Grand Golf Experiences in New Zealand
My husband and I are avid international golfers, so we love hitting the links together to enjoy some friendly competition and a beverage or two on the course.
But I know for many of my clients, this isn’t always the case. What I tend to see with couples is one golf fanatic and one partner who’d rather be at the spa. Luckily for them, New Zealand offers some exceptional luxury lodges that appeal to golfers and non-golfers alike. The scenery alone should put these places at the top of your must-visit list!
While the golf lovers in your party play award-winning courses, you can relax in luxurious spas, enjoy exquisite 5-star dining, explore the diverse landscapes on nature walks, and simply escape day-to-day life in New Zealand’s expansive oasis.
Browse our sample itineraries to see how to pair these grand golf lodges with other iconic New Zealand experiences! Or, see all of our Australia and New Zealand golf packages here.
Cape Kidnappers is perfect for those who want to be wowed by New Zealand’s dramatic coastal scenery and is one of the more unique places in the world. Kidnappers’ entire property is perched atop the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and the views are reminiscent of Pebble Beach in California. Designed by famed architect Tom Doak, this par-71 track is always near the top of the world golf course rankings. Even non-golfers will find the rolling hills, sea cliffs, rare bird colonies, and clear ocean views rewarding. This is one of those courses where a spouse or partner can simply ride along in a cart and enjoy the jaw-dropping scenery.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, the onsite accommodation, offers an impeccable 5-star lodge experience, including a beautiful spa, gourmet dining, and an impressive wine cellar. Since you are in New Zealand, spending abundant time outdoors is a requirement. Activities are too many to list—whether on foot, on the water, or in the air. One of my favorite onsite activities is cranking up the quad bikes for a spin around this expansive property.
While you are staying here, one absolute must-do is the scenic nature walk to view kiwi birds in the wild. They will roust these sleeping birds from a nap, and you can hold them in your hands! They are the cutest things.
For wine lovers, world-class wineries in Hawke’s Bay are just a short drive away. This is always one of my favorite parts of visiting Cape Kidnappers. Just a little further down the road is the town of Napier, which almost seems set in a time capsule with the art deco architecture that dominates the town center.
A sister property of Cape Kidnappers, this is another of my favorite golf courses and luxury lodges in New Zealand. Some would say this is the grandest of the grand lodges in New Zealand. Like Cape Kidnappers, the award-winning Kauri Cliffs golf course is also consistently ranked in the top 100 courses in the world. Hugging the North Island’s west coast in the Bay of Islands, the golf course overlooks the absolutely breathtaking Cavalli Islands and Cape Brett; 15 holes have spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, 6 of which are played alongside cliffs that plunge to the sea.
With sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs entices at every turn. With a world-class spa, stunning infinity pool, three private swimming beaches, two tennis courts, mountain bikes, horse riding, fishing, and more, you’ll be able to explore this beautiful and remote area at any level of activity.
Fun tidbit: This course hosted the 2003 “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” match, a made-for-TV event between Fred Couples and Michael Campbell. Eighteen months later, Campbell went on to win the 2005 U.S. Open—with one of my best mates as his caddy!
Set on the tranquil shores of Lake Taupo, the scenic hub of New Zealand’s North Island, this modern uber-luxury Lodge and golf course opened to great fanfare a couple of years ago, and for good reason. It’s simply amazing.
For the golfers, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Kinloch golf course takes full advantage of its unique natural landscape, creating a beautiful course that presents challenges for players of all skill levels. The design and layout certainly remind me of some of the great Scottish links courses. Nicklaus’ successful design was based on the premise that the natural flora must still flourish in the area. It’s beautiful, serene, and a joy to play. I truly love this course.
At the Clubhouse, you can refresh with a steam and sauna after a round of golf, then join your fellow golfers for camaraderie, conversation, and frosty beverages. The golf pro even joined us for a round at the end of the day.
Kinloch’s exclusive three guest cottages (yes, only 3) provide a tranquil oasis where you can fully relax and feel at home in your beautiful surroundings. When you really need to switch off, indulge yourself in the ultimate luxury that is the day spa.
Nearby activities include the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, hiking and biking around Lake Taupo, quad bikes, trout fishing, skydiving, sailing on the lake, and even night golf. There’s something for everybody!
One of the most scenic golf courses in the world, Millbrook Resort is a destination in and of itself. Situated on 500 acres of gorgeous scenery provided by the backdrop of the Remarkables mountain range, it’s not only a fantastic golf destination in the summer but also a great ski lodge in the winter.
Millbrook is another magical New Zealand golf course that truly enhances its natural environment with a 27-hole course shaped by the rugged landscape. Make sure you have your camera on the ready, as there are extraordinary photo opportunities at every turn. If you are lucky enough to catch the leaves changing in the fall, you will be in for a real treat.
Millbrook Resort also boasts award-winning dining in its four restaurants, from casual fare to contemporary and Japanese cuisine. You can also choose to pamper yourself with luxurious spa and wellness treatments.
Millbrook is less than a 30-minute drive from Queenstown, the adventure capital of the Southern Hemisphere. So when you’re not golfing, you can get your adrenaline pumping with bungy jumping, skydiving, jet boating, canyoning, white water rafting, quad biking, and much more.
The newest kid on the block, Tara Iti, is garnering worldwide attention in the golf press and will certainly be ranked in the top 100 this year when the new rankings are released. It’s also one of the most exclusive golf courses around: non-members need a letter of introduction in order to be considered, and they can only visit once. The Tom Doak-designed links course features fun and unique challenges that will certainly leave a lasting impression. But, of course, non-golfers will want to play a round just to see the breathtaking ocean views.
Visitors to Tara Iti must stay onsite in one of the ultra-modern luxury cottages (I recommend staying at least two nights). But if you can visit this exclusive golf club, it’s certainly an opportunity you won’t want to pass up! And you’d better hurry because we’re unsure how long they will stay open to visitors.
Ready to start planning your customized New Zealand golf vacation? Browse our New Zealand vacation packages, or you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin planning your trip of a lifetime!