© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Golfing Antics in Cromwell

© NZPocketGuide.com

188 Days on the Road

Today, we’re doing a favourite Kiwi sport… And no, it doesn’t involve the Haka. We have found ourselves dabbling in some of the most random sports in Central Otago. Only a few days ago we were trying out curling for the first time in one of the most off-the-beaten-track places. And now, we are grabbing ourselves a set of golf clubs!

A decision to golf

How did we get here? Since when did we turn 100 years old? Admittedly, golfing isn’t our first choice of activity today. But when plans fall through, Robin immediately gets on the case to find something exceptional for day 187 on the road. (Because we try to make everyday exceptional). Then, voila! Robin finds out that Cromwell has a golf course surrounded by mountain and fruit orchard views! Not only is golf hugely popular in New Zealand with some of the most stunning courses, but we have been surprised by the amount of backpackers we have met who have given it a try! Well, we won’t be left behind. We will making a game of golf our first activity in the town of Cromwell.

Start the day the flashpacker way

Before leaving Alexandra, we don’t leave without trying out the coffee (and breakfast) at The Court House Cafe. Well, if you’re going to have a “flashpacker” day, you might as well go all-out. Despite a history of sorting out disputes and criminals in society, this heritage building now holds a flower-filled cafe complete with larger than life cakes. We get ourselves a cheesecake and a “bacon butty”.

The drive through Cromwell Gorge

Finally, it’s time to hit the road to Cromwell, which involves driving along the astonishing landscape of the Cromwell Gorge. It just doesn’t seem real, the milky blue waters occupying the rugged steep-sided river gorge. The highway weaves perfectly along one edge of the gorge, reminding us of man’s determination. Most of the roads we drive on in New Zealand are built along extreme terrain. Mountains and rivers doesn’t stop anyone!

The Fruit Capital of New Zealand

30 minutes later, we cross the Clutha River into Cromwell, the “fruit capital of New Zealand” made known to the world by its giant sculpture of a few fruit items in the middle of town – just one of the 22 BIG things in New Zealand. Another thing in the middle of town is the Cromwell Golf Club.

Caddy, clubs and first-time golfers

We hire some clubs and even a golf caddy to carry our clubs and camera gear (and our lazy asses), then hit the course. For Robin, this is the second or third time he’s played golf, as for Laura, she remembers only playing once as a kid. Of course, we are both accustomed to the fine sport of crazy golf…

With chunks of grass flying everywhere at the first tee, we realise “proper golf” takes a hell of a lot more skill…

The great thing is though, that we are both as cr*p as each other, giving one another some competition.

Playing golf with a view

A highlight of each round is when the ball actually stays on the green, rather than getting lost in the long tussock. (Saying that, we didn’t officially lose any balls in the long grass, we always managed to continue play from between the pine trees or on sandy hills).

Giving each other competition whilst having tremendous views of mountains in all directions, we actually realise: “Hey, golf in New Zealand is actually quite fun.” Not to mention the hilarious time we are having with the electric golf caddy. Even if you don’t like golf, you can’t deny that driving a caddy is shamelessly fun.

Golf caddy nonsense

While waiting for Laura to shift her ball from the bushes to further down the course, Robin is driving in circles in reverse as some sort of distraction method – not like he needed one.

We’ll give it to ourselves though, by the time we reach the ninth and final course, we are hitting the ball into the hole in a lot less shots. That’s always the way isn’t it? You always get the hang of it once you come to the end…

The grand score and judgement

With a grand score of Robin 94: Laura 107, we can say it was a relatively close game. (Plus, it takes a lot of guts to post those scores online when a good golfer usually scores 40…) Nevertheless, we really enjoy the change in pace from our usually rushing from activity to activity. On top of that, having a gap year is all about having new experiences and keeping an open mind. We’ve had the perfect combination of sun, hours of fun, and that famous New Zealand landscape always in sight.

Bannockburn Domain Camping Ground

Much to our disappointment, we exchange the golf caddy for the big old campervan to drive down to Bannockburn Domain Camping Ground where we are going to be staying for the next couple of nights. The well-maintained facility is not only a popular with locals who have set up their motor homes here, but it’s super popular with backpackers here in the Cromwell area for the picking season. (That’s why they call it the “fruit capital”!).

We were sure to enjoy the relaxing golfing experience while we could, because tomorrow the pace changes once again with a jet boat ride down the Clutha River. We’ll also try our luck at panning for gold. See you then!

Just one of the many time we went a bit off course

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