If you're a golf enthusiast, there's a good chance a quality course will be near you wherever you are in New Zealand. We've put a list together of our top pick in geographical order, from North to South covering both islands!
Kauri Cliffs Golf Course
Matauri Bay, Northland, Golf Digest World no.43, 7,151 yards, par 72
Occupying an old sheep farm atop of a cliff, Kauri Cliffs was designed in order to make the most of the ocean view, with the 7th, 8th, and 14th through 17th holes running alongside the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The holes are placed as close to the cliff's edge as the topography allows, providing a particularly scenic round of golf.
Offering an imposing test with thick rough and forced carries over gorges, Kauri Cliffs provides a challenge for all levels of golfers.
Image credit: All Square Golf
Tara Iti Golf Club
Mangawhai, Northland, Golf Digest World no.2, 6,840 yards, par 71
Previously a pine forest, it has now been transformed into one of the world's best courses. Tara Iti offers a links course experience unlike most of New Zealand's elite. The land was sculpted into perfection creating a naturally angulating feel. The course has plenty of sand, however, there are no bunkers so golfers have rights to ground the club anywhere. The course showcases stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf as you play.
Being one of the world's best does mean that Tara Iti isn't easy to get on. The club states they are there to serve their members, however, if there is availability, they are happy to accommodate you at your request.
Image credit: Planet Golf
Titirangi Golf Club
Titirangi, Auckland, 6,630 yards, par 71
Arguably Auckland’s most challenging course, Titirangi was designed by the acclaimed Alister Mackenzie; who is credited with designing some of the world's best, inlcuding Augusta National, Cypress Point, and Royal Melbourne.
Situated in West Auckland's native bush, Titirangi is a championship quality course and consistently rates amoung the most elite in the country. The course has one of Auckland’s more expensive green fees, and limited tee availability.
Image credit: Titirangi Golf Course
Wairakei International Golf Course + Sanctuary
Wairakei, Taupo, 7,065 yards, par72
The course was built near Lake Taupo with funds from the New Zealand government to offer an additional tourist activity to the nearby hotspot, Rotorua.
The course was designed to incorporate natural features, minimising the need to move large amounts of earth, and creating a unique course filled with natural hazards, including creaks, gullies, and boreholes. Wairakei is relatively easy to walk as it is fairly flat with a only few elevated tees.
As a bonus, the course doubles as a predator-free wildlife sanctuary for native New Zealand animals, including Kiwi!
Image credit: Wairakei Resort Taupo
Kinloch, Taupo, Golf Digest World no.94, 7,364 yards, par 72
Kinloch Club is the only Jack Niklaus signature course in New Zealand, designed with inspiration from the great British links courses.
Don't let the course's good looks and pristine condition fool you though. The heavily protected greens, abundance of bunkers, and forced carries off the tees make Kinloch a difficult course.
Many regard Kinloch as the most difficult course in the country. Even New Zealand PGA Tour professional Danny Lee was unable to break par on his maiden round here.
Image credit: Booking.com
Cape Kidnappers Golf Course
Clifton, Hawke's Bay, Golf Digest World no.22, 7,143 yards, par 71
Pictured in the article header, Cape Kidnappers, like its sister club, Kauri Cliffs, offers a clifftop golfing experience. Although located along the coastline, it is not a links course, as it sits a whopping 500 feet above the sea.
The spacious design of th course makes the holes feel small, but it is far from it. The course offers a mixture of orginal yet challenging style, and with wide-set fairways, brave tee shots are the key to success here. Look out for the undulating terrain and make sure to avoid the distinctly deep bunkers, added to account for the limited water hazards and trees.
Image credit: Caddie Magazine
Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti Coast, Golf Digest World no.65, 6,603 yards, par 71
Rare within New Zealand, Paraparaumu offers an authentic links experience. The course is built on the Kapiti Coast, 50km north of Wellington.
Although the course doesn't run along the shoreline, the sea breeze and sandy soil is sure to make you feel it does. The course presents all kinds of challenges, especially the formidable 17th hole, which made GOLF Magazine's list of top 500 holes in the world. A downhill yet distant par 4, facing a headwind proves to be the ultimate challenge.
The club is rich with history, having hosted 12 New Zealand Opens, and is the home of New Zealand's wealthiest sportsman, Steve Williams.
Image credit: Adventures in Golf
Royal Wellington Golf Club
Upper Hutt, Wellington, 6,384 yards, par 70
Formerly the Wellington Golf Club, Royal Wellington was redesigned in 2013, creating some of the most exciting greens in the country. At Royal Wellington you will face multiple water features, with streams and rivers running through numerous holes.
The pine trees, undulating fairways, and streams running at different angles make for a challenging round of golf, especially on a windy day.
Image credit: NZ Golf and Traval
Arrowtown, Otago, 6560 yards par 72, or 6362 yards par 71, or 6266 yards par 71
One of many spectacular Otago golf courses, Millbrook is a 27 hole course offering the choice of three nines surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range. The 27 holes allow the course to have a variety of features and challenges as you play through the dramatic mountain scenery.
Image credit: Adventures in Golf
Arrowtown Golf Club
Arrowtown, Otago, 5,915 yards, par 71
Due to its short length, Arrowtown is often discredited, especially with its neighbour's, The Hills and Millbrook, boasting prestigious names. Arrowtown has one of the most enjoyable front nines in the country. The scenery is simply unmatched. Looking directly into the mountains as you strike the ball creates a dramatic experience like no other.
The course is well maintained with fantastic irrigation systems on the greens and fairways. Its rock-lined, narrow-valley fairways make the front nine stand out hole after hole. Although the course isn't considerably long, it is worth every cent to play at Arrowtown.
Image credit: Experience Queenstown
Jack's Point Golf Course & Clubhouse
Kawarau Falls, Otago Golf Digest World no.44, 6,986 yards, par 72
Jack's Point is arguably the best golf the South Island has to offer. The mixture of pristine course quality and the surrounding backdrop of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps creates one of the best visual golfing experiences in the world.
Designed by New Zealand's own John Darby, Jack's Point begins making its way uphill onto a plateau that eventually runs downward. The course puts golfers to the test, with an awkward mix of uphill and downhill holes.
Image credit: Peak Golf Queenstown
The Hills Golf Club
It would be wrong to talk about the best golf courses in New Zealand without mentioning The Hills. Unfortunately, The Hills is a private course and offers very limited non-member play.
Image credit: The Hills