I took this Photo Friday image on the way to one of New Zealand’s spectacular luxury lodges: Wharekauhau Country Estate.
Wharekauhau Country Estate
Driving 90 minutes from the nation’s capital of Wellington to Wharekauhau Country Estate, I zigzagged through the brooding Rimutaka Ranges and then followed country roads over rolling green hills. Everywhere I looked were gamboling long-tailed suckling lambs with their mothers. The whole landscape was Pure New Zealand, where sheep outnumber people twenty to one.
In the distance, nestled amongst hedgerows in a fold of emerald green pasture is Wharekauhau’s cream stucco Edwardian manor house with a steeply pitched roof dotted with large chimneys, its expansive bay windows overlooking a shimmering celadon sea. A temple to order and calm, Wharekauhau Country Estate is located on the southern tip of the North Island of New Zealand where the prevailing winds from the North and the South often collide to create tempests of mythical proportions. In the Maori language, “Wharekauhau” means “Place of Knowledge” and it is where Maori holy men came to be initiated into the priesthood.
In the 1830s, English settlers saw a pastoral heaven on earth in the rich black volcanic soil and wide green valley and the New Zealand sheep industry was born. Indeed, Wharekauhau is the second oldest Romney stud in the country. Bill and Annette Shaw bought the 5,000 acre Wharekauhau as a sheep ranch in 1979 and soon after began hosting guests in their farmhouse.
They started receiving accolades from the likes of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report and evolved bigger plans to highlight all the qualities that made Wharekauhau so special: nature, agriculture, water, and tourism. “We always wanted to be world class,” she says.
After an investment of $25 million with American partners, the Wharekauhau manor house and its guest cottages were open for business. Fred Van Brandenburg, a South Africa-born architect, designed the buildings, which have a faint Cape Dutch feel, while New Zealand designer, Victoria Fisher, has created the airy interior of a grand estate she imagined a sophisticated and well traveled New Zealand landed gentry would own, circa 1920.
New Zealand Luxury Lodges
Wharekauhau Lodge is a leader amongst New Zealand luxury country lodges with clients from all over the world. From Huka Lodge at Lake Taupo in the North Island to Blanket Bay near Queenstown in the South, each lodge is first class in its design and ambiance. All feature the finest New Zealand produce and wines, and all trade well on the country’s seemingly infinite supply of jaw-dropping natural beauty, bucolic splendor, and some combination of outdoor pursuits (think fly fishing, hunting and golf) or adrenalin-based activities like heli-skiing or quad biking. The result is fresher and more inspired than the traditional Scottish fishing lodge and both more down to earth and international than the American equivalent.
I’d love to hear about any fabulous adventures you’ve had at some of New Zealand’s luxury lodges.
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