By Georgie
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Representing the Worlds most inspired travel experiences, united by a belief in the singular power of travel to surprise, delight and transform. 

Posts in Ahipara - New Zealand
The perfect place for little people to have a big adventure
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Ahipara are highly experienced in creating meaningful, one-off experiences, striving to develop something special for each member of the family so that memories of their shared adventure are always treasured.

Epic landscapes. endless spaces, active adventures, Maori culture and some fascinating wildlife are the drawcards of New Zealand. With an impressive range and quality of activities to suit all ages, it's a superb place for families to learn together, laugh together and push their limits together - all in a very relaxed atmosphere.

Fishing is big here and the perfect place for beginner-friendly lessons with relaxed and caring professionals carefully selected by Ahipara. Families can saltwater fly fish around Waiheke Island, freshwater fish for eel or trout in rivers unreached by tourism, grab kina off rocks, feed fish in the wild, snorkel for lobster and abalone or dive together to see kingfish and stingray. It's the perfect environment to fish in the morning, have lunch together as a family and then do something totally different in the afternoon. An itinerary taking all the pressure off the day, inclusive for all, and crafted to make everyone happy.

For the more adrenaline minded, what could be more exciting than a driving lesson in a full specification rally car on part of the New Zealand rally circuit with a champion as their instructor. A scenic flight by helicopter, flying through the vast Fiordland's of Milford Sound with a legendary local pilot, is also a showstopper experience. Families can stop for a wild food picnic along the way, taking in waterfalls, glaciers and beaches, before heading back to their accommodation.

As the birthplace of the jet boat, Ahipara also offer an experience the children (and adults!) will never forget - the opportunity to handle their own private jet boat. After seeing their exclusive expert driver 'do their stuff', both adults and children can have a go taking control of their boat on scenic Lake Wanaka, before stopping to picnic overlooked by the spectacular, ice-carved Alps of the South Island.

The Maori are the indigenous tribe and soul of New Zealand and their Powhiri or welcome ceremonies are life-changing, providing invaluable insight into a very different culture steeped with tradition. Ahipara can arrange private Powhiri ceremonies under the canopy of trees on the holy mountain of Titiraupenga and make sure that the ages of visiting children are paired accordingly, so they are able to experience a different culture with children of similar age. The whole experience is unforced, joyous and above all welcoming.

From ancient knowledge to epic adventures
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New Zealand is renowned for its remarkable landscapes, adventurous thrills and bucket-list worthy experiences, welcoming travellers back time and time again to discover its rich traditions and jaw-dropping scenery. Ahipara's in-the-know local knowledge and expertise allow unrivalled travel advantages in this extraordinary country. They take the time to understand each client, putting experiences together on a truly exclusive level, simply not available elsewhere.

There are fewer finer feelings than experiencing a VIP welcome on arrival to a country. Toby Clark, a legend in the New Zealand helicopter industry, meets clients directly off their aircraft. He flies them privately by helicopter via active volcano Whakaari (White Island), to Huka Lodge. Set exclusively on the banks of the Waikato River, upstream from the mighty Huka falls, guests stay at the top-end Alan Pye cottage.

The Maori are the soul of New Zealand and Powhiri or welcome ceremonies, are known to be life-changing, providing an inimitable opportunity for travellers to experience Maori traditions in action. Ahipara take it one step further, arranging private Powhiri ceremonies on the holy mountain of Titiraupenga, exclusively for their guests. After the stirring experience of a Powhiri, it is said the guardian spirits of New Zealand travel with you on your journey.

Few Opportunities arise in life that resonate, restore and relax, but spending time with multi-talented Maori chef Tom Loughlin is, without doubt, one of them. Tom is a 'tangata whenua' (person of the land) - an outdoorsman, search and rescue tracker, hunting guide and repository of Maori knowledge about food. Ahipara have been creating experiences with Tom for ten years. Kai Waho, Tom's company, brings Maori food experiences exclusively to clients. These experiences can happen up in the mountains on a 5,000-acre block of Maori land which Tom has been managing, or near a geothermal reserve, a lake or on a beach.

Experience days with Tom are bespoke to each client to ensure their travel aspirations are matched, with activities including one-on-one traditional weaving lessons, fishing for eels at night, sustainable hunting based on a Maori philosophy, guided and non-guided walks, mountain biking and horseback riding. Spending quality time under his personal guidance remains an unforgettable experience that cannot be replicated.

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Soothe the spirit and calm the soul
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Globally, more and more travellers are including wellness retreats in their itineraries. And where better to de-stress and unwind than the glorious volcanic peaks and awe-inspiring lakes of New Zealand? Ahipara offer exclusive retreats, yoga lessons on private mountains and hikes unlike any other in the world.

The stunning destination retreat of Split Apple, built into a cliff face on the borders of the Abel Tasman National Park, is a place that doesn't compromise on luxury. It offers therapies and wellness techniques that blend effortlessly with the comforts of a top-grade spa. Swapping their shoes for slippers, guests are offered a specially tailored health programme intended to relieve stress, managed by owner Lee Nelson, a retired doctor, whose primary focus is on wellness and meditation. Golden sand beaches, private yachts and a salt-water infinity pool provide the ultimate in luxury and relaxation. If anywhere can inspire wellness, this is it.

