When you think of a world-class golf course, what must it entail? Aside from meticulously maintained greens, a beautiful landscape is essential. No one realises this more than the world class courses of Queenstown, where you'll find yourself teeing off in one of the most breathtaking environments on Earth, a golfing experience like no other.

We catch up with the crew at Millbrook and The Hills to find out about all the good that's happening on Queenstown's greens.

Millbrook Golf Course

There are two championships within the grounds of Millbrook Resort. The Millbrook team see their stunning alpine setting as an essential part of what attracts visitors to the resort so preserving it for future generations is front of mind. Since early 2019 they’ve been reducing their environmental impact and working on their community connections.

Their commitment to sustainable practices means you can enjoy your round of golf knowing that you're playing on a course that is deeply committed to preserving the land around you.

Friends golfing at Millbrook ResortGolfers playing at Millbrook Resort

Leading the way to a greener stay

Beyond the stunning vistas, Millbrook's environmental efforts include native planting, wetland stewardship, and an on-site kitchen garden.

They frequently measure the water quality of their ponds and streams, improving banks and wetlands, and planting native trees around the resort. As a result, they’re seeing an increase in native birds. They also reduce water usage with mulching, efficient irrigation, and recycling water in their water courses.

The team have planted a kitchen garden and orchard with fruit and nut trees, to supply the resort with fresh produce. During the summer you can go on a Kitchen Garden tour to learn about Millbrook’s garden-to-plate philosophy and meet the friendly Millbrook chickens. Your post-game meal will not only be delicious, but sustainably sourced.

Other carbon and waste reduction activities include:

  • Composting all green waste and sending all food waste to local lifestyle farmers.
  • Using electric golf carts and hybrid mowers around the resort.
  • Reducing individual vehicles on the road with a regular shuttle for guests and staff.
  • Eliminating more than 20,000 pages of paper wastage each year with digital compendiums and in-room dining menus.

The resort stopped offering daily room servicing as part of their Greener Stay programme reducing their 2022 carbon emissions by 28,000kg of CO2. As part of this programme, the resort supports the Whakatipu Reforestation Trust, who protect and restores the biodiversity of the Whakatipu Basin. Millbrook aims to plant 5,000 native trees across the district to help create wildlife corridors to attract native birds and insects back into the basin.

Chef and Gardener walking through the Millbrook Kitchen GardensMillbrook's Kitchen Garden

Supporting local events, colleges, and suppliers

Millbrook gets involved with the local community in many ways. They favour working with local businesses and suppliers, to support the local economy and reduce their environmental impact. Millbrook supports the annual Arrowtown Autumn Festival and Queenstown Trails. They also support fundraisers including partnering with KiwiHarvest for their three-course Trust the Chef evening and working with Sustainable Queenstown for their annual food rescue dinner, showcasing what can be created from food headed to landfill.

Millbrook golf course provides work placement for students at Cromwell Turf College, while their golf course superintendent is an assessor for the college, approving students’ practical skills. They also work closely with the local Queenstown Resort College, supporting their work experience programme.

The Hills Golf Club 

Set over 500 acres of land beside Arrowtown, The Hills championship course is a private Queenstown golf club. Recently the club adopted ‘give back’ as one of their five strategic pillars, and environmental stewardship and community are central to this ethos. Director of Golf, Craig Palmer says, “Golf courses occupy large areas, so they have a responsibility to take great care of the land and continue improving it.”

Green at The Hills Golf Club QueenstownThe Hills Golf Course with the Club House

Better greens maintenance, gardening, and trapping 

The Hills gardening team recently established a kitchen garden to grow fruits and vegetables for their clubhouse. Craig explains, “Our members care about what they eat and want to know where their food comes from. The gardeners work closely with the kitchen to decide what to plant and deliver produce to the kitchen daily. Our menu will change frequently to share what’s in season.” The garden is also joined by a new nursery propagating native plants for the property’s wetlands and waterways.

The team take responsible greens maintenance seriously. Craig says, “We see frequent articles about the state of Lake Hayes, so we’re working hard on our turf management.” Apprentice greenskeeper Innes Kensington agrees. “We’re mindful of the products we use. Less is more when it comes to fertilizer and irrigation. We’re maintaining world-class greens, and our members have expectations of the playability, but we’re using a lot less nitrogen and experimenting with soil wetting agents, hoping that this summer we’ll need a lot less water”.

This translates to more sustainable greens that don't compromise on quality, ensuring your golf experience remains exceptional.

Trapping is another new initiative at The Hills, spearheaded by Tony Rae. He explains, “When you looked at a map of local trapping programmes, we used to be a big void where predators could roam freely and access the beech forests above Arrowtown. Our trapping programme is about blocking that corridor off.” The programme has been running for a year, and the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust have congratulated Tony on the results.

Aerial view of The Hills Golf Course

The Hills Golf Course

Giving back to the local community   

New community initiatives at The Hills include an annual sculpture park open day. Craig explains people often want to visit the artworks, but sadly they often have to say no because it’s not safe for visitors to roam the course while golf is being played. However, in September, The Hills renovated the course, making it the perfect time for an open day.

They’ve recently begun an annual charity day, supporting charities nominated by the local community. In 2022 they ran an event supporting Cure Kids, raising close to $200,000. Craig says their team also enjoy supporting smaller local charities, so they’ll continue to look for more opportunities within the local community.

The club also supports local golf clubs with turf management. Innes recently helped Glenorchy Golf Club get their greens back in shape. He explains, “They first approached us because they needed their mowers’ reels sharpened and we have the kit to do that. I worked away on them over winter, got new parts installed, and sharpened them up. Then I took our machines over and we did a full renovation of their greens, dethatching, fertilising, and overseeding, gifted them some new flagpoles, and helped with their irrigation issues.”

This means that, as a golfer, your visit indirectly contributes to local charitable causes, making your golfing experience all the more meaningful.

Statues of wild horses at The Hills Golf CourseSculptures are dispersed throughout The Hills

Ways to care for Queenstown while you're here to golf

New Zealand’s golfing capital, Queenstown is the first tourism destination in the world to commit to becoming carbon zero by 2030.

You can help protect Queenstown's spectacular landscapes by donating to Love Queenstown, a community fund which supports local climate, conservation and biodiversity projects that make an impact.