Settle into your seat and let our private jet crew offer you a delectable lunch accompanied by fine wines, as our flight from Sydney heads over the Tasman Sea to Auckland. After a short stop for immigration formalities, we continue north to the subtropical charms of the Bay of Islands, where 144 islands and sparkling sandy beaches promise a most delightful start to the journey.
We base ourselves in historic Russell, New Zealand's first sea port and European settlement. In the early 19th century, it attracted convicts fleeing New South Wales, drunken sailors and whalers. Today, cafes, shops and bed & breakfasts characterise the town. Its streets retain their original layout, and its buildings have been beautifully preserved. Our home for two nights is the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, New Zealand's first hotel with a past as colourful as that of Russell's. It was founded by Johnny Johnston, an ex-convict who made good and became fluent in the Maori language, which led locals to trust him enough to sell him the land on which he built the hotel. This evening, we savour a delectable welcome dinner and reception at the Gables, set prettily on the waterfront.
Please enquire for details if you would prefer to join the group in Russell.
This morning, we immerse ourselves in nature and Ngāpuhi culture. They are New Zealand's largest Maori tribe. We meet our guide at Waitangi Bridge, where we board a 40-foot traditional waka taua, or war canoe. We then explore the Waitangi River, learning waka manoeuvres, traditional chants and a haka. Upon arrival at the sacred Haruru Falls, our guide regales us with its legends. After lunch in Russell, choose to spend your afternoon on one of these Your World experiences.
Admire the Bay of Islands on a late afternoon cruise, then pick where you'd like to have dinner. Enjoy local produce and seafood in our hotel's restaurant or at Sally's. If you're craving something different, Spice Route offers the region's finest Indian cuisine.
After breakfast, we drive to Kerikeri airport and board our private jet for the onward journey to breathtaking Lake Taupo. Our privately chartered boat lets us leisurely take in the sights. Crystalline waters, hidden bays and Tongariro National Park's snowy peaks mesmerise us. The trip reaches a high point as we sail up close to the astounding Maori Rock Carvings, a 10-metre high carving of Ngátoro-i-rangi on the rock face. According to legend, he was a skilled navigator who guided tribes to the region.
Our residence is Huka Lodge, a sumptuous retreat that tops every other in the country and rivals the best in the world. Over its 25-year history, it has consistently been awarded by such illustrious authorities as Tatler, Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveller magazines. The lodge welcomes us for a two-night celebration of the gorgeous Waikato River and its surroundings. Marvel at the lush country, relax and prepare for a sumptuous five-course dinner prepared by Chef Paul Froggatt, who boasts a multiple Michelin-starred resume.
With such an abundance of natural beauty surrounding us, it might be difficult deciding how to spend your day. Relax on Huka Lodge's grounds or choose from these spectacular Your World experiences.
We trade the rustic countryside for gleaming Queenstown today. After breakfast at Huka Lodge, we rejoin our jet for the flight to New Zealand's South Island. Set on lightningbolt shaped Lake Wakatipu, against the rugged Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown has magnificent scenery in spades. It is also a gourmet capital and the heart of the Central Otago wine region. We indulge ourselves during lunch at Wild Earth Restaurant, savouring its one-of-a-kind cuisine - the freshest local ingredients steamed, baked, grilled or smoked in French oak pinot noir barrels, accompanied by their award-winning wines, of course.
The afternoon continues with a drive through dramatic Kawarau Gorge to Gibbston Valley Winery, home of New Zealand's largest underground wine cave. Taste decadent varietals while hearing about their winemaking process. Just down the road, Gibbston Valley Cheese crafts artisanal sheep, cow and goat cheeses in the European style. Our epicurean tour ends here, then it's on to the heart of Queenstown, where we check in to the Hotel St Moritz for two nights. This evening, you can dine at Lombardi, in our hotel. Optionally, head to Rata, for an inventive and perfectly executed menu of modern Kiwi, or to Madam Woo for Malaysian with a twist. Both restaurants are owned by two Michelin-starred chef Josh Emett.
Today, we embark on an active exploration of Queenstown's wonders. Choose how to spend your day on these Your World experiences.
Those who select half-day experiences may also take a stunning helicopter ride to an alpine plateau, where we have the distinct privilege of a private picnic in the splendid surroundings. Later, visit Artbay Gallery, home to New Zealand's leading contemporary artists. The exhibiting artist will be on hand to meet us. At dinner, select from the wood-fired meats of Botswana Butchery or the Polynesian-Asian delights of Blue Kanu.
