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Nestled high on the cliff of Hawke’s Bay sits Cape Kidnappers, a 6,000 acre working sheep and cattle farm with a guest facility that reminds one of walking into the most welcoming farmhouses. It is a sister property to Kauri Cliffs and under the same ownership. The atmosphere is understated elegance with exposed beams, high vaulted ceilings, agricultural details, an abundance of natural light, a choice of antique pieces, and multiple fireplaces throughout the public spaces and suites.
The golf course was completed in 2004 – designed by Tom Doak and resembling something from the British Isles – and built along the rugged coastline with absolutely breathtaking views of the cliffs and the sea below. Ranked #33 in the world, it certainly deserves its international recognition. I had a round with Tony Hayes from Tongariro Lodge. We both decided that we are much better fly fishermen than golfers but we both had an exceptional afternoon on this majestic course.
The lodge was completed thereafter which included a number of hilltop, ridge and lodge suites. For those traveling with children and require additional bedrooms, hilltops suites can connect to a twin-bedded hilltop room. The three lodge suites are a good option for those who may have mobility issues or just prefer to be close to dining, the gym, etc.
Our room was a Ridge Suite with a private deck affording sweeping views of the course and Bay, a fireplace, spacious closet and en suite facilities. All meals were taken at the lodge, just a few minutes’ walk from our room. In the event of inclement weather or if you just need a lift, a ring to the reception desk will deliver a cart to your door on a moment’s notice.
Besides the spa and golf course, on property activities include miles of guided or independent walking trails ranging from 20 minutes to two hours (we chose a moderate hilltop hike), mountain biking, ATV quad biking, horseback riding and shooting opportunities. Cape Kidnappers is also home to a resident gannet colony from August through May. Bird life abounds at Cape Kidnappers. In addition to the gannet population, the property is also working with a local conservation organization to reintroduce a few native parrots to the region in their on-property aviary.
On Sunday, our guide Sophie introduced us to the Maori Culture with a welcome ceremony performed by an Elder from the local tribe who has made strides throughout the country to keep the Maori culture alive in New Zealand…especially among younger people. She gave us a wonderful history and taught us a lot about their traditions. Afterward, we made our way to the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market in the adjacent town of Hastings… the first and still one of the largest in the country. Fresh, local produce and craft made products abound. We sampled local cheeses and fig rolls, a most complimentary combination. We would have loved to tote a few of these homes for holiday entertaining!
This area is known for its wine production… Chardonnay and Merlot grapes grow best in this region, and Syrah is coming on nicely. Our next stop was Clearview Estate Winery, a small boutique winery and café, owned and operated by Tim Turvey. It basically neighbors Cape Kidnappers. When Tim purchased the property over 30 years ago, his intention was a self-sustaining farm for his family. After assisting a local farmer with cultivating a few vines, he committed himself to making his lovely seaside property a winery and today it is one of the most acclaimed in New Zealand. Tim, a self-proclaimed former hipee, worked hard building his brand. We had a private tour of the winery and tasted several of his wines right from the barrels just prior to bottling. His lovely cafe was a great place for lunch and the wine continued to flow with Tim matching wines for us with each course. We highly recommend the spot for our clients.
Off to the South Island tomorrow…
By: Mike Jr. and Kristene Fitzgerald