Marlborough Sounds Winter Escape

Pop across the Tasman for a sojourn in the Sounds, not too far and yet worlds away.

In just a few hours you’ll be in the ‘coolest little capital’ in the world, Wellington. A compact little city buzzing with chic eateries, drinking establishments, all in a charming harbour setting.

You get yourself to Wellington we take care of everything else  – from the moment you retrieve your bag from the carousel, we’ve got a driver waiting  to transfer you to the Bolton Hotel for an overnight stay  (optional) – get a little city injection before your three nights in the tranquility of the  Sounds.

The “Kaitaki Plus Lounge” on the Interislander ferry taking you from the North Island to the South, is where you spend the next morning, on a comfy couch with a cooked breakfast, hot and cold drinks, reading material, free wifi and of course wine or beer for elevenses, all while the views of the Wellington Harbour,  wind farms and the Cook Strait wash past. Once you enter the narrow Tory Channel you feel like you can reach out and touch the sides of the valleys and mountains of the Queen Charlotte Sound. If you don’t see a couple of playful dolphins on this cruise, you are likely to on your Watertaxi transfer out to the Resort, just 30 minutes by fast boat and you’ll be in your apartment sipping Taittinger Champagne on your private balcony overlooking Arthur’s Bay by 2pm.

Once you’ve recovered from the breathtaking views and peace of it all, get out and jump on a paddle board (with wetsuit if equilibrium is an issue) or for a potentially dryer experience, sit in one of our sea-kayaks and check out the local marine life including fur seals and little blue penguins. Even more stable still, a row in the restored clinker dinghy to explore the nearby rock-face where spotted shags (or cormorants) have set up residence.

Try your luck with Captain Mark on an inner-sounds  fishing charter  – fresh blue cod for supper! Our Chefs will take pleasure in pan frying, sashimi’ing, batter-ing and marinating your proud catch.

When you’ve finished on the water, take to the hills, our 52 hectares of native bush is deserving of exploration. A hike up to the look-out for spectacular views at nearly 400meters above sea-level, take on a section of the nearby Queen Charlotte Track or a stroll to the waterfall, where the drop is impressive . The hardy can sneak back in the dark to check out the glow-worm display here too.

You will need to make time in this busy schedule for lazing on the loungers by the pool in the winter sunshine, soaking in the hot tub under the sky-full of stars, devouring a gourmet lunch platter (complimentary if you mention this blog) in the privacy of your apartment with wicked water-views, and surrendering to a pampering session in the Miritu Day Spa where Richelle will rejuvenate you. There’ll be time to join in a Sauvignon Blanc tasting, special reserve wines from our special region, pre-dinner with your hosts.

This is all once you’ve wallowed in the delights of breakfast, home-made carrot, ginger and apple juice or a detoxifying  beetroot blast, fresh-ground allpress ‘fair’ coffee beans, a range of Tleaf teas in eighteen different flavours from licorice to Moroccan mint and that’s just the refreshments. On the plate you can choose from dim sums or croissants, eggs benedict or black pudding, field mushrooms, Rosti and free-range eggs or delectable crunchy home-made granola with seasonal fruits.

A degustation dinner is highly recommended, imagine tamarind, witloof and spanner crab or oysters and pearls with citrus and tapioca, washed down with a 2009 Seresin  Chardonnay  – elegant and organic; or Lamb Rack – New Zealand finest lamb from Twin Rivers – where THEY choose to list their high quality product on OUR menu and not the other way around!

After three blissful sleeps and bird-song mornings, it will be time for a scenic flight across the Cook Strait on Sounds Air, seeing the coastline in its web of bays, inlets and coves from the air is a spectacle to behold …. A quick 15 minutes or so and you’re back at the airport in Wellington.


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Hiking & Mountain Biking Track Re-opens

With 52 hectares of native bush surrounding the Bay of Many Coves Resort, there is a good choice of hiking trails, a vista around every corner with some steep trails but extremely rewarding outlooks.  It was a hot day but the fantails flitted about as we puffed our way up, the dog running back every few steps to see if we were still coming. The native ferns and grasses lined the track as green sentinels.  Manuka trees offered shade in most parts and yet gave way to views of the inner and outer Queen Charlotte Sound as we weaved our way up. The cicadas were almost deafening, but it was a joyous din, the hum of summer.

We were checking out the new ‘old’ trail just re-opened for budding bikers accessing from the nearby Queen Charlotte Track or for hikers who want to take on a ‘loop’ from the Resort to the lookout and back. For hikers like us, a saunter up to the Lookout at 1950meters from the resort ‘s location in Arthurs bay, is a revitalizing activity.  At around  350meters above sea-level it offers a mesmerising view back to Waikawa Marina and the seaside township of Picton. The blues of the Sound below are vibrant today and the Interislander ferries are maneuvering  in the narrow gap of the Tory Channel recently arriving in from the Cook Strait.

The cacophony of cicadas was momentarily interrupted by a helicopter arriving with guests for the resort, a disturbance so brief that that you couldn’t deny these lucky flyers the beauty of witnessing the labyrinth of bays, coves and inlets of the Sounds from the air.

With the Bay of Many Coves being four and a half kilometers from the Queen Charlotte Walkway itself, this is a retreat, an off the beaten track haven to arrive to. We imagine if we were more intrepid folk, we would relish the idea of mountain biking the mostly revamped track, with a reasonable incline it would still ensure a challenging and invigorating ride.

