Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand – golf on the top

Cape Kidnappers golf course on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island has been rated among the best in the world and ahead of some of golfing’s most famous old world destinations.

The Cape Kidnappers course is built on a narrow peninsula that juts out from the rugged Pacific Coast of the renowned Hawke's Bay wine region.

The super luxury lodge attached to the golf course, which opened in 2007, is one of New Zealand’s most exclusive and highly acclaimed resort destinations.

Jagged ridges

Since opening in 2004, Cape Kidnappers golf course has been ranked as 4th best golf course in the world by Golf Magazine. It was rated as the world’s best course by the UK's Daily Telegraph. 
Andrew Harpers lists the Tom Doak designed masterpiece as one of the 15 best waterfront courses in the world.  

The golf course has fairways that play out along a series of jagged ridges jutting out like fingers into the sea, before plunging to rocks below. Misdirected balls can take a full 10 seconds to reach the water.

Designed by the famed American architect Tom Doak, Cape Kidnappers is a spectacular course. While it is devoid of the usual sandy dunes that characterise true links courses, the harsh landscape is in keeping with the game as players must contend with fearsome ravines, contoured fairways and fast tilted greens.

Sheep farm

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is set on a 6000-acre / 2500-hectare farm on a steep bluff with 180-degree views over the Pacific Ocean.

The rustic setting of the lodge, which is built from a combination of river stone and weathered wood, makes it popular with honeymoon couples and for romantic getaways.

The 22-suite property includes four suites in the former farm buildings that make up the main lodge, and the other suites are clustered nearby.

Part of the property has been set aside as a conservation area for kiwi. The spa sits on a hillside above, and activities include farm tours, visits to the gannet colony and mountain biking. 

Fine food & wine 

Food and wine are a major feature at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers. Head chef Tim Pickering - a Kiwi who has worked in Asia and North America - has been at The Farm since 2007, and during that time has seen the lodge named in the Conde Nast Traveller (UK) Hot List 2010 as 'Best for food'. 

The vegetable garden at The Farm is a passion for Pickering, and home-grown produce - along with other regional delicacies and Hawke's Bay wine - features strongly in the menus.

The Farm regularly hosts famous chefs for foodie weekends, and Pickering has shared his kitchen with celebrity guest chefs including Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein, Thomas Keller, Peter Gordon, Neil Perry, and Guillaume Brahim. 

Background: The Farm at Cape Kidnappers - Hawke’s Bay, NZ

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a sister property to The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, in Northland, which also boasts an acclaimed golf course, and Matakauri Lodge, near Queenstown. The three super luxury properties - owned and operated by New York-based financier and philanthropist Julian Robertson and family - are members of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux hotel group. 

All three offer world-class accommodation in some of New Zealand’s most picturesque locations and have been recognised internationally with a number of awards.

Executive chef Dale Gartland - one of New Zealand's best known and most influential chefs - oversees the menus for all three properties, providing world-renowned dining experiences.

Cape Kidnappers' award highlights include:

  • 2012 - ‘Best overseas golf resort’ Luxury Travel Magazine Gold List
  • 2012 - ‘Best food: Australasia & South Pacific’ Conde Nast Traveller Gold List
  • 2010 - #18 Andrew Harper’s ‘Top 20 International Hideaways’ (Readers Choice)
  • 2010 - #2 ‘Best service: Australia, NZ & South Pacific’ Travel + Leisure (USA)
  • 2010 - #22 ‘World’s top 50 hotels’ Travel + Leisure
  • 2010 - ‘500 world's best hotels’ Travel + Leisure (South Asia)
  • 2009 - #4 ‘50 greatest golf courses’ Golf Magazine
  • 2009 - #2 ‘Lodge/Resort in Australia, NZ and South Pacific’ Travel + Leisure (USA)
  • 2009 - ‘Top 20 overseas leisure hotels’ Condé Nast Traveller UK (Readers Choice)
  • 2009 - #21 in ‘Top 100 Hotels’ Travel + Leisure (USA) World’s Best Awards

More information

Golf in New Zealand

The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs - golfing heaven