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Cooking Vacations in New Zealand

Arrive as guests, but leave as treasured friends! With Kay and Joe Waller, you will be treated with hospitality and pampering at its best. Learn valuable skills in cooking and the art of presentation with your resident international chef and cookbook author. Revel in an array of relaxing massage treatments. Indulge in daily gourmet breakfasts and experience rejuvenation in the beautiful and serene atmosphere of Nelson, New Zealand.


  • Gourmet cooking class
  • Nelson wineries tour self guided
  • Learn with international chef and author
  • Daily gourmet breakfast, candlelit farewell dinner
  • Welcome bottle of sparkling wine
  • 2 nights luxury accommodation
  • Spa therapeutic massage


2 days with instruction in English
Spoken languages: English
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Welcome to a luxurious accommodation filled with laughter, amazing views, original art, great food, an adorable puppy, and spa services, to pamper the most discerning traveler. Joe, a Naturopathic doctor, provides therapeutic massage. Kay, cookbook author and former cooking school owner, provides delightful dinners or cooking classes. Arrive as guests but leave as treasured friends. Imagine how you will feel after your rejuvenating stay in this independently assessed accommodation, which was awarded a 5-Star Qualmark rating. They continue to monitor and follow their environmental policies which when independently assessed, resulted in a gold award for sustainability. Come to Sunny Nelson, Center of New Zealand, and let A Culinary Experience pamper you.

Provence Suite

Enjoy this luxurious, smoke-free accommodation with caring hosts. The Provence Suite features king-sized beds, fine imported linens, heated tile ensuites (bathrooms) and themed original art. We have a dedicated guest computer with broadband. You are welcome to use our laundry. A HDTV with surround sound DVD player is located in the library. We provide 24-hour tea making facilities and homemade pastries. Off street private parking exists, or courtesy transfers from the airport are available.

Tuscan Suite

Enjoy this luxurious, smoke-free accommodation with caring hosts. The Tuscan Suite features king-sized beds, fine imported linens, heated tile ensuites (bathrooms) and themed original art. We have a dedicated guest computer with broadband. You are welcome to use our laundry. A HDTV with surround sound DVD player is located in the library. We provide 24-hour tea making facilities and homemade pastries. Off street private parking exists, or courtesy transfers from the airport are available.


  • Complimentary glass of wine and appetizers each evening
  • Cooking classes / wine tasting
  • Dedicated guest computer with broadband and Wi-Fi
  • Extensive art collection
  • Gourmet dinner can be pre-booked
  • Laundry facilities
  • Sculpture garden
  • Spa / infrared sauna / massage
  • Sunny decks / patios with awesome views
  • Wood-fired pizza oven


The recipe for your holiday is simple:

  • Choose any two night for your special retreat
  • Peel away the stress of life and fill with laughter
  • Add a complimentary bottle of Sparkling Wine
  • Place fresh flowers and chocolates in the mix
  • Embrace a gourmet cooking class with dinner and wine by international chef and author
  • Continue with 2 nights luxury accommodation with a King Bed, ensuite bathrooms, and private patio or balcony
  • Stir in a gourmet breakfast each morning
  • Revel in a self-guided wine tour of the Nelson wineries
  • Luxuriate in the spa and enjoy a therapeutic massage by a Naturopathic doctor
  • Close with a candlelit dinner prepared by your hosts


In late September 2001, Joe and Kay came to New Zealand to research a new venue for their food and wine tours. They found that they had stepped into a magical land with over 480 boutique wineries, all competing and challenging each other to new heights. These magnificent wines were driving the culinary craft to discover new ways of presenting and using the local ingredients. New Zealand was becoming the culinary crown of the Southern Hemisphere. Chefs were taking the extraordinary meat and produce of New Zealands farmers, adding a touch of Oriental flair and using European cooking methods, to create an original style of New Zealand cuisine.

Nelson is the perfect place to live. Nelson was not a large city but was large enough to have a lot of cultural events. The School of Music, World of Wearable Arts, Theatre Royale, Sutter Art Gallery, and numerous sculptors, painters and potters made for a lively and interesting cultural scene. Local supplies of goat cheese, olive oil, and artisan style breads are abundant and make it easy for Kay to cook her dishes. Lovely local wines and great restaurants are abundant in the area and attracted both international and Kiwi visitors. Nelson boasts the greatest hours of sunshine in New Zealand, which made both hiking and beach going a year-round possibility. The Nelson Saturday Market with local produce, crafts and art reminded them of the Provencal markets of southern France.