For now we make our way down, stopping to admire the panorama of the entrance to the Sounds, Motuara Island is visible. The walk is extremely  worthwhile and we are rewarded with a cold beer back at base.

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Summer Degustation 2013

Enjoy a six course degustation from award winning chefs at Foredeck whilst absorbing the world-class views of the Queen Charlotte Sound.

A carefully created menu of meat and seafood, perfectly matched with locally sourced wines.

Wagyu Beef & Prawn

Asparagus, Radish, Avacado

Quartz Reef Methode Traditionalle- Central Otago

Pork Belly

Mango, Master Stock, Micro Greens

Johanneshof Cellars Gewurztraminer dry- Koromiko

Salmon & Spanner Crab

Pac Choy, Tamarind, Witloof

Vavasour Awatere Valley Pinot Gris- Marlborough

Twin Rivers Organic Lamb Rack

Beans, Swede, Mandarin

Villa Maria Gimblett Gravels Malbec Reserve- Hawkes Bay


Calamansi, Guava, Yoghurt

Valrhona Caramelia

Apricots & Wattle seed ice cream

Baileys on the rocks

Dining at its finest matched beautifully with the tranquil and natural backdrop of the Queen Charlotte Sound.

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The wind carries the sound of Jazz …

A jazzy trinity: Fiona, Kevin and Taittinger...

There seems to be a general sigh of relief in the air as spring approaches, so to celebrate, this month we brought back one of our signature events: The Spring Luxury Jazz Week-End.  Due to popular demand, our Jazz week-ends have become a permanent fixture in our calendar. Here, food, music and wine mingle harmoniously.

This time, our featured wine was Taittinger and our guest performers were Jazz singer Fran Barton and pianist Kevin Clark from Wellington. They played to a full house – there was even a waiting list! But never fear, if you are ever in the area during one of these events, and you simply want to book in for dinner, just call us and make a reservation. You do not need to be a guest to enjoy the show, and if you are coming by boat, you can ask if one of our moorings is available.

Our guests enjoyed all of the activities we had on offer: Our resident Spa therapist Richelle was kept busy; our kayaks were all taken, although there were no takers for the fleet of paddleboards- the water is still too cold…

The Lady Karen and her skipper Gordon Lowe had guests scalloping and skeet shooting around the Sounds, and trampers walking down from the Queen Charlotte Track were met by three figures in a row boat in the middle of the bay, the wind carrying the sounds of cool jazz through the air…

This constant serenade was a delightful backdrop to the degustation dinners that followed: Hannes (our Chef), with the help of our friend Nick Bolster (from Vintners) and our sommelier Melanie, treated guests to a special menu perfectly matched with wines from the house of Taittinger. Imagine a dash of each type of Tattinger in dishes such as crayfish, koura and arctic tooth fish. Or, a Tattinger Prelude Champagne Bisque with vanilla-fried cauliflower, tapioca pearls and glazed baby leeks, which was a dish created especially for this Degustation. Finally, as a pre-dessert: Tattinger, basil and lime Granite…

So if, like me, you like a fusion of food, wine and music, find out about our October Luxury Jazz Week-End this time with Wellington Jazz band Hot Club Sandwich and violinist Fiona Pears. Villa Maria wines will be on the menu and senior winemaker Jeremy McKenzie  will deliver a wine-tasting master-class not to be missed. Hannes’ special menu will be one to look out for: There will most likely be one course with Twin Rivers Organic Lamb, matched with one of his favourite Villa Maria reds…See you there!

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International Breakfast Menu: culinary comforts away from home


I never thought of myself as a creature of habit until I was in a hostel in Bolivia, a few years ago,  getting ready for my morning cup of tea. All I needed to get me started was one hot, weak, very milky cup of English breakfast -or Ceylon- I’m not fussy. However, on this occasion, there was no Twinings , just Mate (mah-tay). Don’t get me wrong, Mate is a fantastic brew- I used to drink it copiously as a child for its medicinal purposes, when altitude sickness would get the better of me in La Paz, but it is not my idea of a morning wake- me-up.

This made me look around at the people I knew and I very quickly realised how entrenched most of us are in our breakfast habits:  My husband will only ever eat muesli to start with (difficult thing to find when trekking in South America on a budget), my French family are used to croissants and coffee, my German friend eats cheese and cold meats. I know people who travel with jars of organic peanut butter through Asia so that they are guaranteed one comforting, familiar meal before trying out the local fare later in the day.

Travelling, whether for fun or business, can be both exciting and trying and,I guess, having a culinary “comfort blanket” of sorts helps most of us to take a punt and be adventurous at some point in our journey…

… So I was delighted to hear that our Chef was thinking the same way: With the most incredible local produce at his disposal, Hannes has turned his sights on devising an International Breakfast Menu that reflects the diversity of guests who come to stay:  If Miso soup for breakfast is a must-have, or you prefer black pudding or even congee, you will find us serving up these delightful specialties to give you that perfect start to your day. Out of our small kitchen comes surprising and wonderful things:  Why not check out the full menu, you will be pleasantly surprised- it’s not all bacon and eggs, after all.

Now, with breakfast out of the way, there is plenty of time to enjoy that romantic getaway, relax… and make room for a degustation dinner later in the day.

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