Central North Island is known for its lush rainforest and volcanic activity - combined with a strong Maori community. Travellers can enjoy a spiritual welcome on the holy mountain of Mount Titiraupenga in Taupo, with a Miri-Miri treatment, the traditional holistic healing and massage technique of the Maori people, where they can be gifted with energised pounamu (jade), New Zealand's soul stone. Ahipara's strong relationships with the Maori people mean spirituality can be explored in depth, with the spiritual welcome being described by clients as transformational. 

Ahipara also go off the traditional hiking beaten track, seeking out privately guided routes accessed by vehicle, boat or helicopter. Tours can range from walking to an old mining trail, to more active pursuits including sailing, sea kayaking, cycling or heli hiking. In every case, Ahipara's recommendations offer clients the path less trodden rather than the well-known tourist options, and an authentic taste of all that is New Zealand. 

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SIP ICE-COLD CHAMPAGNE ON AN ICE-COLD GLACIER
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New Zealand has clear blue skies and fresh mountain air, activities for the adventurous, fabulous food and fine wine alongside wondorous luxury accommodation. But what sets it apart is the space it affords.  Your guests can be entirely alone on a beautiful beach, sip ice-cold champagne on a glacier together, relax on board the only yacht in a lovely cove, or ride the only horses on a windswept mountain range, making it a very natural setting for romance.

Couples can explore the world's largest Polynesian city, Auckland, with its panorama of yachts and many luxury boutiques, restaurants, bars and cafes. Visit the lovely wine regions of Hawke's Bay and the beautiful landscapes of Marlborough before heading to Queenstown, the so-called 'adventure capital of the world.'

New Zealand's famous 'Super Lodges' are spectacularly located! The Boathouse is a water's edge sophisticated paradise.  As part of The Landing Residences, a group of four privately owned houses on the Bay of Islands, it boasts a thousand acres of private beaches surrounded by rolling hills, perfect for a romantic retreat.  On the edge of Lake Wanaka, strikingly designed in timber and glass against the backdrop of the Southern Alps, Whare Kea Lodge appears to float on the edge of the lake. Acacia Cliffs Lodge is perched up high over Lake Taupo.  It's vistas of incredible sunsets, tranquil surroundings and gourmet breakfast in bed are completely divine.

Ahipara offers a jet boat picnic aboard a boat exclusive to guests.  A private BBQ awaits offering whitebait, crayfish and venison on the banks of the Makarora river, the nearby cliff tops or secret beaches.  All cooked by national legend Harvey Hutton who offers private helicoptering and visits to the crystal-clear rivers, mountains and glaciers of his home. 

On a private Maori tour of mystical site Mount Titiraupenga, spend a day understanding greenstone (New Zealand Jade, for some the 'soul stone' of the country).  Meet a Maori kaumatua (chief) who will bless greenstone pendants gifted to guests in the waters of the holy stream, so they leave their shores unblemished.  Romantically significant, it's a wonderfully touching and spiritual part of a couple's journey. 

New Zealand's options for romance are truly impressive and Ahipara aims to impress.

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MEANINGFUL TRAVEL WITH FOOD
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With it's rich soil and favourable climate, New Zealand is globally renowned for its wine, but many are unaware that there's a cuisine that is equally exciting.  If you're an epicurean, this land down under is the place to take your palate.  

Maori Food experience - Tom Loughlin, Ahipara's favourite Maori chef, outdoorsman and tracker, hosts cultural and culinary Maori experiences that combines the traditional with the exotic.  Expect to savour wild pork, mutton bird, paua or greenshell mussels cooked underground, above ground, smoked, steamed, boiled, fried...the delicacies and flavours go on and on.  

Harvey Hutton's unique "heli barbecue" is an Ahipara exclusive!  Feast on crayfish, paua, whitebait or venison on a cliff top, glacier or beach of your choice.  A feast for the eyes and palate.  

Hapuku, Otahuna and Split Apple luxury lodges provide farm to table, ocean to plate fine dining, and picnics for the more adventurous.  Our favourite is freshly caught Paua brought in  by Hapuku's surfing chefs and sauteed on the beach.  

And let's not forget Auckland's world-class dining scene, vibrant and richly diverse.  Al Brown's Depot sharing platters and the degustation at Masu (modern Japanese fusion) are both places favoured by foodies.

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BEYOND THE GREAT WALKS
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There is a saying amongst the Ahipara team: "Great Walks, Great Marketing, Great Crowds".  For the last 15 years, the team have been putting together spectacular hikes with excellent guides well away from the hype and  traffic of the Great Walks - Milford Track, Tongariro Crossing etc.  They work with some globally acclaimed trekkers, including Lydia Bradey who was the first woman to climb Everest with no additional oxygen.  Other guides specialise in areas where it is easy to escape the crowds, but only with local knowledge.