New Zealand's most famous wine region beckons to us this morning. After breakfast, our private jet flies us to the norther n tip of the South Island. On arrival, a short scenic drive places us in Picton, where our boat awaits us. This part of the coastline was formed when deep river valleys were flooded after the last ice age, creating countless twisting side passages and islands. We embark on a cruise of Queen Charlotte Sound, calling in at secret coves and bays, and the artisanal seafood farms that rely on its crisp, pristine water.
Meet the farmers who are raising salmon and greenshell mussels for the finest dining tables in New Zealand and abroad, and take part in the harvest of wild Cloudy Bay surf clams. We have the distinct privilege of grazing on these fabulous delicacies paired with the region's famed sauvignon blancs. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled as we cruise from farm to farm. We might chance upon seals, dolphins, orcas and other whales. Back on dry land, we check in to the Chateau Marlborough in Blenheim for two nights. This evening, we dine on the seasonal offerings of our hotel's Quench restaurant, aptly named for the exhaustive list of wines from the Marlborough valley and beyond.
Blenheim is a picturesque township filled with independent boutiques and galleries. Spend the day strolling its streets at your own pace or choose from these Your World experiences.
This evening, you are free to choose where to dine. Some of our favourites include Gramado's, where traditional Brazilian techniques are lightened with a Kiwi sensibility and MIA Dining and Wine Cellar, for a taste of modern New Zealand.
This morning, we leave New Zealand for tiny Norfolk Island, a two-hour flight north. Lying 1,673 kilometres from Sydney, this island is most famously known as the place bequeathed by Queen Victoria to descendants of HMS Bounty mutineers when they outgrew Pitcairn Islands. Today, a third of residents claim mutineers as ancestors. Dramatic and forbidding cliffs make up most of the coastline, adding to the island's sense of isolation. The lush clifftop at Forrester Court, overlooking Cascade Bay, hosts us for a leisurely picnic lunch. After soaking in the scenery, we leave for a tour of its turquoise lagoons, just as pretty as any in Polynesia, but without a soul in sight. There is the sense that we are in on a secret no one else knows yet. We visit the lookout at Mt Pitt for sweeping views of the entire island and the Cyclorama, a 360-degree panoramic painting that recounts the world's most legendary mutiny and how it created Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands' communities.
South Pacific Resort Hotel welcomes us for the night. This evening, dress for our gala farewell dinner at Two Chimneys vineyard, Norfolk Island’s first and only winery.
After breakfast this morning, we visit Kingston, the centre of the British Empire's most brutal penal settlement. Between 1788 and 1855, criminals who had committed fresh crimes in Australia were sent here. It also holds evidence of Polynesian settlement that predates Captain Cook's visit by several hundred years. We enjoy our final lunch in Hilli Restaurant, a word from the Creole Norfolk language that describes the drowsy, lazy feeling that you get after you've eaten. After lunch, we board our private jet for the journey home. As you relax in your seat, contemplate the dramatic landscapes, natural wonders and delicious diversions you've encountered. We hope to see you on your next Captain's Choice journey.
As travelling should not be a chore, distracting you from the new and fascinating places you are in, we've moved everything mundane behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map. Or your luggage. Or reach for your wallet.
There are no hidden costs. Everything is included - flights on your private jet and other travel arrangements, accommodation, travel insurance, all dining and drinks, every sightseeing trip. Even the extraordinary Your World experiences within your itinerary. And internet access when available.
Welcome to your homes away from home. Each one has a certain something that sets it apart from every other residence at its location. Whether for its history, cultural significance or natural setting, we’ve selected only the very best.
Seven hectares of woods and manicured grounds on the banks of the Waikato River - if that doesn't read like the perfect setting for a country retreat, we don't know what does. Especially as Captain’s Choice will secure exclusive use of this exquisite domain for the duration of your stay. Our Junior Lodge Suites are discreetly tucked away, with French doors to river-facing private terraces, while vaulted ceilings create a sense of space to be rivalled only by the great outdoors. Guests have included keen anglers Queen Elizabeth II and The Queen Mother, as well as film stars and public figures.
The hotel states cheekily that it has been 'refreshing rascals and reprobates since 1827'. Scenically set on the waterfront, you won't find a residence as intrinsically linked to New Zealand's founding as this. Inside, the Duke is all polished mahogany, crystal lights and framed photos of historical moments it has been witness to.
If Queenstown is New Zealand's alpine ski town, Hotel St Moritz is the embodiment of a cosy lodge - with wood-beamed ceilings, stone fireplaces, views of Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped Remarkables mountain range beyond.
Business-class private jet journey from Sydney return.
Prices are in Australian currency.