  • Boating nearby
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling nearby
  • Fishing nearby
  • Golf course nearby
  • Hot tub / Jacuzzi
  • Kayaking nearby
  • Massage
  • River nearby
  • Sailing nearby
  • Sauna
  • Shopping nearby
  • Skiing nearby
  • Spa
  • Wine tasting / tours


  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Dining area
  • Garden
  • Restaurant nearby
  • Smoke-free property
  • Terrace


  • Bicycle rental
  • Internet access
  • Laundry
  • Local market
  • Wireless internet


A taste of Nelson

  • Nelson green-lipped mussels in orange sauce
  • Tasman bay greens with strawberries and goat cheese
  • Tasman bay scallops with garlic wine sauce
  • Baked asparagus with Parmesan cheese
  • Nelson apple strudel with vanilla ice cream

International dining from Kay’s cookbook

  • Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, basil and lots of garlic
  • Chicken Provencal with fresh herbs and white wine
  • Orzo pasta with sun-dried tomatoes
  • New Orleans bread pudding with whiskey sauce

Dining Italian style

  • Endive salad with gorgonzola and walnuts
  • Pasta with arugula ricotta pesto sauce
  • Chicken breasts balsamico with fresh herbs
  • Marinated pears with mascarpone cream

A dinner from Provence: sun-drenched Provencal cooking

  • Paupiettes of chicken filled with olives, ham and garlic cooked in a wine olive sauce
  • Grand aioli with new potatoes (classic garlic mayonnaise)
  • Salad of watermelon, goat cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Oeufs a la Neige (eggs in the snow: clouds of meringue float in a sea of crème anglaise with a crystallized web of caramel on top.)

Do-ahead dinner for summer

  • Orange glazed pork tenderloin stuffed with garlic and mustard
  • Barley and wild rice pilaf
  • Broccoli with black olives and anchovies
  • Cold mango soufflé

Elegant and easy dining - a do-ahead dinner for hassle free entertaining

  • Butter lettuce salad with strawberries and goat cheese with hazelnut vinaigrette
  • Asparagus with an orange butter sauce
  • Chicken cordon bleu wrapped in flaky phyllo pastry
  • Poached pears stuffed with finely chopped chocolate, crystallized ginger and ricotta drizzled with a rich chocolate sauce

South-western foods from New Mexico

  • Pork tenderloin adobo with garlic, chile marinade
  • Salsa de tomatillo
  • Arroz verde with bell peppers and cilantro
  • Black bean salad with cumin vinaigrette
  • Pumpkin almond torte

French bistro cooking

  • Basil stuffed chicken with roasted garlic sauce
  • Radicchio and butter lettuce salad with parmesan curls
  • Roasted barley and pine nuts
  • Chocolate soufflé with grand Marnier sauce

Eggplant caviar with toasted French bread

  • Filet mignon topped with chevre and pine nuts in a shallot, red wine sauce
  • Gourmet greens with salad dressing a la megalithes (with yogurt and grainy mustard)
  • Chocolate crème brulee with caramel topping

Best of Provence

  • Goat cheese with garlicky tomato olive topping
  • Daube Provencal - southern France classic beef stew, marinated overnight in red wine
  • Gratin de legumes - a colorful vegetable medley, slowly roasted with garlic and olive oil
  • Tarte tatin - classic French apple tart with puff pastry

Best of Mexico from Kay’s cookbook

  • Chicken breasts with achiote marinade
  • Papaya and avocado salad with papaya seed dressing
  • Chilled gazpacho with crunchy garnishes
  • Mexican wedding cake cookies

A taste of New Zealand

  • Green shelled mussels, lemon grass and Thai chilies
  • Lamb shanks with garlic and lemon and basil
  • Roasted baby sweet potatoes
  • Pavlova with mixed fresh fruit

Things to do (optional)

National Parks

Abel Tasman National Park: Spend a day at this national park with a Cruise along the coast to view the park, a hike in the park and a picnic lunch. Or, try a kayak experience along the coast of the Abel Tasman Park and inlets, encountering seals along the way.

Kahurangi National Park: In the Maori language, Kahurangi means "treasured possession." The well-graded Heaphy Track crosses the park and is the longest of the Department of Conservations "Great Walks." The Heaphy Track is certainly a trail to be treasured as it passes through some of the oldest rocks, most varied plants and rarest birds in New Zealand.

Nelson Lakes National Park: Located in the northernmost ranges of the Southern Alps. Although best-known for its lakes both large and small, this 102,000 hectare park offers tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams, open tussock lands and river-edge clearings.

Nelson market and shopping

The Nelson Tasman region is host to great shopping and eclectic markets that provide a range of organic, gluten free, and local produce that will get your palate singing. Wander down to New Zealands best local market that houses over 200 stalls where locals go to stock up on produce for the week, catchup with friends, share a coffee and a natter before heading off to have fun outdoors.


