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8 getaways in Australia and New Zealand to beat the box of chocolates this Valentine’s

8 getaways in Australia and New Zealand to beat the box of chocolates this Valentine’s

Some say Valentine’s Day is a bit cliché, but we think that’s only if you’re picking up roses and a heart-shaped box of nougat.

They’re a sweet sentiment, but there’s no denying that an experience is more likely to make the highlights reel. And with travel on track to be the trending gift of 2019, we’ve rounded up a few ideas that’ll blow last year’s dinner out of the water.

1. A heli-picnic in the Kimberley

Take a private picnic atop the gorges of the Kimberley coast, so isolated they can only be accessed by a helicopter launched from a mobile helipad at sea. The Great Escape Charter Company has been uncovering the region’s secrets for two decades, and offers tailored, private journeys for couples to its hidden waterfalls, plunge pools and sandy coves. Exclusive charters aboard its custom-built luxury catamaran include gourmet cuisine, chic accommodation, three expedition tenders and a dedicated onboard helicopter, which is available to guests to use as they please.

2. A private charter in the Whitsundays

She’s built to accommodate eight, but we don’t see any reason why a couple couldn’t indulge themselves with the space and opulence offered by Ghost. Based out of Sydney Harbour, she offers a generous open-plan design and a full-length retractable sunroof, ideal for soaking up the rays in Australia’s beautiful Whitsundays. Find deserted beaches for an intimate picnic in complete solitude, or explore the islands on provided water skis, wakeboards and stand-up paddleboards. In the evenings, raise a glass of Veuve Clicquot to toast your romance over five-star dining prepared by an onboard chef.

3. An exclusive viewing of Paspaley’s Pearl Room

Family-owned Paspaley has spent 80 years perfecting the world’s most valuable – and rare – pearls, and a glimpse behind the scenes in its flagship boutique in Sydney invites couples into the inner sanctum. A secure elevator will deliver you to its Pearl Room, where trained connoisseurs hand-match Australian South Sea pearls, sorting and grading them to ensure the highest quality strands in the world, many of them decades in the making. See the Paspaley family’s own private collections, which include some of the most beautiful pearls ever produced, and taste ‘Pearl Meat’, a highly regarded delicacy. The Tailor incorporates the tour with customised itineraries, which include accommodation and transfers.

4. A hot air balloon at sunrise

See the perfect geometry of the vineyards from above as you balloon over the Hunter Valley at dawn. The region has much to offer honeymooners and romance-seekers, not least of which are its award-winning wineries and restaurants. Take a private tasting tour to find that the region is home to more cellar doors than any other wine region in Australia, and meet its winemakers and cellarmasters. Retreat to Spicers Vineyards Estate afterwards, where a 90-minute couples’ treatment at Spa Anise is best followed by champagne by the fireplace or in the private courtyard of your Luxury Spa Suite.

5. A riverside retreat with bespoke jewellery

Be greeted with Louis Roederer champagne on arrival at New Zealand’s Huka Lodge, where seven hectares of private gardens surround an intimate retreat beside the Waikato River. Reconnect over private dining experiences, with pre-dinner drinks, canapés and five-course degustation course included. In the in-room safe, you will find a pair of 18-carat pink gold rings from Parisian jeweller Chaumet‘s ‘Bee My Love’ collection. Referencing Napoleon’s use of the gold bee as his emblem, the bee and honeycomb motif on the rings represent an imperial pledge of love. Upgrades to a bespoke ring option are available.

IMAGES COURTESY OF HUKA LODGE & CHAUMET, PARIS

6. A digital detox amid white dunes

Few ‘glamping’ properties can hold a candle to the oceanfront luxury of Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, surrounded by the white sand dunes of Cape Range National Park. The 16-tent safari lodge offers a secluded sanctuary for couples to get back in touch with themselves and each other, where television and Wi-Fi are replaced with the sounds of waves lapping the sand. Snorkel with turtles and whale sharks, kayak the crystalline waters and take guided walks of nearby Mandu Mandu Gorge before retreating to your well-appointed tent, complete with hammocks on your deck for stargazing and showers with views of the surrounding wilderness. Extra indulgences in a dedicated Honeymoon Tent include a four-poster bed draped with white sails.

7. A secret treasure at Freycinet Marine Farm

Knee-deep in the local estuary, Saffire Freycinet invites couples to shuck Pacific oysters with a personal guide, and indeed, some have hidden diamond rings within the oysters for a particularly romantic find. The resort is positioned at the gateway to one of Australia’s most renowned national parks, with suites offering views of the white-sand beaches of Great Oyster Bay and a lavish selection of couples’ treatment packages at Spa Saffire. For a touch of extra sweetness, ditch the chocolates for a unique beekeeping experience, where warm honey can be tasted straight from its source.

8. A touch of tradition

For a classic romantic getaway, The Louise‘s Valentine’s Day Short Break package covers everything from sommelier-selected wines to an indulgent breakfast in bed. Two nights in a premium Stonewell Suite offers a private courtyard and terrace, gas-log fireplace, private spa tub and a private outdoor rain shower. A special welcome of chilled champagne, chocolates and flowers are a charming start, but culinary delights climax with a four-course dinner at Appellation, one of South Australia’s premier dining destinations.

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