Reflections on a Great Golf and Sightseeing Experience in New Zealand

My first visit to New Zealand was 1989. At that stage the country had a few good courses but none with significant international profile. I am just returning from a two-week trip escorting a group of PerryGolf clients through the North and South Islands of New Zealand and can unequivocally say that New Zealand is one of the great golf and lifestyle destinations. The intervening 30 years has seen a remarkable evolution in the golf and hospitality industry. Read more “Reflections on a Great Golf and Sightseeing Experience in New Zealand”

A secret no longer, New Zealand delivers spectacular golf

The 7th hole at Kauri Cliffs delivers a stiff challenge and a stunning view.

Lydia Ko won her 15th tournament on the LPGA Tour earlier this year, pushing her career earnings near $10 million. Just 21 years old, she’s already traveled around the globe competing in amateur and professional golf championships. She remains captivated by the phenomenal cast of courses in her homeland.

“New Zealand is simply an amazing golf destination,” Ko said. “It has some of the best golf courses I have ever played. It should be a must-visit place for golfers from all over the world. You won’t be disappointed.”

Perhaps there was a time when the beautiful country of 4.7 million people across two islands tucked in the South Pacific was a hidden destination for international golf travelers.  The secret, however, has been revealed over the last two decades as New Zealand enjoyed a barrage of dramatic, spectacular courses certain to create indelible memories and eager returns.

PerryGolf is thrilled to take travelers to this magical land. The 2020 New Zealand, Tasmania & Sydney Golf Cruise is certain to sell out and includes several of the finest courses in New Zealand, which features roughly 400 courses. Golf is the most popular recreation for male and female Kiwis. After a week or so down there, you’ll understand the source of their fierce attraction to the game.

Tara Iti

PerryGolf president and co-founder Gordon Dalgleish visited Tara Iti in 2016 shortly after the mystical course opened and walked away impressed that architect Tom Doak created a world class seaside links on what was a dense pine forest. The first course in New Zealand with fescue grass on the fairways, Tara Iti plays firm and fast with no rough. Bunkers border the fairways which are mown a similar height as the greens. Approach and recovery shots provide myriad options for playing shots along the ground and allowing the contours to feed the ball to the hole.

One interesting shot after another is presented throughout the round at Tara Iti, which catapulted into the Golf Magazine Top 100 in 2017, making its debut at No. 29.

Cape Kidnappers

Located on the southern end of the North Island overlooking Hawke’s Bay in the New Zealand wine country, Cape Kidnappers was born from owner Julian Robertson’s affection for Pacific Dunes on the Oregon coast. After playing that course with his son, he sought out its architect, Doak, to design Cape Kidnappers along 2,600 yards of shoreline. The course opened to guests in 2004 and instantly shot near the top of the country’s rankings.

“We were deliberately subtle with our architecture as there was no way in the world to compete with the surrounding beauty,” Doak said.

Avoid the bunkers at any cost at Cape Kidnappers. On land of devoid of trees and essentially free of water hazards other than the obvious cliffs and ocean below, the bunkers are deep and penal.

Doak used the greens at Garden City Golf Club on Long Island as a model, devising the slopes in harmony with the natural rolling characteristics of the land. The par-4 No. 14, measures only 350 yards from the back tees but the green will remind visitors of the Road Hole No. 17 at The Old Course at St. Andrews.

Enjoy the remote setting as you pass a sheep and cattle station heading to the pro shop.

PerryGolf Escorted Tours are a great way to Play the Game. See the World.

Kauri Cliffs

“A designer can always make a golf course too hard,” Kauri Cliffs architect David Harman said in 2003. “He can add more bunkers, more walls, whatever he dreams up. The true test is whether or not he can use what Mother Nature gave him and turn it into something like what you see here.”

Kauri Cliffs was truly Harman’s masterpiece. He made 46 trips from his home in Florida to this property that neighbors Cape Kidnappers but was the first to open in 2001. He made the aforementioned comment to legendary golf commentator Jack Whitaker in 2003 when Fred Couples and Michael Campbell competed in a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match at the course (watch below).

Sadly, Harman succumbed to cancer in 2004. But his legacy lives on in this magnificent setting which offers breathtaking views of the Cavalli Islands and Matauri Bay. 

