CHOOSING A LUXURY SHEEP FARM ACCOMMODATION
Deciding on our "luxury sheep farm" accommodation was by far the hardest decision of the entire honeymoon planning experience for us. What I didn't realize when we decided to do New Zealand for the first part of our three week honeymoon was how expensive the hotels are here! I also found there to be a big difference in budget vs luxury price range and not much in the middle. We knew that we wanted to splurge for the opportunity to stay at a luxury lodge preferably on a working sheep farm (most of the ultra luxury lodges here are also on farms) but had a really hard time finding something that fit into the areas we wanted to visit and price range. When we first started planning, there were a few more well known properties that kept popping up on our radar that looked incredible (The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Wharekauhau Country Estate) but the prices were pretty astronomical.
When I stumbled across The Annandale and found that it was a super secluded property on 4,000 acres with 500 cattle, somewhere between 7,000-14,000 sheep and accommodations spread out over the property at different price ranges I was pretty much instantly sold. We settled on the "Shepherd's Cottage" which quite literally feels like a shepherd's cottage. Once you reach the property gates your car is parked and you are escorted on a 30 minute drive on dirt roads high up on a cliff overlooking the sea to this remote property smack in the middle of fields, cliffs and farmlands.
We spent our time here in total relaxation mode. We woke up, sat outside on the porch with our coffee, playing Nora Jones on the vintage record player in the cottage and taking extensive walks - basically entire day hikes, where you feel like you haven't even covered any ground because this place is that big. Everywhere we turned there were beautiful views of the water, steep cliffs, sheep and cattle, and even a few sneaky views of the other properties on site - they really are scattered so far from each other that it would take all day to get near them walking, but it was fun to see from afar.
One of the things that stands out most during our stay here is the meal packages. Each day you are delivered food that is prepared but not fully cooked - enough for the day. You can opt in for extra meals (lunch or a picnic basket), or just stick with breakfast and dinner which we found to be plenty of food. You'll get enough for filling meals that you can cook yourself. And they were delicious too! It made for such a unique and memorable experience - feeling like we were really home on the farm.
If we ever make it back to New Zealand some day, this would be at the top of my list of places to re-visit. Of the three weeks on our honeymoon this was one of the most memorable experiences and the property was by far my favorite thing to do in New Zealand. It was more than worth the money spent and we couldn't recommend it enough for a honeymoon or any special trip.