New Zealand Golf Course Travel Guide

With more than 400 courses countrywide, New Zealand golf clubs offer beauty, diversity and value for money for the golfing enthusiast and with one of the highest golf courses per capita in the world there is a green here for everyone – literally!

Courses range from top of the line such as Tara Iti (Northland), Jacks Point (Queenstown), Cape Kidnappers (Hawkes Bay), and Kinloch (Taupo) to small rural golf clubs where greens are fenced off and stock graze the fairways, eliminating the need for mowing!

At the Rotorua Golf Club in the Central North Island, the 16th hole features a steaming lake and bubbling mud pools; while Taupo’s Wairakei International Golf Course & Sanctuary, is a predator free home to mixed colour pheasants, guinea fowl, pekin ducks, fallow deer, Takahe, and two kārearea (New Zealand falcon) that return annually to nest.

The following is a brief summary of the best golf courses New Zealand has to offer:

  1. Tara Iti Golf Course, Mangawhai, Northland

    Set along a pristine beach 90 minutes drive northeast of Auckland, Tara Iti is a former pine plantation that has been cleared and restored to native dune vegetation outside of the fairways, opening up spectacular vistas of the ocean and the offshore islands. It is the first course in New Zealand to feature fescue turf on fairways and greens to provide true links playing conditions in the southern hemisphere.

    Tara Iti is clearly the best golf course in New Zealand, based on the rankings, and it is also recognised in the international golf ‘world’ as being our best place to golf.

    Yes, the golf course is quite private but it is truly something special and if you are ever given the opportunity to play there, then you should jump at it! The course is in an amazing setting, well designed with a layout that blends with the environment.

    How the course plays is also unique and memorable. Right from the time you drive through the gates, through to holing your final putt on the 18th green; it is absolutely magical!

  2. Jack's Point Golf Course, Queenstown, Otago

    With a backdrop of 2300 vertical metres of the Remarkables mountain range and an armchair view of an outstanding lake panorama, Jack’s Point Golf course is one of the most visually spectacular in the world. The 18 hole par 72 championship course offers golfers an exciting challenge with five tee positions to choose from, providing all golfers with an unforgettable golf experience.

    Jack’s Point is only 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown, the course is open for all visitors to enjoy 7 days a week in season. While this is a private course, they welcome the opportunity to showcase the course to the golfing fraternity.

  3. Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, Napier, Hawke's Bay

    Cape Kidnappers is a par 71 golf course that measures 7,147 yards (6,569 meters) and provides a challenge for all golfers. Built on a ridge-and-valley landscape and with stunning sea views, Cape Kidnappers Golf Course plays high above the ocean atop dramatic cliffs.

    With cliff-edge fairways perched 140 metres above sea level and with a surface that remains firm and fast, this course offers holes, unlike anything you find elsewhere in the world. While every hole has a spectacular view of the Bay, some play cautiously alongside deep ravines as others intimidate golfers with deep cliff top bunkers and sheer drops off the very edge of the earth.

  4. Kauri Cliffs Golf Course, Matauri Bay, Northland

    The par 72 championship golf course at Kauri Cliffs measures 7,139 yards / 6,528 metres and offers five sets of tees to challenge every skill level. Fifteen holes view the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs which plunge to the sea. The beautiful inland holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland.

    The golf complex includes a world-class practice range, putting and chipping greens, a well-stocked golf shop, and ladies’ and men’s locker rooms.

  5. The Kinloch Golf Course, Taupo, Taupo

    A world-class championship course that pays homage to the great links courses of the British Isles. Test your skill against challenges designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, as you tackle the course and take in stunning views overlooking the sparkling blue waters of Lake Taupo.

    Enjoy an outstanding day of golf on one of the country’s best all-season courses. Treat yourself to a luxury golf experience and play undulating fairways and fast greens that ramble over acres of countryside.

