Wharekauhau Country Estate is a luxury guest lodge and working sheep and cattle station located on the southern-most tip of the North Island of New Zealand. In New Zealand’s indigenous Maori language, Wharekauhau means ‘place of knowledge’.
So, what is the wisdom is to be gained from time spent at Wharekauhau Country Estate? It is clear that Wharekauhau offers something extraordinary, even for those who have ‘seen it all’. The list of those enlightened by the Wharekauhau experience includes one-name notables like Gates, Jagger, Cruise, and the royally-inclined William and Kate.
Indeed, the revelation begins even before you arrive at Wharekauhau. The staff deftly initiates a dialog about your preferences and intentions for your stay. The subtle query leads to bespoke execution throughout your time at the estate.
As you approach Wharekauhau, whether by car or helicopter, the stunning physical setting is unveiled: a confluence of moody mountains, verdant hills, sheer cliffs, turbulent rivers and an infinite sea. The connection to this astounding natural environment at Wharekauhau is both profound and abiding.
The design flourishes of the Edwardian main lodge are elegant, but it is the commanding views beyond towering windows which continually arrest the eye. Likewise, the spa brings the outside in, employing locally-sourced, unadulterated ingredients such as honey, olive oil and sea salt. Pure spring water, originating from a subterranean aqueduct, supplies the entire estate.
Within the thirteen guest cottage suites, the curtains are hemp, the carpet is wool, and the floors, clay tile and heated marble. The spa-sized bathtub overlooks a reed-rimmed pond where ducklings test newfound aquatic skills and a solitary pheasant darts about like a phantom visage. The four-poster bed is draped to encourage alfresco sleep, with the terrace doors open to the embrace of the elements.
The distinctive rowlock brand of Wharekauhau appears prominently around the estate, a constant reminder that the sheep in the paddocks are much more than photogenic props. This is a working sheep station, with a history in wool production dating back over 150 years. The rowlock symbol is a vestige of the times when rowboats were used to transport Wharekauhau’s wool bales to waiting cargo ships offshore.
Guests who explore the 5,500 acre estate on foot, horse, bike or all-terrain vehicle may come upon a newborn lamb, a wary stag, or dogs at work among the herds. Another possibility is an encounter with a Wharekauhau chef, foraging in the forest, garden or orchard for the components of the day’s bill of fare.
While all the meals at Wharekauhau are rewarding, the evening meal is an epicurean extravaganza. The prelude, drinks and canapés in the company of your fellow guests and a congenial Wharekauhau host. The main event, a parade of taste bud-tantalizing culinary creations, inspired by what is fresh and in season from the surrounding land and sea. The finale, a sweet indulgence, often preceded by a sorbet splashed with Lighthouse Gin, the hand-crafted brand of Wharekauhau owner, Bill Foley. The Foley empire also includes wineries, so the estate wine cellar plays a strong supporting role in the nocturnal fete.