A stunning surprise: top golf courses in the Bay of Islands

Did you know the Bay of Islands is home to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular golf courses?

Whether you’re a pro or just a keen amateur, get ready to be challenged and amazed by greens and fairways overlooking the breathtaking scenery of the Bay of Islands.

Tucked away at the top of New Zealand’s North Island, the Bay of Islands is blessed with a warm climate, having mild winters and hot summers. Its sheltered waters make it the perfect place to swim with dolphins and view a variety of marine life. But just a few steps away from the sandy beaches are four excellent golf courses.

Waitangi Golf Club

The Bay of Islands region is regarded as the birthplace of New Zealand, as it was here that many of the first interactions between explorers, settlers and the local Māori iwi (tribes) took place. It was also here in 1840 that Māori leaders and representatives of the British Crown met at Waitangi, close to the town of Paihia, to sign the nation’s founding document – the Treaty of Waitangi.

In 1932 the Governor General of New Zealand, Lord Bledisloe and his wife Lady Bledisloe bought just over one thousand acres of land on the Waitangi Peninsula, including the grounds where the Treaty was signed, and donated it to all New Zealanders as a place of historic importance and recreational enjoyment.  The Waitangi National Trust Board manages this historic land and leases the golf course to the Waitangi Golf Club, formed in 1947.

Thus it is that you can play a round of golf overlooking one of the most important sites in New Zealand’s history – and enjoy million-dollar sea views for very affordable green fees!

The course is an 18-hole par 70 and is 5360 metres long, with the front nine winding through native bush and the rest of the course overlooking the harbour, with views over to Russell and further out into the Bay. Don’t be fooled by its simple country feel - narrow fairways and small greens make the course a challenge for any golfer. Sir Bob Charles holds the course record, a remarkable 63.

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Kauri Cliffs

A 40-minute drive north of Paihia, overlooking Matauri Bay and the Cavalli Islands, is the five-star luxury lodge Kauri Cliffs. Its par 72 championship golf course, designed by leading golf course architect David Harman, measures 6,510 metres and offers five sets of tees to challenge every skill level.

Fifteen holes view the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs which plunge to the sea. The beautiful inland holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland.

The golf complex includes a world-class practice range, putting and chipping greens, a well stocked golf shop, and ladies’ and mens’ locker rooms. Premium ladies’ and mens’ rental clubs are available.

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Bay of Islands Golf Club

The original Kerikeri Golf Club formed in 1936, but went into recess during WWII. In 1969 a new club was formed in the current location, just outside the town. The 6,101 metre course is par 73 and offers some challenging water hazards. Enjoy the tranquillity of the surrounding native bush and listen out for birdlife as you play.

Visitors are welcome and you can view a comprehensive course plan on the website.

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Carrington Golf Course

A short drive north of the Bay of Islands, the Karikari Peninsula sweeps across the top of Doubtless Bay. Here you’ll find a championship standard golf course at the luxurious Peppers Carrington Resort.

Designed by renowned international golf course designer Matt Dye, Carrington is a par 72 18-hole course 6,417 metres in length. Terrain ranges from rolling vales to some tricky water hazards, and the course is fully irrigated. As you play, enjoy ocean views, wetlands and the hillside vineyards of nearby Karikari Estate.

The course is suitable for golfers of all abilities and visitors are welcome. Challenges include one of the longest par 5s in New Zealand at 569 metres, and one ofthe shortest par 3s at just 113 metres.

After your game, enjoy the lounge and clubhouse facilities, which sit in the centre of the course, well-placed on a high ridge to take advantage of the stunning views.

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Other Bay of Islands Activities

If you’re in need of a day away from the links, the Bay of Islands offers a huge range of other activities. On land there are walks, cycle trails and tours around the region, while the sea provides all the entertainment you could ask for with boating, kayaking, fishing and cruises all available, as well as beautiful beaches.

Fullers GreatSights have been operating Bay of Islands cruises and tours for over 125 years. Visit our website for heaps of ideas on how to spend your time in the Bay, or pop in and see us at the Paihia wharf.

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