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New Zealand Top 40 Golf Course Rankings Announced

POSTED ON May 9, 2020 @ 11:42 am

As New Zealand was in a 4-week lockdown and no golf is being played, it was been the perfect time for golfers around the country to think about their favourite days golfing and their favourite golf courses.  It was also the perfect time as the results of the New Zealand Golf Rankings are released, that golfers can mark off how many of the Top 40 golf courses they have played, and which golf courses are on their bucket list to play!  

The goal of the rankings is to recognise the best golf courses in New Zealand.  Yes, these rankings will be debated by golfers all around the country as to what they believe should be in the country’s Top 10 courses or the best course in a region.  How do the qualities of their home courses or favourite courses compare to those in the Top 10?  The other goal of the rankings is to increase golf participation and even to help courses increase green fee revenue, with the hope that golfers will travel to play as many of the courses over the next twelve months.

The rankings have been compiled from twenty-seven “rankers” submitting their Top 12 courses in the North and South Islands.  The 27 member ranking panel has nearly 1000 years of combined golf experience, with “rankers” from Invercargill through to North Auckland.  They are a diverse mix consisting of professional players, experienced amateur players, golf industry professionals and some club players with extensive playing experience here in New Zealand and internationally.  These golf industry ‘insiders’ have ranked their top twelve golf courses in the North Island and the South Island.  The rankers were:  Phil Aicken, Michael Baltrop, Leo Barber, Robyn Boniface, Barry Brown, Blair Dibley, Stuart Duff, Susan Farron, Simon Forshaw, Peter Fowler, Michael Glading, Doug Holloway, Denise Langdon, Richard Lee, Josh Longney, Dave Mangan, Trevor Marshall, Nigel Merrett, Willie Moore, Grant Moorhead, Tony Nowell, John Sanders, Dominic Sainsbury, Brad Shilton, Duncan Simpson, John Spraggs and Fraser Wilkin.

Tara Iti

Jacks Point


The ranking system is based on seven criteria that cover the key factors that are essential in good golf course design and criteria for what is important to the golfers that play these golf courses.  This includes: Risk/Reward, Playability, Layout, Design, Scenic Values, Conditioning and Ambience.  A maximum of five points was awarded per category thus the maximum points any course could receive was a total of 35 points.  The points awarded were totalled up and then divided by the number of rankers; the average was then calculated providing the overall result. 


The Hills

The last New Zealand Top 40 Golf Rankings, coordinated with the NZ Golf Magazine, were compiled in December 2018.  With the rankings due to being reviewed later this year (2020) it was brought forward due to the opportunity that the pandemic lockdown provided with golfers sitting at home and having plenty of time to consider their views of their favourite golf courses.  Both Royal Auckland and Riverside (Lochiel) were not considered for ranking due to the courses being under renovation.

Once again, as in previous rankings, there are some “hidden gems” that were mentioned by some rankers, but which didn’t quite make the final Top 40.  This included such courses as Ohope, Waverley, Kaikoura and Roxburgh Golf Clubs which all have some great features that make them fantastic places to stop and play a round.  Golfers were also asked about their favourite 9-hole course and the best place for an after-golf beer.  Walton (Waikato) and Tai Tapu (just outside of Christchurch) were popular 9-hole courses while Muriwai, Cape Kidnappers, Royal Wellington and Millbrook were the most popular 19th holes! 

It is also important to note that no ranker was able to rank a golf course where personal bias or conflict of interest could be a factor; meaning that they could not rank a course where they were a current member, where they were employed, or with which they had any other direct affiliation.  It is important that this ‘personal connection’ related to the rankings is removed from the judging process, which is also why such a diverse group of the golfers were involved in the rankings.  Geographically, it was also essential that there was fair coverage of rankers from both the North and South Islands, so that all golf courses were able to be judged on their merits.  All courses had to be ranked by a minimum of four rankers each, with Paraparaumu being the most popular golf course overall, having been ranked by 25 rankers.  

Tara Iti is clearly the best golf course in New Zealand, based on the rankings, and it is also recognised in the international golf ‘world’ as being our best place to golf.  Yes, the golf course is quite private but it is truly something special and if you are ever given the opportunity to play there, then you should jump at it!  The course is in an amazing setting, well designed with a layout that blends with the environment.  How the course plays is also unique and memorable.  Right from the time, you drive through the gates, through to holing your final putt on the 18th green; it is absolutely magical!  