Ahipara strongly recommend guided hikes over self-guided walking as sudden weather change is a great danger in the New Zealand back country.  There are dozens of back country one-day hikes which allow you to return to your accommodation every night.  Ahipara are experts at tailor making multi day hikes, taking into account fitness levels, desired walking distance, time, uphills and downhills, river crossings, flora and fauna, food and romantic or rudimentary accommodation.  Adding to the adventure, entry and exit points for walks can be accessed via self-drive, chauffeured transfers, helicopter, jetboats, four-wheel drives and even a gondola! 

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Delani
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In the Maori world, the carver is second only to the chief and that is because the carver is entrusted with holding and communicating knowledge, stories and history.  Maori has no written language, as Europeans understand the concept, keeping knowledge in carvings instead.  Hence the beauty and depth of Maori tattoos - these are not pictures, they are words.
 
Delani has been described (never by himself) as the Tuwharetoa Master Carver.  One of the key keepers of lore for his tribe.  He is very young to have achieved this distinction.  Very young, very modest, and a high achiever.  Having pulled himself up by his bootstraps, he has competed in international bodybuilding competitions, has taken his carving to the highest level and has effortlessly blended tradition with new trends.  He is often entrusted with the wero - the challenge one sees in a traditional powhiri (welcome).

Ahipara offer a day with Delani.  This might be spent carving, teaching others to carve, visiting some of his significant pieces and explaining them or even working with communities and local youth groups to strengthen his people.  You're in good hands here.

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Cruise the Marlborough Sounds with Pete & Takutai

For most people, the Marlborough Sounds are their first overwhelming sight of the South Island. Formed by the glaciers of an ancient ice age, deep valleys were flooded by the sea, leaving a mass of bays, inlets and hidden coves.

In such beautiful surroundings Ahipara offers a wonderful historic, cultural and personalised eco-tour with a local Maori family. Your skipper and first mate are a husband and wife team - Pete and Takutai.  Their intense connection with the Marlborough Sounds has been nurtured through a lifetime of family stories, both Maori and Pakeha (European) and by living each day on its shore. Takutai, whose name in Maori means 'one with an infinity for the sea', and Pete will share the mystery, history and beauty of the region as you cruise the waters of the Sounds aboard their historic boat, Tutanekai. 

Tutanekai is a beautiful, two masted classic launch, full of warmth and character, and is named after one of the most famous love stories in Maori folklore (ask Pete to tell you the story). This is a truly unique way to enjoy one of New Zealand's most beautiful areas and over the course of the day you'll learn about Maori culture and history and the amazing bio-diversity of the Sounds.  Pete and Takutai are truly passionate about this corner of New Zealand and their enthusiasm is infectious. 

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WINE TASTING... AHIPARA STYLE
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New Zealand Pinot Noir was put on the map in Central Otago by Gibbston Valley.  Their winemaker at the time was Grant Taylor and he is acknowledged as a "father" of New Zealand Pinot Noir.  Having spent 15 years in Napa Valley and Burgundy, Grant returned to Central Otago to pioneer the Pinot Noir grape at Gibbston Valley Vineyard.  He took this through to a number of international gold medals. Grant is the only winemaker in the world to have won "Best Pinot" 4 times at the London International Wine Fair.

Grant now runs his own vineyard, Valli Wine, and generously spends the occasional day with Ahipara’s guests.  This in-depth look at wine making is ideally suited to the lover of Pinot Noir and covers such things as how and why Grant plants the way he does, the wine making process, terroir etc.  During the course of the day there are barrel tastings and a relaxed lunch is shared together.

Ahipara have a cache of personalised and fabulous wine experiences - from grape picking to blending your own.  For those with a more serious interest a day can be spent with an ex-Chairman of the NZ Wine Export Association to understand the markets.

I have to admit, I am rather partial to Pinot Noir so with luck I will get to meet Grant when I travel to NZ later this year …. then again a spot of picking or blending sounds fun too!

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Ahipara's Twist on a Fiordland Discovery

So why Milford Sound?  The answer is accessibility.  Milford is unique in that it has a road going to it.  This allows lots and lots of people to get into buses and then get into lots and lots of ships and see Milford Sound.  That's why lots and lots of people talk about it, and why lots more keep asking Ahipara to send them there.

But that's not what Ahipara is all about.  They're about discovering the essence of a place without being mown down by crowds.  They're about informing people as to why their friends advice was somewhat lacking.  They're about connecting people to New Zealand.  Connecting them to all of Fiordland (if possible) rather than the obvious selling point at an attractive price point.

Ahipara work with the right people to realise these lofty ambitions for their clients.  For a number of years they have been perfecting a special helicopter day with Aspiring Helicopters.  They worked with Lydia Bradey (first lady to climb Everest without oxygen) in developing the concept and have now been putting people through their version of a Fiordland Discovery for a number of years.

It involves the right helicopter; the right pilot; the right menu; an unrushed schedule; the right landing places; lots of flying time; and as much time on the ground as you want.  Oh yes, and they do fly through Milford Sound when the weather lets them.  It takes up maybe 10 minutes of the 4 hours of flying and allows clients to see buses and cruise ships from the air.  The best way to see them!

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