Friday, December 13, 2019

New Zealand - Kalos - Friday, December 13, 2919

One of the many “signature” holes at Kauri Cliffs, an easy par three, that isn’t so easy.  The short distance is deceiving as you’re dealing with at least a two club wind to carry the jungle.  The front traps act as a catcher’s mitt to gobble up a short shot.
Today was our last day of golf with the Kalos group at Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand.  We were fortunate enough to play with our new friends, Diane and Dick, from San Diego.  

Dick was icing his arm between shots, an unsuccessful attempt to reduce the pain and swelling.

Diane and Dick from San Diego.

Dick tore a muscle or ligament in his arm early in this trip, so he was playing handicapped, icing his arm between shots.  His lovely wife, Diane is an artist, singer in a band, tennis player, and a hell of a golfer as well.  We had a great time playing with them.  But every time Dick would groan in agony after hitting a shot, we felt his pain.  But bless his heart ... he was out there, playing with a couple of old widows and seemed to be having a good time.  

This course is just beautiful EVERYWHERE you look.

Today’s format was keeping score of all birdies and eagles for the team.  Pars meant nothing.  We scored -36, which we thought was respectable and perhaps may win a towel or a hat.  Nope.  -44 by the Koreans was the winning score.  Someone asked, “How do you say “Sandbagger” in Korean.”  They were such nice, fun people, I didn’t care and I was very happy for their win.

After golf, Stevie and I had a driver take us to the pink beach of Kauri Cliffs.  It’s pink because so many shells have been smashed and crushed on the beach in the surf and collected in this area.  

It doesn’t scream pink, but this is not a sand beach, rather a beach made entirely of smashed shell pieces.  When examined closely, the pink shells are the predominant color.  Thus “Pink Sand Beach.”

After our driver, Michael, found a beautiful shell ring and proposed to Stevie, we gathered shells from the beach for tonight’s party.  
Let me say this ... it didn’t look all that pink to me.  Perhaps we needed to be there at a particular time of the day when the light hit the sand to make it look pink.  But we had a nice time.  We gathered shells that the Mauri people use as rings and brought them back to the hotel to share at the grand finale dinner tonight.  The shell rings were a HUGE hit.  So much fun.

We passed out 20 rings to our friends.

Brad is “rockin” to shell ring look.  
We are gathered in the lodge lobby for a special surprise performance tonight.
A traditional Maori family performed for us tonight before dinner.  Very Polynesian and interesting. They showed us the Haka, a Maori dance routine performed before all sporting events in New Zealand.   It’s supposed to be a show of power and authority to the opponent.  After seeing the forcefulness of their performance, I can understand how it would intimidate an opponent.  Very nice show.

The Maori performers got the men involved.  Our friend Brad was a star with his threatening Maori scowl!

The Maori family was kind enough to pose for photos after the performance. 
We had our last dinner and said good night and safe travel wishes to everyone in our group.  

Our new friends pose with Dagmar, our Kalos group leader.

Enjoying a cocktail on the terrace overlooking the water.  
Fidel and Brad still practicing their Maori Haka threat.

Dianne was the big winner tonight with the Kalos towel AND cap.
This has been a nice trip.  We met some very nice people.  Some that I’ll stay in contact with.  Some that I would vote off the island.

This was my first experience with Kalos.  I’ve only heard wonderful things about their adventures.  And I guess all in ... it was a nice trip.  Would I take another Kalos trip?  I would prefer to  gather some friends, perhaps two foursomes, maybe three foursomes, and choose our destination and go on our own.  It’s nice having Kalos handle the logistics, but I would prefer playing with a “sure thing” instead of an unhappy killjoy.  There are plenty of Tavel agents out there to handle the logistics.   For what this trip costs, we shouldn’t have to play with someone who makes the day miserable.  I can think of several couples who would be so much fun to travel with.  We can certainly come up with games to keep us entertained on the golf course.  So another Kalos trip is likely a pass for me.

The coveted Kalos Cap for 1st place play.
Saturday, December 14, 2019

Today I’m going HOME!  It’s been fun, but I’m ready to get back.  It’s time to start thinking about Christmas.  While the house is decorated, I haven’t even started the shopping expedition.  And the only souvenirs I’m bringing back from New Zealand are the pounds I’ve packed on while eating and drinking my way across the country.  I feel like a goose who has been force fed to make Foie Gras.  Today, since the only food I’ll see will be airline food, it will be an easy choice to stop the feeding frenzy.   I’m looking forward to getting home and into my healthy eating and exercise routine.  Vacations are so much fun, but “re-entry” is tough.  I’m ready for the challenge.  

I’m also looking forward to seeing my dear friends and family whom I haven’t seen in weeks.  This is the time of year to celebrate together.  I’m heading home and look forward to seeing you all!!

