Golf in the "adventure capital of the World:" Queenstown, New Zealand
I began my recent trip to New Zealand in Queenstown, a charming small town on the South Island which is located right on the stunning Lake Wakatipu. While the town is world famous for being the “adventure capital", I had something else in mind (no surprisingly): playing golf and exploring the region, in that order.
My first round was at Jack’s Point (pictured), generally considered to be among the best golf courses in New Zealand. The course boasts a few holes that play uphill or downhill, big “blowout” bunkers and stunning lake views. The Hills is famous for being the most exclusive golf club in the country (with the highest green fee). The hilly course also features many sculptures right along its fairways. My last round in the area was at the enjoyable Millbrook Resort, where I played 18 of the resort’s 27 holes. Millbrook is the only real golf resort in the region and not only offers comfortable lodging but also excellent food and a range of other amenities.
Off the course I did the popular “Lord of the Rings” tour. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to identify the sites used in the movies as I have never seen them but I did really enjoy the great scenery. One night I got to experience the Walter Peak Evening Dinner Excursion on the historic TSS Earnslow, which consists of a cruise on Lake Wakatipu and a hearty country-style buffet dinner.
The highlight was without a doubt the Extreme Golf Tee experience provided by Over the Top. It was about a ten-minute flight from the airport to the top of the mountain, where I got to hit a few drives towards the lake using eco balls ensuring the breathtaking environment remains pristine (and you don’t hit to a fairway so you don’t have to worry about accuracy). On the way back to the airport we flew over the lake and through the backcountry to be able to see more of the area.
The über-luxurious Matakauri Lodge is the sister property of Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers and a perfect place to stay if money is no object. I stayed in the Hotel St. Moritz, a comfortable and elegant house within walking distance of the city center.
It’s about 220 miles to drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound, a beautiful fjord. While I would’ve loved to see it, unfortunately I did not have an extra day to make the trip to the sound and back ("fly and cruise” packages are also offered where one doesn’t have to spend eight hours in a car or bus). The town and area are breathtakingly beautiful and I recommend everyone to go there!
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