Kauri Cliffs, a new course on the northeast coast of New Zealand, is perched on 250-foot cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Think Pebble Beach mixed with Shinnecock, add ocean views to 15 holes, and surround it with mountains and dramatic, untouched landscape. This is truly one of the world’s most picturesque courses.
It’s also a solid test of golf, especially when the wind is blowing. The most majestic part of the course — designed by Florida-based David Harman — is the home stretch, holes 14 through 17, all facing the ocean and, if you’re lucky, all downwind. But the fairways are wide, and the tee boxes (5,200 to 7,100 yards) allow you to choose your challenge. The links-style, fescue rough is thinning out as the course matures, the greens are generally large and fair, and most of the holes play along three ridges that run parallel to the ocean.
For the ultimate experience, book a 50-minute helicopter ride from Auckland airport, wine and dine in the plantation-style clubhouse, and stay in one of the eight luxurious cottages overlooking the 10th fairway. Julian Robertson, a Wall Street hedge fund giant, owns the course and its surrounding 4,000 acres; his team has spared no expense, and they have a knack for tasteful, homey elegance with top service.
Robertson recently bought another property in New Zealand and may build more courses and destinations. “New Zealand is the Monterey Peninsula 75 years ago,” he says. Even if you’re not planning a trip to this part of the world, the photos are worth seeing (www.kauricliffs.com). But be warned: One look, and you may be in for a long plane ride.