Fun par for the course(s) on NZ tour

Most people’s idea of a New Zealand road trip involves seeking out scenic mountains and lakes.

Three Aucklanders’ sights are set on something smaller.

After agreeing to loose plans, originally as a joke, John Middleton, Zac Roberts and Kyle Sutcliffe found themselves piling into a camper van with the aim of playing mini golf at every course open around the country in three weeks.

The men, calling themselves Par Four, completed their 39th course at Wal’s Plant Land in Mosgiel yesterday, after setting off on June 20.

The original plan was to complete 82 courses, but as venues started to reopen after lockdown, that number climbed to 86.

They planned to raise some money for the Mental Health Foundation, a cause to which the three felt a personal connection.

Mini golf had become a way for the friends to enjoy a laugh and lift each other’s spirits following difficult times, Mr Middleton said.

John Middleton (25, left), Zac Roberts (24) and Kyle Sutcliffe (23), all of Auckland, play mini...
John Middleton (25, left), Zac Roberts (24) and Kyle Sutcliffe (23), all of Auckland, play mini golf at Wal’s Plant Land, in Mosgiel, yesterday. It was No 39 of the 86 mini golf courses they plan to play during their tour of New Zealand. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

"Before lockdown, Zac was having not a great time, and we all started going out on Thursday afternoons to play mini golf to get out of the house, to hang around with some friends, to do something stupid."

The idea for the tour and to support the foundation came in response to the Covid-19 lockdown, as the three recognised there could be more people suffering with their mental health because of it.

Mr Middleton said each of them had faced mental health struggles in some form.

"We realised that doing something silly and fun was actually really good for your mental health."

Despite the long drives and packed schedule, their enthusiasm and competitiveness was still strong by day nine.

"It has been hilarious. We are really having an absolute laugh," Mr Middleton said.

A highlight had been covering eight courses in one day, across Christchurch and Hanmer Springs, before "crashing" a 21st birthday party to use a shower.

The winner of the day’s mini golf gets one of the two camper van beds to themselves, while the others share the second.

Mr Middleton was yet to get the bed to himself and believed Mr Roberts was in the lead, but he was confident his comeback was not far away.

"I have so far lost in pretty much all the courses, but I am going to have a second wind and I will probably win in the end."

The group carried on to Invercargill then Te Anau yesterday. They will make their way to Central Otago today.

Par Four will end their tour on July 11 back in Auckland.

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