A Dash of Peppers, a Full Dose of New Zealand

The historic town of Christchurch is the economic hub of the beautiful and sparsely populated South Island of New Zealand. Christchurch is located in the Canterbury region about a third of the way down the South Island on the east coast. “The Garden City,” as it is known, is famed for its colonial heritage, grand architecture, historic homesteads and its immaculate parks that weave together with a bustling business district. The Clearwater Resort is an ideal spot to stay when visiting this area. It is just a couple of minutes from the airport and about a 10-minute drive from downtown Christchurch.

The Golf

The Clearwater Resort is home to the New Zealand PGA Championship and has a great golf course. This par-72 stretches out to more than 6,500 meters (7,000-plus yards). The course was designed by John Darby, with help from Sir Bob Charles, who actually lives on the course. Charles has been a great ambassador for New Zealand in the golf world since he gained fame by winning the British Open in 1963.

The Clearwater layout is a combination of Scottish links golf and Florida parkland golf. The course meanders around sparkling lakes, creeks and a variety of wetlands. This part of the Christchurch area is flat so the course is easy to walk.

The ninth hole is an eye-catching par-3 that can play more than 200 yards with a lake along the right side all the way. Many of the resort’s rooms are on the other side of this lake and look out at this hole. The 18th hole is another great closer. It can be stretched to 440 yards with a lake guarding the entire left side of the hole. A par on either of these finishing holes will be well earned and deserving of a celebratory libation.

Clearwater has one of the best practice facilities in all of New Zealand. Another great golf option would be to drive inland to the Terrace Downs Golf Club. It is about an hour drive through New Zealand’s best farmland to the foot of the Southern Alps, where the course is located. The mountain views are equal in splendor to the ocean views of Kauri Cliffs on the North Island.

If you want to stay closer to the Clearwater Resort for another round try the Russley Golf Club, just a couple of miles from downtown Christchurch. It is a well-manicured club that regularly hosts professional and amateur events.

The City

Christchurch has the feeling of a medieval European city with historic churches, market squares, cobblestone streets surrounded by the peaceful Avon River. Christchurch is also the largest city in the South Island and is known for its educational opportunities. Christchurch has two universities: the University of Canterbury (www.canterbury.ac.nz) and Lincoln University (www.lincoln.ac.nz). Both offer a wide range of disciplines and pre-eminence in their fields.

The city and most of its immediate surroundings are set on flat terrain a few miles from the ocean. However, the southern edge of the town rises up to dramatic mountains where the Christchurch Gondola is located. After a steep journey to the top you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of Christchurch to the north, Canterbury Plains to the west and Lyttelton Harbor to the South. The Summit Café is a great spot to take in this incredible view.

Lyttelton Harbor is just a few minutes away by car through a large tunnel. The harbor, although not more than 15 minutes from the heart of Christchurch, seems like it is located in another part of the island due to the incredible topographical change.

For more information on the city visit www.christchurch.org.nz.

Peppers Clearwater Resort

Hotel guests stay at The Peppers Clearwater Resort. The lakeside units are elegant and modern with all the comforts of home and a boathouse theme. They are quite large and have the feel of a townhouse with a deck overlooking the lake and golf course. The lake is tranquil with an abundance of wildlife. I found the patio a great spot to reflect upon the day’s adventure. Natural spring-fed streams flow through the 465-acre resort and are stocked with wild brown and rainbow trout. Fly fishers will have a field day. (For more information visit www.clearwaternz.com or www.peppers.com.au and call 64 3 360 1009.)

Clearwater Resort is just a few minutes from Christchurch International Airport, which is where I landed on my flight from LAX. Air New Zealand offers non-stop service to Auckland and Christchurch from both LAX and San Francisco. From Christchurch you can fly to almost any city in New Zealand via Air New Zealand’s extensive routing. The Christchurch Airport and Air New Zealand are visitor-friendly, reminiscent of how air travel used to be in the U.S. many moons ago.

For more information visit www.airnewzealand.com.