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Posted on 17 Dec 2018

New Zealand Golf Tour November 2018

A huge thank you to those who asked for, and intimated, if we ever put on a tour to New Zealand they would definitely come – but didn’t! Without that interest we would never have put the tour on and I may never have visited this amazing country. And, an even bigger thank you to the four who joined me on a most wonderful tour for the way they embraced the whole twenty one days in such a hospitable way.

Maybe we were a little lucky with the weather; a brief shower on one day, a rather cool back nine on another and shirt sleeves most other days. I never thought I would be saying I’ve found a rival to South Africa, but we were all blown away with the beauty, diversity, friendliness and laid back culture of New Zealand, not to mention the wonderful golf, right out of the top draw, despite being attacked by a Falcon playing at Arrowsmith GC near Queenstown!

A view from our first hotel bedrooms, Kerikeri

We arrived on our different international flights, met at Auckland airport, flew north to the Bay of Islands, checked into the Copthorne Hotel on the waters edge in Kerikeri, enjoyed a delicious dinner and slept off some jet lag to ready ourselves for a half day tour of the Islands by catamaran before the first of twelve rounds of golf the following day.

Four rounds each week were interspersed by various visits to places of interest including of course the inevitable Wineries. Imagine my astonishment to discover at Sun Ridge, Napier, a small, new, award winning estate, that the wine tasting was conducted by the brother of the proprietor, both from my home town of Grantham!

To add a little spice to the tours golf we played a daily team event and ran individual league table over the twelve rounds for a few NZ dollars in our own “Race to Queenstown”.

WEEK 1 Bay of Islands & Auckland
As mentioned above, our first day cruise through the islands and around the bay was a perfect relaxing day to commence the tour and gave us a glimpse of the stunning scenery we would enjoy in the coming weeks.

I think it’s fair to say that having played our first round at Kuari Cliffs the following day, we imagined the standard of golf courses for the rest of the tour could only go one way – down hill – it was simply stunning as a location and a top modern design consistently voted in the world top 50. How wrong we were! While Kuari Cliffs would figure as one of our favorites, day on day we came off the courses astonished at the quality and variety on offer. Andrew produced the day’s best score with 32pts.

It was time to move on to the city of Auckland and a morning drive to Wainui GC. on our way introduced us to a typical new modern design set amongst rolling hills. A complete contrast to Kauri Cliffs but a super test in fine condition and very much enjoyed. Only the stunning location of Kauri Cliffs separated the two. Our two Liz’s took the honors today, Liz G 33, Liz W 30. Both good scores on an unknown test of this quality. Later we checked into our city centre hotel by the Sky Tower landmark from where we were able to explore the city and iconic harbor front for a few evenings

Our third game at Windross Farm GC, a brand new course designed as an inland links
confirmed our first thoughts that we had played the best courses first, however, that is a reflection on the quality of the first two, not a criticism of Windross. Liz G 36, Liz W 34 repeated the result of the previous day.

A day away from the links and a simply lovely tour taking a 40 minute cruise to Waiheke Island on a Gourmet Food & Wine Tour, was followed by our final game of the first week. Having played three very modern layouts, by contrast Titirangi Golf Club is a Mackenzie design dating back to 1926. Like many of his courses the green areas have been modernized but it has stood the test of time and stands right up there alongside New Zealand’s best. Whether it was the older Scottish design that brought out Ali’s game or she was just beginning to warm up, time would tell, but she came to the fore today with a fine round and 34pts! And at the end of week 1 we had Ali and Liz W at the top of the league table.

WEEK 2 Taupo and Napier
A flight to Taupo and our next hotel on the shores of Lake Taupo, the largest in New Zealand, commenced the second week. Two rounds of golf and a day visiting the Geothermal Wonderland, Wai-o-tapu. Geysers, bubbling mud, volcanic craters, within the park, but wherever we drove steam rising from the ground even in people’s gardens!

Wairakei International GC & Sanctuary was our next challenge and this wonderful course and setting within the sanctuary had us in awe once again. Ann, who had been unusually quiet so far, burst forward with an excellent 34pts to win the day.

Following the Rotorua sightseeing day, round six took us to a Nicklaus signature course, The Kinloch GC. close to lake Taupo. In the center of the North Island this course went to the top of my list. In undulating terrain one wouldn’t have been surprised to see the ocean over the next brow. Lending itself to a links design with its beautiful sandy turf, Jack, in my opinion, has built a masterpiece with this inland links.
Ali and Andrew mustered 30 apiece, excellent first time round scores on this testing course. Ali though with the better back nine.

The final three days of our second week were spent in the Art Deco city of Napier at Hawks Bay, with two rounds of golf at Cape Kidnappers, currently No.22 in Golf Digest’s World list. Another cliff top location, some magnificent views and very good modern design, but, 22 in the world, not for me. Our first round here was comfortably won by Ali with 32, while on the second visit Liz W went one better to win with 33. So, after 8 rounds we had Ali leading Andrew by three points and all to play for as we set off for our final destination, Queenstown.

Hawks Bay is well known for its wine making and it wouldn’t have been right to forgo the opportunity of a little wine tasting between those rounds would it! Whether three in one afternoon is over doing it I’m not sure, but as I mentioned earlier, discovering fellow gingerbread men owning and running a very successful wine estate on the other side of the world I thought quite extraordinary!

