Land of Plenty

Singapore Tatler Wedding - - CONTENTS -

Be­gin a life­time of hap­pi­ness in New Zealand where beau­ti­ful land­scapes, stylish lodges and a rich ter­roir beckon

Be­gin a life­time of hap­pi­ness in the land where peo­ple greet you with “Kia ora!”, the Maori bless­ing of be­ing well, at ev­ery turn. And it is im­pos­si­ble not to feel so in New Zealand, as its beau­ti­ful land­scapes, stylish lodges and rich ter­roir yield­ing fresh lo­cal pro­duce and ex­cel­lent vin­tages fill your soul with good­ness

ust hours be­fore, I had watched, heart in mouth, a group at­tempt­ing the Auck­land Sky Tower’s Sky­Walk, and SkyJump dare­dev­ils whoop­ing past my eyes to the ground be­low—all from a dizzy­ing height of 192 me­tres in the cap­i­tal of New Zealand.

And then, the ta­bles were turned and it was my turn for some high-al­ti­tude ac­tion (al­beit of a less death-de­fy­ing na­ture!). This time, I found my­self soar­ing over a vol­cano—the Ran­gi­toto vol­cano crater— and Mo­tu­ihe Is­land en route to­wards Wai­heke Is­land. It was an ex­hil­a­rat­ing sight as my sea­plane cruised through the air: clear blue skies freck­led with cot­ton clouds above, and swathes of green framed by sandy beaches be­low. Mean­while, an Auck­land Sea­planes pi­lot pointed out the coastal set­tings of many a ro­man­tic pro­posal, picnic lunch and pri­vate cer­e­monies of elop­ing cou­ples. My ad­ven­ture through New Zealand’s North Is­land had be­gun... WAI­HEKE IS­LAND AND LAKE TAUPO Seafood- and wine-lovers will en­joy Wai­heke Is­land’s ca­sual, laid-back vibe, and ex­plor­ing its many vine­yards and stylish eater­ies and shops. The Oys­ter Inn of­fers freshly-shucked oys­ters in­clud­ing the fa­mous Bluff oys­ters found in the coun­try’s south. Af­ter a quick, de­li­cious lunch that in­cluded salt and pep­per squid with Thai nam gim sauce, beer-bat­tered fish with thick­cut fries, and oys­ters (of course), washed down with a lo­cal pinot gris, I catch the af­ter­noon ferry back to Auck­land in time for the evening flight to Taupo.

The plane de­scends at Great Lake Taupo’s re­gional air­port bathed in the glow of a glo­ri­ous sun­set, the glow­ing ball of fire light­ing up the rich green hues of the fields with a mag­i­cal sheen. The re­sult of a mas­sive vol­canic erup­tion, the 616 sqkm Lake Taupo, Aus­trala­sia’s largest fresh­wa­ter lake, is big enough to fit Sin­ga­pore. With a pic­turesque lake, Ton­gariro Na­tional Park’s snow-capped moun­tains within a 75-minute

The re­gion’s nat­u­ral beauty is matched by top-notch ser­vice and the stylish com­fort of lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tions

drive away, rivers teem­ing with trout, and the avail­abil­ity of adren­a­line-pump­ing ac­tiv­i­ties from sky­div­ing to white wa­ter raft­ing, there are end­less ac­tiv­i­ties for cou­ples of dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests to en­joy to­gether.

Out­door ex­pe­ri­ence op­er­a­tor Chris Jolly Out­doors of­fers guided walks, fly fish­ing ex­cur­sions, and scenic cruises in­clud­ing pri­vate char­ters where you and your other half can spend a lazy day sail­ing in Lake Taupo while fish­ing for trout and vis­it­ing the fa­mous 14-me­tre high Maori Rock Carv­ings at Whakamo­enga Point, all from the com­fort of boats equipped with full bar fa­cil­i­ties, flush toi­lets and lounge-style cab­ins.

Spring in Septem­ber typ­i­cally brings show­ers so rain­coats and brol­lies are strongly rec­om­mended. I went fly fish­ing on a gloomy day where Mr Weather couldn’t de­cide whether to rain, shine or sulk in be­tween. I traipsed clum­sily in my waders along the Hine­ma­iaia River, while my ever-op­ti­mistic guide Paul pa­tiently ex­plained the steps to fly fish­ing. He seemed fairly con­fi­dent that I

would snag at least one trout de­spite a swollen river filled with mud and silt. Af­ter two hours, it was the fish hav­ing the last laugh. Our only con­so­la­tion: spot­ting a rare blue duck just me­tres from us, a first on this river ac­cord­ing to Paul who has been fish­ing for over 20 years in the area, and my qual­i­fi­ca­tion as a semiex­pert in iden­ti­fy­ing na­tive birds by lis­ten­ing to their call and ob­serv­ing the mark­ings on their body. WHERE TO STAY:

The re­gion’s nat­u­ral beauty is matched by top-notch ser­vice and the stylish com­fort of lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion like the Huka Lodge and the re­cently opened The Lodge at Kin­loch. The in­te­ri­ors of both lodges were fit­ted out by lo­cal de­signer Vir­ginia Fisher, and, de­spite be­ing over 30 years apart

in con­struc­tion, re­flect a de­sign ge­nius that is cre­atively sen­si­tive to the his­tory and set­ting of each lodge.

