Day 1- Melbourne to Christchurch

Terrace Downs EntranceTerrace Downs Entrance

We boarded the 11.55 am Qantas flight to Christchurch, and not long after we had settled in to the flight, lunch was served. Qantas excelled themselves and after a delicious meal it wasn’t long and we landed in Christchurch..

The whole process had been seamless. Melbourne airport has upgraded their security, explosive detection and customs systems so it was the quickest and easiest transition through the airport we could remember.

In Christchurch, the new modern airport was organised and we basically collected luggage, went through customs  and got a hire car- all at walking pace.

We were on our way to Terrace Downs in no time at all- talk about a quick and easy getaway!

By 6.30pm we were checked in at Terrace Downs High Country Resort.

Our villa overlooking the course was pretty swish, and dinner in the clubhouse cafe was excellent

 

Day 2- Terrace Downs High Country Resort

Terrace Downs- hole 16Terrace Downs- hole 16

After breakfast we met manager Simon, and arranged to play with him, and get the low down on the course

 

Terrace Downs High Country Resort is a classy establishment just over an hour west of Christchurch on the fringe of the southern alps. The golf course touches on the Rakaia Gorge and covers some dramatic terrain. It has a mixture of strategic and penal hole designs with the most spectacular holes backing on to the gorge itself. Water is a feature of the course, but it is the par 3 sixteenth hole with the green on the cusp of the gorge wall that is the standout hole

 

Late in the afternoon we headed out again with Louie to collect some footage of the course

 

Terrace Downs- hole 10Terrace Downs- hole 10

Terrace Downs- hole 15Terrace Downs- hole 15

 

 

Dinner in the Club cafe was again delicious

 

Day 3- Clearwater Golf Club

Clearwater GC-  hole 18 greenClearwater GC- hole 18 green 

We rose early this morning to get some more footage with Louie the fly, and were successful in getting some nice shots…

By mid morning we were on our way to our next destination- Clearwater Resort.

 

Clearwater Resort is one of New Zealand’s premier championship courses and has hosted multiple NZ PGA’s, NZ Opens, and Ladies Championships. It is not only challenging, but picturesque- with lakes in play on 9 of the 18 holes..

 

After a quick bite of lunch we headed out to play- but caught up with our American friends Chris & Jerry briefly on the 17th hole before heading to the 1st tee.

Clearwater is a proven championship course having hosted one of New Zealand’s major golfing events virtually every year since its inception. It is also a pretty course with water in play on a majority of the holes.

It is very picturesque!

 

Clearwater hole 16fClearwater GC- hole 16

Clearwater GC- hole 9Clearwater GC- hole 9

 

 

After golf we headed out again with Louie and got some pics and video footage- but alas the weather was not kind with overcast and windy conditions compromising  the quality of our output.

Chris & Jenny  joined us for dinner at Peppers Clearwater restaurant- and the meal was very very nice!

 

Day 4- Christchurch Golf Clubs 

 

Harewood GCHarewood GC

 

We woke to overcast and windy conditions so headed out to see some of the other courses on our hit list. First up was Harewood Golf Club adjacent to the airport.

 

Harewood GC is a links style course with rolling links like greens and rumpled fairways. The first six holes set the scene.

It is an easy walk, and a fun course to play

 

Our next stop was Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens- rated as the no 1 tourist drawcard in the area. We enjoyed lunch and a few hours in the gardens

 

Then we visited Christchurch Golf Club (also known as Shirley) where I met with Rick, the director of golf operations.

 

 

Christchurch is regarded by many as the premier club in Christchurch and has a membership that reflects it’s status. It has hosted many championships. 

The course meanders through rolling terrain and displays links like tendencies. As you would expect the course is very nicely maintained

 

Christchurch GCChristchurch GC

 

The final stop for the day was Pegasus Golf & Sports Club. Pegasus is a newish satellite city north of Christchurch, and the golf club was integrated into the planning.

 

 

Pegasus was designed by Kristine Kerr and is a beautifully maintained course that is specifically designed to appeal to all level of golfer. Wide fairways and a choice of tees mean that all golfers should be able to enjoy their game, and keep up the pace of play. However the better player will also be challenged, and need to think their way around off the stronger tees

 

Pegasus Golf & Sports ClubPegasus Golf & Sports Club

 

Day 5- Kaikoura

Clearwater hole 8 back5Clearwater hole 8  

I woke early to find bright blue skies and a fog covering everything in sight at Clearwater.

As the fog slowly dispersed, my challenge was to get some quality footage before the Saturday field came through!

But when the fog did finally start to clear I had near perfect filming conditions- clear blue skies, lakes without a ripple showing reflections and the sun strong and low casting a shadow.

Keeping the sun behind me we got some footage from the rear of hole 8, and holes 13, 16, and 18

Awesome!

 

Then it was time to leave Clearwater. We headed north on highway 1 for a couple of hours to the very popular sea side town of Kaikoura. 

