New Zealand a country of unbelievable landscapes with towering mountains and breath taking panoramas, has over 400 crowd free golf courses that can be played year round. The pleasure of playing some of New Zealand’s best golf courses is only intensified by its magnificent scenery. With over 500,000 golfers, golf is New Zealand’s most popular sport. Kiwis are a welcoming and honest folk making New Zealand a country where visitors can not wait to return.
New Zealand’s Best Golf Courses
Over the years, the golfing landscape of New Zealand has dramatically changed, with the addition of some stunning and unique golf courses which add to an already established golf haven, where golf is the most popular outdoor sport in this country of only 4.5 million people (and it is the size of California!). International designers such as Dr Alister MacKenzie, Tom Doak, Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones Jnr have created masterpieces of design that take full advantage of the diverse and incredible landscapes that New Zealand has to offer. Collectively they have designed some of New Zealand’s best golf courses.
With over 18,000 kilometers of coastline, some of New Zealand’s most stunning shores are found in the Bay of Islands. This is where New York hedge-fund billionaire, Julian Robertson created his first gem, Kauri Cliffs. Officially ranked a Top 100 golf course in the world by the majority of top ranking authorities, Kauri Cliffs offers stunning golf holes with incredible views of the Cavalli Islands and Pacific Ocean. Nearby to Kauri Cliffs are the historic towns of Russell and Waitangi, scene of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (between Queen Victoria and New Zealand Maori Tribes) in 1840.
Heading south to Auckland, the Gulf Harbour Country Club complements a number of fantastic club courses in Auckland, including the Dr Alister MacKenzie designed Titirangi Golf Club. Here, all four Par 3’s face the different points of the compass, and many of the MacKenzie design traits are still evidenced in this pretty city course. Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” and is a fascinating city to stay with a large Polynesian population. This blends well with Asian and European influences, creating an eclectic mix of cultures and an incredible food culture has developed offering some stunning eating out options.
Travel south only three by car or a simple 45 minute flight to Taupo, the location of a volcanic eruption some 27,000 years ago that was recorded as being seen in Rome! The diverse landscape and geothermal activity of the region is home to the crystal clear Lake Taupo, the largest fresh water lake in the country. This part of the world is famous for its trout fishing, and it was for this reason that Jack Nicklaus visited often to oversee the developments of a piece of land that became The Kinloch Club, which emerged in 2008 as one of New Zealand’s most challenging, yet enjoyable golf courses. Also an area where indigenous Maori settled in large numbers from their arrival on New Zealand’s shores in the 13th century, the Taupo and Rotorua region offers many opportunities to witness haka’s, hangi’s and a visit onto a Maori Marae can also be arranged. Don’t forget too, another top 100 ranked golf course is Wairakei International Golf Course and Wildlife Sanctuary, a fantastic course with stunning blue waters, wild deer, pheasants and rare ducks roaming freely.
Heading a couple of hours east to the Hawke’s Bay, the city of Napier is an Art Deco centre with some fascinating architecture (re-built after a fierce earthquake in 1930). Also, the Hawkes Bay is home to some of New Zealand’s finest wines and wineries. With its warm and sunny climate, the Hawkes Bay is a must visit destination for golfers, especially since it is home to the mighty Cape Kidnappers – a Tom Doak designed course which has encapsulated the golfing world with its location some 700 feet on cliffs above the ocean. With a golf hole with the name “The Pirates Plank” we can leave the rest up to your imagination, but Cape Kidnappers is a must visit experience and should be a definite bucket list golf course for every avid golfer.
Heading to the South Island, visitors to Christchurch should certainly play at Clearwater and Terrace Downs, two fantastic course offering challenging golfing experiences. However it is Queenstown, the “Adventure Capital of the World” which has made golf world famous in New Zealand, by becoming an exceptional town to visit for its wines, adventure, walks, fjords and of course golf courses. To name a couple, the mightily impressive Jacks Point is a course that has some of the most knock-out views in New Zealand, with the stunning Remarkables Mountain Range as a back drop. The Hills, a private course with limited public access (but we can get it), is located 20 minutes from Queenstown in the sleepy gold mining town of Arrowtown. Sir Michael Hill, the owner of this quirky, yet impressive course has created an experience that is second to none within New Zealand.. Outstanding views with spectacular golf holes and an amazing clubhouse (with its grass roof) all add to the golfing experience here.
Other worthy mentions for in New Zealand if you have some more time, include some impressive links layouts such as Balmacewan in Dunedin and Oreti Sands in the deep South of Invercargill. You have Omaha Beach and Waipu, north of Auckland on the way to Kauri Cliffs, which are a great way to break the four hour drive. And lets not forget New Zealand’s most famous links course is Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, which is located an hour north of the capital city of Wellington. The course makes for a great reason to visit Wellington as it is only a four hour drive from Cape Kidnappers. Nearby you can also play the Royal Wellington Golf Club, which has recently been redesigned and re-sculptured with impressive results by Scott Macpherson and Greg Turner Design.
With New Zealand’s hugely diverse landscapes and its sub-tropical climate in the north, to a temperate one in the south, there is a huge array of New Zealand’s best golf courses you can experience. We recommend the best time of year to travel being October through to April, however golf is playable all year round.
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