Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers are the best coastal courses in New Zealand and Terrace Downs is one of the country’s best mountain courses. The 550 acres of the Terrace Downs Resort are set in the foothills of the Southern Alps, on the edge of the Rakaia River Gorge, a 50-minute drive from Christchurch International Airport.
Terrace Downs opened in 1999 and the course was designed by David Cox and the Canadian architect Sid Puddicombe, who created the Lakes Resort course and has been involved in the redevelopment of several others, such as North Shore, Clarks Beach, Onewhero and Pukekohe.
The 18-hole, par 72, championship course can be stretched to just over 7,000 yards from the back tees and holes are configured in two loops of nine over property that includes eleven lakes and seventy bunkers.
The best hole on the front nine is the par five 7th which is the longest hole on the course, playing to 605 yards. It doglegs left down to a lower terrace with a lake on the right, after the bend in the fairway. A fairway bunker on the left catches over-cautious players trying to avoid the water and the wide, but shallow green is a tough target to hit and hold with an approach shot.
The most exciting hole on the inward half (indeed on the whole course) is the 143-yard, par three 16th with a tee box that clings to the edge of the gorge and towers over 500 feet above the Rakaia River below – it’s simply one of the most stunning holes in the country!The tee shot must, first of all, carry a couple of ravines that fall all the way to the river through thick native bush then second, avoid a deep pot bunker in front of the putting surface before any thoughts of a par can be entertained.
Located in the Canterbury Plains, an hour west of Christchurch, Terrace Downs Resort opened 18 holes for play in 1999. Previously the property was used as a sheep and cattle farm, but was purchased in 1990 by Japanese professional golfer Shinnosuke Saito.
Saito engaged Canadian firm Puddicombe Golf Design to design and build a golf course on the gently undulating terrain bordering the Rakaia River Gorge with Mt. Hutt in the background. David Cox assisted with the back nine.
It really is a magnificent setting, and a nice place to stay a few days with quality accommodation and dining on offer, all with a view!
The golf course is pretty good too, and not just because of the backdrop. It is a testing layout for all levels of golfer. There are a number of memorable holes, and most of the back nine is pretty dramatic in one way or the other. But the signature hole is definitely the short par 3 sixteenth hole along the gorge.
Terrace Downs High Country Resort is a fabulous place to stay. The accommodation is classy and the meals are top notch. With spa facilities on site, waterfalls to see, gorge walks, and golf, it is a lovely place to stay. And the golf course will certainly have you wanting to return
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.