The Farm at Cape Kidnappers turns 10

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The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is celebrating turning 10 this month, and looks back on a decade of tourism and environmental achievements.

Since opening the lodge doors for the first time in November 2007, Cape Kidnappers has welcomed a myriad of international guests to New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay as well as making significant contributions to the environmental wellbeing of the region through its role in the Cape Sanctuary.

Within its first decade, the Cape Kidnappers Sanctuary has made major improvements in biodiversity, including the reintroduction and population growth of endangered species, all while operating as a productive commercial farm and thriving tourism and recreation destination.

Highlights from a decade at the Cape Sanctuary include:

  • Establishment of a population of more than 100 North Island brown kiwi. Each year since 2011, 30 to 40 kiwi chicks are creched at the sanctuary for Operation Nest Egg.
  • Establishment of 60 tuatara, with young sanctuary-bred tuatara now found at the Sanctuary.
  • Establishment of Takahe, which have produced more than 10 chicks. A significant achievement for one of NZ’s rarest birds with only approximately 260 remaining.
  • Successful establishment of healthy populations of forest birds that were absent a decade ago; whiteheads, robins, tomtits and rifleman.
  • Translocation of numerous birds including three species of seabird, with many now returning to the area and successfully breeding.

The Cape Sanctuary is the largest privately owned and funded wildlife restoration project of its kind in New Zealand, and boasts the most diversity of native birds on an area of mainland coastal New Zealand.

The Sanctuary covers three properties on the Cape Kidnappers peninsula – the Robertson’s Cape Kidnappers Station, as well as part of Haupouri Station (owned by the Hansen family) and Ocean Beach Wilderness property (owned by Andy Lowe and his wife Liz).

The project began with the building of a 10.6-kilometre coast-to-coast predator-proof fence across the base of the Cape Kidnappers peninsula. Completed in 2007, the fence prevents predators invading the 2500-hectare headland, bringing back the coastal communities of land birds, sea birds, reptiles and invertebrates. Key to these efforts are the relocation and protection of juvenile kiwi bird, the preservation of the gannet colonies and the protection of precious flora and fauna that would otherwise be at risk from predators.

Today the Cape Sanctuary funds numerous research programmes and offers school groups the opportunity to visit.

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers opened to guests in November 2007. It is the second luxury lodge to be built in New Zealand by US philanthropist Julian Robertson, following the The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs in Northland (2001). The family later opened Matakauri Lodge after a full refurbishment in 2010.

During its 10 years of operation, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers has been named among the top lodges in the world by travel media’s elite, and has brought a range of international-calibre golf and culinary events to the district.

The Kiwi Challenge Golf Events in 2008 and 2009, part of the PGA Tour’s Challenge Season, hosted international greats including Adam Scott, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker and Camilo Villegas at Cape Kidnappers Golf Course. Both tournaments aired across the United States and internationally on NBC, showcasing the beauty and sophistication of New Zealand and the Cape Kidnappers Golf Course to the world.

Gourmet events have also brought top international talent to Hawke’s Bay. Most notably, the Ultimate Food and Wine Weekend in 2011 featured culinary greats Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller. The event was held over two days and culminated in an eight-course dinner prepared by the two chefs, which resulted in international media attention for New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay.

Other culinary highlight events have featured UK chef Rick Stein, Australia’s Neil Perry and wine dinners such as the 20 Years of Felton Road Wines retrospective tasting that was held last month.

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