Two of the Gingerbread men

WEEK 3 Queenstown
We knew we were in for a great scenic treat as we flew to Queenstown on the South Island and flying in in-between the snow capped mountains and over Lake Wakatipu confirmed that, but surely we had left the best golf behind?
Millbrook GC is 27 holes Golf Resort very much in keeping with the newer design
philosophy and most enjoyable. Yet again, if not for the standard already set, we would have been singing its praises. Andrew beat Ali into second place to edge a little closer in the “Race to Queenstown”

We were up early for a full day tour to the Fiord at Milford Sound, fabulous scenery along the way, a cruise down the fiord to the open sea between snow peak mountains, teaming waterfalls and all well worth the three and half hour drive through yet more diverse scenery.

Our return journey

We had been looking over at Queenstown GC, set on a peninsular in the lake, since arriving and it proved to be a gem. As good as the course is, the scenery is wonderfully beautiful. Wherever one looked it was lake, snow capped mountains, fir tree lined fairways and a super old fashioned test too. Andrew and Ali partnered each other today in a 4bbb, but Ali pipped Andrew by one point to take a lead into the final round!

The Skyline Gondola Restaurant beckoned for dinner and it was quite surreal looking down some 1600 ft onto the QueenstownGC played earlier that day and to the lake shore in the far distance where we dined the previous evening.

Following a day away from the course and a final boutique wine tour, the much heralded Jacks Point GC beckoned for our finale. 15 minutes from Queenstown, located between the mountains and on the shore of the lake, a truly beautiful location and exceptional course to conclude an exceptional tour. Having been swooped on by falcons in Arrowtown, it was a bit disconcerting having the Sky Divers airplanes taking off and landing over our heads on the first few holes – thanks Maggie!!

Throughout the tour we had played a daily team event along side the individual stableford. The sweep money was divided daily between team and individual winners which left Liz G topping the money list. Ali and Andrew tied on 29pts the final day leaving Ali a 3 point winner over 12 rounds on an array of incredible top quality courses. A large chunk of the sweep and the “Race to Queenstown” Grey & Pink Jacket her reward!

Winner Ali and runner up Andrew seated

A wonderful tour, never to be forgotten!

David


4 reviews on “New Zealand Golf Tour November 2018

  1. Three weeks in New Zealand playing 11 amazing golf courses with wine tasting and sightseeing. The holiday of a lifetime for me that I found myself on last month. Before I went I didn’t know David or most of the other clients.

    However they all soon became friends. David and his partner Liz were fantastic hosts ensuring that every detail of the trip ran like clockwork.

    The golf was quite wonderful- I soon ran out of superlatives to describe how beautiful the courses were, each with its own individual challenge and character. I’m a 17 handicap senior golfer and even though the challenge set each round was quite daunting everyone was so supportive that I never felt it was too much. I just loved every minute. We did three great wine tours sampling the best wines New Zealand has to offer, often accompanied by delicious nibbles or a meal. Transport around the country, when not in a plane, was in comfortable minibuses. All the drivers went out of their way to ensure that not only did we reach our destination on time each day but we also saw so much of this amazing country. The range of hotels from lakeside and sea sites to the contrast of the city. Looking through my photos confirms my memory that this was a truly great holiday. I can’t think of anything that could have improved the experience!

    Liz

  2. Just wanted to let you know that I found the trip to New Zealand absolutely awesome. It is the most beautiful country and so under populated. The organisation of the trip was superb throughout with just the right mix of sightseeing, travelling and playing wonderful golf courses. The use of internal flights and very comfortable mini buses meant we covered much of both islands and were able to see a great deal. Boat cruises were mind blowingly beautiful and I have masses of photos to sort my way through but they can’t really do justice to this amazing country. We were a select group who all got on so well and had lots of fun. My thanks to them all but particularly to David and Liz for a holiday I will never forget.

    Iain, it was lovely to meet you and your partner in Singapore and I would like to thank you as well for putting together such an enjoyable trip.

    Kind regards
    Ann

  3. Our 3 week golf tour of New Zealand was everything I had hoped for and more.
    Fabulous golf courses, fantastic scenery, great company and local food and wine of the highest quality. The Kiwi welcome and service was awesome and the weather surpassed expectations. We enjoyed a number of sightseeing excursions including a visit to Milford Sound which enhanced the whole experience. What a great golfing destination ! Many thanks to David and Liz for hosting such a memorable trip.

    Ali

  4. The itinerary was enticing. A three week trip to a stunning land I had always wanted to visit over 11,000 miles away combining 12 rounds of golf, staying in 5 fantastic locations with numerous sightseeing opportunities promised much. From the North of North Island to the South of South Island, the golf in itself sounded amazing but when supplemented with numerous land trips to vineyards, geysers and Fjordland and sea trips to the Bay of Islands and to the stunning Waiheke island near Auckland, my expectations were super high.

    In practice, the journey there was more than compensated by the combination of all the above and more surpassing my expectations to became the trip of a lifetime. Aided by amazing spring weather throughout the 3 weeks, I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the terrific group of guests, David and Liz (and now know a lot more about red wine than I did before!) as well as the high quality and wide variety of the beautiful golf courses including some of the most highly rated courses in the world. The scenery we encountered across the North Island was stunning. That in South Island was simply breathtaking.

    These trips don’t just happen. Huge thanks must go to Trent at New Zealand golf, to Ian and of course to David and Liz for their parts in organising and running the trip with all its multiple components which all worked like clockwork. I find it hard to believe any company could have organised and run a better trip to this amazing location and my 1,668 photos will help to keep it in my memory for a very long time.

    Andrew

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