6.13.2019

dawn at Kauri Cliffs

Kauri Cliffs sunrise (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Kauri Cliffs is a luxury lodge in the very north of New Zealand, part of Robertson Lodges. Like the other two members of the collection (Cape Kidnappers and Matakauri Lodge), Kauri Cliffs offers large, gorgeous suites with interiors designed by Virginia Fischer; full breakfast and full dinner daily; and Virtuoso amenities (a $100 spa credit and upgrade at check-in if available).

Located in the Bay of Islands region of New Zealand, Kauri Cliffs is an ideal place to begin your visit. Flights from the US arrive into Auckland too early (before 6 a.m.) to expect an early check-in anywhere ... so you may as well venture onwards upon arrival. We flew that morning to the Kerikeri airport where our driver transferred us to our first experience, a three hour cruise aboard the Cool Change Catamaran in the Bay of Islands — sailing by the many picturesque, craggy islands in the bay; following a pod of dolphins; and finally docking at a beach on Waewatorea Island and climbing a hill to take in the panoramic view from high up.

While at Kauri Cliffs, you can golf on its 18 hole championship seaside course; enjoy the fine cuisine; and go to Pink Beach to fish, swim, or have the famous BBQ (I believe every Friday evening). To learn about the history and culture of New Zealand, I do recommend you visit to the very interesting Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

6.10.2019

my New Zealand highlight

waterfall at Minaret Station (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

What's your favorite takeaway from a trip? For me, it's that one WOW photograph that I'm able to take during my trip (if I'm so lucky to find a composition, capture an image, and fall in love with it). Such photographs tell a story and help me remember a very special moment.

This image of a waterfall is my favorite takeaway from 10 days in New Zealand. We had helicoptered into Minaret Station, a remote retreat located in a mountain valley about 35 miles north of Queenstown. It had been raining, and the waterfalls were gushing water. On arrival, I borrowed the tripod from the lodge's living room (on which they normally keep a telescope), mounted my camera to it, and hiked with the rest of my group along the boardwalk to explore the valley.  Because of the long 2.5 second exposure, you can sense the rapidly moving water in this stream at the foot of the waterfall.

I'll be posting more articles about the highlights of New Zealand. Click on the "subscribe to Travel Horizons" button on the right side of the screen to hear about it as soon as a new post goes up... and contact us if New Zealand is on your bucket list.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

5.30.2019

postcard from New Zealand | Waiheke Island

silhouetted trees on Waiheke Island (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

I never knew about Waiheke Island, but that's where we spent yesterday. Described as the Hamptons of Auckland, the island is a 30-minute ferry ride from Auckland harbour and central business district.

Why did we go there? To inspect Omaru Bay, a luxury villa that’s part of the collection of Virtuoso partner Touch of Spice; to enjoy a bespoke activity creating our own perfume and our own gin (for gin and tonic); to enjoy wine tasting; and to have a fabulous lunch at Poderi Crisci.

Now at the end of two great weeks in New Zealand, we fly home tonight. Thank you to Virtuoso, Tourism New Zealand, Auckland Tourism, and Southern World for making this all possible.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

5.27.2019

postcard from Minaret Station

waterfall at Minaret Station (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

I took a short hike this morning before breakfast through the mountain valley in which Minaret Station is found. With just four cabins set in the midst of 60,000 acres, Minaret Station is both the largest and the smallest Virtuoso resort in the world. It is utter luxury to live in total comfort, enjoying meals, in the midst of such raw and natural beauty. So remote, we helicoptered in yesterday ... but so close, it's just 20 minutes from Queenstown.

Never knew about Minaret Station, but it's now on my radar as the best adventure travel resort in New Zealand ... and one of the most spectacular settings in the world. Thank you, Minaret Station, Southern World, Tourism New Zealand, and Virtuoso for making this visit possible.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

5.26.2019

Maori crafts in Rotorua

for sale in the gallery at Te Puia (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Sometimes the best travel experiences happen purely by chance. When our Southern World host received a text that our flight from Rotorua to Wellington was delayed by 30 minutes, he got right on the phone to the sales manager at Te Puia, a centre for Maori culture located in Rotorua. He arranged a whirlwind tour of the school founded to teach Maori crafts, preserving those traditions for a new generation. In the mere 30 minutes available, we saw students practicing arts such as wood carving and weaving, passed through the Gallery at which visitors can purchase those crafts, and finished by viewing the geyser.

You don't need to spend hours to get value from a worthwhile attraction. If you only have time for a quick thirty minute tour, you can still have an informative visit if you've got a knowledgeable guide showing you the essentials.



This is day six of our ten day educational tour through New Zealand. We've seen some of the world's most wonderful luxury lodges and delighted in the natural beauty of this photogenic island nation.


copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

5.24.2019

early morning light at Kinloch

tree in the early morning light (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

In the midst of a trip to New Zealand, we've been so constantly on the move that I haven't had a chance to post. Ten hotels in ten nights is not a trip I'd recommend for leisure travelers, but it's an excellent if intense way to learn more about one of my favorite destinations in the world.

I captured the above image this morning at Kinloch Manor while walking back to my villa after breakfast. It would be an ideal accommodation for families or couples traveling together — two bedrooms, a large living room, and a kitchen. The villa was truly overkill for me as I was the only occupant in the room, but I truly appreciated having a washer and dryer! Being able to begin the second half of my educational tour with a clean set of laundry is pure luxury.

Tomorrow morning we check out of Wharekauhau and fly to Christchurch ... and on Sunday to Queenstown, home of New Zealand's most fabulous alpine scenery.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

5.10.2019

bouillabaisse for lunch in Cassis

outdoor café in Cassis, France (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

One of the coolest things about a cruise is that you can go to sleep in Italy and wake up in France. Our first stop, after leaving Rome aboard the Seabourn Ovation, was in the port of Bastia (on the north coast of Corsica). The next morning, we awoke in Toulon, a small town in Provence on the Cote d'Azur.

Did you know that we can arrange private shore excursions? You're not limited to the group tours that cruise lines offer. Our visit was designed by Virtuoso onsite We Travel France. It included a wine tasting experience at the E. Bodin winery in Cassis, followed by a visit to the Port de Cassis. My highlight of the day was the utterly fabulous lunch I enjoyed at Chez César. Right on the water, their bouillabaisse was utterly authentic (and unlike what passes for bouillabaisse in the US).

Cassis is a cute town with at least a dozen open-air restaurants overlooking its small harbor. I captured the image above in our free time following lunch. I recommend a visit!

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.