Four years of planning, appeals, hearings and zone changes have finally come to fruition for Queenstown’s Millbrook Resort.
The multi-award-winning resort has been granted resource consent for a $50m development that will see it develop a neighbouring farm into a new golf course interspersed with 42 sections for high-end residential homes.
The development will add nine new golf holes to Millbrook’s current world-class 27-hole offering, enabling the resort to operate two full 18-hole courses.
Initial site clearance is underway and, under a separate consent, work has almost been completed on shifting the Arrow Irrigation Pipe to a new location to make way for the development.
Groundworks include a raft of ecological and landscape enhancements, the first land titles should go live in late 2020, and once the new golf course is constructed and ‘grown-in’ it should be playable by 2021.
Millbrook Director of Property and Development Ben O’Malley says the net was cast “far and wide” for project tendering, with the main earthworks contract going to Grant Hood Contracting from Ashburton.
Highly-experienced turf specialist company TIC Golf Projects Ltd has been awarded the main golf course construction project, the same company that developed the resort’s Coronet Nine course, along with a golf course irrigation installation contract.
Millbrook is still working through detailed design on works such as roading, reticulated services and the resort’s distinctive schist stone walls.
In the initial earthworks phase, half a million cubic metres of material will be moved within the site. A ‘zero cut to fill’ balance means all work will be carried out with material contained within the farm area, with topsoil stripped and stored before being re-spread once earthworks are complete.
Mr O’Malley says Millbrook has been working alongside the Friends of Lake Hayes and the Otago Regional Council to support their initiative to discharge off-peak water from the Arrow River irrigation race to Mill Stream (which runs through Millbrook into Lake Hayes).
“They believe this will help enhance the water quality of Lake Hayes and we have the means to provide them the link between the Arrow Irrigation Company pipe and Mill Stream,” he says.
The ORC is part-way through a plan change process that will see a minimum flow placed on the Arrow River, from which Millbrook currently sources its golf irrigation water via the AIC.
The minimum flow process would pose a risk to Millbrook’s golf operations, as it’s sand-based tees and greens, installed to meet international PGA specifications, require daily watering.
“To guard against this risk we’re also constructing a 30million-litre water storage lake on the farm land,” says Mr O’Malley.
The new 36-hole format at Millbrook s been described as a ‘game changer’ for the resort, effectively adding 100% golf capacity with two fully operational 18-hole courses that can be operated simultaneously.
It’s being welcomed by the growing number of Millbrook Country Club members who will be able to play an ever-changing private members’ course on a daily basis, as well as another for tourists and locals.
It’s also good news for the long-term future of the New Zealand Open, currently hosted at Millbrook in conjunction with The Hills golf course.
The Open has always planned to move to a three-course model, similar to international Dunhill Links and AT&T events, and having two courses available at Millbrook would enable this goal to be achieved.
Ben O’Malley says the resort is “ecstatic” to be getting underway with the development.
“It’s been over four years since we first bought the former Dalgleish Farm land with the dream of adding to the resort,” he says.
“There’s been a lot of hard work from our consultants and planning team to get to this point, but now it’s all coming to fruition it’s simply fantastic.”
The land has provided a fantastic opportunity for the golf course team, as well as lending itself to the development of two discretely and geographically-separated residential neighbourhoods.
The large upper plateau contains 24 sites boasting elevated panoramic views over fairways and pastoral lands to the wider basin. The lower slopes are home to a further 18 sites with north-facing outlooks over an enhanced Mill Stream and the last of the stunning new golf holes. Most of the sites are expected to sell for over $1million each.
Parts of Mill Stream will be widened to create larger waterways and enhanced wetlands. The new development will retain a rural, agrarian style with over 20 hectares of working farmland retained for grazing and retention of a historic woolshed.
The original 1860’s farmhouse will also stay on the land, with some sympathetic additions.