LETTER FROM OVERSEAS EDITOR

Since my time as Overseas Editor has come to a close and I’ll be returning to Australia this month, it’s fitting October Getaway focuses closer to home – the wonder of New Zealand. Obviously ski junkies flock to New Zealand’s North and South Islands for alpine winter draws, but this issue is dedicated to a different season – summertime.

Blanket Bay

In recent years New Zealand has claimed the title of ‘New Eden’ given its hoteliers’ strong advocacy of buzz words like eco, green and clean. However, in past years I always associated New Zealand mostly with wine – embodying the country’s greatest beauties in a bottle. Wine connoisseurs speak of gout de terrior, the idea that you can taste an element of a patch of land in the glass. With ten major wine regions from the cabernet sauvignon and merlot Northland vineyards to the Central Otago region on the South Island where pinot noir is king, this ambiguous, almost philosophical notion of gout de terrior finally came to fruition in NZ for me. But a wine tour of New Zealand is only a place to start whetting your palate for the geographic cornucopia which awaits…

New Zealand unveiled in the summertime reveals a country of indisputable sublime natural splendor with wild raw landscapes and a population comprised of more sheep than people. And the Kiwi people could not be kinder. Their genuine hospitality you’ll find all encompassing at the world-class lodges which sprinkle both islands. (see Edge Gold List)

Final Getaway of 2010 will be a Places of a Lifetime Edge Hot List, so stay tuned for December issue….

For now, strap on your bungy jumping gear and take the metaphorical plunge into the physical and cultural abundance of marvels which define New Zealand.

Sincerely, Kimberly Rosbe
Editor at Large

EDITORIAL

Glacier
Pilot Eyes

My view of New Zealand magic was glimpsed through the eyes of a pilot. But not the lens of just any pilot – the personal helicopter pilot of director Peter Jackson during the seven years of filming his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Thankfully wizardry extended to Alfie’s flying skills because as a co-pilot, I was useless.

Glacier bound, we took off from Blanket Bay Lodge’s front lawn with heart-stopping views of Lake Wakatipu (see photo). Zooming near mountain goats scaling the Humboldt range, cruising over fiords, weaving the narrow path of braided river gorges and touching down for an afternoon at Milford Sound, we ended up landing on a glacier. Captain Alfie Speight was a quiet, soft spoken gentlemen who had seen it all. After a bit of prompting he had countless stories to tell about his years as Jackson’s literal wing man while the three-volume fantasy epic saga was shot in Kiwi other-worldly beauty. But even as well as the legendary cinematographer admirably captured the dramatic natural rawness of New Zealand, nothing could compare to the panoramas we absorbed on this flight with glass bottom views. Landing in a cloud of snow on that glacier was one of the scariest yet most exhilarating highlights of my life which I got to share with my mother. Even as I trembled in terror, my eternally brave mum reassured we were in good hands with this pilot. Hey, if Peter Jackson can trust him, I’m sure he can handle a little arctic wind.

FEATURE

Lord of the Rings Magic: New Zealand

Auckland

Auckland

Viaduct Basin, home base for the America’s Cup, is still the see and be seen haunt, and a fitting place to begin a tour of this City of Sails. Purported to have the greatest number of pleasure boats per capita of any city in the world, Auckland’s waterfront and three huge harbours define the sophisticated modern city as the breath of the sea always lingers nearby. The highlight of the nautical year is the Auckland Anniversary Regatta when over 600 yachts swarm the harbours in early February. Be certain to pay homage to New Zealand’s 100 years of seafaring history at their National Maritime Museum. Getting out on sparkling Waitemata Harbour with the green volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island looming on the horizon is a must. Be sure to take a ferry from Queens Wharf to picturesque Devonport on the north side as well. Downtown is a small metropolis enriched by an omnipresent Maori heritage. Non-vertigo sufferers should ascend the Sky Tower to stake claim on the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere and 360-degree panoramas. If you dare, the Sky Jump is a 192-metre cable controlled base jump. Madness if you ask me. Instead I covered the ground tackling chic shopping on High Street. Otherwise opt for the Golden Mile of Queens Street, a major entertainment area complemented by Ponsonby, Parnell and Newmarket on the fringes of the city.