Swirling, gusting winds make the course play differently from hour-to-hour. Yardages are only a suggestion. Downwind, par-5s can be reached with a mid-iron second shot. Into the wind, they are unreachable in three. With options ranging from 4,900 to 7,100 yards, finding the appropriate teeing ground is imperative to maximize enjoyment.   

Risk / reward holes dot the property. But be careful. You won’t soon forget the par-3, No. 7.

Jack’s Point

Located 20 miles from Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the championship golf course at Jack’s Point is just one piece of an idyllic escape offering hiking and mountain biking trails and pure serenity.

The course, designed by John Darby and opened in 2008, sits atop sharp bluffs overlooking the lake and meanders through the wetlands and rocky hillside. Many experts consider it the best on the South Island. Created with minimal excavation, it fits naturally into the landscape and measures 6,986 yards with a par of 72 from the championship tees.

The tee shot at the downhill par-3 7th is remarkable (add an ‘s’ and you have the name of the mountain range in clear view throughout the course). Golfers fire toward a infinity green with the crystal blue waters of the lake as the backdrop.

While that quartet is outstanding, it’s not as if they’re the only excellent options available in New Zealand. The layouts are diverse and demanding.

Breezes blow tall at Paraparaumu Beach, 45 miles north of Wellington, where Tiger Woods competed in the 2002 New Zealand Open – for a hefty appearance fee rumored to be four times the size of the purse. The Kinloch Club is the first (and only) Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in New Zealand, carved through farmland on volcanic terrain. The Hills is another Darby creation which has played host to the national championship on multiple occasions. Royal Wellington dates to 1895 and is like ‘playing golf in an Arboretum’ according to architect Greg Turner, who redesigned the course in 2013. And Wairakei is a parkland favorite near beautiful Lake Taupo on the North Island.

 

Discover These 3 Ideal Destinations for Golf-Loving Couples

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence is one of many memorable attractions in Italy made readily available on a PerryGolf Escorted Tour, catering to couples.

From the banks of Venice to the shores of Sydney, whether observing the flightless Kiwi or simply gazing out upon the beautiful water of Lake Como, PerryGolf offers myriad destinations for couples who seek to combine their passions of travel and golf.

Enrich your mind and replenish your soul while pursuing those pesky pars, making lasting friendships along the way with similar minded folks who walk alongside on a unforgettable journey. Each of PerryGolf’s Cruises, Custom Tours and Escorted Tours provides not only a host of activities, sightseeing, dining and, of course world class golf on amazing courses, but also ample time for relaxing, recharging and enjoying a vacation certain to create indelible memories.

(Also, keep in mind that if you book a PerryGolf cruise by March 31st, your better half saves HALF, and you will also receive free internet while on board select Azamara cruises).

While PerryGolf can take you from the British Isles to South Africa and many points in between, learn more about these three destinations which are ideal for golfing couples:

Italy

If ever there was a country suited for traveling couples, it’s this European destination which is famously shaped like a boot.

Milan. Venice. Rome.

Shopping. History. Food & Wine.

Whatever you prefer – or why not a taste of each? – Italy caters to couples, allowing ample opportunity to indulge and inhale each scene and delight. Inquire about PerryGolf’s Best of Italy Escorted 2018, which begins Aug. 25 and spans two weeks, traveling from bustling city streets to quiet countryside. Admire Michelangelo’s amazing painted ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, feel in awe while gazing deep into Da Vinci’s Last Supper and you never know which A-List celebrity you may bump shoulders with while strolling about Lake Como.

The golf is stellar. Marco Simone will be the site of the 2022 Ryder Cup and is certain to present a daunting challenge to the finest professionals from Europe and the United States. Located 10 miles from the center of Rome and meandering around an 11th century castle, Marco Simone combines a creative mixture of challenge, beauty, risk and reward, designed by noted American architect Jim Fazio. The par-5 16th hole, measuring 550 yards from the championship tees with its green defended by a menacing stream is certain to snare the attention of each man or woman who passes through.

The quaint, beautiful towns of Sorrento and Positano sit perched high upon steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.

A major shipping hub and port in the 18th century, Positano today is a sophisticated resort gazing down over the gorgeous central Amalfi Coast in Italy. Explore along steep flights of steps, if you wish. The town’s origin is traced to the ninth century and its nucleus centered around a Benedictine Abbey.

