Ponant, Relais & Châteaux gastronomic sailings in New Zealand

Two itineraries to feature R&C chefs from Wharekauhau and Otahuna lodges

PONANT and Relais & Châteaux have renewed a 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 expedition itineraries where emotion, eco-responsible commitment and sharing take centre stage, with both offering exclusive gastronomic experiences.

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“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,” said Laurent Gardinier, President at Relais & Châteaux.

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.

Norka Mella Munoz, Executive Chef, Wharekauhau Country Estate
Stephen Goodenough, Otahuna - Relais & Chateaux | ©Stephen Goodenough

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.

Norka Mella Munoz, Executive Chef at the Wharekauhau Country Estate, 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 programs. 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.

View the itineraries on the links below.

New Zealand’s South Island and Chatham Islands
8 nights onboard Le Laperouse | Wellington to Dunedin | 25 November to 3 December 2023

Ancient fjords and Unspoiled Islands of Southern New Zealand
7 nights onboard Le Laperouse | Dunedin roundtrip | 3 to 10 December 2023

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