Dateline: February 11, 2015 – New Zealand – Good Bye and Thanks

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Will Owen – Playing Around New Zealand

As we bid adieu to New Zealand there are many thanks to our many hosts along the way.  Staying in the various Bed and Breakfasts along the way gave us a great appreciation for traveling that way.  When we travel in the future we will try to use available B&Bs.

Our first thank you goes to Will Owen at Playing Around New Zealand.  Janice had contacted Will over a year in advance and gave Will our thoughts on what we wanted. There are a number of operators that organize golf trips, Will was the most cooperative of those we contacted.  Some suggested we stay at certain golf courses, such as Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, the nightly rate is well over $1,000 per room.  We told him that our preference was something more inexpensive and he suggested we stay at B&Bs.  All the B&Bs that were picked had either been used by Will before or researched through his own network. Will can plan golf or any “playing” adventure.

We were given a quote for the trip, including golf, a Mercedes SUV, ferry costs, flights from Queenstown back to Auckland.  It was truly inclusive.  We were met at the Auckland airport by Will and taken to the Sanford Hotel downtown.  We were given a cell phone and a GPS device with the car.Both the GPS and the phone were preprogrammed with telephone numbers and locations of all the places we we’re staying.  Will was always available for any questions.  He also recognized a scheduling problem that was our fault and seamlessly worked out changes to the schedule.  As the comments below indicate, his organization did a job that was beyond our wildest expectations.  If you plan a trip to New Zealand, golf or not, please contact him, your trip will be a outstanding success!

Mike and Chris
Mike and Chris
Paul )Panel Beater & Allysin
Paul and Allison

We arrived and stayed ant the Sanford Hotel, it was lovely.  Traveling up to the Bay of Islands to play Kauri Ridge, we stayed at Swallow Ridge with Mike and Chris.  They were so helpful and we enjoyed our time there.  As we went back to Auckland to play Gulf Harbor we spent the night with Paul (the panel beater) and Allison at their beautiful Panorama Heights.  They were so gracious and kind.

Russ and Pat
Russ and Pat

It was off to Lake Taupo and the Ambleside B&B and met our wonderful hosts Pat and Russell.  They are funny and delightful.

We were taking a picture of them and Russell pulled what will always be known as a “Russell”!
God bless them, the humor was just fantastic.  There we played golf at Wairakei and Kinloch.  Two wonderful courses.

Off to play Cape Kidnappers we stayed at Millhills Lodge, hosted by Penny and Sam.

Penny and Sam
Penny and Sam

They cooked a great dinner for us the second evening and we enjoyed their company over some great Hawkes Bay wine.  They were like our other host and hostesss a delight to spend time with.  If playing golf at Cape Kidnappers, this is a fantastic place to stay.

We stayed in Wellington at the Museum Hotel which is a good location and convent to all the sites, shopping and restaurants.  There is just a big difference in staying at a the hotel vs. the B&B.

We crossed by ferry to the south Island where we stayed the Marlborough Valley at the Vintners Retreat.  It was fine, but didn’t have the B&B experience about it.  The wines from the vineyards around it however were just fantastic.  One of the interesting things we found out was that Cloudy Bay, so expensive in the US, is just a normally good wine but no better than the other Maroborough wines.  No need to spend the $45 to $60 that you will see them in liquor stores for.

Our next stop was Christchurch.  We were not playing golf but had a great drive along the water to see the seals and their pups.  Staying at the Classic Villa was a wonderful experience.  We met both tourist like ourselves and business people in town for a few days.  Alisa, our hostess was very helpful and made our stay a pleasant experience.

Off to Terrace Downs and the Quickenberry.  Even though they had overbooked and moved us to a condo at the golf course, the gourmet five course dinner was a sensation and we returned for breakfast in the morning before departing for Lake Tekapo.

Our hosts at Lake Tekapo Lodge,

Stephanie and Alastair
Stephanie and Alastair

Stephanie and Alister were a delight.
If you look up the term, gracious, fun, delightful and vivacious host in the dictionary, you will find Stephanie’s picture.  Hearing the family stories were a hoot and a lot of fun.  Lake Tekapo Lodge was our last B&B in New Zealand since we stayed at the MillBrook Resort outside of Queenstown, which was absolutely beautiful.  It’s golf course was fun to play and then we couldn’t say enough about Jacks Point.DSC_0264

The memories of playing the outstanding golf course will forever be on our mind.  The beauty of New Zealand is truly matched by the friendly people we met along the way.

So as we waved goodbye to New Zealand for our next adventure in Australia, we thank all of these wonderful people that have made this a trip of a lifetime.

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