Waitara Golf Club
New Zealand's best value seaside golf?
The Round Up
Location: Waitara, Taranaki
Green Fees: $10 Honesty Box
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Advice: Open season straight down the middle!
The Takeaways: Incredible seaside views, Undulating land, Excellent layout of interesting holes, Below average conditioning (understandable given the resources on hand!
The 8th is a short downhill par 3 which often plays into the wind, straight out towards the water
The short Par 4 15th rides the coast upon a cliff with a blind tee shot over a ridge leaving an approach to an elevated tabletop green.
The 11th is a short par 4 dogleg left with the beach covering the left side of the fairway. Option to layup or longer hitters can drive the green.
I’ll start this off hot. Waitara may well be New Zealand’s best keep secret golfing secret. With no tee booking system or pro shop in sight, placing a $10 note (talk about value!) in the rugged honesty box will get you straight out onto the course. There’s a good chance you’ll be the only ones out there, the Saturday we played the course we only saw two other groups!
Laid out in a tight pocket of land on the West Coast of New Zealand, 15 minutes from New Plymouth, Waitara is the definition of a no frills country golf club experience. You’re likely to see more singlets than polos, more beers than Powerades and a few four-wheel-drives cutting through the course. This is Kiwi golf in its purest form.
The first thing you’ll notice about Waitara is the scorecard is quirky. With six one-shotters and a single par five, the course plays as a tight and short Par 67 – ideal for a quick round which you should be able to hussle through in around three hours. Trees are loosely scattered across the property, lining a number of fairways, but with plenty of space between them as to not heavily impact the playability of the course.
The overall conditioning of the course is fair, with the greens running true and fair but on the slower side. The course itself plays softer than a typical seaside course, however it takes absolutely nothing away from the playability or experience of playing the golf course. This is a testament to what can be achieved with a small green keeping team given limited resources!
Waitara’s front 9, mostly routed through the inland portion of the course, is fine without being overly memorable, mixing holes which vary in length and require some strategic thinking particularly off the tee. Most of the holes play short but tight, ready to punish golfers who bite off a bit more than they can chew. There is enough in these holes to keep you engaged, but nothing you’re likely to write home about.
What makes Waitara truly special is the stretch of holes from 11-16 which rides the coastline, and I dare say no stretch of holes in the country will play as closely to the beach as these, with the rocky shores prevalent throughout, with shades of a lite version of Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. Not only does this run of holes tightly hug the coast, but they also occupy some of the best golfing land that you’ll find anywhere. Dunes frequent this part of the course, as well as rippled fairways with dramatic bumps and swales creating opportunities for some extremely engaging and fun shots. With not a bunker across the course, the tumbling land surrounding the greens becomes the main defence!
In a country where we are inundated with parkland golf, Waitara is an exceptional deviation from the norm, offering an opportunity for everyone to experience a well-designed course with stunning vistas. This is the best value golf you will find anywhere, without a shadow of a doubt. For pure enjoyment factor, Waitara beats out just about anywhere and is a place that I could come back to every day without getting bored. The best part is, I could do it without any shoes on.
Without even trying, as a result of the land it occupies and some sneakily clever architecture, Waitara presents itself as one of the most engaging golf courses I have ever played. Blind tee shots, approaches and par threes make sure you’re never too comfortable.
Short, drivable par 4s with greens running off the edges of cliffs, postage stamp, punchbowl and double-tiered greens – the variety across the course is close to unmatched, and mixed with dramatic views it becomes a can’t miss golfing experience.
Booking a Tee Time
You can't! Waitara has no bookings available. Turn up, pay your $10 into the honesty box and step up to the first tee!
Where to Stay
New Plymouth, around 15 minutes South of Waitara is the pick of the cities and towns in the area, offering plenty of accommodation for all budgets. There are also options to stay along the coast too.
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes:
Taranaki has a few decent options for golf at especially affordable rates.
- New Plymouth Golf Club (Ngamotu Links)
- Fitzroy Golf Club
- Hawera Golf Club
What to do in the Area
- Hike in the incredible Mount Egmont National Park
- Explore Taranaki's rugged West Coast beaches
- Walk or ride New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway