Tourists from all over the world visit New Zealand’s South Island to enjoy its grandeur. The Southern Alps dominate the landscape, their mighty peaks towering over deep clear lakes, fiords and glaciers. Native forests adorn their western flanks, while extensive farms and vineyards lie to the east. In the shadows of this great mountain range, the countryside offers up some very special golfing experiences.
Some of the South Island’s Best Golf Courses
The well-planned city of Christchurch is made for golf, and there are courses for everyone. Clearwater Golf Resort combines a 72 hole championship course with world class support facilities and a range of quality accommodation options. Home of the New Zealand PGA, the course is set among a series of trout-filled lakes and streams, with views across the Canterbury Plains to the mountains. Top-rating courses conveniently located close to the amenities of the Garden City include Russley Golf Club and Shirley Golf Club.
Just an hour’s drive from Christchurch is Terrace Down Resort, overlooking the Rakaia River near Mount Hutt skifield. When not golfing, guests staying at Terrace Downs have countless other options for outdoor activity in the high country, and the accommodation is five star.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world, and has some of the best views from a golf course imaginable. Millbrook Resort on the road to Arrowtown, designed by New Zealand golfing great Sir Bob Charles, is a quality, well-established and popular golfing holiday destination. Kelvin Heights, home of the Queenstown Golf Club, nestles beneath the Remarkables Range overlooking beautiful Lake Wakatipu.
More Places to Play Golf in the South Island
Dunedin’s Balmacewen Golf Course is base for the oldest golf club in the Southern Hemisphere. Otago Golf Club was formed in 1871, and now boasts a unique course for playing a mix of parkland and links golf. The world’s southernmost city Invercargill has its championship course at Otatara, while at the other end of the island, Greenacres Golf Club sits on a small island with causeway access in Nelson Bay. The club has adjoining motel accommodation.
Hamner Springs in North Canterbury is a popular tourist destination all year round, and the golf course there is a key attraction. Like at so many South island venues, golfers get spectacular mountain views from all parts of the course. Visitors to Kaikoura for the whale watching and dolphin encounters can play at the Kowhai links course, nested between the Seaward Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean.
Across on the West Coast, Westport, Hokitika, Greymouth and Reefton all have good quality and inexpensive venues for a game.
These are just some of the golf courses located in stunning locations on the scenic South Island. There are well-groomed courses to suit every level of play and every level of devotion to the game, all close to the popular tourist trails. Whether the visitor is planning a high-end, focused golfing tour of New Zealand, is a club player looking for new golfing experences further afield, or a casual player seeking some fun and variety in their family holiday activities, South Island golfing has it all.
Everyone is Welcome to Play Golf in New Zealand
A feature of golf courses in New Zealand is the warm welcome that club members invariably extend to visitors. Golf is very popular, the New Zealand Golf website stating that 482,00 people over 18 years of age play the game, that’s in a country of just four million. It is the most popular sport for men and second most popular for women. Golfers at the numerous courses up and down the country take pride in what they have, and are always keen to share it with others who are visiting, whether from near or far.
Why New Zealand Vacations are Best Value
Why should someone travel great distances from the US, Britain or Europe to see New Zealand, when so much is available closer? Indeed, why should Aussies ‘cross the ditch’? There are several excellent reasons and one is all-important – money! New Zealand is easy on the pocket and offers sensational value for money.
Compact New Zealand Size and Short Road Distances
One of the great problems of holidaying in the US, Europe or Australia is that major sights are days apart. The tourist either has one of those terrible ‘Germany today, France tomorrow’ hops or makes tough decisions about what to miss. Consider the plight of the visitor to the States who would really like to see NYC, Hollywood, Niagara Falls and New Orleans. Lots of flights!.
By contrast, it is possible to cross New Zealand east to west in a car in from 2 -5 hours. On the North Island, from the capital Wellington to the thermal and volcanic area at Rotorua is just under 7 hours; from there to Auckland a further 3:30. From Auckland to that tourist delight, the Bay of Islands is 236 km (147 miles), just a 3:45 run.
The South island is long and skinny. In many places, it can be crossed from east to west in around 4 hours. From the inter-island ferry town of Picton at the top to the furthest town south, Invercargill, is just 915 km (569 miles) or under 12 hours. As this little trip will take the visitor from sub-tropical beaches and swimming with dolphins, across alpine snow fields and down to the fjordlands and glaciers, it is clear that it is a remarkably compact country. A three week holiday is adequate to see the entire country with all the variety it has to offer.
North Island and South Island Sighseeing Attractions
New Zealand is the whole world scrunched up into two small islands. Tourists can experience ‘frozen North’ landscapes in New Zealand’s frozen south: fiords, glaciers, rugged, snowy mountains, sperm whales, seals, penguins and other exotica. Just a few hours’ drive away there is a fern-locked jungle wilderness, primal forest as it was millions of years ago– what is known as Gondwanaland.
Within a 2 day’s drive, the tourist can experience volcanoes, regions of sulphurous smoke rising from holes in the ground, and hot thermal pools. A lucky few might be around for a 7.5 earthquake, or at least a tremor or two!
On the more temperate North Island, forget sub-Antarctic conditions; the tourist can be surfing, or fishing for snapper in the magnificent Bay of Islands—in general, enjoying sub-tropical conditions. Here, the giant Kauri trees rule, buses can scoot along Ninety-Mile Beach and ancient Maori culture can be explored.
A New Zealand holiday can be a sedate drive to see magnificent scenery and wide variety of wildlife. Even the elderly can enjoy an organized bus trip on excellent roads. However, New Zealand is renowned for adventure and extreme sports for the young and fit. Here, mountaineering, bungy jumping, parasailing, skydiving, whitewater rafting and river boarding are all popular.
Enjoy Budget New Zealand Vacations
This is the clincher! In capital cities, excellent accommodation can be had for $100-130 NZ (twin), and in small towns $80-100 motels are readily available. As well, much cheaper accommodation can be sourced at the many fine Backpacker establishments and camping grounds. Food is also reasonably priced.
Of course, tourists can carry their accommodation with them, by hiring a camper van. Depending on time of year, duration an company, it is possible to get a small camper from $70 -100 per day. Thus, for the price of a motel, you have transport, cooking facilities and somewhere to sleep. In fact, one company, Exploremore, offers a New Zealand campervan for $38 per day.