  6. The Hills Golf Course, Arrowtown, Otago

    Opened in 2007, The Hills Golf Club, New Zealand’s most exclusive club, is set over 101 hectares (250 acres) of former deer farm on the outskirts of Arrowtown in Central Otago. The Mill race winds its way through the property and feeds the ten lakes and various ponds and waterways on the golf course. Trees, both native and exotic, are a feature of the course.

    The Hills has hosted several NZ PGA and NZ Open tournaments in its short history and is the current NZ Open host course along with Millbrook Resort. Located in Arrowtown near Queenstown, combined with the stunning surroundings and condition of the course, make it the ideal place to host major tournaments.

  7. Paraparaumu Beach Golf Course, Paraparaumu, Wellington

    Paraparaumu Beach Golf Course has long been regarded by many as the spiritual home of New Zealand Golf. The course is considered one of the best links courses in the Southern Hemisphere after being modelled on some of the best links courses of Britain and Ireland, the challenging layout threads its way through magnificent linksland, and once you’ve experienced it, you’ll understand just why golf played at Paraparaumu Beach Golf Course is golf at its purest.

    Located just 45 minute’s drive from New Zealand’s Capital City, Wellington, the course has hosted the New Zealand Open 12 times and has a driving range, practice greens and warm up nets.

  8. Millbrook Resort Golf Course, Arrowtown, Otago

    Millbrook Resort is home of the New Zealand Open and set in a natural alpine amphitheatre against the backdrop of the Remarkables Mountain Range. This 27 hole golf course exploits the dramatic terrain and delivers world-class golf. Millbrook is simply an unforgettable Queenstown golfing experience.

    Millbrook’s course is best described as an Alpine links course, offering a variety of natural hazards including tussocks, streams, schist stone, trees and buildings. Whether you are an experienced golfer or a beginner, Millbrook will delight all players.

  9. Wairakei International Golf Course, Taupo, Taupo

    The golf course was built by the New Zealand government and is set midway between Auckland and Wellington, in the heart of the spectacular scenery of the Lake Taupo region. Officially opened in 1970, the course lies on 180 hectares of natural rolling countryside and was developed to meet the rigorous design standards required for world-class championship competition.

    Worldwide acclaim has been given to the sprawling golf course that uses natural contours to the fullest and features 6460 metres from the championship tees, and 108 large well placed bunkers.

  10. Royal Wellington Golf Course, Upper Hutt, Wellington

    Royal Wellington Golf Club is situated alongside the Hutt River near Silverstream, and offers an enjoyable and stimulating golfing challenge in a beautiful setting, consisting of two courses; the 18 hole championship Heretaunga Course and the nine-hole Terrace Course.

    Although Royal Wellington Golf Club is a private members’ club, visitors are most welcome to play the course which has hosted a number of national open and amateur championships since its foundation in 1895.

  11. Titirangi Golf Course, New Lynn, Auckland

    Referred to as one of the harder short courses of the world, Titirangi is a “second shot” course. In other words, your strategy off each tee is important and determines how you approach your second shot into the green. Miss the greens at Titirangi and your short game will be challenged.

    Only a 25-minute drive south from the heart of Auckland, the par 70 course, set amongst native bush features elevated tees, rolling fairways, challenging bunkers and greens with pronounced undulations. The par 3’s face the four points of the compass so no matter what the weather conditions, you experience a different test on each hole.

  12. Carrington Resort Golf Course, Karikari Peninsula, Northland

    Between the sweeping ocean views to the north and east, and the hillside vineyards of Karikari Estate to the south is the Northland golf course at Carrington Estate. The course is designed to accommodate golfers of all abilities and offers a great variety of hole play, from one of the longest par 5’s in New Zealand, 569 metres (599 yards), to one of the shortest par 3’s at 113 metres (132 yards) over water.

    Spectacular views of the golf course, wetlands, Northland beach and ocean beyond are visible from the clubhouse and lounge complex. The clubhouse is on a high ridge in the middle of the golf course in order to take full advantage of the unique combination of vistas.

