New Zealand golf course experiences

New Zealand has almost 400 golf courses - some in geothermal areas, others in farmers' fields, and some of the most spectacular are the most accessible and inexpensive.

There are almost 400 courses around New Zealand ranging from six holes to nine or 18 holes, and several 18-plus hole courses.

New Zealand offers beauty, diversity and value for money for the golfing enthusiast - and some of the more unusual golfing landscapes in the world.

Courses range from top-of-the-line - including a number of internationally acclaimed golf courses such as Kauri Cliffs in the Bay of Islands, Cape Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay, Clearwater in Canterbury, and The Hills near Queenstown - to small rural golf clubs with minimal green fees.

New Zealand has the highest number of golf courses per capita in the world.

From tiny gems to golden nuggets

New Zealand’s reputation for hospitality extends to welcoming visitors at most clubs, though booking is recommended.

It is generally an inexpensive country in which to play golf with green fees ranging from NZ$20 - $150 at most courses.

Many golf courses hire clubs, trundlers and motorised or electric buggies /golf carts.

Clubhouse facilities vary from basic necessities to excellent, including restaurants, bars, showers, pro shop, driving range, golf instruction and accommodation.

Farm fairways

In small rural centres, where farmers make land available for play, the greens are fenced off and stock graze the fairways and eliminating the need for staff to mow the grass.

Away from the mainstream clubs, country courses are often administered by a farm manager rather than a greens superintendent.

And, while, it can be unnerving to face a shot to a fairway where a flock of sheep are having dinner, these local residents seem to have an inborn radar system telling them when they should move away.

On the larger side, The Waikohu Club at Te Karaka, 30km from Gisborne - on the North Island's East Coast - occasionally hosts the even more unusual hazard of a Hereford bull.

The local rules at rural courses reflect the unique situation - the golfer must drop away from a newborn lamb and the player has an optional replay if the ball strikes the wire or the post of the electric fence that's used to keep the sheep from the greens.

Hot courses

At Rotorua Golf Club (18 holes / par 70), in the central North island's geothermal region, golf is really hot. There is a steaming lake by the 16th hole as well as bubbling mud pools.

A little further south, Wairakei International Golf Course (18 holes / par 72) sits midway between Wellington and Auckland, and not far from Lake Taupo. This golf course is in the Wairakei Tourist Park renowned for its rising steam and thermal attractions. Wairakei, which is reputed to have the most bunkers (108) of any course in New Zealand, has New Zealand’s most famous par five - the 14th, also known as The Rogue. The hole is named after a geyser, which used to erupt in a nearby field.

Close by, Taupo Golf Club (2 x 18 holes / par 72) has fumaroles spitting steam in the air.

More information

New Zealand - golfing paradise