Top 10 Greatest Golf Courses in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Top 10 Greatest Golf Courses

New Zealand has among the most golf courses per capita in the world, but up until very recently – apart from the odd exception – the quality of the courses weren’t up to world class standards. Fortunately, thanks to the help of some big money and the work of a few seriously talented architects, New Zealand can now boast with these 10 awe-inspiring golf courses.

Tara Iti

  • Private course in Mangawhai
  • Ranked as New Zealand’s best course
  • 100km north of Auckland on the east coast
  • Created by American designer Tom Doak
  • Holes inspired by Cypress Point, Royal Dornach and Royal St. George’s
  • Breathtaking views of the Hauraki Gulf


  • Rebuilt by Alex Russell in 1946
  • Has hosted the New Zealand Open 12 times
  • Makes masterful use of the natural sand dunes of the Kapiti Coast
  • The par fours are the highlights of the course: holes 8, 13, 15, and 17 are all tricky but plenty of fun to play

Cape Kidnappers

  • Tom Doak’s first golf course in New Zealand
  • Built on a Te Awanga sheep farm high above the ocean in Hawke’s Bay
  • Incredible views of the ocean with sheer cliff faces
  • The 7th, 14th, 17th, and 18th holes are evergreen favourites with the last being a fitting climax


  • The only course in New Zealand designed by legendary architect Alister MacKenzie
  • Plays longer than the 7200 yards suggests thanks to MacKenzie’s intelligent mixture of short and long par fours
  • The 13th hole, known as the Wrecker, is one of the best par fives in the country with a semi-blind tee short across a gully – even staunch horse racing betting fans will be able to appreciate its difficulty!

Kauri Cliffs

  • Built high above the Pacific Ocean 115km north of Whangarei
  • Financier Julian Robertson’s first course in New Zealand
  • Spectacular views, but the high winds of the cliff-top course make play difficult without the respite offered by the dunes.
  • Highlight of the course is the stretch from holes 14 to 17


  • Located in Central Otago, one of New Zealand’s most scenic and historic regions
  • Frequently underrated due to its lack of length
  • Each of the 18 holes offers its own attractions and it is a diverse and challenging course overall

Jack’s Point

  • Set against the backdrop of 2300 vertical metres of the Remarkables mountain range
  • 6388 metre, 18 hole, par 72 championship course designed by John Darby
  • Offers an exciting challenge with 5 tee positions to choose from

Royal Wellington

  • Founded in 1895
  • Recently redesigned by Greg Turner and Scott MacPherson
  • Great sets of par threes beginning with the 3rd hole which has a green made up of two distinct bowls
  • 5th hole rewards players who can play close to the stream

The Hills at Arrowtown

  • Certainly amongst the most beautiful courses in the world
  • The 5th hole is the first real highlight – a short par four with a tricky push-up green
  • The 8th hole – a long par four – seems partly inspired by the neighbouring Arrowtown


  • A Jack Nicklaus signature course
  • Only Jack Nicklaus golf course to be built in New Zealand
  • World-class championship par 72 course is situated between views of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest fresh water lake, and natural rugged rural farmland