At The Lodge at Kin­loch, it was a daily dilemma be­tween loung­ing in my cosy, chic villa blend­ing leather seat­ing, plaid blan­kets, and sculp­tural ac­ces­sories in mod­ern farm­house style and step­ping out onto the peace­ful es­tate grounds over­look­ing an award-win­ning Jack Nick­laus Sig­na­ture golf course, the only one of its kind built in the coun­try. Ser­vice was on point: my favourite hot choco­late and a warm towel re­quested on the first morn­ing au­to­mat­i­cally ap­peared at my break­fast ta­ble in the com­mu­nal din­ing room the next day. Staff can also set up ta­bles in quiet cor­ners for cou­ples to have pri­vate “es­tate to plate” meals. Re­ju­ve­nat­ing treat­ments await at the spa and the 60-minute Romiromi mas­sage book­ended with prayers of love, peace and bliss by na­tive Maori to­hunga (ex­pert) Ta­tiana, which can also be done for cou­ples, is highly rec­om­mended for those look­ing to be in­vig­o­rated in phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual well-be­ing.

Over at Huka Lodge, the decor harkens back to days of hunt­ing and fish­ing yore, com­plete with the roar­ing of the Waikato River out­side my Ju­nior Lodge Suite and ducks and birds am­bling on the grassy banks. Fret not over its com­mu­nal tra­di­tion of pre-din­ner drinks and canapes. There are 25 pri­vate din­ing spa­ces around the lodge for mo­ments with your beloved where con­ver­sa­tions about ex­ec­u­tive chef Paul Frog­gatt’s in­no­va­tive take on lo­cal in­gre­di­ents are sure to flow. In­flite Char­ters Taupo has he­li­copter flights that whisk you from the lodge’s front lawn on a breath­tak­ing jour­ney over the Huka Falls and Lake Taupo town or you can take a re­lax­ing stroll along the Waikato River from the Spa Ther­mal Park to Huka Falls. HAWKE’S BAY

At Hawke’s Bay, a two-hour drive from Taupo, fam­ily-owned winer­ies such as Ele­phant Hill and Clearview Es­tate Win­ery of­fer ca­sual lunch menus with out­stand­ing vin­tages. These can also be eas­ily ticked off the to-do list by fol­low­ing bike rental com­pany Coastal Wine Cy­cles’ leisurely no-hill Coastal Dash route on clas­sic beach cruiser bikes—sore der­rières and wed­gies guar­an­teed to be ex­cluded. Join lo­cal food writer and cheese ex­pert Juliet Har­butt

on her Hunter-Gatherer tour that brings you to ar­ti­sanal pro­duc­ers of olive oil, cheese, ice-cream and figs be­fore wind­ing up at her home for a lunch of home­made dishes ac­com­pa­nied by veg­eta­bles and herbs from her gar­den. Dur­ing the week­end, visit Napier’s open-air Ur­ban Farm­ers’ Mar­ket and take the Art Deco Vin­tage Car tour to im­bibe the lo­cal at­mos­phere and learn more about the city’s historical trans­for­ma­tion to Art Deco ar­chi­tec­ture. WHERE TO STAY:

For mem­o­rable stays, look no fur­ther than the new Owner’s Lodge at Craggy Range and The Farm at Cape Kid­nap­pers. The first is a clas­sic coun­try lodge stun­ner, and its four spa­cious king bed­rooms, open-plan liv­ing room, and chef’s kitchen are just right for an in­ti­mate en­gage­ment or wed­ding party, while cou­ples can take one of the four other one-bed­room and two-bed­room cot­tages nearby. A mar­quee can also be set up among the vines for fairy tale cel­e­bra­tions with the ma­jes­tic Te Mata hill range as the back­drop, or sim­ply grab a bot­tle of wine to en­joy the sun­set at Te Mata Peak.

Over at The Farm at Cape Kid­nap­pers, it is time for walks and whis­pers in the wind with a picnic bas­ket in hand in the midst of roam­ing sheep and nest­ing gan­net colonies. It is also home to one of the most spec­tac­u­lar golf cour­ses in the world with ex­pan­sive views of the Pa­cific Ocean. While it might be dif­fi­cult to tear away from the mod­ern farm­house in­te­ri­ors of your suite and its pri­vate bal­cony of­fer­ing splen­did views of the es­tate’s lush pas­tures, the el­e­gant fine din­ing and ex­cel­lent wine pair­ings are not to be missed.

It is in this par­adise where I spent my last evening in a pri­vate stargaz­ing ses­sion, beat­ing the odds of bad weather to get a clear inky can­vas dot­ted by twin­kling stars. So well de­lin­eated were the con­stel­la­tions and the Milky Way that even the astronomer guide was in awe. In New Zealand, Mother Na­ture un­veils her pret­ti­est side, a fit­ting ac­com­pa­ni­ment to your first trip as Mr and Mrs.

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