Choose the quiet, sun-drenched garden or a peaceful patio, sipping a complimentary glass of wine served with yummy appetizers to celebrate the sensational sunsets, or the exquisite bay and mountain views. Read a book in your private patio / deck and quaff the aroma of fresh herbs, fruit, and organic produce that they grow for legendary meals. Wonder out to feed the alpacas or check out the chicken’s “Peckingham Palace”.

The Boulder Bank

The internationally-renowned Nelson Boulder Bank is a natural spit of boulders, formed of the debris of land slips from the Mackay Bluffs, swept southwards by sea currents over 10,000 years. The bank is 13 kilometers long, the last eight kilometers forming a spit which separates Tasman Bay from Nelson Haven. Its width varies from 55 meters at high tide to 240 meters at low tide.

Wine and beer

Try a Wine and Art tour of Nelson to Mapua returning via the Upper Moutere Valley. Exquisite Boutique Wineries with hand crafted wines. A day to actually chat with many of the vintners, or their families and taste their loving creations at the same time. Meet some of the artists and artisans in this charming area.

Craft breweries of all sizes now stretch from Founders Heritage Park to Onekaka in Golden Bay. They make a perfect excuse for a half-day or full-day tour exploring all the gorgeous corners of the region. Climbing from the waterfront up into the foothills, watch for historic hop kilns along the way.

Local activities

  • Art / craft galleries and studios, fabulous art trail
  • Awesome wineries, restaurants, and wine trails
  • Boating, fishing, kayaking
  • Cycling Nelsons bike trails (bike hire and tours)
  • Golf, beaches, tramping.
  • Independent or guided wine and cycle tours
  • Nelsons Saturday market
  • Three national parks

Spa treatments

Spa bath or double headed shower

These complimentary features are found in the guest ensuites. The hydro jet spa bath in the French Suite has incredible mountain, sea and bay views. The double headed shower in the Tuscan Suite has been claimed by guests to be one of the most romantic showers ever made.

Jacuzzi Tub

Ideal for 4 persons, located outdoors with a view of the stars. There are two moto-massage stations which provide a roller like hydro massage up and down your spine for an incredible relaxing experience.

Infra-red sauna

A cooler option to traditional saunas. Traditional saunas heat 100% of the air which then heats the person in the sauna. On the other hand, the infra-red sauna only uses 20% of its energy to heat the air with 80% doing the job of efficiently warming the person.

This type of sauna is reported to be a major benefit to those who have recently travelled in planes with a low turnover of air. Circulation, sore joints, and pollen reactive allergies are traditionally relieved even with short times spent in the sauna.

Therapeutic massage

Swedish massage (classic, traditional massage): Exceptionally beneficial for relaxing the whole body. It uses 5 basic strokes: effleurage, a gliding/sliding motion; petrissage, a kneading motion; tapotement, a rhythmic tapping motion; friction, which is a cross-fiber action on the muscles; and vibration, a rocking and pulsing motion. Swedish massage is a bit if a misnomer, it was a Dutch Masseur who provided the French names for the strokes, but it definitely is the classic Swedish massage which gained world-wide prominence as a massage technique.

Deep tissue: This massage style is designed to relieve severe tension in muscles and connective tissue by focusing on muscles located below the surface muscles. Generally this is done in a limited area to relieve specific soreness and should not to be confused with deep pressure massage applied to the full body.

Reiki: A Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing and potentially reduces pain. A calm relaxation or meditative state is encouraged with focus on Ki (Chi), the life force energy within every person (it includes emotions, mind, body and spirit).

Lomi Lomi: A traditional massage of Hawaiian origin which uses the palms, forearms, knuckles, elbows, or stones. It is widespread in Oceania as an indigenous Polynesian practice used to encourage healing, aid digestion, assist full body restoration, and is a luxurious massage technique.

NMR bodywork (Neuro-Muscular Reprogramming): This therapy blends well with other bodywork styles and uses strategy not force. It cues the brain for new learning which can produce immediate results often increasing range of motion, and restoring muscle coordination quickly. It works to improve both acute and chronic limitations and soreness.

Hot Stone: Hot Stone Massage uses smooth, flat, heated rocks (Basalt) placed on key points of the body. The heated stones are often placed on the back, hands, and feet or used by the therapist to work the muscles.

What's included

  • 1 bottle of sparkling wine
  • 1 cooking class
  • 2 dinners with wine
  • 1 therapeutic massage
  • 2 nights accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • Chocolates
  • Daily gourmet breakfast
  • Daily lunch
  • Fresh flowers
  • Self-guided wine tour

How to get there

Arrival by airplane

The nearest airport to the location is Nelson Airport (NSN). A Culinary Experience will pick you up from the airport. The pick-up is included in the price.

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