With over 400 golf courses in New Zealand, it’s no wonder the sport is so popular. Expats, visitors, and even locals often wonder which are the best golf courses in New Zealand. A subjective issue, we went to an expert, golf coach Jordan Fuller, for his opinion (see his bio below).
As an expat, it can be hard to find places to do the things you loved before you moved to a new country. Thankfully, golfers don’t need to worry about that. New Zealand is rife with beautiful challenging golf courses that are a joy to play on.
If you’re near one of these courses (or another, for that matter), what are you waiting for? Grab your best golf clubs and head out for some excellent golf and stunning scenery!
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Note: Always check the official rules regarding New Zealand’s traffic light’ levels. Many options are at reduced capacity, therefore, booking ahead is more important than ever, as is reading cancellation policies.
Best golf courses in New Zealand
- Gulf Harbour Country Club
- Tara Iti Golf Club
- Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
- Jack’s Point Golf
Gulf Harbour Country Club
Location: Gulf Harbour, Auckland
This golf course offers world-class facilities and a championship course that’s hosted the World Cup of Golf, as well as the New Zealand Open.
The 6400-meter (6999-yard), par-72 course provides a challenge and a different experience on both nines. Golfers will find the greens are fast and undulating, with changes in elevation and variety.
The first six holes wind their way through a housing estate, but there’s still plenty of distance between the greens and tee. You’ll find plenty of doglegs and you’d need to make sure that you’re on the right side of your club, otherwise, you’ll find yourself with a long second.
Hole 7 (Te Tahuna) is the shortest par 4, 299 meters (328 yards), and is an excellent risk/reward hole. The dogleg is flanked by the lake and golfers may find themselves being tempted to hit a long shot straight for the green.
The 16th is the signature hole. It’s a par 4 and has a dogleg that winds along the clifftop. If your long game is strong, then you may be tempted to take a shortcut across the water to the green.
But if the ball falls short, then golfers risk the ball landing on a downslope. Your ball will then roll off the green towards the cliff face.
When you’ve booked your round of golf, get there an hour early and make use of the practice facilities. This will help you get a better feel for the speed of the greens you’re going to play.
It would be wise to take a cart, as there are some long walks between the greens and the next tee.
Tara Iti Golf Club
Location: Mangawhai (100 km north of Auckland)
Tara Iti is truly something special and should be on every golfer’s bucket list.
While this golf club operates as a private club, if you don’t know a member you’ll be happy to hear that you may still have an opportunity to play around here. Golfers may be granted a “once-in-a-lifetime” visit, where they can play a round of golf when they book one to two nights’ accommodation on site.
With first-class service, you’ll find the staff welcoming and the caddies to be extremely knowledgeable. They’ll even be able to offer you pointers that will enhance your game for years to come.
Every hole is unique, the course is easy to walk, and the fairways are wide with immaculate greens. The course was designed for the golfer to have fun, and the three drivable par 4s will delight golfers of all skill levels.
The 6th hole, par-4, 421 meters (460 yards) is the signature hole. It has a breathtaking view of the beach on your right but will require you to be strategic in your approach and to play with precision.
The tees are elevated on the dunes and golfers will have to avoid the waste area on the left side of the fairway. The green is tucked away behind the bunker on the front right of the putting surface.
Golfers will also find the 12th hole, which is a lengthy par-4 with a blind tee shot and green that tilts to the left, to be a memorable one.
Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club
Location: Paraparaumu (50 km north of Wellington)
Paraparaumu Golf Course is in a league of its own, with a classic links layout that has hosted the New Zealand Open numerous times. This is a must-play course if you’re in Wellington!
Golfers will find that there are no weak holes, with each one featuring speedy greens that have fantastic run-off areas and beautiful undulating fairways that are also fast. The wind will provide an additional challenge that could see golfers getting themselves in all manner of trouble.
This course will require strategy, especially on the approach shot, and golfers should be careful not to over club.
The signature hole is #13 and is a par-4, 407-meter (446-yard) layout. Rolling terrain, mounds that frame the hole, and a raised putting surface provide an excellent challenge. Even the best approach shots can be thwarted by the surface, which falls off in several directions.
Golfers will find themselves in a difficult par-save situation if their golf ball falls short and to the right of the green.
The 5th hole is a par 3 and has a tabletop green with steep drop-offs on either side. If your short game isn’t great, you may find yourself chipping over the green with your ball rolling down the dropoffs.
The 17th hole will also provide a challenge in both distance and accuracy, especially if you’re playing into the wind. This will be a memorable hole for golfers of all levels.
Jack’s Point Golf
It’s hard not to be distracted when playing on this championship golf course, as it’s nestled between the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu. This has to be one of the most spectacular golf courses in the world!
The course layout is impressive, with fast undulating greens and wide generous fairways that require a strategic approach. Golfers of all skill levels will find this course an unforgettable experience.
With so many great holes, it’s difficult to single out one for praise. Golfers will find the par-3, 7th hole to be memorable. You’ll have to play a steep downhill to the green, which is backed by a drop-off to Lake Wakatipu.
There’s no visual reference to guide you, but golfers can use a short iron where you can play for the front pins.
The 17th hole is a long par 5, sharing a landing space with the 18th hole, that rises through a canyon. Golfers will find that the second shot is a bit narrower and the green is open, but it slopes strongly from left to right.
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About the author
Jordan Fuller is a golf coach and mentor who has played on some of the most unique courses in the world. He shares golf-related information, reviews, and tips on his website, Golf Influence.