A country of immense natural beauty, New Zealand is emerging as an exciting golf destination oozing with adventure and sophistication.
"The Lord of the Rings" movie fans are well aware of the spectacular landscapes in New Zealand, as more than 150 locations were used in the Oscar-winning films.
Awesome glaciers, rugged mountains, gorgeous beaches, volcanic plateaus, lush forests and vast plains are some of the amazing settings that make the New Zealand one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Golf course architects have capitalized on New Zealand's unique topography by setting courses at incredible, awe-inspiring locations.
New Zealand, situated 900 miles east of Australia, is comprised of two islands. The North is where most of the country's four million citizens reside, while the South is a wonderland of stunning landscapes and wildlife.
5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD GO
1. Truly inspiring and memorable golf courses with designer tags like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Doak and Robert Trent Jones Jr.
2. Exceptional cuisine and fine wines.
3. Luxury accommodations in picturesque locations.
4. Few crowds on and off the golf course and a golf loving citizenry.
5. New Zealand is very safe with some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet.
Golf is embraced and loved by New Zealanders, similar to Scotland and Ireland. It's the highest participation sport in New Zealand and is a way of life, not just a sport. Despite the popularity, the courses are relatively uncrowded. There are 393 golf clubs in New Zealand, which places the country second (Scotland is first) in the world for the number of courses per capita for the population of 4 million. Simply put, getting a tee time is rarely a problem.
Five of the best ...
Cape Kidnappers Golf Club: Opened in 2004, this Tom Doak designed course located about an hour from Auckland, is built on ridge-and-valley landscape. The course plays atop dramatic cliffs with spectacular sea views. It's ranked No. 27 in the world by Golf Magazine.
Kauri Cliffs: PGA Tour star Brandt Snedeker has called it "Pebble Beach on steroids." Situated 30 minutes from Auckland, Kauri Cliffs was designed by the late David Harman, an American from Orlando. The photogenic layout has 15 holes with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs that plunge to the sea.
Kinloch Club: A Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, it's a stunner set on a piece of farmland on volcanic terrain with craggy hills and views over Lake Taupo. While its a long way from the ocean, the course pays homage to great British and Irish links courses.
Jack's Point: Located 10 minutes from Queenstown, this course is rated by several publications and websites as the No. 1 golf course on the South Island. It's routed through grasslands, rock outcroppings, steep bluffs and native bush.
Gulf Harbour: Offering views across the Waitemata Harbour, this Robert Trent Jones Jr. design has rolling terrain and phenomenal clifftop finishing holes.
Other highly-rated courses include Paraparamu Beach Golf Club, The Hills (South Island), Titirangi Golf Club, Clearwater Golf Club (South Island), Wairakei Golf Club, Millbrook Golf Course (South Island) and Tara Iti Golf Course.
Dotted with quaint hotels and B&B's, New Zealand also offers world-class resort accommodations at highly regarded properties such as The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Huka Lodge and Matakauri Lodge.
THINGS TO DO
When you put away the clubs for the day, there's a staggering array of activities and recreation pursuits in New Zealand. Here's just a partial list of popular things to do:
One of the special treats on a golf vacation to New Zealand is enjoying the exceptional wines produced there. New Zealand has what many wine critics consider the world's best Sauvignon Blanc and it also produces excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Reisling. There are 12 major wine regions--Northland, Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Wellington and Gisborne on the North Island and Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago, Wanaka and Queenstown on the South Island.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to play golf in New Zealand is during the warmer months from September to May. Locals play year-round and the winter temperatures from June to August range from 53 to 61 on average. The summer in New Zealand is December to February (68 to 77 degrees); Autumn/Fall is March to May (62 to 70 degrees) and Spring is September to November (61 to 66 degrees).
Air New Zealand is the main carrier to the island. The majority of flights arrive in Auckland, which is the largest city in New Zealand. Auckland is located on the North Island. Flight times to New Zealand from major U.S. cities are: 9 hours-Honolulu; 12 hours-Los Angeles; 13 hours-San Francisco and 14 hours-Houston.
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