Domestic Travel

The golf widow

The golf widow

Homestead Bay on Lake Wakatipu.
I’ve never understood my husband’s obsession with golf. Hitting a little white ball around acres of perfectly-manicured grass on gently undulating terrain is not my definition of exhilarating exercise . . . but he loves it despite the frustrations that seem to accompany the game.

So while Chris and his mate chased little white balls around the immaculate golf course at Jack’s Point near Queenstown, I set off to explore far more rugged terrain on my ebike, totally happy to be a golf widow for a day. I had scintillating companions — the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu — which dominate the landscape.

I’ve always felt a strong affinity for the Remarkables dating back to my childhood days when we spent holidays at our little crib in Arrowtown. I regarded the sawtooth pinnacles of the Remarkables as mystical, my ‘maunga tapu’ (sacred mountain).They are especially dazzling in winter when white snow accentuates the jagged jet black rocks near the summit.

One summer, as a dewy-eyed teenager, I climbed the mountain with a friend and camped up there for the night. The mist came swirling in with cold, damp fingers at about 3am which was eerie and far from romantic — but the sunrise was magical.

The mountains towered over me as I skirted the golf course and cycled along a stunning lakeside track with Wakatipu sparkling in the sunshine. The weather was glorious and I had the day to myself so I meandered along any track that caught my eye. With a 100-kilometre battery range, I knew I would not run out of power on my Wisper Wayfarer. I cycled through the multi-million dollar property development at the far reaches of Jack’s Point, marvelling at the sprawling mansions under construction and the magnificent views the occupants would enjoy.

Late in the day, I discovered Homestead Bay, a perfect spot to park our Maui motorhome overnight. With the snow on the Remarkables turning pink in the sunset and the lapping waters of Lake Wakatipu just a few metres away, it was an idyllic place to stay. The views were even better than the fancy mansions at Jack’s Point.

But without knowing for sure whether freedom camping was permitted there, Chris decided it was safer to park in his golf mate’s driveway rather than risk a hefty fine. That’s another great thing about motorhoming. You can invite yourself to stay with friends without imposing on their space. He lives right on the edge of the golf course with a great elevated view of the lake and the mountains.

Sticking with the golf theme, next day we cycled around the five-star Millbrook Resort set on 650 acres near Arrowtown. Chris wanted to check out the resort’s world-renowned golf course for future reference while I was keen to see what had become of the rolling farmlands and pretty little stream that I remembered in my youth.

I had always known there was once a mill on the site but learning the full story was fascinating. In the 1860s, at the height of the Central Otago gold rush, French brothers John and Peter Butel from Normandy established a 450-acre wheat farm near Arrowtown to feed hungry goldminers. It was known as Mill Farm. The Butel brothers helped create Arrowtown’s first water race which can still be seen around the resort today. Originally built as a service to miners, it became the main water supply for the emerging township. Peter Butel was the first in the district to install electricity, running a generator off the water wheel he used for the mill.

The mill stream babbles its way through Millbrook Resort.

In the early 1900s, Millbrook became a camp for the Wakatipu Mounted Rifles and during WW1 it was converted to a hospital for injured Kiwi soldiers returning from Europe. After World War II the land reverted to farming.

Four decades later, the Ishii family came up with a plan to establish a lifestyle and golf resort of international standing on the land, and in 1993 Millbrook Resort opened to the public.

In 2014 Millbrook purchased the neighbouring farm and in 2018 work began on a new nine-hole golf course which will see the complex grow from a 27-hole to a 36-hole golf course.

Nowadays, Millbrook is a five-star resort with luxurious accommodation, four onsite restaurants, a soon-to-be 36-hole championship golf course, day spa, health and fitness centre and conference venue.

While Chris was drooling over the prospect of playing 36 holes of golf, I was more interested in the rustic remains of the old farm machinery, the restored mill wheel and buildings and the stately avenue of trees still standing after 150 years. It’s a peaceful, picturesque place surrounded by spectacular mountains. The old mill stream babbles its way through the property, feeding tranquil lakes and ponds that reflect the beauty of the landscape.

I cycled along a stunning lakeside track with Wakatipu sparkling in the sunshine. Photos by Justine Tyerman

We sat in the sunshine and had coffee at the Hole In One Cafe before heading to our next destination. That was the closest Chris got to playing golf that day. Two days of golf widowhood would have been one too many on an ebike holiday.

To be continued...

Read part 1part 2part 3part 4,  part 5 of Justine’s Central Otago road trip here.
Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of thl in a Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome, and rode a Wisper Wayfarer ebike courtesy of Electric Bikes NZ