Shandelle Battersby gets a taste for the finer things in life in the Hawkes Bay.
Getting there: From Auckland, Cape Kidnappers is a 5-hour drive, or a one-hour flight to Napier Airport then a 40-minute drive southeast. Of course, you can chopper in, if that's how you roll, and plenty of people do. The secluded lodge is up a 6.5km private road winding through bush and farmland, and sits among 2500ha, much of which is an actual working farm. The property is also home to an 18-hole, 71-par, golf course, which is one of the best in the world.
Check-in experience: You have to announce yourself at an intercom at the gate, so by the time you get to the reception area up the top of the driveway the staff are waiting to welcome you and take your bags, via golf buggy, to your room.
Room: The Farm has 22 elegant and comfortable suites and a luxurious four-bedroom owner's cottage, which can be split in two. Each suite has high-speed internet, air con, an entertainment system and a walk-in closet. They all have spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean over rolling green hills and the property's man-made lake. I stayed in one of the four Premier Lodge Suites adjoined to the main building. It had a private balcony, day bed, gas fireplace, and a flat-screen telly hidden away behind an arresting photograph of one of the Cape's rock formations. A staff member described the decor as "farm chic" and I reckon this hits the nail right on the noggin. There are all sorts of found objects scattered throughout which make up this rustic aesthetic, from old farm tools to former work benches.
Price: Until December 14, a Lodge Suite is $890pp (plus GST) per night based on double occupancy, or $1395 (plus GST) for a single, and includes breakfast, pre-dinner drinks and dinner. Hilltop Suites are cheaper at $775/$1165pp (plus GST). Watch out for packages, especially the lodge's annual Food and Wine Event Series which this year has already hosted Rick Stein and is still to feature Matt Moran, Eleanor Ozich and Collette Dinnigan.
Also currently available is a three-night Short Break package to either The Farm or sister property The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs (Matuari Bay), until the end of September which offers a 30 per cent discount on tariffs.
What's in the neighbourhood: Hawkes Bay is known for its world-class culinary scene so you can get in amongst that, then work it off fly fishing, white water rafting, kayaking, on a cycle tour, or deep sea fishing. The seaside communities of Te Awanga and Haumoana are nearby, and short drives away are Havelock North, Hastings and, of course, the art deco town of Napier.
Toiletries: The lodge and its two sister properties - Kauri Cliffs and Matakauri Lodge (Queenstown) - have their own range of products created exclusively by Evolu Skincare founder Kati Kasza. They use New Zealand manuka honey, citrus, eucalyptus and the like.
Food and drink: The exquisite cuisine and extensive cellar are drawcards - it really doesn't get much better than this. The menu changes daily and is seasonal, relying heavily on the nine-bed vege garden, which guests can tour if they're interested. There are several areas of the lodge that can be shut off for private dining, including the grain silo-shaped Snug, and head sommelier Joe Wang is on hand to advise what to drink with your meal, or explain why he's paired the local Kate Radburnd Berry Blush rose 2013 with head chef James Honore's beetroot dish in the degustation menu. Ninety per cent of the cellar's 3000 bottles are from New Zealand.
The bed: Huge and sumptuous, with the finest linen money can buy. Every night as part of the turn-down service, a card is left on the bed with the next day's weather forecast and sunrise and sunset information.
Bathroom: Also huge and sumptuous. There are his and hers vanities, a giant bath and a shower room. The floor, naturally, can be heated. A nice touch is the soap and body wash in the shower box and beside the tub.
Room service: You can get anything from the menu delivered to your room if you desire. The mini bar has a range of complimentary snacks, soft drinks and beer - you just pay for wine and spirits. Fresh fruit is provided daily and there is home baking.
Value for money: I'm guessing the people who stay here aren't worried about money, but there is no way they'd be disappointed by what they get for their bucks.
Exercise facilities: As well as the golf course there is a fully equipped gym, an outdoor infinity pool heated by solar panels, and walking tracks that will take you rambling all over the property. These are well signposted with coloured markers and go through paddocks past stock and horses (keep your eyes peeled for cowpats), through fields of wildflowers and via points of interest, such as pa sites, the property's gannet colony at Black Reef, and the Cape Sanctuary Bird Aviary - a key part of the largest privately owned and funded wildlife restoration project of its kind in New Zealand. Other on-property activities include mountain biking, clay-pigeon shooting, and a Can-am ATV tour to the far reaches of the property.
Perfect for: A taste of how the other half live.
Would I return? As Kylie Minogue once sang, I should be so lucky.
The writer was a guest of The Farm at Cape Kidnappers.