I am what people would call a girly girl. Sure I went through a tomboy phase when I was around 8 years old but for the most part I wanted all things pink and pretty. So when I learnt that my last day in New Zealand would involve two of my favourite girly experiences: a spa visit and afternoon tea-and not any afternoon tea, the Wonderland afternoon tea-I squeal. I do love Alice in Wonderland!
I step into the lush interior of the Langham Hotel. Like Alice I follow the signs down a rabbit hole ahem... corridor and face the sliding doors of the Chuan Spa. Everything is covetable from the furniture to the carpet (can you tell we've been redecorating?) and I'm led to sit down in the Contemplation Corner. "Pardon?" I ask and the attendant smiles and motions me to the Contemplation Corner aka the waiting room. There I'm asked to fill in a questionnaire about allergies and any conditions I may have and I can choose the music that I want to listen to. I'm also given a folded card where I indicate my current state of mind reflected in season or feelings.
They set down a lovely Ginseng and Oolong tea which I sip until they take me into the changing area. I'm shown to my locker which has a soft robe, slippers and a towel and they offer me the use of the steamroom, sauna or the ice before my treatment. The ice? Apparently when Finns (who invented the sauna) use a sauna in Winter, they like to pat snow on themselves afterwards so there is an ice machine that dispenses ice. I walk through the door and my therapist guides me to my room and explains the treatment to me. I am getting a full body massage and a Thalgo bliss facial. Oh yes have I been waiting for this day!
She asks me my preferred pressure for the massage and asks me to take a a few deep breaths and exhale while saying the word "Gong". This is a little strange for me but I channel my Mother in Law and do as I am told. I lie back and relax for 1.5 hours of bliss. Afterwards I am shown the dream room, which is the room where I lie afterwards and can read magazines. She also gives me an Osmanthus Blossom Tea (Earth Element): properties/benefits warms the stomach, dispels cold, clear toxins, soothes mouth infections including teeth and gum problems and a fire Elemental Juice of beetroot, turnip and carrot which is said to improve circulation throughout the body and tastes surprisingly good (the sound of turnip in a juice had me wary). I contemplate switching from a food blogger to a spa blogger...
I am also offered the use of the pool and spa outside but I quickly shower (gardenia scented body products in the shower-yum!) as I have an appointment with an afternoon tea! I meet with Mr NQN and Deanna from Tourism NZ and Rachel from The Langham who has arranged for a Wonderland Afternoon Tea along with a regular Afternoon Tea for us.
Wonderland Afternoon Tea $36NZ per person
Top layer of Wonderland Afternoon Tea
The Wonderland Afternoon Tea has a moist chocolate fudge cake, fresh fruit tartlets with pistachio, pink frosted cupcakes, Opera cake, chocolate dipped strawberries, petite macarons, hand made Grand Marnier and honey truffles. there are also mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil bites, smoked salmon and lemon cream cheese wrapped pancakes, petite sandwiches with Champagne ham with English mustard, roast beef with horse radish cream, cucumber and cream cheese, egg and watercress. Last of all there are grissini wrapped in Parma ham, savoury herb scones with crab meat and Espresso coffee and exotic teas. Try reading that out without taking a breath!
Scone layer of Wonderland Afternoon Tea
Savoury layer of Wonderland Afternoon Tea
And did I mention the colours of the Wonderland Afternoon Tea? Gorgeous pink and blue sandwiches which are so girly and I pick and choose my morsels. The scone is light, like a choux filled with crab meat and is completely moreish. I also try an savoury macaron which is flavoured with an olive cream cheese filling-gorgeous and unusual. The truffles are delicious and the sandwiches are soft and I make quick work of those.
Signature Afternoon Tea stand $32 NZ per person
Savoury layer of Signature Afternoon Tea stand
The Langham Signature Afternoon Tea has sandwiches filled with smoked salmon and lemon cream cheese, cucumber with cream cheese, grated hard boiled eggs with watercress, roast beef with cream horseradish mayonnaise and ham with English mustard butter. For sweets there are pistachio macaron with olive tapenade and capsicum-yes you read right and yes I tasted it and thought "Oh my! This tastes like olive tapenade with my macaron" and it actually worked in a bizarre way.
Sweet layer of the Signature Afternoon Tea
For sweets there is a mini baked cheesecake, mixed fruit tart, creme brulee in ceramic spoons, mini lemon meringue tart (which reminds me of the worm in Alice in Wonderland!) and hazelnut dacquoise sponge cake. As I've had my fill with the Wonderland stands I pick the hazelnut dacqouise, the unusual cone shaped treat on a biscuit and nibble at it and I am rewarded with light, nutty, buttery mouthfuls.
We try them with the tea, Mr NQN goes for a Ginger Chai which comes in a large coffee cup and is sweetly gingery and aromatic and I go for the Langham's signature blend which is light and floral. I sink back into the plush seat and breathe a sigh of happiness (oops I forgot to say "Gong"!).
Beef Pie on Auckland to Sydney flight on Air New Zealand
Our Lexus limo then whisks us off to the airport for our flight home to Australia and we wave goodbye to New Zealand. The dinner on the Air New Zealand flight is a choice of a beef pie in the shape of a sausage roll which isn't too bad. There is also a chicken cordon bleu which I find a touch dry but Mr NQN likes this.
Chicken Cordon Bleu on Auckland to Sydney flight on Air New Zealand
We disembark and see a sign that says "We are filming border security, please let the staff know if you don't want to be filmed". I realise that after my spa treatment I am makeupless so I panic a little and let the quarantine inspector know. After all we have a bounty of dried peaches, Afghan cookies and chocolates and he simply laughs and says "Don't worry luv".
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever had an incident with customs?
NQN and Mr NQN traveled to New Zealand as a guest of Tourism New Zealand
83 Symonds St, Royal Oak, Auckland 1061, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (09) 379 5132
The Body Elements Treatment goes for 1.5 hours and is $220NZD per person. The signature Afternoon tea is $32NZD per person.