On closer examination of some of the results, the gap between the First and Second-ranked golf courses is just over one point; while the difference between the Second and Eighth-ranked golf courses is a mere one and a half points.  Jacks Point jumped from #7 in the last rankings to 2nd place and The Hills was able to leapfrog from 6th place to the number #3 spot.  Cape Kidnappers pipped its sister course, Kauri Cliffs, while Kinloch holds its position as the best course in Taupo, just edging out Wairakei.  Queenstown is clearly New Zealand’s best golf destination and every golfer should make it a long weekend to play there; all the 18-hole courses in Queenstown, Cromwell and Wanaka region succeeded in making into the Top 40!   

Paraparaumu (#7) and Titirangi (#10) were the top “membership-based” golf courses to play.  Both are classics with an extensive history in New Zealand golf and were well played by the rankers.  Big movers in the rankings were Mt Maunganui Golf Club coming in at #14 (up from #19), Omaha Beach Golf Club #23 (previously #32) and Harewood Golf Club #25 (previously #38).  Golf courses such as Wanganui Golf Club (#27), Hamilton Golf Club (#28), Poverty Golf Club (#32) and Greenacres Golf Club (#39) reappeared in the rankings after previously being seen 2016. 

So, the challenge for all golfers reading this article is to mark off all the courses you have previously played in the Top 40 and then mark how many of the golf courses on the list will you be playing over the next 12 months.  To be honest, it’s not only about playing the “big name” or more famous courses, but it is also about getting out and enjoying the many, great courses we have around our beautiful country, Aotearoa.  

Andrew Whiley

NZ Golf Rankings Coordinator

NZPGA Golf Professional / Writer


Ph: 0274653222


See below for the full rankings and breakdown of ranking points…


Points Golf Course Ranking 2018 Ranking
32.72 Tara Iti 1st 1st
31.63 Jacks Point Golf Course 2nd T 7th
31 The Hills 3rd 6th
30.68 Kinloch 4th 2nd
30.66 Cape Kidnappers 5th 4th
30.43 Kauri Cliffs 6th 3rd
30.29 Paraparaumu Golf Club 7th T 7th
30.11 Wairakei  8th 5th
29.12 Millbrook  9th 9th
28.29 Titirangi Golf Club 10th 14th
28.23 Carrington Resort 11th 13th
27.81 Muriwai Golf Club 12th 12th
27.67 Arrowtown GC 13th 10th
27.54 Mount Maunganui Golf Club 14th 19th
27.47 Hastings Golf Club 15th 16th
27.43 Royal Wellington Golf Club 16th 11th
27.41 Gulf Harbour Golf Club 17th 15th
27.27 Manawatu Golf Club 18th 17th
27.13 New Plymouth Golf Club T19th T 23rd
27.13 Clearwater Golf Club T19th 20th
27.05 Terrace Downs Golf Resort 21st 26th
26.82 Christchurch GC 22nd 22nd
26.8 Omaha Beach Golf Club 23rd T 32nd
26.75 Pegasus Golf Resort 24th 27th
26.64 Harewood Golf Club 25th 38th
26.43 Windross Farm 26th 21st
26.36 Wanganui Golf Club 27th
26.19 Hamilton Golf Club 28th
25.84 Mangawhai Golf club 29th T 23rd
25.81 Whitford Park Golf Club 30th 29th
25.76 Otago Golf Club 31st 25th
25.69 Poverty Bay Golf Club 32nd
25.64 Cromwell Golf Club 33rd 28th
25.59 Queenstown Golf Club 34th 40th
25.55 Chisholm Links 35th 39th
25.44 Nelson Golf Club 36th 35th
25.40 Wanaka Golf Club 37th 37th
24.76 Invercargill Golf Club 38th 36th
23.3 Greenacres Golf Club 39th
23.01 Russley Golf Club 40th 34th



