FIELDS OF GREEN
Featuring Dorenna Newton
Words by Dorenna Newton
Imagery courtesy The Farm at Cape Kidnappers & Dorenna Newton
A Kiwi transplant to Manhattan, Dorenna Newton travels home to see how it feels to experience the luxury lodge life.
As a kid growing up in New Zealand, I dreamed of moving to London, Paris, New York and living the life I had imagined and like many of my fellow countrymen, I did just that. I jetted off to London the minute I could and several years later, followed a man to New York to get married. Two children and a divorce later, I think I can call myself a New Yorker but in an ironic twist of life, I find myself constantly dreaming of spending more time back in New Zealand. Naturally, I jumped when invited on a trip back that would have me staying at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, one of New Zealand’s luxury 5-star lodges.
In the years I’ve spent living around the world, I’ve made it a point to jet home once a year, soaking up every minute of sitting around at my parent’s house, catching up on everything I’ve missed living on the other side of the world. Like so many, I sadly lost my father when New Zealand was locked down, so this trip was new. For the first time, I was going to see the New Zealand that well-heeled tourists see rather than a family trip home. I was dubious. I pictured this kind of luxury lodge and worried that it would feel more like a generic luxury resort plopped down in my beautiful home country and it wouldn’t be the New Zealand I love.
"For the first time, I was going to see the New Zealand that well-heeled tourists see rather than a family trip home."
A short flight from Auckland to Napier, followed by a glorious drive through the verdant countryside took me to the property. We entered the simple wooden farm gates and started the climb up to the lodge and I was thrilled. This was like the working farm I’d seen many times as a child, rolling hills, newborn lambs frolicking, grazing cows along with steep hills and sharp winding turns that had me terribly car sick growing up. Now that I’m a world traveler, those roads didn’t faze me, but they did make me instantly feel like I was home.
A ten minute drive through breathtaking vistas and we arrived at the lodge at the top of the hills to be greeted by James Mackay the lodge manager and his team. My preconceived ideas fell away immediately. James and his team were so warm and friendly. I found out later that he had a story so similar to my own. He went to the boy's school down the road from my girl's school, moved to London and back to New Zealand with his family, bringing with him that fusion of kiwi excellence and world experience.
I was escorted down a beautiful gently winding path, past an infinity swimming pool that I couldn’t wait to dive into, surrounded by native bush. The scent of the trees evoked my backyard growing up; those same trees that I used to find so uninteresting were now giving me serious “why the heck did I ever leave here vibes.”
The scent of the trees evoked my backyard growing up; those same trees that I used to find so uninteresting were now giving me serious “why the heck did I ever leave here vibes.”
My cottage was divine. The minute I stepped through the big red door into my room I thought I never wanted to leave. A plush room with a view of rolling hills down to the Pacific Ocean, a roaring fireplace and a swoon worthy deep soaking tub with its own giant picture window made for love at first sight. I knew that I’d be spending some serious hours soaking and singing in that tub over my stay.
"I just sat there soaking up that farm luxe vibe and thinking if I ever fall in love again, this is where I’m coming for my honeymoon."
As well as a world-renowned golf course, a spectacular spa, kiwi spotting trips, fishing, beaches, tours of wineries and epic hikes, the one thing I was excited to do was visit the Gannet colony on the property. I was picked up in a luxury SUV and driven through the mountain tops of the farm past the cows, the sheep and the working farm dogs to the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. To say this view was awe-inspiring is kind of an understatement. It was almost difficult to take the 360 vistas in as everywhere you turned, there was another view that took your breath away. And there, tucked into the rocky cliffs were the Gannets. You could get as close as you wanted as they nest there in total peace and as a result, have no fear of humans. I crouched down within a few feet and just watched. Did you know that Gannets mate for life? I sat and watched couples argue, keep their eggs warm and sometimes make new eggs, somewhat realistically if you get my drift. I could have spent hours watching these spectacular love birds but cocktail hour was beckoning.
Pre-dinner drinks and canapes were served in the main lodge. That 5 star service was shiny and on show here with world class cocktails and an astounding New Zealand wine list. A luxuriously long and delicious dinner created from local produce was dreamy and made for an elegant and decadent evening. I just sat there soaking up that farm luxe vibe and thinking if I ever fall in love again, this is where I’m coming for my honeymoon.
The following day, I was up with the sun and took myself on a giant hike followed by a plunge into the infinity pool. Floating in the pool, I soaked up the view of the rolling hills of my home country and wondered again why I chose to leave all this splendor, this perfect place.
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