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My first glimpse of Wharekauhau in New Zealand was from the air – as our helicopter flew over Palliser Bay from Wellington. Sparkling sapphire ocean met the shore of a long stretch of beach, the kind created for long walks, while in between the ocean and mountains, were acres and acres of rolling green pastures dotted with white sheep. Our helicopter landed on the front lawn, where lodge manager Richard Rooney welcomed us with a glass of champagne.
The main lodge is the heart of Wharekauhau. Most meals are taken here, as are evening cocktails and canapés, a really nice time to mingle with other guests and enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir sitting by the fire. My favorite place to meander after dinner was to the extensive wine cellar where Richard was happy to share his knowledge of New Zealand wine.
Just beyond the main lodge are the gardens, both lovely and functional. Executive Chef Marc Soper and his culinary team are known for planning each evening’s dinner menu based on what is ready to be picked from the garden. Chef Marc sources as much as he can from the property and the surrounding Wairarapa region.
Most guests stay in one of the 13 cottage suites, just a short walk from the main lodge (there is also a three-bedroom cottage located on the farm perfect for families). The sumptuous suites are romantic and beautifully appointed. Each cottage has its own outdoor sitting area with incredible ocean views by day and stargazing by night. The suites have a true sense of place, using natural local materials in neutral colors. I loved the calm feeling, which invite you to take a bubble bath and climb into bed for an incredible night’s sleep.
Wharekauhau is located on a working sheep station, and one of the exclusive experiences is the Wharekauhau farm tour – which I loved. We hopped in a Land Rover and spent a couple of hours exploring the farm. The first stop was a sheep shearing demonstration; I even got a quick sheep cuddle afterward. We went next to a small lake and fed the family of freshwater eels, they were literally jumping out of the water. And later learned all about the heritage of the farm, while being driven to incredible lookouts.
Wharekauhau exceeded my expectations in every way (and my expectations are pretty high). It’s the sort of place you wish you could stop time and just stay. It is unique and precious and has soul. In some ways, a piece of you never leaves Wharekauhau once you’ve been here, and you tuck away all of your incredible memories in a special place in your heart until the day you are able to return.
Office: (732) 473-9982
Fax: (732) 473-9986