Auckland

To the east find an adventure playground for island explorers at the Hauraki Gulf or venture 40 minutes westward to black Bethells Beach famously portrayed in The Piano. The prototypical place to dine in Auckland is the Hilton’s White Room. Jutting out on a pier flanked by ocean liners, find contemporary New Zealand cuisine in a minimalist urban waterside setting. Come morning it’s time to catch a boat from the famous Edwardian baroque Ferry Building and sip local vintage on Waiheke….

Waiheke Island

waiheke

Picture Napa Valley in California in the 1930s. Waiheke today evokes the sense of an intimate winemaking community that the world hasn’t fully discovered. Previously, the island was a notorious hippie hangout in the sixties and seventies when counterculture types came here to escape and found refuge amongst dairy farmers, fishermen and surfers. Rustic chic tropical setting, dirt roads, rolling green pastures, jagged coastlines with transporting vistas, perfectly manicured vineyards and locally sourced fresh food define the island which is only 35 minutes by ferry from Auckland. My mother and I rented an old beat up Jeep Wrangler with a temperamental gear shift and set out over undulating hills, daunted only by flocks of sheep and unpaved terrain to discover the boutique vineyards/restaurants of Te Whau, Passage Rock and Cable Bay. Beaches are also notable on Waiheke with nearly one hundred to choose from, each subtly tucked into various points and bays beneath a shoreline peppered by pohutukawa trees. One day we drove the Jeep directly onto Onetorigi Beach and stayed there for hours picnicking and playing in the water.

Our peaceful home these few days of vineyard exploration was the utterly charming Moorings studio apartments. Run by a husband and wife team, only two units, both offering expansive private deck views overlooking Matiatia Wharf, the bay and the futuristic skyline of Auckland beyond (see photo). Three other intimate properties with equally as much unique character and spectacular views are The Glass House, Palm Beach Lodge and Delamore Lodge.

Lake Taupo & Rotorua

taupo

If you eat trout in New Zealand, you really should catch it yourself. At Lake Taupo in the center of the North Island and NZ’s largest lake/trout capital of the world, there really is no excuse not to go fishing. Restaurants will even cook your catch. For novices, simply head to nearby Waikato River where trout linger by the thousands in Queen Mother’s Pool before the swift current rushes them all over Huka Falls, a must see. For your own current rush, go whitewater rafting or kayaking on the river with Rapid Sensations.

Fifty minutes away is Rotorua – a hotbed of Maori culture and thermal activity. By boat, explore Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve with their erupting geysers and natural springs. Mokoia Island is the home of the poetic Maori legend of the maiden Hinemoa and her one true love Tutanekai who she swam a river to marry. Experience a Matariki Maori Hangi (traditional feast) as well as cultural shows and a Maori craft institute on the island. From Rotorua, take a scenic flight to the noble Kaimanawa mountain ranges with views of Mount Tongariro and Ngauruhoe and the snow-capped peaks and crater lake of Mount Ruapehu.

Wellington

wellington

Tucked around one of the most picturesque harbours, New Zealand’s capital city is intimate, sophisticated and packed with artistic national treasures including New Zealand’s Royal Ballet, Symphony Orchestra, Opera and School of Dance as well as the star attraction of Wellington – the Museum of Te Papa, Maori for “our place.” The city’s strong art scene reveals an intrinsic Pacific identity, particularly in its numerous public and private art galleries exhibiting a year-round stream of international arts, theatre and book festivals.

The premier shopping thoroughfare, Lambton Quay, epitomises the city’s political and commercial life. But perhaps more appealing is engaging Cuba Street running up the hill from the harbour, blending ethnic restaurants, European cafes, jade and opal jewelry shops and anything that can be conjured from the back of a sheep. A day trip option is to ferry across from Queens Wharf to Somes Island, boasting spiritual significance to the Maori and magnificent views across the harbour. Even though Wellington has more bars, restaurants and cafes per head than New York City, if you had to choose one, opt for Chameleon, a highly rated establishment which spotlights native seafood and wines.

To call home during your stay, merely walking distance up the hill from town is Booklovers B&B on Pirie Street with four rooms in an Edwardian villa with ample literary flavour.

