It is a sad fact of New Zealand tourism that there are certain 'tourist highways' - these are the Auckland-Rotorua-Waitomo triangle and the Christchurch-Queenstown run. Wellington is well away from any of these, so the reason to come to Wharekauhau is that you want to come to Wharekauhau. Fortunately, that can be reason enough.
Set on a coastal station (large farm), Wharekauhau is remote, beautiful. This rugged and often windy and stormy coastline is dramatic and the area was used as a training ground for Maori spiritual adepts so it has a magnetic, mystical pull. The architecture of the lodge itself is stunning, really quite beautiful. And the pavilions are very large and peaceful. When we stayed there we found just looking at the view to be quite enjoyable!
While we are not normally fans of 'superlodges',believing them to be too formal and
not really 'New Zealand', Wharekauhau is an exception. Having retained, in a formal kind of way, the simplicity of a rural estate. While communal dining is available, guests are also free to set up a table for two in one of the many lounges of the main house or in their own accommodation.
The feel is of a gracious country home which you and a number of others happen to have dropped into for a day or so. Time no longer exists, and you wander about in a haze of comfort, mellow voices, and cocktails after a day out in the bracing air.
Unusually for New Zealand, Wharekauhau also boasts an excellent gym and pool complex.
In terms of activities we recommend the quad bike ride of the estate, an estate tour with a real character, and a visit to the excellent pinot noir wineries of Martinborough.