 

The Kaikoura CoastThe Kaikoura Coast

 

Kaikoura is known for its abundant wildlife and its sperm whale population. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway winds from the town centre to lookout points at Point Kean. Close by, the rock platforms are home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals

 

We stayed in the groovy Kaikoura Boutique Hotel- a Heritage style hotel with some flair.

In the afternoon we walked the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway - 10 kms and it was a stunning walk…

 

Kaikaoura Coastal Trail mapKaikaoura Coastal Trail map

The Kaikoura Coastal TrailThe Kaikoura Coastal Trail

Kaikoura trail artKaikoura trail art

 

 

Kaikoura trail- a wide viewKaikoura trail- a wide view 

 

Day 6- The Marlbourough Wine Region

 

Marlbourough wine region

 

After a lazy start to the day we drove a couple of hours north to the winery town of Blenheim, heart of The Marlborough Wine Region.

 

The Marlborough Wine Region is New Zealand’s largest wine growing region.  It has a reputation for producing the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.  It also makes very good ChardonnayRiesling and high quality Pinot Noir.

 

At over twenty thousand hectares of grapes the region accounts for approximately 2/3 of New Zealand’s wine plantings, of which Sauvignon Blanc vines dominate.

Blenheim is dominated by these world famous vineyards and cellar doors. We visited Tourist Information and then hit the trail starting with a delicious lunch and wine tasting at Withers Hill which was quite beautifully set up..

 

Wither Hills winery, BlenheimWither Hills winery, Blenheim

Cloudy Bay wineryCloudy Bay winery

 

 

Next stop was Villa Maria for a wine tasting concentrating on the premium wines- especially the reds.

Very nice!

A quick stop at Brancott Estate and the Blenheim Golf Club followed, and then Cloudy Bay and Alan Scott Wineries...

Well that was quite enough wine tasting, so we continued north to Picton and checked into our hotel right on the harbour

 

We were briefed on the upcoming walk and started to get a little concerned about the length of the third days activities- 24 km walk???

 

Day 7-10- The Queen Charlotte Track

 

Pretty as a picture in PictonPretty as a picture in Picton

 

New Zealand is home to some of the world’s great walking trails, and The Queen Charlotte Track is one of the flag bearers.

The 71 km track traverses peninsulas in the majestic Marlbourough Sounds, producing panoramic views at every turn. And after a long day on the track each night you can look forward to quality cuisine and a relaxing stay at a luxury hostel.

 

It was an early start, packing, checking out having breakfast and boarding the boat at 7.45am heading for Ship Cove for the start of the walk.

We had elected to take up the optional extra of stopping at Motuara Island on the way. Motuara is an island that has had all non native fauna and fauna eradicated- allowing the New Zealand native birdlife to flourish in the absence of predators. We had an hour on the island- with the highlight clearly being our introduction to a kiwi bird…

 

Marlborough Sound

 

Back on the boat we headed for Ship Cove to start the 71kms of The Queen Charlotte Track. We started with a bang- the first hour or so was straight up!

14km of ups and downs resulted in some weary walkers checking into Furneaux Lodge for a lovely dinner and rest

Our second day was a little easier- only 12 kms and while it still had plenty of challenges-climbs & falls- the heat was the main issue. But by mid afternoon we were enjoying the comfort of Punga Cove, where our rooms all had glorious views of the sound.

 

Lunch on day one- The Queen Charlotte TrackLunch on day one- The Queen Charlotte Track

Views of the Sound on The Queen Charlotte TrackViews of the Sound on The Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte TrackThe Queen Charlotte Track

 

 

Day 3 was daunting. Nearly 24 kms with a back pack is challenging enough for anyone. And the first 12kms involved some testing climbs and even more testing descents. With a light drizzle falling it was hard work early. But the second half of the track meandered along the top ridge with sea views both sides, and as the clouds cleared the views were wonderful. We had a deadline to meet a water taxi at Torea Bay at 4.45pm and just made it!

Lochmara Lodge for the night was an interesting establishment- part zoo, part art house, and the meals went down well…

 

Bridge on The Queen Charlotte TrackBridge on The Queen Charlotte Track

Walking on The Queen Charlotte TrackWalking on The Queen Charlotte Track

 

 

Day 4- the final day of the walk! As usual we began by climbing from sea level to the main ridge through the middle of the peninsula, but once there we rolled along quite well. Yes, we were tired and sore, but somehow we seemed to have also got into a bit of a rhythm with the walking. The views were not as amazing as earlier days, but the walk itself was more forgiving and the 18kms was in the end a piece of cake for all of us.

We arrived into Anakiwa to meet our ferry back to Picton- an hour early!

 

Wrap Up

This proved to be a most enjoyable break. 

We will now act to set up 4/5 day golf trips into Christchurch, as well as golf and sightseeing journeys that combine the golf, Kiakoura, and the Marlborough Wine Region with a journey on the scenic Coastal Pacific Train. And keen walkers can add The mighty Queen Charlotte Track..

 

Peter Wood

The Travelling Golfer

Feb 2019

 

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