It didn’t worry Willie Moore that most of the onlookers during his early golfing days were merino sheep. Cromwell’s resident golf professional has fond memories of starting out, just up the road, at the well-loved, rural course at Tarras.
Today he is living the golfing dream, having worked hard in Australia gaining his professional status then returning to settle on home turf, Central Otago.
Willie(30) has high hopes for the Cromwell course this summer, as a destination for the increasing number of golf tourists coming to the area. Newcomers to Cromwell and those wanting to learn the game would also be a focus, he says.
Cromwell’s course had a central location, some unique characteristics and a host town now offering other quality tourist attractions.
“Queenstown has become the number one destination in New Zealand for golf tourism. We are talking with golf tour operators there about including us in their packages because they can really make it a day out here now –play in the morning then go to Highlands[Motorsport Park], have a helicopter flight and visit a winery.”
Cromwell’s course was unique in being sand-based, open, scenic and in a location where sunny days were frequent. It was considered a ‘links’ course, a term usually associated with coastal terrain.
“It’s the only inland links course in the South Island…not too many trees, tussocks and marram-type grasses and free draining sand,” Willie said. “It gives us a point of difference. People might come to Queenstown and play five different courses but they could all be same style of course and they can get bored of that. Cromwell is a bit different so it mixes it up a bit.”
Willie believed the new cycle trails planned for Cromwell would also bring more golfers over the coming years as the two activities often attracted the same demographic.
Because the course was large and open, he said, it never felt crowded.
“It is a lot quieter and it’s a really peaceful environment here. People like that too. And it’s cheaper. If you are a member of any club in New Zealand you can play 18 holes from only $35. At the Hill’s course in Queenstown its $600.”
Twilight Gatherings Friendly and Fun
Club golf in Cromwell was strong with about 350 members registered, he said. Twilight meets were probably most popular local gathering with up to 100 people sometimes taking part.
“Twilight golf is great here. It’s really social and open to anyone, members or non-members. That will start again in October and run through until March.”
Willie’s passion is helping people with their golf through coaching and club-fitting and after a year in the job he is thriving on the challenge. He operates his business, Moore Golf, from beside the clubrooms and is PGA professional golfer.
The course is familiar territory for him, playing here first as a high school student at Cromwell College. The school’s golf academy programme gave him the skills to go on and represent Otago then Canterbury. Six years in Melbourne followed, doing his PGA traineeship while working at an exclusive members club on the famed ‘Melbourne sandbelt’. He then earned a living on the Australian professional circuit often playing in front of large crowds.
Willie, who has a young family, hopes to meet lots of visitors and some of Cromwell’s newer residents on the course this summer.
He is also looking forward to helping host the final qualifying events for the New Zealand Open held in March 2017. This attracted high calibre talent from all over New Zealand and overseas and made good use of the hardest of the course’s five tee options.
“They love the course, it’s long and it’s challenging enough for them. It holds up to the pros and we get lots of spectators…I get to play too so that’s a bonus.
If you want to learn more about Cromwell’s great course contact Willie on firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone 03 445-0165.
One of Central Otago’s best kept secrets, the Cromwell Heritage Precinct exudes historic charm with its warm stone walls, cottage gardens, lakeside location and character-filled stores.
Created by volunteers 27 years ago when the rising waters of man-made Lake Dunstan began lapping at Cromwell’s former main street, the historic village continues to grow. It is not only a delightful and free visitor attraction with interactive historical displays and beautifully restored buildings, but also a hub for artists and craftspeople.
The schist stone cottages and shops are tenanted by an arts collective, master printmaker, renowned goldsmith, highly original wire sculptor and bone carver The goldsmith, Les Riddell, has been plying his ancient trade for over 25 years, the talented Canadian reworking family heirlooms as well as crafting new pieces. Wire sculptor Marie Velenski’s work is as original and quirky as it is intricate and plant expert and maker of herbal creams and perfumes, Karen Rhind, also adds unique character to the precinct.
Unique imported and New Zealand-made giftware is found in Jan Hawkin’s ever-changing treasure-trove of a store, Sequioa. Italian cuisine including delicious gelato at Armando’s Kitchen is one option for great eating, the other is the delightful Grain & Seed Café where visitor’s sip coffee from vintage crockery.
Named last year as one of New Zealand’s best ‘hidden gems’ by AA Directions Magazine, the precinct is gradually being discovered by overseas visitors, Kiwi families, and locals.
Historical displays tell the story of the frantic 1860s gold rush when sparsely populated Central Otago was suddenly inundated with thousands of prospectors. Children love the talking ‘locals’ who tell the yarns, life-size horses and secret alleyways, as well as the ducks, fishing wharf and picnic areas.
Located on Melmore Terrace, the Precinct hosts the Cromwell Farmers Market every Sunday from November to March. The market incorporates crafts now too and is great place to grab a coffee some fresh baking and catch up with friends.
Original and Innovative Arts at Hullabaloo and OCTA Gallery
Quality art work of international standard can be found at both the Hullabaloo Art Space and Old Cromwell Town Art Galleries.