1 Tara Iti 4.41 4.63 4.58 4.82 4.81 4.73 4.74 32.72
2 Jacks Point Golf Course 4.57 4.37 4.39 4.34 4.82 4.56 4.57 31.63
3 The Hills 4.35 4.34 4.33 4.27 4.66 4.71 4.34 31
4 Kinloch 4.59 4.34 4.45 4.43 4.4 4.34 4.13 30.68
5 Cape Kidnappers 4.3 4.29 4.32 4.48 4.74 4.3 4.23 30.66
6 Kauri Cliffs 4.36 4.24 3.94 4.22 4.74 4.51 4.41 30.43
7 Paraparaumu Golf Club 4.47 4.54 4.55 4.51 3.83 4.21 4.18 30.29
8 Wairakei  4.13 4.34 4.34 4.36 4.34 4.05 4.54 30.11
9 Millbrook  4.1 4.12 3.87 3.85 4.53 4.48 4.17 29.12
10 Titirangi Golf Club 4.18 4.18 4.19 4.25 3.73 3.85 3.92 28.29
11 Carrington Resort 4.34 4.16 4.26 4.1 4.06 3 4.31 28.23
12 Muriwai Golf Club 3.94 4.16 3.87 3.81 4.16 3.78 4.09 27.81
13 Arrowtown GC 3.8 3.8 3.82 3.93 4.42 3.8 4 27.67
14 Mount Maunganui Golf Club 3.79 4.29 3.75 3.75 3.64 4.25 4.07 27.54
15 Hastings Golf Club 3.76 3.92 4.02 3.88 3.63 4.38 3.89 27.47
16 Royal Wellington Golf Club 4.02 3.88 4 4.05 3.85 3.48 4.15 27.43
17 Gulf Harbour Golf Club 3.97 4 4.02 4 4.07 3.72 3.64 27.41
18 Manawatu Golf Club 3.54 4.04 3.71 3.75 3.54 4.4 4.29 27.27
T19 New Plymouth Golf Club 3.75 4.09 3.95 3.81 3.88 3.88 3.76 27.13
T19 Clearwater Golf Club 3.92 4.01 3.78 3.71 3.65 4.13 3.93 27.13
21 Terrace Downs Golf Resort 3.79 3.85 3.89 3.8 4.38 3.6 3.75 27.05
22 Christchurch GC 3.78 4.03 3.75 3.76 3.45 4.13 3.93 26.82
23 Omaha Beach Golf Club 3.97 3.98 3.6 3.65 3.93 3.65 4.03 26.8
24 Pegasus Golf Resort 3.92 4.07 3.81 3.72 3.59 3.87 3.77 26.75
25 Harewood Golf Club 3.91 3.96 3.81 3.76 3.6 3.76 3.82 26.64
26 Windross Farm 3.55 4.1 3.85 4 3.45 3.58 3.9 26.43
27 Wanganui Golf Club 4.05 3.96 3.93 3.96 3.64 3.29 3.53 26.36
28 Hamilton Golf Club 3.86 3.93 3.79 3.76 3.58 3.65 3.62 26.19
29 Mangawhai Golf club 3.8 3.95 3.62 3.66 3.77 3.36 3.69 25.84
30 Whitford Park Golf Club 3.44 4.28 3.9 3.86 3.1 3.71 3.52 25.81
31 Otago Golf Club 3.63 3.65 3.48 3.86 3.56 3.6 3.99 25.76
32 Poverty Bay Golf Club 3.67 3.83 3.83 3.77 3.49 3.68 3.43 25.69
33 Cromwell Golf Club 3.64 3.82 3.66 3.64 3.48 3.61 3.79 25.64
34 Queenstown Golf Club 3.65 3.69 3.16 3.64 4.53 3.18 3.74 25.59
35 Chisholm Links 3.76 3.66 3.77 3.85 4.08 2.89 3.54 25.55
36 Nelson Golf Club 3.63 3.63 3.73 3.4 3.64 3.62 3.79 25.44
37 Wanaka Golf Club 3.69 3.75 3.54 3.61 3.36 3.54 3.93 25.40
38 Invercargill Golf Club 3.51 3.48 3.6 3.5 3.48 3.63 3.58 24.76
39 Greenacres Golf Club 3.3 3.2 3.3 3.24 3.48 3.45 3.3 23.3
40 Russley Golf Club 3.36 3.49 3.05 3.22 3.2 3.52 3.17 23.01


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