World-class golf and wine, luxury accommodation and breathtaking ocean views. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a couple’s dream destination.

IT’S difficult to explain to a non-golfing significant other that luxury and golf share a relationship similar to the one between you both. That where there’s a course, 5-star accommodation is never more than a 7-iron away. Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, on the southeast coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is where these two indulgences marry. Famous for its jaw-dropping Pacific Ocean views and world-class Tom Doak layout, Cape Kidnappers receives less recognition that its founder Julian H. Robertson has created a golfing experience for couples no other destination in the world can offer. Even less is given to the fact The Farm is located in the country’s renowned Hawke’s Bay wine region, or that fine dining and elegant, cozy lodges, rare outdoor recreation activities and couples’ pampering are all par for the course. One of the most memorable holidays you’ll ever experience awaits, and it’s only a short flight across the ditch.

The Farm

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The interior of the main lodge highlights the property’s rustic barn theme. Photo: Cape Kidnappers.
A TRIP to The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is not your average holiday. Rather, it feels as though Robertson – a US hedge fund billion- aire from North Carolina – has given you the keys to his lavish lifestyle for a week.

When you arrive at Napier airport (four hours east of Wellington), a friendly local will transport you to The Farm, which is located in the town of Te Awanga. On this journey, the attractions of local towns Napier and Hastings are proudly spruiked, particularly the wineries of the acclaimed region – including Robertson’s own Te Awa. At the lodge’s security gate, the driver announces your arrival to the staff, who know it is exactly 7 kilometres to reception.

Once there, world-class hospitality staffers will take you through the main lodge – a farmhouse transformed by luxury interior designer Linda Bedell, of high-rolling Aspen, Colorado. You’ll likely let out “oohs” and “ahs” at the grandeurof the gigantic barn doors, lofty ceilings, fireside corners and warm leather lounges with animal skin rugs thrown over them. Agricultural antiques drive the theme home, such as old timber benches and rustic chairs hewn from a log.

The Suites

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IF the main lodge gives anything away, it’s that the suites are going to resemble the opulent Rocky Mountains ski lodges of Aspen but with a coastal New Zealand touch. They call it, ‘farm-lux’ (brilliant). The Farm has 24 suites, including the Ridge, Hilltop and Lodge varieties, as well as the four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage. The 180-degree views from the bathroom and bedroom gaze down rolling hills populated by grazing sheep and cows to the ocean. It would be almost rude for you and your partner not to enjoy a glass of wine on the private balcony while taking in the rare scenery.

Each suite features the usual air- conditioning, wifi and flatscreen television, as well as some luxury inclusions such as a complimentary minibar, walk-in wardrobe and a spacious bathroom with an oversized bathtub, heated floors and twin vanities.

The Course

An aerial shot of the second hole at Cape Kidnappers shows the property’s beauty away from the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Gary Lisbon

CAPE Kidnappers derives its name from Captain James Cook and its notoriety from distinguished American course architect Doak. Captain Cook branded the location
in 1769 as a nod to the locals’ attempt at kidnapping his ship’s young Tahitian guide. The 6,510m par-71 layout’s ‘bucket list’ hype starts with its almost artistic foundation – 6,000 rolling acres of land with a working sheep station sitting 140 metres above the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve heard of Cape Kidnappers, you’re aware of how tough the test is, so take plenty of golf balls. Cape Kidnappers begins inland, with holes routed through sweeping hills before the ocean holes begin at the fifth. There are some absolutely stunning holes, but the signature stretch has to be 12 to 16, which play along finger-like cliffs overhanging Hawke’s Bay. They’re the holes featured in aerial photographs – you know the ones – pictures that almost force you to visit. The par-4 12th is long at 420m, but the distance is worth the photo you’ll likely take once on the green overlooking the bay. It’s fittingly named ‘Infinity’ as the views seem to stretch forever. The trademark hole, however, is the par-5 15th, called ‘Pirate’s Plank’. Many of the world’s best players and designers describe this as one of the greatest par 5s (and holes of any par) in the world, including Adam Scott. It’s brutally long; requiring three of your best shots to hit the short grass and it gets progressively skinnier – courtesy of the gorge on the left that drops 500 feet down to the water. The 15th gives the sense you’re playing towards the edge of the world and, like the 12th, you’ll have to pause and take in the magnificent vista.