So for now ... a fond farewell to New Zealand’s beauty and delightful kiwis.  I look forward to my next adventure with you.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

New Zealand - Kauri Cliffs - December 11th, 2019

This morning, we leave the beautiful Cape Kidnappers for Kauri Cliffs.  Owned by the same American, Julian Robertson, Kauri Cliffs should be the same amazing experience as Cape Kidnappers! 

Today is a travel day.  We are leaving Cape Kidnappers at 11:00 to catch our charter flight to KeriKeri - still on the north island of New Zealand.  The flight is just over an hour and twenty minutes.  

When we landed in KeriKeri, we had the option of going straight to the golf course to play, or to the Marsden Estate winery for lunch.  Well, they had me at “Lunch.”  But lunch at a winery is a bonus.  

Marsden Vineyard.
Stevie and Julie

Dianne and Brad

Diane and Richard “Dick”
This tasty lunch setting was in a grapevine trellised terrace over looking a lovely garden with ponds, swans and lush landscaping.  The wine was good.  The short ride to Kauri Cliffs with Bernie afterwards was informative ... for those of us still awake.  I have to admit, my eyelids did close for most of the ride. 

In 2015, I played Kauri Cliffs while on a trip to New Zealand with my friends Bruce and Gail and their group from the Vintage Country Club in the desert.  We flew up from Auckland for the day to play this golf course.  And since we had to catch a flight back to Auckland the same day, I didn’t get to finish all 18 holes.  So I’ve got some catching up to do. 

View from my gorgeous room.

Stevie and I enjoying a glass of wine before dinner on the terrace of my room.

The suites here are absolutely beautiful. Overlooking the Pacific and the golf course.  Stevie’s suite is right next door.  We over look hole number 10.
The views from the lodge are absolutely stunning.  I’d remembered Kauri Cliffs to be beautiful, but not this beautiful!  WOW!  I can’t wait to get on the course tomorrow.  

The trek up to the lodge from our room was a bit strenuous, but we stop along the way for photos and to examine the foliage.

These gardens are manicured to perfection.

Always a fitting greeting for a cocktail party!

Diane and Dianne.

Stevie and Julie enjoying the view from the lodge.

View from the lodge. Breathtaking.

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Stevie and I have been paired today with Margo and Sally.  We played with them in Queenstown in the miserable rain.  I don’t recall it being a particularly enjoyable round of golf.  NOT because of Sally’s and Margo, but because the weather was so horrible.  So I was grateful to get to play with these fun ladies again on the prettiest golf course in the world on a beautiful day.  

Stevie finally brought out Donald

Gotta love these clubcovers.

Julie, Margo, Sally and Stevie on hole number 16.

We were several holes ahead of the entire field, so we took time to take some photos.

Margo, Sally and Julie

Not sure, but I think I parred this difficult, but beautiful hole.

OK.  Stevie had a difficult shot here.  WTF??!!
We had a great round of golf, all of us participating in some way to score well.  I shot 87 on my own ball, which is very good for me.  I don’t think we won anything, except having the most fun.  Best round of golf since playing in Cape Kidnappers with Brad and Dianne.  

After golf and lunch, we ventured to the farm where Todd did a demonstration with his sheep herding dogs.  He controlled his dogs with a whistle or verbal command.  

This is Jessie getting acquainted with Stevie.  What a cool dog.  She’s 13 years old and still rounds up the sheep.

This is Todd, the sheep herder and shearer.  These New Zealanders  like their short shorts.
The dogs were amazing and controlled the sheep’s every move by obeying commands from Todd.  Well except for when the dog ran the sheep into a wire fence.  A stunned Todd said that was not part of the show.  The sheep hopped up and ran someplace else.  One of the sheep had a bloody nose.  I felt so sorry for them.  That had to be embarrassing even for a sheep.

This is not Todd’s field of expertise.  He’s a shepherd.  But he did a fine job of sheering.  A professional sheerer can sheer over 300 sheep in a day’s time.  Usually one sheep per minute and get paid roughly $5.00 per sheep.  Took Todd about 2 minutes to give this gal a haircut.

She seemed a bit shy after her haircut and the other two were hiding her.

After the herding demonstration, Todd took us to the wool shed, where he sheered a sheep.  At first, the sheep seemed frightened, but then settled in and seemed to enjoy the sheering.  

On the way back to the lodge, we stopped to visit the largest living Kauri Tree in Kauri Cliffs.  This massive tree resembles our redwoods.  Our friends, Margo and Sally set out on a hike and walked for hours to reach this tree.  We hopped out of the van, walked about 100 yards to reach the tree, snapped a few photos and enjoyed the majestic beauty of the Kauri Tree, and then went back to the van for a the short ride back to the lodge.

