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Hello Hawke’s Bay. Golfing in New Zealand’s premier food & wine country

From the top-tier Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, rated among the best in the world, to a choice of Championship Courses and spectacular rural clubs, there is a course for all golfing abilities in New Zealand.

With some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay is a golfer’s dream destination. Aside from great golf in the region, celebratory eats and drinks can be enjoyed at one of many award-winning wineries and cellar doors.

Hastings Golf Club

Consistently rated among the top club courses in New Zealand, Hastings Golf Club has impeccable championship conditions, set amid picturesque surroundings.

Their highly acclaimed 18-hole Championship Course offers a thrilling day out to golfers of all abilities – justifying their enviable reputation as the leading club course in the region. Spectacular views of the mountain ranges, mature native trees, challenging undulations and unique layout ensure that any experience at Hastings Golf Club is a memorable one. All members and guests are welcome. 

The locals refer to their club as Bridge Pâ and reckon one of the best holes is ‘Land’s End’ aka the 15th, a par four, found on the back nine. Here the tee shot is played through a narrow chute of trees and its elevated, split-level green is buffered by a big tree on the left and a right-side bunker.

Hawke’s Bay Golf Club

The newest of the four major golf courses in the Bay, the Hawkes Bay Golf Club boasts 18 holes built on 142 acres of pumice land, 10km from Hastings town centre.

The course looks magnificent with wide, tree-lined fairways along with large Pencross greens. Hawkes Bay Golf Club was among the first in the country to use this cultivar for all 18 holes.

Tui and other native birds and wildlife are often found to accompany golfers as they play their round.  

Napier Golf Course

Napier Golf Club, “Waiohiki”, is the oldest Golf Club in Hawke’s Bay, having celebrated its Centenary in 1996. Over the years, it has been the site of many New Zealand and inter-provincial tournaments, including hosting the first-ever New Zealand Open in 1907.

Centrally located on State Highway 50, the Waiohiki links provides an easy walking 18-hole Championship Course, which is a challenging test of golf for both the beginner and low handicapper. Note: this course is currently closed due to flood damage but we expect players to return and support the club when it reopens.

Waipawa Golf Club

This fantastic 12-hole course is nestled in rural Hawke’s Bay, beside the Waipawa River.

Waipawa is a classic rural New Zealand course, golfers can play amongst beautiful scenery and enjoy a completely different pace of play compared to Marquee and Championship courses. Out-of-town players are welcome to play the course at their leisure.

A small charge of $8 for green fees welcomes players to Central Hawke's Bay.

Māhia Golf Club

Formed in 1974 by a few keen locals and redeveloped in 1984, Māhia Golf Club proudly considers its course as the best nine-hole course to be found.

The well-manicured course (5812 metres over 18 holes) is nestled among natural sand dunes, with elevated tees and quite a few dog legs.

Mahia’s two-storied clubhouse is elevated above the dunes, with the course enjoying a prime location on the waterfront at Māhia Beach, a firm summer holiday favourite.

Hole 3, named ‘Blue Bay’ after the bay at Opoutama, is a 370-metre, Par 4 that boasts great views of the beach and the village of Mahia from the tee. Tip: lateral water hazards on both sides of the fairway. Cut the corner and you are in the drink!

Cape Kidnappers Golf Course

You can’t visit Hawke’s Bay without playing at the famed Cape Kidnappers. Designed by legendary golf architect Tom Doak, the Cape Kidnappers par 71 golf course measures 6,510 meters and will challenge golfers of all skill levels. Completed in 2004, this spectacular golf course has been hailed as one of the great modern marvels in golf.

With cliff-edge fairways perched 140 metres above sea level and surfaces that remain firm and fast, the Cape Kidnappers course offers holes unlike anything else in the world. Note: every hole has a spectacular view of the bay. Plus, the Farm at Cape Kidnappers offers guests a luxurious stay-and-play golfing experience in New Zealand.

Cape Kidnappers

Non-Golfing Activities in Hawke’s Bay

Explore Art Deco architecture

When a devastating earthquake destroyed Napier in 1931, the city was rebuilt in the style of the times - Art Deco. Relieve the opulent era of jazz, boaters and beads at the annual Art Deco Festival (or take a guided tour of the spectacular architecture in a vintage car.

Wine Time

Often likened to Bordeaux in France, Hawke's Bay is famed for its full-bodied red wines. Hire a bike and taste your way around some of the region’s 72 vineyards, including the award-winning Te Mata Estate Winery and Craggy Range. Stop for lunch at Church Road Winery or Mission Estate, New Zealand's oldest winery.

Foodie Highlights

Visit the Silky Oak Chocolate Company in Napier. It’s heaven on earth for Chocoholics! Check out the chocolate shop, see the chocolates being made and choose from the array of chocolate gifts or pick your own selection.

The Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market is a must-do while in region and is widely considered among the best (if not the best) in New Zealand.

Make sure you book a table at Pacifica Restaurant well in advance of your arrival. Set in a weathered blue beach bungalow, Pacifica Restaurant will surprise and delight any discerning foodie. Chef Jeremy Rameka's Kiwi approach means you will enjoy Michelin-quality food in a relaxed pacific-style atmosphere. The focus is on quality, excitement, freshness, passion and flavour.

The menu changes daily depending on what ingredients are available and how the chef is feeling. Whilst the content is ever-changing, the menu remains a set degustation menu of five courses each evening. Diners have a choice between two menus - one a predominantly seafood menu and the other a mixed menu of fresh seafood and premium New Zealand meat/game dishes.

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Words: Roxanne Andrews