Christchurch

christchurch

Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island and principal gateway to the area’s nearby scenic wonders. Sea expeditions are a primary draw from whale watching excursions off Kaikoura to swimming with the dolphins around Akaroa Harbour to marine wildlife cruises along the rugged coastline via Lyttelton Harbour. Grab lunch in the eastern Christchurch suburb of Sumner, a charming coastal beach town with great cafes right on the sand. North of Christchurch unwind at Hanmer Springs Thermal Reserve, a small alpine village 385 metres above sea level. Three miles away, Waiau Ferry Bridge offers bungy jumping as well as jet boating and rafting down the Waiau River. Nearby Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes national parks provide prime opportunities for further sand and sea adventures including lakeside treks, water sports and alpine thrills.

Use Christchurch as a base but be sure to absorb its Botanic Gardens and sample its vineyards such as the Mudhouse Winery on the Canterbury Wine Tours. A hassle free way to view the city’s main sites is on the Christchurch tramway. One morning, rise early for the ultimate hot air balloon ride over the plains, mountains and oceans with Aoraki operators.

HOT TIP: South of Christchurch explore the dramatic geology of Banks Peninsula and Laverick’s Bay along spectacular Summit Road with Eastern Bay’s Scenic Mail Run – a mail delivery service that invites up to eight passengers to join its daily four-hour mail run.

Queenstown

Queenstown is tagged as the adventure capital of the world with its endless adrenaline pumping sports opportunities. The area’s mountains, lakes and rivers combine to create ideal conditions for daredevil outdoor pursuits from jet boating over inches of water to leaping off bridges tied to a string to plunging over cliffs tandem paragliding into the abyss.

queenstown

Queenstown’s original gold-town roots have blossomed under the dramatic backdrop of the powerful Remarkables Mountains which surround the town. Placed in the midst of nature’s impressive handiwork exists a ski town still abundantly appealing in summertime. Dine on the historic grounds near the shore of Lake Wakatipu at the Bathhouse Restaurant serving up specialty dishes like sea-run salmon and wild Blenheim hare, then walk off your meal with a stroll around the point to view Queenstown from the across the water. For other delectable contemporary NZ cuisine options, try Saffron, The Bunker or more causual seafood at Boardwalk in Wharf Village. Spend your days whitewater rafting on the Shotover River, jet boating the Kawarau, off-road with Nomad Safaris 4WD tours, downhill mountain biking through Skippers Canyon, trekking Routeburn, or for a more sedate pace, savour wine tasting at Gibbston Valley, Amisfield, Peregrine or Chard vineyards. For more far flung sights, ride the Skyline gondola to the observation deck and opt for the luge descent, step into history visiting 1860’s preserved Arrowtown 15 minutes outside the city, fly Heliworks to Milford Sound or cruise Lake Wakatipu on the America’s Cup Yacht NZL 14.

azure

Where I stayed I can recommend wholeheartedly. Modern luxury with grandstand views in an elevated lakefront setting just outside of Queenstown, Azur offers nine free standing villas with full glass windows and a timber deck to soak up the best hotel outlook in town. Azur’s real strength lies in its links to all that Queenstown has to offer. Bonus – limited edition Land Cruisers shuttle you around the clock at no extra charge.

EDGE PHOTO COMPETITION

Photo Competition

Edge Around the World

Edge Around the World Photo Contest continues in 2010 as long as the entries keep coming. This month’s humorous photo winner was submitted by Claire Zambelli taken at Antibes harbour on the Cote d’Azur. Claire you are looking chic as always. Congrats! Please see Yvonne Verstandig to accept your travel prize.

Our well-traveled clients, keep sending your entries. Next issue coming out beginning of December, our favourite client’s photo will be chosen and featured in GETAWAY and receive a gorgeous travel prize. For consideration in the December issue, entries must be received by November 10th. (details below)

Simply shoot and win! Executive Edge Travel & Events continues its all-client worldwide competition with exciting bi-monthly travel prizes. Everyone can participate and has a chance to win. Only three simple steps to enter:

  1. Book your trip with Executive Edge Travel.
  2. Take a photo in a fantastic unique location of you or your family which clearly displays the Executive Edge white travel wallet or other Edge promotional material. The better the background, the more spectacular the setting, the more likely you will be chosen.
  3. Email your photo, name and location to our Office Manager Athina Morfis at athinam@executiveedge.com.au

EDGE DEALS

Edge Deals

Executive Edge Travel & Events continues to bring you the hottest available travel specials on the market today. Simply click on www.executiveedge.com.au/specials which links directly to the specials page updated daily on the Executive Edge Travel & Events website.

BOOK TODAY!

