We are pleased to share another edition of Travelerâ€™s Tales where Covington travelers, Lynn and Bob, had a fabulous experience playing golf in New Zealand. Enjoy their story.
We knew we wanted to play golf in New Zealand and see some of the acclaimed scenery of the island nation, but we really didnâ€™t have a specific plan. For several years now, weâ€™ve worked with Virtuoso advisor Kim Sonderman, so we asked her to design our trip. Boy did she ever hit a hole in one!
Kim knows our travel style and what we like in vacations so we were confident that sheâ€™d plan a great itinerary. We really didnâ€™t do a lot of pre-trip research and left most of the planning up to Kim. Honestly, most of the itinerary was a surprise when we looked at it shortly before we traveled. She arranged three golf outings but the one from Blanket Bay Lodge was an incredible experience that turned out to be the highlight of our entire three-week journey.
Blanket Bay Lodge
Blanket Bay Lodge is on the beautiful South Island, 40 minutes from Queenstown and just outside the tiny village of Glenorchy where much of Lord of the Rings was filmed. It sits on a flat little peninsula at the edge of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by majestic mountains. The timber and stone main building looked like a cozy ski lodge nestled into the natural alpine wilderness.
Everything about Blanket Bay Lodge was 5-star. In addition to the spectacular scenery, the service was simply impeccable. We had a six-course dinner that was to die for, enjoyed luxurious massages and enjoyed using the well-equipped gym. Each evening, pre-dinner cocktails and canapĂ©s were served in the amazing 30-foot ceiling Great Room and we met the most fascinating people from all over the world. It was such a fabulous experience that I have a hard time finding enough superlative words without being repetitive!
Extreme Golf in New Zealand
Kim arranged for us to play golf at the nearby Jackâ€™s Point Golf Course, one of the most spectacular golf courses in the world. But it gets even better. We were to have a scenic helicopter transfer from the Lodge to the course!
That morning the weather was a bit dicey, so the heli-excursion and golf were both questionable. We got ready anyway and luckily the trip was a go. Our helicopter landed right beside the hotel patio and our personable Aussie pilot gave us a safety briefing. Bob sat in the front seat and without any other passengers, I had terrific views from the back. We got an amazing tour of New Zealand’s glacial scenery â€“ glaciers, fjords, and mountains â€“ simply breathtaking.
Then our pilot set the helicopter down at the edge of a high cliff overlooking a beautiful glacial lake. We got out and crept as close to the sheer drop as we dared. With a twinkle in his eye, the pilot asked, â€śDo you like extreme golf?â€ť Suddenly he materialized a golf driver, a patch of artificial grass, a tee and biodegradable golf balls. Bob hit the first ball off the cliff and was elated. We took turns hitting balls and watching them drop into the abyss. It was so much fun and totally thrilling!
Jackâ€™s Point Golf Course
We lifted off again and flew over the surreal beauty of Milford Sound, along the glacial lakes toward Queenstown. We assumed we would land at an airport and take a shuttle to the golf course but to our delight, our pilot circled around the golf course and landed right on the lawn next to the Pro Shop and lunch patio! With the rotors running, we thanked him for an incredible experience and jumped out. Everyone on the patio stared as we ran to the building, straining to see if it was some A-listers who just emerged from this impressive transport. It was just us, but Kimâ€™s luxury arrangements made us feel like celebrities.
Finally, we did play a true round of golf on Jackâ€™s Point 18-hole par 72 championship course, made even more challenging by the 25 mph winds that kicked up. Weâ€™ll keep our scores to ourselves but will say that it was a giddy, laughing, marvelous day. The whole experience was totally thrilling and, dare I say life changing? This kind of unique experience is why we travel and why we return time and again to our incredible travel advisor, Kim.
To create your own life-changing travel experiences, tap the Virtuoso expertise of the vacation advisors at Covington Travel.