John Steinbeck, Pablo Picasso and Liz Taylor are among those who have fallen hard for the charm of Positano.

 

New Zealand

Sparse in population, rich in beauty and abundant in local hospitality, New Zealand demands at least one visit from any adventurous traveling couple.

From Taupo to Queenstown and every interesting point in between, PerryGolf delivers a unforgettable experience in New Zealand, offering both an Escorted Tour which begins Nov. 5th and a delightful cruise which departs in January, 2019 in addition to Custom Tours of your preference.

Let’s start with the golf, which in recent years has increased in quantity and quality. The incredible landscapes, rocky cliffs and vistas of sparkling blue water provide the perfect canvas, enabling talented course designers to craft masterpieces worthy of the trip required to experience them.

Along those lines, Cape Kidnappers receives all the headlines – and rightfully so. This Tom Doak masterpiece makes Pebble Beach look mundane, demanding shots over trees to targets in slivers of land nestled 500 feet above the glorious Hawke’s Bay. Equally enjoyable is Royal Wellington – the first in New Zealand to receive the Royal designation – and a regular host of the New Zealand Open – most recently in 2014.

Away from the links, Hawke’s Bay and its world-renowned wineries will make any wine connoisseur feel warm and fuzzy. It’s the nation’s oldest wine producing region in New Zealand is known for its full-bodied red wines and complex Chardonnays.

Lake Taupo is a destination beyond description. Called “Nature’s Ultimate Playground,” the brilliant scenery from Huka Falls to Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings must be explored and PerryGolf provides ample time for just this on the journey.

 

Australia

Dates haven’t been finalized for the Best of Australia Escorted Tour 2019, but expect it to begin in January or February – and expect it to fill up quickly. The array of quality golf, interesting cities and warm people make Down Under a special landing spot. Then again, the warm climate awaiting when most Northern Hemisphere residents battle nip and chill of winter doesn’t hurt Australia’s seasonal popularity, either.

The golf is stunning in this grand sporting nation. We’ll discuss, momentarily, the world renowned layouts and immaculate conditions. But first, consider the wealth of attractions to realize in Sydney, Melbourne and beyond.

When discussing iconic images, the Sydney Opera House takes center stage. Located on the glorious Sydney Harbour and perhaps the most easily recognized structure in all of Australia, it welcomes seven million visitors annually. Take a guided tour or better yet – enjoy one of the 1,500 performances the Opera House holds each year.

For deluxe accommodations, the Langham Melbourne is an exquisite 5-star hotel on the banks of the Yarra River. Calm your body, mind and soul as East meets West in the Chuan Spa, which is considered among Australia’s finest.

Vue de Monde is simply one of many elite dining options available in downtown Melbourne. Be sure to save room for the rest and enjoy the view from 55 stories above the city, gazing across the skyline.

In Queensland be certain to visit one of these restaurants. We can almost taste the Patagonian Toothfish and Sydney Rock Oysters.

There are so many of the world’s best golf courses from which to choose. New South Wales (right) opened in 1928 after the Scottish architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie unveiled his brilliant vision. Abutting the Tasman Sea and Botany Bay, the layout is routinely ranked within the top five in Australia. Over on the northeast coast of Tasmania, the two courses at Barnbougle Dunes – The Dunes and The Lost Farm send scribes scrambling to the online thesaurus seeking other ways to say spectacular.

5 Reasons to Visit New Zealand

Milford Sound, known as the ‘8th Wonder of the World,’ is one of many breathtaking sights to enjoy on a trip to enchanting New Zealand.

In addition to its unmistakable beauty, New Zealand enjoys a rich, interesting history and diverse cultural tradition.

Roughly one thousand years ago, the Maori traveled on canoes from Hawaiki to New Zealand, becoming the first visitors. Abel Tasman, a Dutchman, is credited as the first European to see the country and the British explorer Captain James Cook, aboard HMS Endeavour, famously came ashore in Eastland in October, 1769.

The Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement signed in 1840 between the Maori and British Crown, established British Law in New Zealand and is considered the nation’s founding document.

With a population of approximately 4.7 million today, New Zealand is the same size as the Republic of Ireland. Picturesque and unspoiled, the English-speaking nation of New Zealand consists of two main islands and is a coveted destination for travelers from around the globe.

