass pods and grain silos, this is what sweet dreams are truly made of. There are luxury treehouses just north of Kaikoura. In the city, a former prison now houses award-winning accommodation. In Little River, some clever creators have converted old grain silos into innovative apartments.

In Banks Peninsula you will find a hostel of ‘wooden tents’. There’s also plenty of glamping – that’s glamorous camping – options and woodburners and bathrooms ensure this is a year-round activity. There are an increasing number of ‘pods’ across Canterbury; glass eco-cabins which enable you to sleep surrounded by nature. You’ll find some snug little dome-shaped pods in Mt Lyford with proper lighting and heating.


Penguins making memories: Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

If you’ve ever wanted to captivate your child’s imagination and inspire them to pursue wildlife conservation, make the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony your next family adventure.



You and your family can observe blue penguins in a specially designed viewing room which house ten nesting boxes. In between penguin viewings, you’ll learn about the blue penguin and the monitoring, research, and rehabilitation programmes conducted at the facility.

Nocturnally active on land, you can watch rafts of blue penguins come ashore after booking an evening viewing for you and the family.

Although your child will learn about the smallest species of penguin, your child will also broaden their horizon and consider life unlike their own. Your visit also funds the various programmes which take place at the facility.

For more information on viewing packages visit To request a same-day booking or a ‘penguin forecast’, phone 03 433 1195.


Winter Escape

Winter is the time of year to trigger the innate flight or fight response in us; flee for the tropics or tough it out in our little corner of the South Pacific. And, although the islands in the sun may offer the seductive swaying of palm trees and umbrella-clad cocktails, there are plenty of local options for a seasonal getaway to combat the winter blues.



Whether you want to hibernate in luxury or the great outdoors is more up your alley, Canterbury offers superb scenery, divine day spas, world-class cuisine, fine wines and warm southern hospitality – all the ingredients for a luxurious getaway without leaving the confines of Canterbury.

Hanmer Springs & Hurunui
Swill and savour some of Waipara’s award-winning wines and refuel with delicious vineyard fare, unwind at the hot pools or relax and rejuvenate with a massage or body treatment at a spa.

South Canterbury
With historic homesteads and modern high country lodges, there’s something for everyone, with beautiful outdoor environments, rich art, history and heritage, plenty of outdoor adventures and fabulous fare.

North of Canterbury
You’ll find the relaxing Maruia Springs Thermal Resort 2.5 hours from the city, then continue north towards Murchison. The abandoned township of Lyell is a must-see historic reserve. Then you’ll find Buller Gorge Swingbridge Adventure and Heritage Park, where you’ll find family friendly adventure, from the comet line to gold panning and exploring.

Few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered by land and sea in Kaikoura, providing an unforgettable location for a combination of New Zealand’s best eco-tourism experiences, along with both relaxing and exhilarating land-based activities.


Oasis for the body & soul: Maruia Hot Springs

Two and a half hours from Christchurch, amongst the beach forest and rivers of the serene Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, is the wonderful Maruia Hot Springs.



Set in a lush bush-laden area, the facilities feature three thermally heated outdoor rock pools, one main indoor Japanese bath style thermal pool and discreet private pools which all overlook the meandering Maruia River. Overall, it is breathtakingly tranquil and little else could compare on a nationwide level. The heated pools and luxurious accommodation make for an exceptional mid-winter escape.

The hotel can accommodate up to 50 but generally floats around 40, giving it a very exclusive ambience that makes you feel it is yours and yours alone, although it is popular for work groups, with the team from ‘Trees and Bees Apiary’ there over Mother’s Day weekend when I visited.

The steam room was unique, and I couldn’t handle it for long, but the dry sauna was perfect followed by the biggest challenge… the ice cold ‘plunge pool’. Invigorating is an understatement as your body is instantly freezing, but it all adds to the fun.

Mark Williams and wife Nicky were celebrating Nicky’s birthday during Mother’s Day weekend and the couple captured what Maruia Springs is best for; “It’s a romantic getaway from the stress of family and Christchurch for us. Why would you come here? It’s a treat!”



You do feel special, that’s for sure. The dining and meals by the beautiful open fire are divine. I sampled some of Reefton’s finest gin, ‘The Little Biddy’, before tucking into one of the best Lamb Cutlets I’ve ever had, charred in Horopito leaves. Staff on hand that night, Doug and Steph, were southern hospitality at its finest, with exceptional local knowledge they were all too happy to share. Then it was off for another hot dip before heading to the exceptionally spacious room for a restful sleep.

With 24/7 access to the hot pools, I was up again at 5am to take another dip, then another delicious meal overlooking the stunning view of the valley from the dining area. If you prefer, there’s private bathing available, which includes access to the public sauna and bathing experience.

Then came what I consider the apex of my stay; a 1.5 hour full body massage at the talented hands of the thermal resort’s very own massage therapist Julia. The pampering and aromatherapy, as well as the great wafts of lavender and other essential oils, is a spiritual experience. You find the stress of your week just melting away to a point where you think you’re almost asleep. Aches and pains evaporate and are replaced by a warm, relaxing bliss.



As I meandered for a walk by the river, I thought about how I would sum up what Maruia is all about. Sitting by the fire, relaxing hot pools, food, service, Julia’s massage and isolated serenity make for a magical getaway for a couple wanting to reconnect or for a group to relax and have fun. It’s a true haven for the body and mind.

Maruia has everything you need and it’s evident how the redevelopment team is so deserving of winning two World Luxury Spa Awards – Best Luxury Eco Spa Australasian regional winner and Best Luxury Mineral Spring Spa New Zealand winner, both in 2018. New Zealand Tourism has also awarded Maruia Hot Springs the prestigious Qualmark Silver rating.

Find the Maruia Springs Thermal Resort at 1513 State Highway 7, Lewis Pass. Phone 03 523 8840 or visit to find out more.