These trees can live for a long time.  This one is estimated to be approximately 1000 years old.  They try to preserve it by requiring guests to clean their shoes in a disinfectant before entering the raised wooden pathway to the tree.

We had a fabulous dinner tonight with new friends, Dianne, Brad, Diane and Dick.  

We had an amazing moon rise tonight. Tomorrow is supposed to be a full moon.  I’ll be ready!!
Tomorrow is our last day of golf.  We get to play with Diane and Dick.  

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 9, 2019

New Zealand - Kalos Golf - Cape Kidnappers - Monday, December 9, 2019

FINALLY!!  It's a sunny day and we are off to the golf course.  For the first time this trip, I'm excited about our game at Cape Kidnappers.  Cape Kidnappers is positioned along the dramatic New Zealand coastline where the shoreline drops off massive cliffs into the sea.

These are a few of the signature holes at Cape Kidnappers.
Stevie and I have new people to play with today.  E.J., a lovely Korean lady from Las Vegas and Midge, also from Las Vegas.  I won't go in to detail, but just suffice to say that it was not an enjoyable round.  One of the gals was delightful, and a heck of a golfer.  The other just mean and hateful. I've asked not to be paired with them again, unless they can get me a prescription for Xanax.  It was also a very SLOW round of golf with us waiting on every shot.  Just not fun. 
We offered to take a photo of the girls playing with us, but they gave a rather curt "NO." and walked away.  So Stevie and I took a selfie in this beautiful spot.
While we were waiting to hit, a guy who works at Cape Kidnappers was waiting with us, giving us directions on where to hit the ball.  We had plenty of time, so Grant showed me a trick shot.  Not with the golf club ... with the iPhone.  See if you notice anything unusual about this photo.  I can share the secret with you if you want.

This is double trouble!!

After golf, we went to a Gannett Colony on the south end of Cape Kidnappers.  The largest and most accessible mainland gannet colony in the world is right here at Cape Kidnappers.  These birds are graceful fliers, but very clumsy when walking on land.  They dive from high altitude and can swim up to 60 feet deep to catch fish.  They are about twice the size of a large Sea Gull.


There are thousands of these beautiful birds living here.
These cliffs are opposite the Gannet Colony.
Down below is another Gannet Colony as well as a series of caves.  Just breathtaking scenery in every direction here in New Zealand!!
After the bird tour, we had a fabulous dinner with our new friends from San Diego, Diane and Brad, Diane and Dick.  Lots of laughs and giggles made up for the crappy round of golf.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

This morning, I woke up to the sun shining into my window.  It's been so long since I've seen sunshine in the morning.  This strange bright light streaming into the room gave me a start.  I was afraid I'd overslept and missed golf today.  But alas, it was only 6:15 a.m.  

When I checked my phone, I had 15 texts from folks checking to see if I was still alive.  Apparently, there was a volcano eruption in New Zealand yesterday with multiple fatalities. Thank God, I'm still alive and well.  I'm so sad about the people who were lost to this freak of nature.  The volcano was on White Island, which is several hundred miles north of us.  

White Island is northwest of Napier.
I found this photo on line showing the eruption on White Island.  This island was a popular tourist destination.  They are having difficulties searching for victims because there is an imminent possibility of another eruption.
I’m grateful this spot was not on our itinerary.  Also, it’s so nice to know that so many people were concerned about me.  Thank you.  I hope you know how special you are to me too!!

After breakfast, we headed to the golf course for our final round at Cape Kidnappers.  We played today with Diane and Brad, from San Diego.  Diane had shoulder surgery and is unable to play, but she can chip and putt and she's an awesome fore caddy, giving us distance to the hole and reading putts.  

We had such a nice time playing with Brad and Diane.  By far the best round of golf I've had in New Zealand.  After yesterday's round, and two previous days of rain golf, I was ready to go home!!  So glad we had this match today.  AND, I actually played a little better.  I wouldn't say that I have the "master move" figured out, but my game today was much more respectable.

Our foursome today.  Brad and Diane with Stevie and I.

Best round of golf all week!!
My club cover has been a HUGE hit in New Zealand.  And Donald has not let me down.  Great shots almost every time with my thee wood ... guaranteed!! 

The views are spectacular at Cape Kidnappers!!

This is my favorite hole at Cape Kidnappers.  Taken at the same location as the photo above.
Great swing Stevie!!
Another trick shot.
And one more!  Brad has TWO Dianes!!

This is a photo of the lodge taken from my room.  As you can imagine, the views from inside the lodge are very beautiful too.

This is the view from my terrace.  I love New Zealand.