  13. Muriwai Golf Course, Muriwai Beach, Auckland

    Muriwai Golf Links is a true links course offering all-year-round golf, dry underfoot in the winter & irrigated fairways for great summer conditions. The club offers 18-hole championship golf links along with multiple practice areas: putting green, short game driving range, which includes chipping green & practice bunkers complimented by a full-length driving range.

    Muriwai Golf Club is less than 40 minutes from the Auckland CBD and offers casual golf along with full membership options, to play Muriwai is to play golf as the game was intended.

  14. Arrowtown Golf Course, Arrowtown, Otago

    Arrowtown Golf Club is a must when playing Queenstown Golf, surrounded by mountains the 18 hole course has superb views from every fairway and each hole has its own attraction and the diverse and challenging course attracts players from all over the world.

    The course is nicknamed Narrowtown with good reason, small landing zones on the fairways and bare rock around the greens demands accurate approach shots. The course is not long measuring only 5500 metres for a par of 70.

  15. Mount Maunganui Golf Course, Mt Maunganui, Tauranga

    Set in peaceful tree-lined surroundings, only minutes from one of the country’s most popular surf beaches, Mount Golf is the perfect setting for golfers of all levels across an 18 hole premier golf course.

    Visitors and casual golfers are always welcome at Mount Maunganui Golf Club to test their skills on the championship layout. Take advantage of a course that has hosted many top amateur and professional events, which has included during the 1970’s and 1980’s PGA sanctioned tour events, 2002 Asia Pacific Championship and more recently the 2012 New Zealand Men’s and Women’s Amateurs.

  16. Hastings Golf Course, Hastings, Hawkes Bay

    Spectacular views of the ranges, mature native trees, challenging undulations and unique layout ensure that your experience at Hastings Golf Club is a memorable one with an 18 hole course in park-like surroundings, a challenging and enjoyable experience for any level of golfer.

    Their aim is to ensure that members and visitors to the Hastings Golf Club enjoy the best experience of a membership golf club in New Zealand.

  17. Gulf Harbour Golf Course, Whangaparaoa, Auckland

    Laid out across the Whangaparaoa Peninsula with panoramic views across the Waitemata Harbour, Gulf Harbour is just 45 minutes from Auckland CBD and offers spectacular finishing holes, ocean views and rolling terrain, all of which combine to make it one of the most exciting golfing experiences in New Zealand.

    For social or beginner golfers there is not much forced carry making it accessible to all players, whilst still being challenging from the longer tees for the more experienced golfer.

  18. Manawatu Golf Course, Palmerston North, Manawatu

    The Manawatu Golf Club claims the title of the oldest golf course in New Zealand and has a proud history of hosting New Zealand’s top Professional and Amateur events including the 2017 and 2018 NZPGA Championships, 5 NZ Open Championships, 8 NZ Amateur Championships and various other national championships.

    The course, bordering the banks of the Manawatu River and the city’s Centennial Lagoon, is regarded as Manawatu’s premier 18 hole layout providing a challenging yet fair test for golfers of all abilities. Tree-lined, beautifully manicured fairways, fast rolling greens and over 50 challenging white sand bunkers feature throughout the parklike course.

  19. New Plymouth Golf Course (Ngamotu Links), New Plymouth, Taranaki

    From the first hole at New Plymouth Golf Club you’ll sweep out right to the North Taranaki coastline, playing holes that are lined with native Pohutukawa trees – and once you reach the coast you’ll be treated to unsurpassed views of the Tasman Sea, across New Plymouth city, and back towards iconic Mount Taranaki.

    Established in 1912 on the outskirts of Taranaki’s main centre of New Plymouth, it is a classic par-72 layout and has been the venue of four New Zealand Open championships and numerous national and provincial amateur events.

  20. Clearwater Golf Course, Christchurch, Canterbury

    Clearwater Golf Club provides first-class golfing facilities to members, guests and visitors year-round. The 6 tee options (five par 72 layouts and one par 60) means that everyone can enjoy the manicured fairways and pristine native surroundings throughout the year.

    Described as a “Florida Links” style course where there are very few trees on the course but plentiful water and the impact of the wind is a significant variable, Clearwater Golf Club has superb practice facilities with a grass driving range exceeding 400 metres in length, 2 practice putting greens and a practice bunker and chipping area.

