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Top 10 Golf Courses in New Zealand

Cape Kidnappers Golf Club

Par 72, 7200 yards – Take a 5500 acre piece of oceanfront property in the lush wine country, with dramatic 400 foot cliffs, and ask the talented Tom Doak to design a “world class course”. Julian Robertson did just that, and the course is ranked  #27 in the world by Golf Magazine. The drive from the gate alone takes almost 20 minutes through some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever see … it’s like Big Sur on steroids! This is one of those rare courses that the challenge of the holes is outstanding, with 5 sets of tees for all players and only outdistanced by the stunning South Pacific ocean views! Strategically placed along 400 foot cliffs, a shutterbug could spend many rolls of film during just one round of golf! Tough, spectacular and a great accomplishment by Robertson and Doak.

" I was fortunate to play with the owner Julian Robertson and course designer Tom Doak at the grand opening Renaissance Cup, a memory I’ll forever cherish.  It’s a tough course, but ridiculously scenic and I tell people to envision: “Big Sur CC on steroids”. You can take a cart or hire a caddie, but it’s easily walkable and a perfect, almost spiritual, golf course to throw your bag over your shoulder and just enjoy the walk.  This course is Golf Magazine ranked #38 in the world for a reason: it’s spectacular. " - Bill Hogan

Kauri Cliffs

Kauri Cliffs was designed and built by David Harman of Golf Course Consultants, Orlando, Florida. The par 72 championship golf course measures 7,119 yards/ 6,510 meters 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. Kauri Cliffs is currently ranked #80 in the world on the Golf Magazine World Top 100 list.

The golf complex includes a world-class practice range, putting and chipping greens, a well stocked golf shop, and ladies’ and mens’ locker rooms. Premium ladies’ and mens’ rental clubs are available. In 2008 and 2009 Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs hosted the Kiwi Challenge, a PGA TOUR Challenge event featuring four of the top PGA TOUR players under the age of 30.

Kauri Cliffs and its sister property Cape Kidnappers topped the "World’s Best Awards" in the top 15 Resorts in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific as voted by distinguished Travel & Leisure Magazine readers - USA.

"What I consider “the best little golf resort in the world” and the course is fun, challenging and gorgeous! Ranked #74 in the world by Golf Magazine, it is certainly top 10 in the scenery category.  You can’t go to New Zealand and not play here! " - Bill Hogan 

Kinloch Golf Club

Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, The Kinloch Club was rated No.1 outside North America in 2007 by Travel & Leisure Golf. Built in the beautiful foothills around Taupo, the course is challenging and stunningly beautiful. Classic Nicklaus design, the course has penal bunkers, undulating putting surfaces and some reachable par 5’s and great short par 4’s. Originally designed to be a high end destination private development, the course now admits some visitor golfers from overseas while the economy and second home market overseas experiences decline. Consider it a good opportunity to be able to play here before some golf entity buys it up and closes it to public play.

"I love the Lake Taupo area and this big time course by Jack Nicklaus certainly utilizes the natural landscape.  When it opened in 2007, it was considered the year's top new course in the world. It’s penal and demanding, but a great walk and worthy of a major professional tournament." - Bill Hogan

Paraparamu Beach Golf Club

Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club

Until Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers came along, was the only New Zealand course with a world ranking.  This links course was designed by Alex Russell, apprentice to the famous Dr. Alister Mackenzie. It is a true links course on natural sand dunes that offers the best in design, shot making and world class greens.  It has been the venue for the New Zealand Open on ten occasions.  The famous “Bunker Restaurant” is just the place to relax after a pleasant days golf.  

"For many years considered the best in New Zealand.  With all the new competition in the country, the members and management has upgraded the course and facilities and once again is considered a World Top 50 traditional links course.  Located outside of Wellington, kind of off the beaten tourist track, it requires some effort to make it part of your itinerary."- Bill Hogan

Jack's Point

With a backdrop of 2300 vertical metres of the razorback Remarkables mountain range and an armchair view of an outstanding lake and mountain panorama, Jack's Point Golf Course is not only one of the most spectacular in the world, but as an 18 hole par 72 championship course it offers golfers of any calibre a challenging and unforgettable experience.

