Northland Golf courses: Get in the swing

By James henderson

On Northland’s golf courses, James Henderson finds the sea views are a distraction.
Kauri Cliffs are on of the country's premier golf courses. Photo / 123RF
Kauri Cliffs are on of the country's premier golf courses. Photo / 123RF

Seen as the idyllic aquatic playground, the Northland region boasts unquestionable beauty. That so much, is a given. But for the holidaying Kiwi bound by the gentleman's game, can 18 holes of golf garner similar pleasures up north?

KAURI CLIFFS
139 Tepene Tablelands Rd, Matauri Bay

Strengths

For the gambling golfer at Kauri Cliffs, fortune may not always favour the brave, but in terms of sheer excitement, clifftop drops and coastal crosswinds ensure adrenalin flows regardless.

Sliced in half by the plunging Pink Beach below, the par-3 7th hole in particular teases a risky drive which, depending on conditions, can either end half a metre from the pin, or 50m in the Pacific Ocean.

Weaknesses

Rather abjectly, the introductory holes are somewhat mundane, perhaps bracing golfers for the coastal classics that soon follow.

Golfing ability

It's rare that a course of such esteem can be so accommodating to the masses.

But in offering five sets of tees to challenge every skill level, scratch and novice golfers can play and enjoy one of the world's greatest courses in parallel.

Aesthetics

A flawless work of art, lending itself to a charming atmosphere that permeates 15 ocean-view holes atop the steep Matauri Bay rock face.

Rounds comfortably take more than five hours to complete, as the few golfers on the course stop, observe and reflect on a truly stunning piece of golfing architecture.

Value

With green fees as high as $475 for 18 holes during high season ($237 for New Zealand residents), Kauri Cliffs is a premium golf course.

But for many, playing the track once is a golfing box ticked, meaning the price tag is almost irrelevant for the scores of one-time enthusiasts who descend on the course each year.

Go to: kauricliffs.com

WAITANGI GOLF CLUB

Tau Henare Dr, Paihia

Strengths

Deceiving. Deceivingly thought-provoking.

Served up as a championship course, golfers get out of Waitangi what they put in: approach it with respectful enthusiasm and challenge will ensue, approach it with contempt and lost balls will follow.

Northland has a number of must-try courses to attract golfers. Photo / 123RF
Northland has a number of must-try courses to attract golfers. Photo / 123RF


Weaknesses

Due to its overriding popularity among Paihia, Russell and Keri Keri locals and visitors, the course is regularly at capacity, leading to congestion during peak times.

Golfing ability

Waitangi can test the best, but the course is primarily suitable for holidaying high-handicappers, seeking an impromptu 18 holes while visiting the area.

Aesthetics

With a back nine reaching out into the heart of the Bay of Islands, Waitangi legitimately takes on any Kiwi course in terms of beauty.

Project 11, the flagship 539-yard (439m) par-5 11th hole redesigned and built by members, demonstrates this, highlighting the ability of the course to fuse a community feel with scenic splendour.

Value

A $49 walk-in fee is a small price to pay for breath-taking sea views, testing golf and a welcoming entry to golf in the Bay of Islands.

Go to: waitangigolf.co.nz

CARRINGTON RESORT

Matai Bay Rd, Karikari Peninsula

Strengths

Carrington boasts a variety of hole play, from one of the longest par 5's in New Zealand at 599 yards, to one of the shortest par 3's at 132 yards over water.

Weaknesses

Measuring 6.6km across a range of rolling vales and differing terrains, the course can feel more like an annoying slog rather than a delightful stroll.

Golfing ability

Technically, Carrington caters to all abilities, with wider landing spots in particular leading to softer playing conditions.

In truth, when the wind gets up and the lengthy holes bite back, it's anything but novice-friendly.

Aesthetics

Immaculate in design and crisp in delivery, the wide-ranging views of the wetlands and Northland beach are unfortunately only visible from the elevated clubhouse, leading to a blinkered 18 holes marooned deep in the resort.

Value

Carrington requires commitment. A long drive even from the Bay of Islands, and at $135 for average Kiwis, this isn't a course to play on a whim, rather for those keen to visit the heart of the Northland about four hours' drive north of Auckland.

For an area bountiful with activities, attractions and even distractions, golf throws its hat into the competitive world of Northland tourism with strong credentials.

At the tip of New Zealand, the 54 holes delight and dismay in different measures, from the prestigious to the affordable, and everything in-between.

Go to: peppers.co.nz/carrington/

- NZ Herald

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