New Zealand Open
The New Zealand Golf Open is set to take the country by storm in March 2015, giving you plenty of opportunities to book your holiday across the ditch and enjoy some world-class sporting highlights.
Located at The Hills and Millbrook in Queenstown from March 12 to 15, the event gives you the chance to take in two spectacular golf courses in one tourist hotspot. The Pro-Am format brings together both professional and amateur golfers, resulting in a unique blend of abilities showcasing the best of New Zealand's - and the world's - golfing talent.
The event is a cornerstone of the PGA Tour of Australasia, and a new partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation will see 15 leading golfers from the professional Japan tour taking part in the tournament. This guarantees guests will see plenty of first-class sporting performances.
As one of New Zealand's leading tourist destinations, Queenstown will be on display throughout the event. Make sure you book your trip with plenty of time to explore this southern town's charm.
Designed and opened in 2007 to host the New Zealand Open, The Hills is set over 500 acres with pristine views of a glacial valley below. The course's layout is stunning, highlighting elevation changes and rocky outcrops that decorate the area, and is one of the country's most challenging tournament courses. Spectators can enjoy cleverly-planned vantage points and natural ampitheatres for the best possible views over the area. Take in views of the surrounding lakes and wetland areas, plus take a moment to appreciate sculptures crafted by international and local artists that decorate the course.
Millbrook Golf Course was designed by master golfer Sir Bob Charles, then freshly renovated in 2010 to become the world-class course it is today. The 27-hole championship course boasts three very different combinations, each consisting of 18 holes. Like The Hills, it spans 500 acres, and has plenty of natural hazards and breathtaking scenery to keep things interesting on the course. If you feel like taking a break between holes, head to the resorts' luxury day spa for a massage or facial to help you relax.
The New Zealand Open has an impressive line up of professional and celebrity players. The former includes Rocco Mediate, the 51 year old best remembered for pushing Tiger Woods 91 holes before Woods won his most recent US Open championship in 2008. Mediate has won six times during his PGA Tour career and was named Rookie of the Year in 2013 after he joined the Champions Tour.
Joining Mediate will be Jake Higginbottom, the defending champion who won the 2012 New Zealand Open as an amateur. The Newcastle player is expected to improve sharply this season on the back of his 2013 Asian Tour.
Local fans will turn out to cheer on Greg Turner, one of New Zealand's most well-known and successful golfers from the past quarter century. He's won the Open twice, along with plenty of other titles, and is now a European Senior Tour player. What's more, he has some local knowledge as he lives in Queenstown and even designed nine of the 26 Millbrook holes used during the event.
Celebrity players include the likes of Amazing Race host and New Zealand local Phil Keoghan, Michelan starred chef and MasterChef New Zealand judge Josh Emmett and Australian cricketing icon Ricky Ponting. There are plenty of other local and international stars who will also take to the course, including notable sports stars Alan Border and Stephen Fleming.
What to do in Queenstown
Outside of the golf, Queenstown has plenty to offer. Adventure lovers can try out bungy jumping over some of the country's most spectacular sights - Queenstown is the bungy capital of the world, and there are plenty of swing-style, zip and traditional ledge and bridge bungys to try out.
Keep the adrenalin pumping with a white water rafting experience down the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers. First-time rafters can enjoy the Kawarau option for an exhilarating adventure, while the Shotover is perfect for those looking for added thrills and excitement.
Locals will be quick to point you in the direction of Ferg Burger, one of the country's most beloved takeaway institutions. Open 21 hours a day, the burger bar attracts people from all over the country for its sumptuous, juicy offerings that are huge in both size and flavour.
If you're a wine lover, take the time to try a glass or two of the region's Central Otago Pinot Noir. Queenstown and its surrounding areas are well-known for producing exceptional wines, with more than 75 wineries pumping out a wide range of varieties. Check out Queenstown Wine Trail Tours if you want to explore this area of Queenstown's heritage more closely.