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August 10, 2009

Wine, water and luxury the perfect mix in New Zealand


Source: Tourism New Zealand

With luxury travel now one of New Zealand's fastest growing tourism sectors it’s no surprise that the well-heeled are seeking out their growing list of luxury travel possibilities.

Luxury travellers have almost tripled their spending in New Zealand in the past decade and, as high-end lodges and tourism experiences notch up international awards and recognition, New Zealand is now firmly fixed on the luxury radar.

For the world-weary, well-travelled superyacht set, New Zealand offers a genuinely refreshing approach that's strongly linked to the landscape and all about creating personal and unique experiences - world-class accommodation, wines, service and transport delivered in an intimate and engaging Kiwi manner.

Drawn firstly to the unspoilt landscape, international visitors are often blown away by the sophisticated infrastructure and services providing all the trappings of a first-class experience topped off with priceless treasures like peace, privacy and safety.

Discerning travellers are continually voting New Zealand their favourite destination. Condé Nast readers recently voted New Zealand their favourite country in the world for the fifth year in a row. And, even in times of economic downturn, those with money to spend are spending it in New Zealand showing they're prepared to go the extra mile for a quality experience.

As a relative newcomer to luxury tourism, New Zealand has had the benefit of hindsight, able to draw from the experience of others and create a world-class product with a truly unique Kiwi flavour. Locally grown fine foods, award winning wines, exclusive accommodation and tailor-made activities all exceed the expectations of the most discerning five-star traveller.

Another element of the New Zealand luxury experience that moves international visitors is the chance to interact with the indigenous culture in an authentic sense. Whether joining a Māori guide to walk in ancient Kauri forests or meeting a contemporary Māori artist in their own studio.

New Zealand's first luxury property is still the best known - the multi-award winning Huka Lodge in Taupo that's hosted heads of state and Hollywood stars, and become world famous for its seclusion, unique environment and luxury experience.

Newer properties like The Farm, at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay, have quickly earned world class status. The Cape Kidnappers golf course was recently voted top in the world by Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

At no extra cost is New Zealand's natural asset, the landscape, with mountains, crystal-clear lakes and rivers, wide open spaces and miles of sparkling blue seas.

Luxury yachts and launches provide travellers with an exclusive floating option to explore New Zealand by water, and there are hundreds of islands and secluded moorings within easy reach of the main centres.

As well as the chance to cruise the subtropical waters of the Bay of Islands in the north of New Zealand - where dolphins and whales are a common sight - many vessels, large and small, take passengers on a dramatic journey into Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park where bush-clad peaks rise from the still blue waters, waterfalls cascade hundreds of metres into deep coves, and wildlife abounds.

Escaping the rat race is one of the main reasons luxury travellers come to New Zealand and visitors list the seclusion, easily achieved privacy, restorative health benefits and infectious warmth of the people as key factors.

One of the mistakes visitors commonly make is not allowing enough time to enjoy the New Zealand experience and, despite the ease of travel and accessibility of facilities, people frequently say they wish they could stay longer.

With the chance to walk for days and not see another soul, fly in to a remote fishing spot hours from civilisation, soak in a spa under the stars, entertain in a private lodge with your personal chef, dine on your own freshly caught seafood and escape into anonymity - it's easy to see why.

New Zealand wines taking the world by storm.

As a perfect adjunct to a stay at any of New Zealand’s world famous lodges, enjoying the country’s signature wine style is another experience only available in New Zealand. New Zealand's 10 wine producing regions span 1600kms, almost the entire length of the country's coastline, resulting in a variety that is as wide and varied as the country they grow in.

Winemaking in New Zealand came from humble beginnings. Prohibition and the influence of the British who preferred beer and spirits, meant wine wasn't really appreciated in New Zealand until the arrival of the first Dalmatian migrants at the turn of the twentieth century.
They brought with them knowledge of viticulture and an appreciation of wine, never seen before in New Zealand. Their years of hard toil and expertise have made the industry what is today.

From Pinot noir to Pinot gris, New Zealand wines are winning awards all over the globe, punching well above their weight on the international scene.

Some of the hundreds of New Zealand vineyards are now even growing the rare Viognior white wine grape - a grape which almost became extinct in its native France due to a pesky insect - with splendid results. Because of New Zealand's cooler climate the Viognior grape produces a different taste than its French equivalent, a taste that has made it the new trendy white wine in New Zealand.

As well as producing top class wine, the New Zealand wine industry is also making a commitment to protecting the environment. Grove Mill Winery has become the first winery in the world to achieve carbon zero certification.

The certification involves addressing climate change impacts with the aim of adding no net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere in the production and distribution of its wines.

This approach has made New Zealand one of the most exciting New World wine-producing countries. Winemakers are applying innovative ideas to traditional winemaking bringing intensity, freshness and complexity to the wine.

Chardonnay is the most widely planted variety but is definitely not a boring standard. New Zealand's distinct Chardonnay is complex and fruit-laden in character, and fruity, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc is the icon wine of Marlborough. Pinot Noir is the darling of the wine world. It's a difficult and challenging wine to produce and each mouthful speaks of its complexity. Marlborough and Central Otago vie for the title of most notable region currently producing Pinot Noir.

New Zealand leads the international field for producing sparkling wine, and the Montana Brancott winery owns the only Coquard Champagne press in the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand's sparkling wine surprises many a traditionalist with its unique flavours and aromas. Montana's Lindauer and Cloudy Bay's Pelorus, both from Marlborough, are fine examples.

The gravel soils of the Hawke's Bay region favour robust, stylish and elegant reds, and winemakers' individual blends perfect the final product.

Before you sail on from the glorious waters of New Zealand, you’ll find it hard to resist stowing a few cases of classic Kiwi wine down in the hold. Who could blame you?
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