With more than 400 courses countrywide, New Zealand golf clubs offer beauty, diversity and value for money for the golfing enthusiast and with the highest number of golf courses per capita in the world there’s a green here for everyone – literally!
Courses range from top of the line such as Kauri Cliffs in Northland to small rural golf clubs where greens are fenced off and stock graze the fairways, eliminating the need for mowing! At the Rotorua Golf Club in the Central North Island, the 16th hole features a steaming lake and bubbling mud pools; while Lake Taupo’s Wairakei International Golf Course, reputed to have the most bunkers of any kiwi course, is home to NZ’s most famous par five, the 14th, known as The Rogue and named after a geyser which used to erupt in a field nearby.
Scenery may not make the game, but it’s not every day that you have the opportunity to play golf in the shadow of snow-capped mountains, surrounded by lush rolling countryside, brown velvety foothills and an aquamarine river so vivid it almost makes your eyes ache.
Terrace Downs High Country Resort is nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps, a 50-minute drive from Christchurch. Its championship 18-hole 72-par links style course sprawls over 200-odd acres, and while the walk may take a little longer than most, nobody ever complains! This stunning 6,440 metre long course with its nine lakes and 70 bunkers was laid out by Canadian golf architect Sid Puddicombe, while the back nine, largely designed by David Cox with some input from Fin Hobbs, is almost a signature feature.
“One of the best back nines we’ve played,” wrote Tiger Woods’ former caddy, New Zealander Steve Williams. A sentiment echoed by many when they discover its challenging bunkers sited 20 to 40 metres short of the putting surface. Grassed, they slope to sand level so there’s always room to swing, although your ball obviously won’t go too far.
The most spectacular hole is found on the 16th where the tee hangs over the impressive Rakaia River Gorge and you look down upon fast flowing ice-blue water 200-metres below the course with the bulky range of Mt Hutt towering behind. The green is just a wedge or so away, so you have to carry two ravines that drop all the way to the river through thick native bush. Your tee shot also has to carry a deep pot bunker short of the green and skirt another on the left. A short ball means an automatic reload but the faint hearted will soon discover a bail out area to the left.
For those who would like to improve their game at Terrace Downs, a golf clinic is available upon demand. Qualified instructors offer both individual and group tuition. There’s also a self-contained practice facility that includes a generous driving range, a short game area, practice bunkers and a choice of chipping and putting greens.
The clubhouse was inspired by mountain living and has the warmth and ambience of a high country homestead. It’s superbly designed and constructed from rustic weathered cedar and local greywacke stone, and its enormous windows provide panoramic views of the course and the beautiful, snowcapped mountains beyond.
One of the really nice aspects of Terrace Downs is that everyone is welcome. There’s plenty to entertain non-golfing partners and friends with a variety of other activities on offer. Mt Hutt Ski Field is also nearby making it a perfect après ski destination with two glorious spa pools set in front of massive bi-fold windows looking beyond to the mountains and – of course - nine holes of golf. The food here is so good you won’t want to leave. There’s also a range of modern accommodation to choose from and, even better, every morning when you wake up, the river, the mountains and the renowned back nine will be there ready and waiting! For further information view www.terracedowns.co.nz or from within NZ phone 0800 465 373.