Is this New Zealand’s best luxury lodge? Conde Nast Traveler Magazine says so. They voted it #1 luxury lodge in Australia and the Pacific – so I popped in for a night to see for myself.
Wharekauhau Country Estate, on the wind-swept coastline of the Wairarapa, has played host to pretty much every Hollywood big wig who’s ever visited Wellington, not to mention Wills and Kate when the royal couple came here with little Prince George.
On Sunday night it was me and my cousin Kate. We were invited to come down here for a night and check it out for ourselves! So we packed our finest lodge wear and set off in the Toyota to stay in one of the top 50 resorts on the planet, as seen in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2023!
We drove here from Hawkes Bay, via a lunch stop at the Runholder in Martinborough (more about that soon). All up it was a journey of about four hours.
But it’s only about 45 minutes drive from Wellington. Or you could helicopter in, like some do. And some (looking at you, Hollywood director James Cameron) just whiz overhead to their property next door.
In 2010 American billionaire Bill Foley and his wife Carol bought the already existing lodge from Kiwi owners. The couple had previously stayed here and loved it so much they bought it. That old chestnut!
Foley made his money in insurance and also owns Te Kairanga Winery (TK), Martinborough Vineyard and the Distillery, up the road in Martinborough. We stopped there too, so I will come back to that in another post.
The Foley Group also own the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team and he recently was the successful bidder to launch a new Auckland soccer team, the Black Knights.
In New Zealand we love to name all our national teams either black or white… hence the All Blacks rugby team (with their famous haka), All Whites soccer, Black Caps cricket and on it goes!
It’s still a 3,200 acre working sheep and cattle station and the oar holder motifs you see are from the orginal wool bale branding marks from the 1880s, on the front gate and now cast as hooks in the rooms.
The sheep were being shorn when we stayed and had obviousy been separated from their lambs. We could hear the commotion, but didn’t get over to the yards – although we could have. Intead we wandered around the property and taking lots of pics.
Come have a peek through Wharekauhau Country Estate with me, and pretend (as I did) that you are Wills and Kate, who stayed here with baby George in 2014.
There are 17 independent cottage suites, some are adjoining for larger groups. The interiors are designed by iconic Kiwi interior designer Virginia Fisher, who has also designed New Zealand’s most fabulous lodges like Huka Lodge, Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers, Kinloch Manor, Eichardt’s and more.
Then it was time to leave, back down the coastal road past wind-blown trees and back to Hawkes Bay for one more night.
If I’ve whet your appetite to come and visit yourself, even if just for a decadent lunch, then visit their website Wharekauhau.co.nz
Upcoming events at Wharekauhau
17-20 November Toast Martinborough Wine Weekend
Come for a three-day stay where Wharekauhau will be rolling out the merlot carpet in conjunction with Toast Martinborough.
On Friday 17th check in to a private cottage suite at Wharekauhau and kick off celebrations with a complimentary bottle of champagne. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks and canapés at the main lodge ahead of an indulgent four course meal.
On Saturday 18th after a leisurely breakfast enjoy a free day to explore the estate or try one of Wharekauhau’s signature activities such as ATV farm tours, claybird shooting or a treatment at the Hauora spa. That evening settle in for pre-dinner bites and libations curated by the in-house sommelier before another stunning four course meal care of Wharekauhau’s award winning chefs.
Sunday 19th is the main event, Toast Martinborough, and this inclusive package means tickets and transfers are taken care of. Spend the day amongst the vines indulging in the best wine, food and music the region has to offer before continuing the fun back at the Wharekauhau with a wine matched long-table dinner.
Packages start from $5,280 for two people and include three nights accommodation in a luxury cottage suite, daily full country breakfast, champagne on arrival, nightly drinks, canapés and multi-course dinners as well as tickets and transfers to Toast Martinborough.
Reservations are now available on the website.