Millbrook goes west to drive second 18-hole course

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A 66 hectare buy-up by Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort looms as a shot in the arm for golf tourism. 

The lifestyle resort, bordering Arrowtown, could become the first in New Zealand to offer two 18-hole golf courses after signing up to buy neighbouring farmland. 

The deal is conditional only on Millbrook’s founding Japanese owners, the Ishii family, gaining Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval. 

Just four years ago, Millbrook added nine holes to the west of its existing 18-hole course – supported by substantial residential development around it. 

It’s now bought Dalgleish Farm, west of its new Coronet Nine, to attempt another expansion. 

Property and development manager Ben O’Malley stresses no firm plans have been made and they’ll take time to assess options. 

“There are some obvious rural lifestyle options that we could work towards, however it is the prospect of an extended golf offering that has us the most excited. 

“We’ll have a better idea of preferred options once we have the OIO decision and have been able to consult with relevant neighbours.” 

O’Malley says the golf option, again accompanied by residential development, would probably also be the hardest route to take as it requires a council plan change. 

However it’s also likely to have more benefits both for the resort and the wider community, he adds. 

Presently, the resort can offer only one 18-hole course at any time, through a mixture of its three nines. 

“In peak times, we experience capacity issues regularly and so moving to a two-course layout would not only ease the pressure but also enable us to offer NZ’s only two-course resort complex and double our capacity,” director of golf Brian Spicer says. 

Local course designer and former golf pro Greg Turner, who designed the Coronet Nine, has already checked out the new site’s suitability for another nine holes. 

A member of Tourism NZ’s golf tourism working party, he says Queens-town’s reputation as a golf destination is growing so rapidly that demand risks exceeding supply. 

“Expanding to 36 holes would, to all intents and purposes, add another course to the Queenstown offering. 

“There’s international evidence that demonstrates a high percentage of visitors will stay additional time to play the second course at a resort. 

“That’s not only good for Millbrook but also for Queenstown and NZ as a whole given the high daily spend of the average golf tourist. 

“Given the contours of the upper terrace of the land, with work and capital investment this land could be changed from unproductive  sheep farming land into a spectacular highlands attraction, further enhancing Millbrook’s reputation as the jewel in the crown of resort golf.” 

John Hart, former All Blacks coach and chairman of the NZ Open organising committee, is also excited about the potential of a two-course layout. 

The prestigious Open golf tournament was hosted for the first time this year by Millbrook as well as The Hills nearby. 

“It means we’ll have a great opportunity to consider further expanding the NZ Open in future years,” Hart says. 

O’Malley says if Millbrook Resort opts to build another course it’s likely to be five years before anyone tees off. 

He adds they also hope to tidy up Mill Creek, which runs through Dalgleish Farm before passing through Millbrook. 

“We see some great opportunities to continue upstream the riparian and habitat restoration we’ve successfully completed at Millbrook.” 

O’Malley adds the Ishii family, who bought the original Millbrook land in 1988, still has the ultimate vision to develop the best golf and lifestyle resort in the world. 

“The new land would enable Millbrook to take the next step on that journey.”