Fly to Auckland, where you’ll be met and taken, by helicopter to your hotel on Waiheke Island.
On Waiheke you’ll enjoy a world of peace and gentle recreation – the perfect antidote to flying across the world. Far out in the twinkling Hauraki Gulf, the island is fringed with wonderful beaches and luxurious resorts.
Its hinterland features deep green forests, rolling farmland and boutique vineyards – giving you ample opportunities to take touring trips; provided you can tear yourself away from the beach!
Stay: Two nights in the nautically-themed Boatshead Hotel or exclusive Delamore Lodge.
A ferry takes you back to Auckland, refreshed and ready to enjoy this charming little city. You’ll soon understand why it is known as the City of Sails. The waterfront area is alive with sailing craft – as well as chic waterfront restaurants and bars.
From here you could take a scenic mini-cruise around the harbour, or simply content yourself with exploring the city itself.
Stay: One night in the Debrett Hotel.
A morning’s drive along the wonderful Thermal Explorer Highway takes you to the bubbling cauldrons of hot mud and the spouting geysers of Rotorua. This town is also the heartland of traditional Maori culture.
You may well be welcomed with a fearsome haka and indulge in a sumptuous hangi feast, but you can also opt for a heli-tour to a dormant volcano of or a cruise across Lake Tawarera.
Stay: Two nights at Koura Lodge, Rotorua.
Follow the Thermal Explorer Highway until you reach the Pacific Coast Highway and stop for a drink. Now you really can combine luxury with lifestyle, because you’re in the country’s pre-eminent wine producing regions with over 50 distinctive vineyards.
You can take a connoisseur’s guided tour of the region, play golf and indulge in a pampering spa.
Stay: Two nights at either Greenhill Lodge or The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.
Napier – Nelson
Drive to the Art Deco town of Napier, and take the luxury of a small plane to Nelson. By flying you’ll save a long drive and a time-consuming sea journey, but you’ll still have eye-opening views of the countryside passing beneath you, as well as fantastic seascape views over the Cook Strait and the awe-inspiring Marlborough Sounds.
In Nelson you’ll be able to take a leisurely browse around the many arts and craft studios and tour the region’s most prominent wineries. You’ll also take heli-tours along the coast and over Lord of the Rings landscapes, go sea kayaking or sail in the Abel Tasman National Park on a private trip.
Stay: Two nights at highly acclaimed Edenhouse overlooking Orinoco Valley.
Marlborough is a mecca for wine lovers and gourmets alike. Hunters, Cloudy Bay, St Clair and Villa Maria are just some of the Sauvignon Blancs produced in this region – the perfect accompaniments to locally-grazed lamb, greenshell mussels and scallops straight from the Sounds.
Away from the table, you can cruise the Sounds, watch dolphins or tour the Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary.
Stay: Two nights at Bay of Many Coves.
Today you drive off to the acclaimed Otahuna Lodge, a three storey, listed Queen Anne house. But on the way you’ll stop at the old whaling town of Kaikoura, where you can go whale watching or swimming with dolphins.
You can also immerse yourself in Maori culture or take part in adventure activities – including quad biking through the surrounding countryside.
Stay: Two nights in historic Otahuna Lodge.
Now your Luxury and Lifestyle Tour caters to your taste for astonishing visual treats. The mighty Southern Alps are an unforgettable procession of sensational panoramic views. Even your hotel will look out on the awesome Mount Cook.
And as if that wasn’t enough, you can take scenic flights over the region, landing on the spectacular Tasman Glacier or take a six hour cruise around the base of New Zealand’s largest glacier.
Stay: Two nights in the Aoraki Wing of the Hermitage Hotel.
Drive away from the snow-capped Southern Alps and you’ll arrive at Queenstown – the adventure sports capital of New Zealand, situated on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. As well as thrilling activities like knuckle-blanching jet boat rides on the Dart River, exhilarating adventures and bungee-jump watching from Kawarau Bridge, you’ll also have some adrenalin-calming opportunities.
Like lunch in an historic Glenorchy pub, tastings in local wineries and visits to Coronet Peak and historic Arrowtown. From Queenstown you can also enter the mountainous world of the Lord of the Rings.
Stay: Three nights in a Matakauri Lodge beside Lake Wakatipu.
Time to board a plane at Queenstown and begin your journey back home.
It was a complicated and very individual trip, and several changes were made by me during the planning. None of this seemed to worry Ayesha and everything went according to plan.- AM, India, 2014