Kauri Cliffs: Cliff hanger

By Rob Cox

Rob Cox finds himself caught short when he takes his wife to the exclusive Kauri Cliffs resort in Northland for a Mother's Day treat.
The Kauri Cliffs Lodge.
The Kauri Cliffs Lodge.

When you've got to go, you've got to go. Even if you happen to be standing on a clifftop, on one of the world's top golf courses. In hindsight I probably could have raced to one of the many toilet facilities Kauri Cliffs has to offer, but it was a stunning day, I was the only one on the course - or so it felt - and I had the most incredible vista of coastline, beaches and native bush in front of me.

I wondered down towards the cliffs out of sight. The grounds are impressive, 2500ha of paradise near Matauri Bay, about 20 minutes' drive from Kerikeri. The golf course is breathtaking, lush green fairways rolling up and down the valleys, nestled among pockets of native bush. Walking it would take forever, you really do need a cart. Since I was on my own, I took a few selfies during my round and it's embarrassing to look at them afterwards, my mouth is constantly open in amazement in every one.

Rob and Kate Cox at Kauri Cliffs guest cottage. Photo / Rob Cox
Rob and Kate Cox at Kauri Cliffs guest cottage. Photo / Rob Cox


I should point out this was a Mother's Day weekend away with my wife. The reason Kate didn't join me on the course was because she was being royally pampered in the spa, nestled in native bush behind the guest cottages. The running stream and native birds help create the perfect relaxing environment for you during your treatment, she tells me.

I suggested I could go and pick Kate up after nine holes so she could watch me play the back nine, Kate explained she would need that time to recover from her spa, in her bathtub with sea views, in her cottage, surrounded by birds ... and for me to stop interrupting her perfect weekend.

So there I was on the back nine alone with nature and a full bladder.

As I descended into thicker foliage and cover I quickly looked behind me to make sure I was alone. All I could see were fairways, and far beyond that, high on the hilltop, the lodge. You know, even if you couldn't stay a night or two here, or you hate golf and despise spa treatments, you should come and experience the lodge. It's a wonderful experience of beautiful views, luxurious lounging rooms, and a wonderful calming air - the feeling you get when you return home (which is weird as it looks nothing like my house). It was lovely to be greeted by John again, he was there seven years ago when we first visited, a lovely bloke who back then, never once mentioned the state of our car.

The beautiful surroundings at Kauri Cliffs.
The beautiful surroundings at Kauri Cliffs.


Dinner at the lodge is special. You start by entering the lodge foyer (dinner jacket required) and are taken into a beautiful room with giant fireplace at either end. The art in this room is mesmerising, as it is throughout Kauri Cliffs.

When the sommelier offered us a drink, I asked her to select a white wine to go with the canapes presented to us. I tried not to woof them down in front of Kate and the other guests. After another glass of wine and a few lies about how we were both missing our kids, we retired to the dining room for a choice of a la carte dining or a degustation. I went a la carte and enjoyed a newly selected wine which complimented my snapper entree perfectly.

To be honest I think I may have sampled a few too many wines that evening, which could explain why I found myself poised on the clifftop trying to find a moment's privacy.

It's hard to imagine but the breakfasts at Kauri Cliffs are almost more enjoyable than the
dinners. If you are an eggs benedict fan, I really recommend you take a weekend escape for that experience alone. One for the bucket list.

The real beauty of Kauri Cliffs is how they have designed an environment that guests can interact with.

Rob Cox takes another excited selfie. Photo / Rob Cox
Rob Cox takes another excited selfie. Photo / Rob Cox


Thousands of native trees have been planted on the property, native bush has been protected, there is a mighty, possibly 900-year-old kauri towering over the forest along one of the walks. Pests have been eradicated and native birds and wildlife reintroduced to the property, creating the most blissful sounds each morning ... better than any alarm.

I wish I had been thinking more about the wildlife when I was standing out on the cliffs that day.

Instead I was staring down at the beaches below, thinking how magic it would be to take a stroll down to your own private beach for a picnic or a spot of fishing.

So, as I said, I had edged down into the long grass to ... go, and was nearly ready to head back up the hill when I did something really stupid.

I coughed.

Now, if I had been thinking about the wildlife I may not have been startled by the massive pheasant that had been hiding in the grass beside my leg. Instead I leapt into the air as it burst from its cover, clipping me with its wings on the way through.

As I lay in the grass watching the pheasant head down the coastline, I finally registered the situation. I headed back to the lodge, feeling a tad sheepish ... and damp, and hoping that pheasant would be on the evening's menu.

Relishing the peace and quiet. Photo / Rob Cox
Relishing the peace and quiet. Photo / Rob Cox


Checklist

GETTING THERE
Kauri Cliffs is at 139 Tepene Tablelands Rd, Matauri Bay, Northland. It's about 3 hours and 45 minutes by car from Auckland, or 25 minutes from Kerikeri Airport.

Kauri Cliffs is offering a 'Lodge Life' special, with reduced tariffs and a $400 lodge credit for every night stayed - which can be cashed in for a range of activities. This special is available from 1 May to 30 September 2016, for more information email reservations@kauricliffs.com

kauricliffs.com

- NZ Herald

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