Please click on the links below for more details on our current specials:

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EDGE GOLD LIST

TOP 5 LODGES IN NEW ZEALAND

In a country renowned for its luxurious lodges, you must have that extra something to stand out. One could actually properly see NZ through a tour of its intimate five-star lodges. But beware. These days it seems virtually everyone in NZ is opening a ‘lodge’ and I assure you that not all are temples of refinement as many times operations are amateur at best functioning on a lazy B&B model. For a complete hotel experience in ultimate familial hospitality where you can be as energetic or as lazy as you wish, opt for one of the following:

Gold List

Blanket Bay
Queenstown

When I stayed here, Billy Crystal casually roamed the property in a tee shirt and jeans munching on muesli and cloaked only in a Yankees baseball cap. Admittedly Blanket Bay is renowned as very American and “full of movie stars.” The middle of nowhere element, unequalled luxury and surreally beautiful setting on 26 hectares of lakeside land beneath the Remarkables Mountain range is clearly conducive to Hollywood escapists and appealing to those who have seen it all. Owned by retired San Francisco CEO of Levis, expect to often be joined by him and his wife for cocktail and aperitifs hour. Queenstown adventures nearby include hunting, fishing, skiing, mountain climbing or tramping the famous Routeburn and Milford tracks. I highly recommend wandering down to the lake’s edge where a jet boat will collect you from their private dock for a wild ride up the Dart River. Rug up – that glacial water will go right through you and the guides love to douse the tourists.

Wharekauhau Country Estate
Palliser Bay (near Wellington)

An hour and a half drive through undulating violet and yellow mountains east of Wellington, you arrive to a charming one main street country town with its crown jewel Wharekauhau Estate. Skirted by six miles of black sand beaches anchored by a seal colony, this 2000 hectare working sheep station sits handsomely on Palliser Bay. Mist often hovers in the wee hours on its lush green lawn backed by rolling hills – a fairy tale land of Alice in Wonderland comes to mind. Twelve guest cottages centred around the manor house offer heated floors, overstuffed sofas, roaring fireplaces and four-poster beds swathed in fine linens. Play chess, watch cattle dogs round up sheep, fish, bike, bushwalk, play tennis or swim in the indoor pool. Food and wine are a focus here and served with a great sense of occasion. The wine list boasts expertly chosen NZ vintages, naturally.

Huka Lodge
Lake Taupo

Huka Lodge is truly a trout fishing holy grail – a legendary international fishing destination located beside a stretch of the Waikato River near Lake Taupo in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island. Clearly fishing is prominently featured on the food and activity menu but Huka’s setting makes it a destination in its own right. Recreational activites range from abseiling, caving, microlight-flying and whitewater rafting, horse riding and tours to view the Maori culture and thermal activity at Rotorua. Magnificent natural scenery surround the 20 single-story guest rooms a mere 20 metres from the ever flowing tides. Beds all have mosquito nets being so near a river, but really it just provides the perfect romantic touch. Of all the lodges I’ve chosen here, Huka assumes the most formal ambience with its sophisticated, European flavour. Expect flawless service from the almost club-like atmosphere.

Gold List

Okiato Lodge
Bay of Islands

Situated on a peninsula in the subtropical Bay of Islands, this residential haven provides a convivial spot for exploring the scenic northland. Okiato’s casually elegant wood-toned inn contains eight spacious suites each with separate sitting rooms and private water view verandahs. Fresh local seafood fare or game dishes served family-style at one long table complete the experience. Hire a sport fishing charter by day to sail the exquisite bay peppered with almost one hundred little islands.

Otahuna Lodge
Christchurch

A Relais & Chateaux property deserving of the distinction, this three-story Queen Anne-style white stately residence rises from manicured grounds of green lawns and fields of daffodils. A Canterbury haven for foodies and wine lovers, Sir Heaton Rhodes created this lodge as a dream destination for a weekend base ideal for touring the South Island. No two of Otahuna’s seven suites are the same – their original stained-glass windows and ornate open fireplaces carefully restored yet each totally one-of-a-kind. The verandas are a la Gone with the Wind – long expansive spaces with louvered white domes overlooking the distant Southern Alps. Be sure to take a tour of the grounds with head gardener Steve Marcham and marvel at the original fruit and nut orchard, organic walled vegetable garden and seasonal fresh produce. A trip one hour north lies the Waipara wine district, NZ’s hottest wine region and home to gorgeous boutique vineyards. Drink pinot noir to your heart’s content.

