Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary
New Zealand's Most Beautiful Parkland Layout
The Round Up
Location: Taupo, Bay of Plenty
Green Fees: $235
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Advice: Make sure you leave your drive short of the bunkers!
The Takeaways: Gorgeous parkland property with its own ecosystem, A couple of excellent short par 4s, Holes with excellent land movement and elevation changes, Pure conditioning tee to green!
The 5th is an excellent par 3 playing to a slightly elevated green over a creek and surrounded by pot bunkers.
The short par 4 8th is the iiconic sharp dogleg right with a stream hugging the right hand side and cutting across the front of the green
The 14th is a long par 5 doglegging right and playing to a large, kidney shaped green.
Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary has placed unprecedented emphasis on the preservation of wildlife in the golfing world. Owner Gary Lane has set about creating a golf course which revolved around conservation, surrounding the property with a five kilometer long, two metre tall fence to maintain a predator-free environment to house ducks, pheasants, deer, takahe and even Kiwi. Gary’s endeavours have proved nothing but fruitful and as numbers have grown, Wairakei has evolved into a thriving hive of activity where birds and deer carry on their everyday life amongst a paradise of 25,000 native trees and eighteen excellent golf holes.
The golf course at Wairakei is routed across severely rolling and undulating land, traversing dramatic climbs and steep drop offs. This land movement is the greatest defence of the golf course and working hand in hand with some elite fairway and greenside bunkering, the course promotes exciting and creative shot making. At times I found myself hitting shots from tees 30 metres above the fairway, and others I had a wedge into a daunting green towering over me. The best holes across the course are those which occupy the middle portion and feature the most dramatic land movements, whilst some of the holes routed around the outside on flatter land are naturally less intriguing. There is a decent amount of variety across the layout, the standouts being the short par 4s on the front nine which dogleg each way and play into greens over creeks.
The course has been designed in a way to perfectly capture and maximize its beauty, each hole providing a smorgasboard of views which frame the overarching mountains and the intricacies of its finer details- gorgeous clusters of flowers, inch perfect mowing lines and ponga-lined bunkers. No matter where you find your golf ball there will be something incredible to meet your eyes. The wall of pines at Wairakei which conserves its serenity also provides a picture perfect backdrop to golf shots, and watching balls cut through fresh air in their direction is one of golf’s great joys- the most poetic collision of golf and its landscape, perhaps Wairakei’s imperial metaphor.
Many holes feature some heavy fairway and greenside bunkering, and paired with a decent set of green complexes they make up the main defences of the holes. Holes are predominantly lined with a gorgeous collection of native trees, making for some tight tee shots and some narrow landing areas. The second cut of rough is relatively long in some spots and there is certainly potential for you to run through a sleeve or two if you’re not careful! The course is challenging, is an excellent walk and has a few holes that really make you think strategically. The greenkeeping team at Wairakei do an impeccable job and the conditioning of the greens and fairways are as pure as you will find anywhere in the country, providing for nothing but the best lies and the purest rolls.
Wairakei is one of those courses that is just a great place to be, to slow down and enjoy the walk. It’s a special and unique place in the world of golf, and a place that should not be missed upon a visit to New Zealand. It satisfies nature’s needs hand in hand with the needs of golfers, its course serving a purpose above and beyond those with a tee time which may well be a standalone trait in the world of golf. This is what makes Wairakei special, the golf course is good, but their wider intentions surpass any golf hole.
Booking a Tee Time
Easiest way to book a tee time is to send them a message HERE. Two week's notice should be plenty!
Where to Stay
Taupo town is 10 minutes away and is one of New zealand's tourist hubs with plenty of accommodation options for all budgets!
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes
