New Zealanders are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to golf courses. With over 390 courses shared by the local population of around 4 million people, it’s not hard to find a tee time even in the busiest season. In fact only Scotland, the original home of golf, can boast having more courses per capita than New Zealand! With so many greens to choose from, it can be the work of a lifetime to try to play every golf course in New Zealand. Luckily for you, we’re giving that task a fair old crack. Most of the courses we’ve played have been highly enjoyable, and a lot of them lift their game to sublime levels (a pity we can’t always say the same about our own shot-making). Every now and again we find a course that has a particular magic of its own, and while they may not be the flashiest of links they’ve stuck with us as golfing experiences we’d love to share. So here’s our take on the 5 New Zealand golf courses that are absolute hidden gems.
Waitakere Golf Club, Auckland.
The first course on our list is the Waitakere Golf Club. The manager there is also a Le Club AccorHotels member, so any player producing their Le Club AccorHotels Loyalty card will receive a $5 discount per player paying full green fees - and their maximum green fee is an incredibly low NZD $35 to start with!
Nestled in a magnificent bush valley in the mountainous Waitakere Ranges 30 minutes to the West of Auckland city, this feels like no other golf course on the planet. Our first thought as we drove down the road towards the club house was “who on earth would think to put a golf course here?”. The same thought occurred as we teed off on the opening hole, a blind shot down a hill so steep it feels like you could use a putter and still achieve a 200 yard drive.
But as the round unfolded, we were quickly won over by the way the holes so naturally wind through towering, untouched native forests. With plenty of birdsong, some of the tees play from their own little alcoves carved into the bush by the volunteers who established the course in the 1940’s. It feels like the most natural place you can imagine to play a round. Who thought to put a golf course here? A genius, that’s who.
Waipu Golf Club, Northland.
Officially ranked within the top 50 courses in New Zealand, Waipu Golf Club
also romps into our unofficial list of 5 hidden golf gems.
Waipu is about a 90 minute drive from Auckland city, but well worth the journey up State Highway 1. We arrived on a misty morning, and looking over the course from the carpark through the light fog, it was like we’d been transported to another place. The course is built on coastal sand dunes, and laid out like a classic English links course. As we played our round and the mist made way for the warm Northland sun, we were just as amazed at the views out over the beach to the wide Pacific Ocean. Walking the sand-based fairways you certainly know you’ve had some exercise by the end of the round, but for us it just made our cold drinks taste even better as we sat back and enjoyed the spectacular coastal views.
Queenstown Golf Club, Queenstown
If you plan your New Zealand golfing holiday in advance, then Queenstown will definitely be on your list. With some of New Zealand’s best hotels, great food and drink, and plenty to do on your non-golfing days, it’s easy to spend weeks here.
Queenstown Golf Club
is one of many beautiful courses in the region, and while it’s one of the closest to town, it’s sometimes over-looked in favour of its better known local cousins. Names like the legendary Millbrook Resort, the relatively new but challenging Jacks Point, and exclusive and eye-poppingly beautiful ‘The Hills’ are often on golfers’ bucket lists.
But we think the Queenstown Golf Club is pretty hard to beat. We’ve played it in just about every season, with the highlight being autumn as the leaves on the deciduous trees turn every shade of amber, and the snow starts to gather on the aptly named Remarkables mountain range across the lake. Standing near a pebbly beach, watching your ball sink into the crystal clear water following a snap-hooked drive – but still smiling from the sheer beauty of the place you’re lucky enough to be right now… that makes this easily one of our top 5 New Zealand golf gems.
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