EDGE VIEW

Great Wall China

Paris

Although it’s an obvious choice to showcase the City of Lights for this section, I’ve just heard the story of a very non-cliche marriage proposal in Paris from two friends from Peru well-deserving of a nod to the most romantic city in the world. The vistas in Paris are true classics. In fact, it’s impossible to visit Paris without stumbling upon a movie-screen worthy view – most likely from a high point of one of the city’s endless panoramas. From the gargoyles’ perch of Notre Dame, from the Arc de Triomphe’s rooftop overlooking the Champs Elysees, from 56 stories up via Montparnasse, from the Eiffel Tower’s observation tower at night, or simply walking along the Seine River’s bridges you’ll find timeless black and white priceless images await at every turn….

EDGE CHECK IN

Vamizi

Vamizi Island Resort
Mozambique, Africa

‘As romantic as a tale of Sinbad,’ staying at Vamizi is tantamount to having your own deserted private island – without the price tag. Think shabby chic meets African village with a distinctly Caribbean chilled-out vibe. Located in the Quirimbas Archipelago, flat white pristine beaches and turquoise blue Indian Ocean are the greatest draw. Getting here is comparable to a National Geographic expedition but well worth the three island-hopping flights from Mozambique to ultimately deplane at Vamizi’s private airstrip. Then you are whisked away on a 15 minute speed boat ride, arriving at last to barefoot luxury. This rustic island retreat paradise is comprised of a mere 13 separate Robinson Crusoe beach houses each with a large living room, bedroom and

Vamizi

waterfront veranda. Vamizi is for people who love diving, eco-travel and waterside dining with the freshest seafood. Snorkel amongst coral reefs, take a boat ride as dolphins play alongside, enjoy an Ashtanga yoga class on the sand lightly caressed by natural breezes, soak up beauty treatments made from local seaweed minerals or merely lounge on an alfresco deep cane couch and discover what it means to feel truly at peace. Best of all, a portion of every guest’s cost contributes to local wildlife and habitat conservation projects. So pack your things and take a boat (and a couple of planes) to the end of the world….
www.vamizi.com

EDGE DIARIES

Bhutan

Bhutan Travel Diary
‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’
by Michelle LeHane

Imagine a country committed to the people’s happiness. A place where nature is sacred….

When I was asked if I would like to travel to the Kingdom of Bhutan I could hardly contain my excitement. Those majestic mountains and amazing countryside – I knew that I would not allow this once in a lifetime opportunity to slip by. My adventure begins the moment the captain starts his descent into Paro. The landing is treacherous as the airstrip is nestled between the mountains. I am quietly confident of his abilities because not only is he one of only eight pilots in the world who are specially trained to do this, but I have also discovered that His Royal Highness the Prince of Bhutan is on the flight with us.

When I finally arrive at the hotel, I’m escorted to my beautiful villa surrounded by 35 hectares of pristine vista. As I need to acclimatize to the high altitude, I take the day to relax and wind through the pine forests to the monastery of the Zuri Dzong which houses the National Museum. A few kilometers north of Paro we pay our respects at Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with its magic orange tree which bears fruit all year round.

Malawi

The next morning we head out early to Chele La Pass which at 3988m is the highest road pass in Bhutan. I am excited as we are headed for Kila Goemba, one of the seven oldest nunneries and home to 29 Buddhist nuns. It was originally established in the early nineteenth century as a place of meditation. After being destroyed by fire it was reconstructed and in 1986 the government officially established Kila Goemba as a Anim Dratshang (nunnery). We arrive after a two-hour hike through dense forest, edelweiss flowers and blue pine to make our offerings and have a brief audience with two of the nuns who offer us tea and a traditional Bhutanese snack made from red rice, butter and mustard seeds. Seven hours later I am back at my villa enjoying a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath followed by the hotels signature hour-long massage.

My next challenge and overriding reason for this trip is seeing “Tigers Nest.” One of the most amazing and important pieces of architecture in Bhutan, Taktsang Goemba defies logic, gravity and reason. Legend has it that this cliffside was where Guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. It is another two-hour climb up to the monastery from the base camp. The views are breathtaking and certainly worth the difficult ascent which should not be attempted until at least three days after your arrival. Exhausted, that evening I fall into my bed feeling a huge sense of achievement and drift off to sleep with a smile on my face.