Kauri Cliffs at dawn is absolutely still, save for the soothing sound of ocean waves. Sunrise over the Pacific, a whale spout or two, not to mention some wonderful golf.
For these reasons and many more, Kauri Cliffs Golf Club, a year-old resort course, has risen quickly up the list of "gloat destinations" for well-heeled golf aficionados.
Wall Street billionaire Julian Robertson, who owns more than 5,000 acres on the Pacific coast at the lush north end of New Zealand's North Island, has made Kauri Cliffs his pet project. The cliff-top course offers stunning views of the Bay of Islands.
"Julian's goal was to make it better than anything in this part of the world," said Dave Harman, the Orlando, Fla.-based builder/ architect who designed Kauri Cliffs. "He wants it to be in world-class condition, and that's what we're striving for."
The course was constructed to Harmanize with the natural features of the land, and it succeeds magnificently. Six holes are played alongside cliffs, which plunge into the sea, and 15 holes on the par-72, 7,000-plus yard course offers views of the Pacific.
Perhaps the most panoramic portion of the course comes on Nos. 15-17, a stunning stretch where pristine fairways sweep down to cliff-perching greens.
The course obviously is the drawing card at Kauri Cliffs, but the eye-catching sights don't finish when you've finished your round.
The clubhouse blends a country motif and New Zealand villa feel, which was bought to life by noted New Zealand interior designer Virginia Fischer. It features totara wood floors, custom lighting and wrap-around verandas that are "very New Zealand," according to Fischer. Almost all the clubhouse furnishings were made in New Zealand, adding to the native-land experience.