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The Most Spectacular Golf Experiences in New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of awe inspiring landscapes, lush forests and spectacular mountain ranges. With such jaw-dropping terrain, the southern hemisphere nation has become a mecca for outdoor sports – and golf is no different, with some world-class courses which incorporate luxurious accommodation amid the natural, dramatic beauty. With some 400 courses available to play, golf is the country’s number one sporting activity for men and number two for women, behind netball.

Cape Kidnappers Golf Course 

Spectacular cliffs are the signature of this stunning par 71, 7,119-yard course near Hawkes Bay on the country’s North Island. Rated number 17 in All Square Golf’s list of the world’s Top 100 golf courses, it has become a bucket-list course for visitors to the southern hemisphere. American architect Tom Doak, known as a student of classic layouts, wisely let the land on which he designed this course in 2004 speak for itself. Talking about the site, Doak said that “the flattish fingers along part of the cliff-tops were ready-made fairways”. Those cliff-tops are reminiscent of California’s Torrey Pines, with golfers able to look out out over water far below. The course played host to the PGA Tours’s Kiwi Challenge in 2008 and 2009.

In order to compensate for the breezes off the shore, fairways are broad and not heavily bunkered. The par 5 15th hole, named Pirates Plank, is the course’s signature hole. It plays 800 feet above the Pacific Ocean with perilous drops on both sides, and is part of a back nine which extends along several fingers of land separated by deep gullies. The inland front nine is every bit as challenging with strategic bunkering and sculpted greens with enough undulation to keep golfers on their toes.

The accompanying Farm at Cape Kidnappers offers spectacular accommodation. The Farm is made up of a cluster of lodges which sit atop rugged cliffs that give way to vast sea views. Home to not only an outdoor pool and spa, these tastefully designed suites offer sumptuous comfort, peaceful relaxation and awe-inspiring scenery.

Kauri Cliffs

Kauri-Kliffs

The quality of golf is matched by the awesome scenery at Kauri Cliffs, located at the tip of the North Island near Matauri Bay. Designed by American David Harman in 2000, the par 72, 7,120-yard course is situated on a cliff-line with views of the beautiful islands of the Bay. The layout, which has been compared to the iconic Pebble Beach, incorporates natural gorges and cliff faces, so wayward shots are penalised but opportunities present themselves to players feeling brave. The breeze that comes in off the Bay is tempered by wide fairways, and the design pairs what narrow drives there are with more straightforward approaches to the green. The course played host to the 2003 ‘Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf’ match between Fred Couples and New Zealander Michael Campbell.

The front nine makes its way downhill in the direction of the shore through thick fescue, while the back starts at sea level and ascends to the clubhouse. 15 holes have spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs that plunge to the sea. The par 3 7th hole, named Cavalli, is considered the signature hole. Players tee off high atop the cliffs with the Cavalli Islands providing a stunning background.

The Lodge offers luxurious accommodation at Kauri Cliffs, with incredible ocean views, three private beaches and two tennis courts. Guests can stay in private suites or two-bedroom self-contained cottages and enjoy an infinity pool, a fitness centre, a day spa and an onsite restaurant. The beautiful, tranquil cottages are set within a native forest overlooking the golf course and Pacific Ocean.

Tara Iti

This Tom Doak designed Par 71, 6,945-yard links course is situated 100km north of Auckland on the east coast of the North Island. Despite opening as recently as 2015, it has already been called New Zealand’s best course. It’s a beautiful golfing oasis with an ocean backdrop and spectacular mountains looming in the distance. There are no trees, water hazards, penal rough or bunkers, instead the fescue grassed fairways have large sandy waste areas where you can ground your club and a wide range of knolls, dunes and punchbowls that test every aspect of a golfer’s game. Memorable holes include the 445-yard 3rd, which plays blind to a punchbowl green, the short par four 13thwith its green at the highest point of the course, and the par five 18thwhere the fairway splits to offer multiple routes to the closing hole.

Tara Iti is a private golf club and membership is kept small and hand-picked. Non-members can however play if they stay one night in the accommodation – though a multi-night stay is encouraged. All Square users can make a booking enquiry here, where you can select your tee time and accommodation. Our team will send you our best offer within 24 hours.

Visitors can stay in one of the eight tranquil and restful cottages. They offer a gorgeous space complete with a cosy living room area and a large bedroom, both with floor-to-ceiling panes that offer incredible views of the surrounding verdant landscape. Tara Iti is able to accommodate more visitors in the off-season months of April through to October than during the peak season months of November through to March. But even during the off-season, the winters here are mild and perfect for links golf.

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