PerryGolf takes you to New Zealand by land or sea, enabling guests to enjoy the bountiful beauty and adventure offered from the mountains to the coast throughout this magnificent location. The Best of New Zealand Escorted Tour is a 13-Night, 7-Round trip in November, 2018 while the New Zealand and Sydney Golf Cruise is a 16-Night voyage offering five or six rounds of golf, setting sail in January, 2019.

There are many, but here are five reasons we suggest you visit New Zealand

Milford Sound

The brilliant English writer Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and one visit makes it easy to understand why the description fits. Carved from glaciers during the Ice Age, the sound features majestic waterfalls, rising a thousand meters above the dark water below. In season, seals, dolphins and penguins dot the water. Spectacular alpine scenery abounds and this body of water is beautiful from above or ground level.

Napier

Located on the eastern coast of the North Island, this town of 63,000 has an Art Deco community on par with Miami Beach. MTG Hawke’s Bay is a wonderful museum which details the massive 1931 earthquake which shook the city and the rebuild in the modern style, with clean, geometric shapes infused with a flair of flamboyance and touch of whimsy. Popular among tourists, the explorer Cook first noticed the beauty around Napier, making note of such during his original voyage and subsequent visit. The climate is ideal in January and February as well – average high of 75 degrees and average low of 58.

Cape Kidnappers

Completed in 2004, this Tom Doak design features 18 unique, challenging and scintillating holes. It’s like Pebble Beach on steroids. Every single hole offers a breathtaking view of the bay, located 400 feet below. We could write more, but here have a look for yourself.

 

Hawke’s Bay Wineries

Featuring an ideal climate with high sunshine, vineyards date back to 1851 in Hawke’s Bay. Whether you prefer a Bordeaux Blend, Chardonnay or a good Syrah, this vibrant region has a wine that will please your palate. It’s the oldest wine region in New Zealand and the second-largest. Altogether, reds account for 88 percent of the wines produced here, however, the Chardonnays shall not be neglected while traversing the Wine Trail, which includes 72 wineries. Visit internationally recognized wineries such as Mission Estate, Trinity Hill, Ashridge, Black Barn, Craggy Range, Elephant Hill, Te Mata Estate on a PerryGolf Escorted Tour and also savor the panoramic views from Te Mata Peak.

Lake Taupo

Anyone wanting to better understand the culture of New Zealand should include a visit to the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings on their itinerary. The carvings took place over four years, completed in 1980. It’s one of many attractions available on this beautiful Lake Taupo. On a half-day snapshot tour of Taupo, enjoy a variety of contrasting scenery from wild river rapids to lush national park and steamy geothermal areas, as you visit local favorite attractions such as Huka Falls, Craters of the Moon, Aratiatia Rapids and much more.

 

 

3 Golf Destinations for Couples in 2018

L’Hemisfèric, an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and lasertarium is a central component in the innovative, remarkable City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia, Spain.

Traveling with your spouse creates an opportunity to recharge and reconnect, while sharing lifetime memories visiting interesting locations that are rich with history, beauty and fantastic golf. PerryGolf recommends these three destinations for adventurous couples who enjoy spending time traveling, chasing birdies and basking in the wonders of the world.

IBERIAN PENINSULA

Take delight in the finest ports throughout Portugal and Spain on the 690-guest Azamara Quest, featuring 8 Nights and 5 Rounds of golf.

https://www.perrygolf.com/golfcruising/iberian-peninsula-2018-cruise.php

Enjoy the antics of the cute Barbary apes near the Rock of Gibraltar. These lovable primates are the only wild monkeys in Continental Europe.

Barcelona captures the imagination of thousands of visitors annually.

Savor the majesty of Barcelona, with its ideal blend of food, scenery and nightlife. The second-largest city in Spain is one of the most frequently visited destinations in the world and was the host of the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Tour the gothic cathedral in Valencia, and savor Oceanogràfic inside the City of Arts and Sciences, which is one of the 12 Treasures of Spain

Equally unforgettable is the beautiful port city of Malaga and its glorious renaissance cathedral, which was built between 1528 and 1782 and whose interior includes both the renaissance and baroque styles.