The course works with nature, not against it. Designed with minimal excavation, the course measures 6388 metres (6906 yards) from the championship tees and is built on the most spectacular of Jack's Point terrain, weaving through tussock grasslands, dramatic rock outcrops, steep bluffs and swathes of native bush to the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

"In the alpine Queenstown area, surreal views of giant Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountains.  Stunningly beautiful. A must if going to the South Island. " - Bill Hogan 

Titirangi Golf Club

Titarangi Golf Club

Titirangi is ranked as one of New Zealand’s top courses and is the only one in the country designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie. MacKenzie’s designs are notable for their sensitivity to the nature plus his great bunkering and splendid greens. After designing Titirangi in 1927, MacKenzie went on to design some of the world’s top courses including Augusta, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne. The many species of tropical plant life is astonishing, including the giant tree ferns. The par 70 course has a great collection of par 3’s and an exclusive Auckland membership.  

"The first course I ever played in New Zealand, fittingly an Alister Mackenzie classic.  The tropical flora around the course, with the deep ravines and giant ferns, is simply stunning. Auckland’s best layout in my opinion – but what else would you expect from Mackenzie?" - Bill Hogan

The Hills

The Hills was designed by Darby Partners and opened in 2007 to host the New Zealand Open. Set over 500 acres of land across a glacial valley, The Hills is home to an incredible array of flora including native brown top grasses and wild native mountain tussocks. Sculptures crafted by New Zealand artists compliment the natural beauty of the course’s lakes, waterways and wetland areas. Winter snow and frost conditions provide the ideal climate for the finest grasses suited to the modern day game of golf.

"Another Queenstown marvel, exclusive and expensive but a real treat to play. Superb condition and staff.  The owner keeps it exclusive and hosts the BMW New Zealand Open here, and if your budget allows, another must while on the South Island. " - Bill Hogan

Wairakei Golf Club

The Wairakei Geothermal Park is a place of majestic beauty. It was against this impressive backdrop that leading British Golf Course Architect Commander John Harris saw potential to create a championship golf course like no other. Skirting the edges of active geothermal fields he used the volcanic contours to sculpt fairways, elevate tees and greens and bury hazards within the natural landscape.

"25 years ago it was considered top 2 in the country, and it’s still very good, but bumped lower by the new kids in town like it’s neighbor Kinloch.  A great track to play when in the Taupo area and a favorite of locals for many years. " - Bill Hogan

Millbrook Golf Course

One of the most scenic golf courses in the world, Millbrook is simply an unforgettable Queenstown golfing experience. With extraordinary photo opportunities at every turn, a championship course offers three fabulous nine hole courses, each named after local prominent Queenstown landmarks- The Remarkables, The Arrow and The Coronet Nine. Designed by Bob Charles. – Par 72 6420 meters/7021 yards.

"A Bob Charles design located in Queenstown area, with a tidy country resort and enjoyable routing.  27 holes of very nice resort golf and just a great place to stay and play.  Always fun! " - Bill Hogan


Tara Iti GC

Te Arai Golf Course

Located about 65 miles north of Auckland on the North Island east coast, Tara Iti is the new Tom Doak course just completed by Los Angeles businessman Ric Kayne on his 1500 acre property. The oceanfront dunes and expansive land that Doak had as a canvas is spectacular, and many who have played this new seaside course expect a world top 100 golf course. What less would you expect from Doak?  Although initially planned as a private club, there may be some “by invitation only” access when it opens officially.

"OK, it has not even opened yet. But, give Tom Doak 1000 acres of pristine North Island waterfront and a huge budget and you know it will be top 10, if not top 3!  It’s rumored to be strictly private, but there is some very limited visitor access for the time being. You’ll hear more about this course soon." - Bill Hogan

Bill Hogan is International Director for Premier Golf, is a Golf Magazine World Top 100 Panelist, and has played golf on over 1000 different golf courses in over 55 different countries. He considers New Zealand as one of the top 3 most enriching travel experiences, having traveled there many times.


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