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Experience life in luxurious isolation at Cape Kidnappers

Dreaming of a luxury isolation? The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a billionaire’s playground.

Cape Kidnappers New Zealand

Isolation is becoming an accepted part of how we’re living right now and if I could escape to anywhere, it would be The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand – a billionaire’s playground.

It’s hard to work out, exactly, when I felt the most To the Manor Born. It could have been the moment when I discovered the slate-sculpted 10-person jacuzzi just a few steps from my palatial room, but then even that got better once I was floating in the bubbles myself, with a flute of Champagne in hand, poured from the two bottles of Veuve laid out for our arrival, alongside perhaps the greatest cheese platter I’ve ever encountered.

Then there was that moment when I discovered that the two Picasso prints just outside the door of my room weren’t prints at all, they were genuine original sketches (it turns out the man behind The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, hedge-fund billionaire Julian Robertson Jnr, likes to share his art collection with New Zealand; in 2009 he donated 15 paintings to the Auckland Art Gallery, including works by Picasso, Cezanne and Matisse, valued at NZ$150 million).

Or there was that sense of being close to greatness I had when the staff let slip that the great Sir Paul McCartney had stayed in the same wondrous four-bedroom Owner’s Cottage, with its mind-mellowing views over Hawke’s Bay, that I was currently walking around with my jaw agape.

Truly, opulent is the wrong word, and “cottage” is completely out of its depth, too, because this place – voted #1 in Australia and NZ and #4 in the world in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2019 – is too classy, too carefully curated and too Country Life-stylish to be opulent, and yet everything about the experience feels something more than mere luxury.

Overall, though, I’d have to say it was the clay-pigeon shooting that really did it for me. Just a short scoot from the resort, in some ruggedly able yet classily appointed Nissan off-road vehicles, we were able to take out all that latent hatred of small, orange ceramic discs we never knew we had.

There’s something stupidly fun about shooting moving targets – ones that won’t bleed and make you feel guilty afterwards – with a big, bad rifle, and if you want to see a group of men getting competitive with each other, it’s also hard to beat.

Opulent is the wrong word, and “cottage” is completely out of its depth…everything about the experience feels something more than mere luxury.

Clay shooting aside, there’s a whole heap of wonderful lounging around to do at The Farm, unless you’re the kind of golf obsessive who would appreciate playing the on-site course, which was recently ranked 10th in the world. The vistas this course offers are so grand though, that it’s worth a walk even if you don’t fancy whacking a ball about.

There is also a Kiwi bird sanctuary on the site, the entirety of which is protected by a “predator fence” (who knew New Zealand had predators?), and you can take a guided tour to attempt to see one of these diminutive and shy threatened species. Apparently, only around 10–15% of New Zealanders have ever seen a Kiwi in the wild.

One of the other things that makes The Farm unique is that it’s actually a working farm as well as a luxury resort, stretching about 2,400 hectares and playing home to plenty of hardly working sheep. This is a particular thrill for international visitors, apparently. “For people who have never been to a farm, to see 500 or 700 sheep rounded up by two dogs with a whistle is pretty unreal,” as one American put it.

The corner of the North Island on which The Farm sits is worth exploring, too, because it is just so empty, unspoiled and grand, while the fabulous Art Deco town of Napier is just a 45-minute drive away (or an even shorter helicopter ride, if you prefer).

Julian Robertson Jnr, 87, whose net worth is somewhere north of US$4 billion, has made a decades-old habit of buying up the most picturesque land in New Zealand and turning it into luxury lodges, and the story goes that in 2001, he was flying over Hawke’s Bay, looked out of his chopper and said something like, “Nice country, I’ll take it”.

It took six years to build The Farm to the level of luxury that Robertson demands – there’s a lot of Jackson Hole mansion in the main building, with its exquisite dining areas and wine-cave dining room.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers really is your chance to experience life in luxurious isolation… just how a billionaire – or a Beatle on the run – would.

Most of the resort’s 24 rooms are in their own separate buildings and all feature wide verandas, walk-in wardrobes, top-tech touches, fantastic sound systems and stunning views of hills rolling down to the Pacific. You can imagine Scotland-loving McCartney would have felt quite at home here. He chose to stay in the very best part, of course – the Owner’s Cottage, which is like a house of its own, with various sitting rooms, a dining room, a fully stocked kitchen, four bedrooms and that amazing outdoor spa.

You can rent out the whole cottage for a group of eight, from around NZ$13,000 a night in low season to almost NZ$17,000 in January and February, when the whole place verily sparkles in the sun.

As you’d guess from those prices, it’s an all-inclusive deal, and the quality of the wines, Champagne and the food you’ll eat, even at breakfast, is absolutely stellar.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers really is your chance to experience life in luxurious isolation… just how a billionaire – or a Beatle on the run – would.

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