New Zealand's reputation for having some of the world's cheapest green fees changed dramatically with the arrival of a couple of big-money, world-class newcomers - Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers.
In a country where you can easily find a game for NZ$30, the opening of Kauri Cliffs (in 2000) and Cape Kidnappers (2004), where the green fee at both courses ranges from NZ$300 to NZ$400, has significantly raised the bar for exclusivity.
After a multimillion-dollar injection by US hedge fund guru Julian Robertson, the tranquil settings have been completely transformed. Golf Magazine included the state-of-the-art layouts in its top-100-courses-in-the-world list for 2005.
Kauri Cliffs, in Matauri Bay, a four hours' drive north of Auckland, offers a fantastic cliff-top setting with sweeping views of the Pacific on 15 of the holes. An abundance of pheasant, quail and other birdlife grace the 2,023-hectare site.
But make no mistake - this is a beast of a course, with treacherous grasses that can swallow errant shots and an abyss that is never far away. The par threes on the front nine, holes number five and seven, are particularly impressive, as they require navigating huge carries to successfully reach the lightning-fast greens.
Kauri Cliffs is a complete resort with an awarding-winning resort hotel, spa and fine dining. Activities range from winery tours to boar hunting. The top-rate for a two-bedroom cottage will set you back NZ$7,000 a night in the peak season, without the golf.
Cape Kidnappers at Hawke's Bay, four hours northeast of Wellington, is equally dramatic. Each of the fairways sits atop craggy fingers of rock and earth high above the Pacific. Travel and Leisure Golf said it was 'not only the golf course of the year , it's now the eighth wonder of the golf world'.