Best Places to Travel in 2015

Chard Farm in Central Otago, New Zealand
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© David Wall / Alamy

The world is getting smaller, but the chances of having an extraordinary new experience are only increasing. Whether it's an emerging style hub in North Africa or a quiet stretch of sand in the Caribbean, this year's standout destinations are changing the travel map.

Central Otago, New Zealand

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It’s hard to believe the South Island’s rugged interior—with its undulating landscape, world-class wines, and gold-rush towns—only recently entered the international spotlight, thanks in part to a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) in 2014. Start near Queenstown at Matakauri Lodge, where suites come with fireplaces and unobstructed views of Lake Wakatipu, then head 15 minutes east to Amisfield Winery and Bistro for a farm-to-table lunch of wild rabbit potato gnocchi, house-made charcuterie, and a standout Pinot Noir. A 10-minute drive down the road, the family-owned Chard Farm, set on a bluff along the tree-lined Kawarau River, serves its Pinots, Chardonnays, and Rieslings in an intimate tasting room. From there, it’s a scenic—and nail-biting—hour-long drive through the vertiginous Crown Range to Lake Wanaka. At the six-room Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet, go for a lakeside hike, or venture up to the lodge’s mountainside chalet for some heli-skiing. Just be back in time for the nightly multicourse menu dreamed up by U.K.-born chef James Stapley; dinner might include tender 72-hour beef short ribs with roasted shallots, or an umami-rich soup of mushrooms foraged by Stapley himself. Prefer exploring on two wheels? There’s a growing number of cycling trails all over the Central Otago region, including the riverside Roxburgh Gorge. Other notable developments include the reopening of Lake Resort Cromwell and renovations of Olivers Lodge, a onetime general store and homestead that will also debut a craft brewery and bakery. —Jennifer Flowers

Chard Farm in Central Otago, New Zealand

Best Places to Travel in 2015

Central Otago, New Zealand

It’s hard to believe the South Island’s rugged interior—with its undulating landscape, world-class wines, and gold-rush towns—only recently entered the international spotlight, thanks in part to a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) in 2014. Start near Queenstown at Matakauri Lodge, where suites come with fireplaces and unobstructed views of Lake Wakatipu, then head 15 minutes east to Amisfield Winery and Bistro for a farm-to-table lunch of wild rabbit potato gnocchi, house-made charcuterie, and a standout Pinot Noir. A 10-minute drive down the road, the family-owned Chard Farm, set on a bluff along the tree-lined Kawarau River, serves its Pinots, Chardonnays, and Rieslings in an intimate tasting room. From there, it’s a scenic—and nail-biting—hour-long drive through the vertiginous Crown Range to Lake Wanaka. At the six-room Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet, go for a lakeside hike, or venture up to the lodge’s mountainside chalet for some heli-skiing. Just be back in time for the nightly multicourse menu dreamed up by U.K.-born chef James Stapley; dinner might include tender 72-hour beef short ribs with roasted shallots, or an umami-rich soup of mushrooms foraged by Stapley himself. Prefer exploring on two wheels? There’s a growing number of cycling trails all over the Central Otago region, including the riverside Roxburgh Gorge. Other notable developments include the reopening of Lake Resort Cromwell and renovations of Olivers Lodge, a onetime general store and homestead that will also debut a craft brewery and bakery. —Jennifer Flowers

© David Wall / Alamy
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