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Sheltered in 5,500 acres of green fields and pastures dotted with Romney sheep and cattle, Wharekauhau (pronounced 'forry co-ho') is 90 minutes' drive over the Rimutaka Hills from Wellington. This is a working farm turning out sought-after livestock, and the backdrop to one of New Zealand's most celebrated lodges. Roll up your sleeves with farm manager Bradley Riggs and bounce about on a four-wheel-drive tour of the estate with the hugely knowledgeable Joe Houghton (on staff since 1956) who will reveal secret forest paths and hidden meadows.
Then, it's back to the grand Edwardian beauty of the main lodge. Amid the antique furniture, Chinese ceramics and silk tapestries in the drawing room, watch through the window as the wind whips across the black sand of Ocean Beach and over white-capped Palliser Bay. Chef Marc Soper's dishes (Speckled Park beef, salmon consommé with crayfish ravioli) are created around produce picked from the orchard, herb and vegetable gardens. Choose from 15 crofter-like cottages: the best are the Owners' Cottage (where Prince William and Kate have stayed); Storm, which is the first in the row and so has uninterrupted views and its own small courtyard; or the three-bedroom, barn-style, self-contained Wharepapa Cottage, brilliant for families, a 10-minute drive away.