Walk in the footsteps of golf’s legends during a round at Valderrama, considered the top ranked course in continental Europe and site of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, won this year by tournament host Sergio Garcia.

Finca Cortesin, which played host to the Volvo World Match Play Championship on three occasions, is a divine Cabell B. Robinson design routed through a dramatic valley located near the Mediterranean. It’s routinely ranked as one of the top courses in Spain.

ITALY

When it comes to romance, history and gastronomic delight, Italy is difficult to beat.

https://www.perrygolf.com/escorted-tour/italy-escorted-golf-vacation-2018.php

PerryGolf’s escorted tour includes 14 Nights and 6 Rounds of Golf.

Admire the countryside while traveling stress-free on Italy’s wonderful railway system.

Enjoy the Roman Edifices while touring the city of Verona, which served as the setting for three Shakespeare plays, including Romeo and Juliet as well as The Taming of the Shrew.

Perhaps glimpse a celebrity while taking a moonlit stroll on the banks of Lake Como.

The elegance and beauty of Italy’s Lake Como defies description.

Spend time studying the intricacy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s magnificent painting, ‘The Last Supper.’

The Marriott Venice Resort & Spa is known across Europe for the most luxurious accommodations. Nights spent there are relaxing and divine.

And, of course, there are terrific golf options.

Roma Acquasanta is Italy’s oldest golf course and features stunning views of the Rome skyline.

Also located only 10 miles from Rome is the delightful championship layout Marco Simone, which is the site of 2022 Ryder Cup. Saint Peter’s Dome is within view from several holes on this Jim Fazio design which unfolds on the grounds of an 11th century castle.

Venice Golf Club basks in a spectacular setting between the Adriatic Sea and Lagoon of Venice and features distinct links characteristics and the ever present bora and sirocco winds. Great champions from Palmer to Jacklin to Trevino have battled this formidable foe.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand has roughly four million residents, making it one of the world’s least populated countries. Golf is the most popular sport with more courses per capita of population than any country in the world. And the world-class courses are complemented by food, wine and phenomenal scenery.

PerryGolf takes you there for a 13-Night, 7-Round Escorted Tour that simply must be experienced first-hand.

https://www.perrygolf.com/escorted-tour/new-zealand-escorted-golf-package-nov5.php

The Kiwi is a small, flightless bird that’s considered a symbol of sparsely populated New Zealand.

Admire native birds like the Kiwi or the Moa. The Kiwi, which is a flightless bird, has loose hair, strong legs and no tail. It is the national icon of New Zealand and the unofficial national bird. They can live from 25-50 years, although they are vulnerable to predators because they lack a sternum and have underdeveloped chest and wing muscles.

For the wine lover, Hawke’s Bay and its world-renowned wineries, is a highlight of any trip to New Zealand. It’s the nation’s oldest wine producing region in New Zealand is known for its full-bodied red wines and complex Chardonnays.

Speaking of breathtaking beauty, the golf at Cape Kidnappers provides the pinnacle.  This unique Tom Doak design in Napier ranked No. 44 in the world in Golf.com’s 2017-18 rankings delivers stunning panoramic views of Hawke’s Bay. The fairways perched 157 meters above the sea, on the grounds of what was formerly a 5,000-acre sheep station.

 

Our goal in designing golf courses is to create interesting holes you wouldn’t find anywhere else. That wasn’t hard to do at Cape Kidnappers, because the site is not like anywhere else in golf. If it were any bigger or any more dramatic, it would probably be cordoned off as a national park. – Tom Doak

 

Cape Kidnappers features amazing scenery and thrilling golf.

Tour the Lord of the Rings trilogy filming locations around Wellington, which is described as ‘the coolest little capital in the world.’

The only Jack Nicklaus signature course in New Zealand, is Kinloch, a links-style design tucked between gorgeous views of Lake Taupo and rugged farmland.  Often compared to the classic seaside links of the British Isles, Kinloch is a fair, yet demanding and memorable test of golf.

A scenic cruise of Lake Taupo features the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings and full commentary on the Maori culture and the area’s vast volcanic history.

And, tucked inside Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range, is Jack’s Point, located 20 miles from the cozy resort town of Queenstown. Measuring nearly 7,000 yards from the championship tees, the course winds through a natural environment of tussock grasslands, native bush and massive rock outcroppings.