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Special Interest

Golf is becoming an increasingly popular tourist activity with thousands of visitors travelling to New Zealand each year to play the sport.

New Zealand has around 400 golf courses that are ‘designed by nature', set within natural landscapes that span the diversity of our geography.

In recent years there has been an enormous investment in both existing and new facilities, which means that New Zealand now offers internationally ranked courses that are not crowded and easily accessible from main centres.

There are strong links between golf tourism and other tourism activities, such as food and wine experiences, and Tourism New Zealand has leveraged this in its golf marketing activities and strategy. 

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What do we know about this sector of travellers?

  • Between 2006–2016, more than 712,000 golf tourists visited New Zealand.
  • Annually around 3% of international holiday visitors play golf while visiting New Zealand.
  • On average, golf tourists spend 30% more on their visit (~ $5,450 compared with $4,100, YE June 2016 figures).
  • They tend to stay in New Zealand for longer periods than typical visitors (a quarter stay in New Zealand for a month or more compared with the median stay of nine days).
  • Golf tourists tend to be slightly more satisfied with their visit to New Zealand than the average visitor.
  • Markets that provide the most golf tourists include Australia, USA, China, and Japan.
    • Australia: 44,891 golf visitors (52% total market: YE June 2016)
    • USA: 8,848 golf visitors (9% total market YE June 2016; 60% year-on-year growth YE June 2015-16)
    • China: 4,494 golf visitors (5% total market YE June 2016; 43% year-on-year growth YE June 2015-16)
    • Japan: 2,332 golf visitors (3% total market YE June 2016; 55% year-on-year growth YE June 2015-16)

Who are we targeting?

Golf visitors tend to be high value travelers who are passionate about golf.

Tourism New Zealand’s promotions target golfers aged 45 and over from Australia, USA, China, and Japan who travel specifically to play or watch golf, with other activities complementing their golf holiday. They are mostly male but tend to travel with a partner or in small groups. They are well educated with professional or managerial roles. Wine and restaurants feature prominently in their ‘outside golf’ activities, and they tend to do their research before they travel to ensure a destination will deliver.

Tourism New Zealand also targets multi-motivated golfers aged 40 and over from all markets who are also looking for other experiences in their choice of holiday destination. While golf is a key motivator to visit, they also look for activities beyond golf. As a result their holidays are often just as much about great meals, wine and attractions as they are about the golf games and courses.

Key insight and our points of difference

International golf visitors want courses that have amazing vistas and are clearly different from the courses they play at home. New Zealand's points of difference are:

  • Stunning vistas (our courses are set against a backdrop of stunning New Zealand nature and awe inspiring scenery)
  • Local and diverse (NZ is filled with golf courses offering a diverse range of experience)
  • Post-game indulgence( although courses are immersed in nature, world class food and wine, spa, vineyards and accommodation are never far away)

Key barriers

 The key barrier from consumer perception is:

  • I haven’t actually thought about New Zealand as a golf destination. 
  • Will quality courses be few and far between and too remote from the comforts I like to enjoy while on holiday?

How are we promoting golf tourism?

Tourism New Zealand’s golf promotions fit within the organisation’s successful international marketing strategy of the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign, including partnering with influential travel sellers, high profile celebrities, and opinion leaders in the sport (including Lydia Ko, and New Zealand Golf), engaging with New Zealand golf courses and operators, and providing relevant and up-to-date information for golfing visitors.

Tourism New Zealand’s international golf marketing strategy focuses promotion on our 12 world-class Marquee (premium) courses including Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers, and The Hills; and our 27 Experience courses that give visitors a taste of the local community and which are also nearby other tourist attractions (e.g. Canterbury’s Terrace Downs High Country Resort, nearby Mount Hutt and the gateway to Arthur’s Pass National Park). These are promoted heavily on newzealand.com and through our comprehensive Golf Guide (compiled with AA Traveller).

Tourism New Zealand maintains a presence at key international trade shows such as the Asia Golf Tourism Convention, the North America Golf Tourism Convention, and the US PGA show; leverages major events such as the New Zealand Golf Open and Asia Pacific Amateur Championship events; and holds media familiarisation visits focused on golf tourism.

Who are we working with?

Tourism New Zealand is working directly with golf courses to help them to understand the value and opportunities of international golf travel, and help them to deliver world-class experiences to all international golf visitors, who in turn will become advocates of New Zealand as a golfing destination.

We are supporting the development of golf tourism clusters whereby operators offering related product work together. This approach is already working well in Queenstown and we are seeing positive results in other regions where our Experience golf courses are promoted alongside existing tourist attractions.