  21. Christchurch Golf Course (Shirley), Christchurch, Canterbury

    The Christchurch Golf Club has a proud history dating back to 1873. The club is the second oldest in New Zealand and one of the oldest outside the United Kingdom. The club has hosted numerous New Zealand Open and amateur men’s and women’s championships, including the 1990 World Eisenhower Amateur teams tournament.

    The course is situated only 20 minutes from the airport and is renowned worldwide as a challenging championship course of the highest quality, offering a fair test of golf to both the club or professional golfer.

  22. Russley Golf Club, Christchurch, Canterbury

    The Russley Golf Club is home to one of New Zealand’s premier golf courses. The par 72 championship golf course is set in beautiful parkland and has recently been transformed by a complete redesign of the back nine by leading architect, Greg Turner.

    Located close to Christchurch Airport, Russley golf complex is open to locals and visitors alike, includes a high-quality practice range, putting and chipping greens, women’s and men’s changing rooms, and a well-stocked golf shop.

  23. Terrace Downs Golf Club, Windwhistle, Canterbury

    Just 50 minutes from Christchurch International Airport, and boasts New Zealand’s only high country golf course, Terrace Downs offers an ideal ‘getting away from it all’ destination close to Mt Hutt Skifield and Methven.

    Terrace Downs’ breathtaking, 6440-metre long, par 72 course has been designed to take full advantage of the dramatic terrain and at every tee, you are afforded new and captivating vistas of the majestic mountains, river terraces and braided channels of the Rakaia River. Whether you can swing a club like a pro or are playing for the first time, the course at Terrace Downs will captivate and enchant you.

  24. Pegasus Golf & Sports Club, Woodend, Canterbury

    Pegasus Golf & Sports Club is just north of Christchurch and close to the centre of Pegasus town. Renowned for one of the best golf courses in New Zealand, Pegasus Golf & Sports Club is set against a diverse and breathtaking landscape of mountains, water features and the natural wetlands of Pegasus Bay.

    The club has been designed to create a fantastic experience for every level of golfer, and for non-golfers too. As well as a magnificent 18 hole championship course it features a range of excellent facilities including a driving range, practice greens, pro shop, tennis courts, and a well-equipped gymnasium.

  25. Harewood Golf Club, McLeans Island, Canterbury

    Harewood Golf Club poses invigorating challenges for golfers of all ages and skill levels, with a choice of Black, Blue, White, Yellow and Purple tees to suit all abilities. The Club boasts some of the best practice facilities in the South Island with a 23-bay covered driving range, large grass teeing areas and a fantastic short game practice area and putting green.

    Conveniently located just minutes from Christchurch’s city centre and within close proximity to the airport, Harewood is also proud to host the only South Island event in the annual Jennian Homes Charles Tour series, the Harewood Open held early October each year.

  26. Whitford Park Golf Club, Whitford, Auckland

    Whitford Park is a par 71 championship golf course, set amongst 254 acres of beautiful indigenous trees and streams. The 18 hole course measures 6250 metres from the Blue tees. The greens are consistently among the best available in New Zealand while the couch grass fairways provide a delightful playing surface throughout the year.

    Regardless of skill levels, the course offers all golfers the challenge of a great game in beautiful park-like surroundings. You can play for a day as a visitor or become a member.

  27. Otago Golf Club, Dunedin, Otago

    The Otago Golf Club is one of the oldest golf clubs in the Southern Hemisphere and hosted the first Amateur Championship of New Zealand 1893, nine further national amateur championships and seven New Zealand Opens.

    The Par 71, 5972-metre championship course is set beside undulating native bush with the iconic city and harbour views and rated among the best and most challenging courses in New Zealand. Only a five-minute drive from the centre of Dunedin, the club has excellent facilities, whether you are a beginner or an experienced golfer, Otago Golf Club will help you improve your game and gain maximum enjoyment from this wonderful sport.

