From soaring mountain ranges to vast glaciers, unblemished beaches, fjords and geysers, New Zealand is a land of diverse and jaw-dropping landscapes. It is also a playground for outdoor adventures and sports, not least the chance to play some spectacular golf courses. Here’s our recommendations for the best places to tee off in the shadow of snow-capped peaks and on glorious greens that overlook rugged coastlines. Several feature in Golf Digest’s World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.
Arrowtown Golf Club
Opened in 1911 as a 6-hole course, Arrowtown Golf Club is a golfing treasure set amid dramatic countrysides on the outskirts of Queenstown. You’ll be playing 18 holes that incorporate small valleys, huge boulders, and gorges. Every fairway and hillside green has uninterrupted views of The Remarkables mountain range, so there’s plenty to look at beyond golf. If you are looking for a quick round then this 5,915-yard course fits the bill.
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Cape Kidnappers Golf Club
Designed by Tom Doak, Cape Kidnappers spreads across sprawling pastures atop its namesake headland at Hawke’s Bay on the southern end of the North Island. The 71-par course has 7,119 yards of fairways and greens that offer challenges to even the most experienced players. Some holes run along cliff tops while others cut through ravines. You might want to bring a camera to snap shots of the views over the bay and Pacific Ocean.
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Clearwater Golf Club
A short drive from Christchurch, this 72-par course has been a venue for the male and female editions of the New Zealand Open. Taking elements from links and Scottish courses, the holes wind their way around spring-fed lakes and trout streams. Adding to the scenic beauty is a backdrop of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Six teeing options make the course suitable to a wide range of golfing abilities.
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Jack’s Point Golf
Another golfing marvel of Queenstown stands on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The course’s 6,986 yards are expertly designed to blend harmoniously with the contours of the encompassing bluffs, outcrops, and tussocks. There’s also an impressive panorama of the 7,500-feet-tall Remarkables Mountains to contemplate while you wait for your shot. Drop into the Clubhouse for breakfast, lunch, or dinner regardless of whether you're playing or not.
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If teeing off accompanied by unprecedented views of the Bay of Islands is your idea of excitement, then Kauri Cliffs is a must. David Harman planned the course, and it currently ranks in the top 40 of Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses. Of the 18 holes, 15 face the Pacific Ocean and six of these run alongside plunging cliff edges. Other features include farmland, forests, and marshes. Luxury accommodation specialists Robertson Lodges manage this course and Cape Kidnappers.
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With the jagged peaks of the Remarkables rising all around, plus streams, tussocks, and woodland, Millbrook is arguably the most picturesque golf course in the country. This is the only 27-hole club in New Zealand and the home of the New Zealand Open, as well as a former winner of the Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Awards. The holes are challenging, even for seasoned golfers, but every shot is worth the experience. Come at different times of the year to play in the spring bloom, fall foliage, and winter snowfall.
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Royal Wellington Golf Course
There’s dozens of courses within a short drive of New Zealand’s capital with Royal Wellington being one of the finest. You have a choice between the 18-hole championship Heretaunga Course and the 9-hole Terrace Course. The 18-hole course boasts some of the most interesting greens in the country. Test your wits against the arches, bowls, right angles, split-level slopes, and tabletops. The undulating landscapes of nearby Akatarawa Forest are easy on the eye, too.
Find out more: Royal Wellington Golf Course