 “The flattish fingers of land along part of the clifftops were ready made fairways grazed by sheep. I played 15 of the 18 holes with my crew one day before we had built anything.”

Tom Doak, Cape Kidnappers course designer


The Food

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Lamb is just one of the delights The Farm’s fine dining can offer. Photo: Cape Kidnappers


IF YOU think the golf is fantastic, the food at The Farm is akin to beginning, and ending, your day with an eagle. A delicious continental or full breakfast in the main lodge overlooking the landscaped gardens and glistening Pacific Ocean will leave you in great spirits for the first tee.

After your round, it won’t be the dress code (gents have to wear a jacket) that will make dinner at The Farm feel like dining
at a hat-quality restaurant. It’s the mouth- watering menu that changes daily to keep you guessing. The tasting menu is popular for those who can’t decide which of the tantalising dishes to order (almost everyone). Entrees are superb, but the mains are the star attraction and come with perfectly matched sides.Don’tthinkyou’reonlygettingNew Zealand lamb – the venison, duck breast and New Zealand beef were exquisite.

What makes the dining experience really sing is the setting. Booking private dining is essential so you and your partner can get cozy with a crackling fireplace in the Snug, the Library or Wine Cellar rooms.

Of course, dining in this part of the world means a wide selection of iconic New Zealand wines. Whether local, award- winning Hawke’s Bay wines or that of the famous Marlborough region, the wine list raises dinner to another level – if that’s possible. And just when you think it can’t get any better, the incredibly professional wait staff deliver a formidable level of service.

Off The Course

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The spa at The Farm. Photo: Cape Kidnappers

THIS is where the story gets really romantic. Not that a round of golf doesn’t make you look deep into your partner’s eyes, but
the activities at The Farm are tailored to lovebirds, especially the nature walks. Cape Kidnappers is home to the North Island’s most picturesque and enjoyable walking trails. The pick of the bunch is the wildflower walk, where you’ll stroll down the property, across a field of scenic wildflowers and through a tall forest out to the cliffs. Backpacks, blankets, picnics and directions – even a personal trail guide – are available at reception. No resort would be complete without a spa, where a massage is complemented by magnificent views across the valley, towards the sea or over the pine forest to snow-covered Mount Ruapehu. Three “lovely, airy and bright” treatment rooms (including a couple’s spa suite) are where you’ll enjoy a range of massage styles. There are also facials, pedicures, manicures and hair care. The sessions are 50 to 80 minutes in length and packages can be customised.

For couples seeking the genuine ranch experience, there’s also clay target shooting, a property and farm tour, horse treks, mountain bike rides or watching the largest, most accessible mainland colony of gannets (seabirds with a population of 20,000) in the world. Venturing off the property and into Hawke’s Bay is also worth the pleasure of tasting New Zealand’s second-largest wine region,withmorethan70wineries. The Farm can organise a personal cellar tour, private tasting session and three-course lunch at Robertson’s Te Awa winery.

▶AS OUR flight home coincided with the ICC Cricket World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand, comparisons between the two fierce rivals were going through this writer’s head. While the Aussies cruised to a seven-wicket victory at the MCG, there’s no comparing New Zealand to Australia (or any country) for couples’ golf holidays. Few places in the world can offer world-class golf and wine, extravagant lodge accommodation and fine dining in one of the most aesthetically spectacular locations imaginable.

–  @EvinPriest

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers 
Lodge Tel: +64 6 875 1900
Golf Shop Tel: +64 6 873 1018
Facsimile: +64 6 875 1901
Email:[email protected]