  28. Poverty Bay Golf Club, Gisborne, Poverty Bay

    Poverty Bay Golf Club was the 5th golf club to be established in New Zealand and with its strategic old pines, a mid-course lake complete with resident ducks, thickets of trees and glimpses of the ocean out to Young Nick’s Head, make the course as scenic as well as a golfing treasure.

    Poverty Bay is one of few golf clubs close to a major city where making a tee booking any day of the week is seldom a problem. Club members will always make visitors and new members welcome and introduce them to the program of competitive events that take place, usually on Saturdays, during the season.

  29. Queenstown Golf Club, Queenstown, Otago

    Queenstown Golf Club is situated in the amphitheatre of the Remarkable Mountains and offers a unique opportunity to play on what is internationally regarded as one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world. The club is an undulating 18 hole members course situated on the picturesque Kelvin Heights peninsula surrounded by lake Wakatipu. No two holes are the same as the course undulates itself through native and pine forests.

    It is a par 72/74 Men’s/Ladies course that offers 4 tees for a range of abilities. With year-round sunshine and open every day, Queenstown Golf Club is one of New Zealand’s iconic golf clubs.

  30. Nelson Golf Club, Nelson, Nelson

  31. Nelson is a traditional links layout suitable for all levels with natural humps and hollows of fairways and revetted bunkers that help to create a spectacular seaside links course. The greens on this championship course are arguably the finest in the country and Nelson Golf Club was proud to host the 2014 NZ Amateur and the NZ Senior Championships in 2015.

    There are organised sections for Ladies, Mens, Vets and Junior Golf. All have thriving levels of participation and all are open and very welcoming to new members and visitors while social golf abounds with regular groups that play during the week that openly welcome both visitors and new members.

Terrace Downs

Scenery may not make the game, but it’s not every day that you have the opportunity to play golf in the shadow of snow-capped mountains, surrounded by lush rolling countryside, brown velvety foothills and an aquamarine river so vivid it almost makes your eyes ache.

Terrace Downs High Country Resort is nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps, a 50-minute drive from Christchurch. Its championship 18-hole 72-par links style course sprawls over 200-odd acres, and while the walk may take a little longer than most, nobody ever complains!

Purchased by former Japanese professional golfer Shinnosuke Saito in 1990, internationally renowned golf architects Sid Puddicombe Associates first laid out this stunning 6,440-metre long golf course with its 10 lakes and more than 60 bunkers. The back nine, largely designed by David Cox with some input from Fin Hobbs, is almost a signature feature in itself.

“One of the best back nines we’ve played,” wrote Tiger Woods’ former caddy, New Zealander Steve Williams. A sentiment echoed by many when they discover its challenging bunkers sited 20 to 40 metres short of the putting surface. Grassed, they slope to sand level so there’s always room to swing, although your ball obviously won’t go too far.

The most spectacular hole is the 16th, where the tee hangs over the impressive Rakaia River Gorge and you look down upon fast flowing ice-blue water 200-metres below the course with the bulky range of Mt Hutt towering behind. The green is just a wedge or so away, but you have to carry two ravines that drop all the way to the river through thick native bush. Your tee shot also has to carry a deep pot bunker short of the green and skirt another on the left. A short ball means an automatic reload but the faint hearted will soon discover a bail out area to the left.

The clubhouse was inspired by mountain living and has the warmth and ambience of a high country homestead. It’s superbly designed and constructed from rustic weathered cedar and local greywacke stone, and its enormous windows provide panoramic views of the course and the beautiful, snow-capped mountains beyond.One of the really nice aspects of Terrace Downs is that everyone is welcome. There is plenty to entertain non-golfing partners and friends with a variety of other activities on offer. Mt Hutt Ski Field is also nearby making it a perfect après ski destination with two glorious spa pools set in front of massive bi-fold windows looking beyond to the mountains. The food here is so good you won’t want to leave. There is also a range of modern accommodation to choose from and, even better, every morning when you wake up, the river, the mountains and the renowned back nine will be there ready and waiting!

For further information visit