The majority of the 15 professional artists that make up the Hullabaloo collective have been recognised in the art world with awards and other accolades.
The success of the gallery, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is attributed to the group’s focus of maintaining high standards of work that is constantly being refreshed.
“The gallery is rehung each month with new work and we exhibit a wide range of artistic disciplines. It’s an artist-run initiative so there is always one of us on hand to discuss the works with visitors,” collective member Lynne Wilson said.
At OCTA gallery, master printmaker Chris de Jong displays fine works by international and national artists, some of whom are his former pupils. Before he and his artist wife Gail moved to Central Otago to pursue their artist careers fulltime, Chris was principal lecturer at the School of Art in Dunedin. Gail’s stunning landscapes, often depicting the ruggedly beautiful terrain around Bannockburn, can be found in both galleries.
Thirty-seven years ago, Eletheria Jones asked her husband if he could build her a little roadside fruit stall so she could read books in the sun and sell some fruit from the family orchard.
“Well, I haven’t read a book yet,” she laughs. “It was a funny thing. A bus stopped and when they were leaving the driver said Mrs Jones you better get some more fruit, two buses coming tomorrow.”
Today the bustling business is a tourist attraction in its own right with some groups being driven there from Queenstown Airport straight off international flights, then back to the resort to check into hotels, head to Milford Sound and tick off other South-Island-whirlwind-tour highlights.
The stall hums everyday with hundreds of visitors who come to see and to sample the elaborately displayed goodies, and to meet Mrs Jones.
It was the government’s worker recruitment programme of the mid-1960s that bought her to Cromwell from her home in Crete. It was quite the adventure in those days, travelling halfway across the world then finding a job in the Hotel Cromwell, waitressing and housekeeping. Here she met Doug Jones who had set up a crayfish and venison export business in an old rabbit processing factory and was staying at the hotel.
A few years down the track, when ten barren, rabbit-infested acres came up for sale near the entrance to the Kawarau Gorge, the couple bought it with orcharding in mind.
“Everyone said you’ll never grow anything on that, it was so rough and dry, only rabbits and briar bushes. Doug, he was very determined and worked so hard.”
They persevered with their challenging block until trees were established, then bought more land on nearby Ripponvale Road and planted that out.
In the early days of the stall, women from throughout the region would make an outing of their annual fruit buy-up for preserving. Many would swap recipes with Mrs Jones and today some of their children now bring their own children to the stall.
Suncrest Orchard in Ripponvale was added to the Jones’over the years operation and the stall has undergone three major expansions. The couple have two children, Michael and Christina, who are fully involved in the business, as is Michael’s wife Dianne.
The property now covers 70 hectares, Michael says, including 55 hectares of cherries. The balance is planted in nectarines, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums and in grapes.
The fruit stall carpark would now occupy almost half a rugby field and when that’s getting full, Mrs Jones says, she sometimes sends a few buses down to the Cromwell Heritage Precinct with instructions to come back when there’s more room.
At the peak of the busy summer season the Jones’ can have up to 280 people on the payroll. They provide accommodation for up to 180 and many staff come back year after year.
During summer Doug opens the stall at 7.30am and closes it at 8pm. It’s always been his job and even now in late winter, the apples, pears and multitude of other goodies are still attracting customersfinding buyers until he closes up in the dark at 6.30pm.
“He’s good like that. I was lucky with him. But we are all workaholics, the whole family. It is very hard work and long hours and everyday busy but we enjoy the people and we all get on well together. We are very lucky to live here and because we are a family orchard.”
Mrs Jones says she doesn’t advertise and never has. She believes stone fruit in Central Otago simply tastes better than anywhere else in New Zealand and that is what keeps the people coming.
The other major attraction is, of course, Mrs Jones herself. Some of the longer serving bus drivers and tour leaders call her Mum and she greets everyone like an old friend. Mrs Jones’ smile has appeared on Chinese television, in countless visitor ‘selfies’ and doesn’t seem to falter even after eight hours on the shop floor.
Twelve years ago when a block came up for sale next door, Mrs Jones quickly claimed it before her husband and son could line it up for more fruit trees. She finally had a chance to realise her dream of creating a formal English garden. Doug planted the roses -all 1500 of them- set amongst classical statues, neatly clipped buxus hedging and formal walkways.
The garden and her three grandchildren aged 15, 13 and 9, are great sources of joy for Mrs Jones. She travels to Crete every second year to visit family and the couple enjoy cruise ship holidays as a way to unwind from the frenetic pace of summer. Sadly the migrant crisis in Europe has prompted them to postpone travelling to Crete this year.
That human tragedy is a reminder of how lucky people are to live in Central Otago, Mrs Jones says, and of the importance of tolerance, being kind and of making our visitors feel welcome.
Tim Jones(above) manages 45 South, Cromwell's largest export cherry producer. The area's cherries are now regarded as the world's best in elite markets in Asia...
Read the full story here: https://www.odt.co.nz/business/farming/best-world-fruit-demand