Two leaders in hospitality and gastronomy excellence, PONANT and Relais & Châteaux, have renewed their collaboration for 2023. Central to the unique partnership are two New Zealand small-ship voyages both respectively hosted by renowned Relais & Châteaux chefs – Norka Mella Munoz and Jimmy McIntyre.
Highlighting the inimitable French lifestyle and excellence, PONANT and Relais & Châteaux have designed two outstanding expeditions itineraries where emotion, eco-responsible commitment and sharing take centre stage, with both offering exclusive gastronomic experiences.
“I am delighted we have renewed this partnership with PONANT, which this year will highlight two exceptional Relais & Châteaux chefs on the occasion of these newly tailored voyages,” enthuses Relais & Châteaux President Laurent Gardinier.
It is a passion shared by Hervé Gastinel, CEO of PONANT: “Through these two out of the ordinary voyages to the heart of New Zealand’s hidden treasures, our companies were keen to share our expertise and passion by combining forces to bring guests authentic and meaningful experiences.”
Both chefs hail from Relais & Châteaux properties with chef Norka Mella Munoz based at Wharekauhau Country Estate on New Zealand’s north island and Jimmy McIntyre at Otahuna Lodge on the South Island.
Each will share their passion, expertise and time in the galleys on Le Lapérouse with two gala dinners taking place on each voyage where they will create their signature dishes that give pride of place to New Zealand cuisine. The culinary
spectacle will not just be what is on the plate as the chefs will emerge from behind the scenes for a culinary demonstration in creating a dish for guests.
Executive Chef at the Wharekauhau Country Estate, Norka Mella Munoz has won several culinary gold awards working for hotels such as the Intercontinental, Las Torres del Paine, Explora Patagonia and San Pedro de Atacama. Head chef at the Relais & Châteaux since December 2022, her cuisine is a fusion of her Chilean roots with that of her adopted country of New Zealand.
Jimmy McIntyre has been the Executive Chef at Otahuna Lodge since 2004. He is one of New Zealand’s longest serving lodge chefs and is credited with developing one of the country’s most exceptional food and wine programmes. Having already featured in Bon Appetit, Condé Nast Traveler the Financial Times and Time magazine, Jimmy is behind the famous “garden to plate” philosophy of this Relais & Châteaux member property.
Focus on the itineraries
New Zealand’s South Island and Chatham Islands
With Chef Norka Mella Munoz from Relais & Châteaux Wharekauhau Country Estate on board, this expedition unveils all the magic and beauty of Aotearoa’s landscapes. Departing from New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, Le Lapérouse will set sail to explore the South Island’s east coast renowned for being one of the most unspoiled environments on the planet. The first port of call is the Marlborough Sounds, a vast network of submerged valleys forming a maze of peninsulas and hilly islands before sailing to the rocky Kaikoura peninsula, known for its wealth of biodiversity. The expedition then heads out to the Chatham Islands for more breath-taking scenery and intriguing insights into Māori heritage before Akaroa and finally Dunedin. Between stunning panoramas and the wildlife, this voyage is also a rare opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in Māori history and culture.
From Wellington to Dunedin, 8 nights onboard Le Laperouse
From 25 November 2023 to 3 December 2023
From AUD 8,830 per person plus 25% Ponant Bonus* (conditions apply)
Find more about this voyage.
Before the cruise – exclusive stay at the Wharekauhau Country Estate
As an optional add on, guests can elect to book a four-day, three-night program at the Wharekauhau Country Estate prior to embarkation. Between visits of the Martinborough vineyards and the discovery of the region’s traditions, the stay offers a complete immersion in the Kiwi culture and gastronomy, with all meals included at the Relais & Châteaux estate.
Discover this exclusive stay at the Relais & Châteaux Wharekauhau Country Estate
Ancient fjords and Unspoiled Islands of Southern New Zealand
Along the shores of New Zealand’s South Island, Le Lapérouse will be sailing amidst spectacular scenery in the presence of Chef Jimmy McIntyre from Relais & Châteaux Otahuna Lodge. From Dunedin, the polar expedition reveals all the wonders of the magnificent Fjordland National Park, an integral part of Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site of fjords shaped by over 100,000 years of glaciations. The ship then heads for the Snares Islands, one of New Zealand’s subantarctic archipelagos, before reaching Ulva Island, a predator-free sanctuary that provides a refuge for numerous species of birds and rare plants.
From Dunedin to Dunedin, 7 nights onboard Le Laperouse
From 3 December 2023 to 10 December 2023
From AUD 8,690 per person plus 15% Ponant Bonus* (conditions apply)
Find more about this voyage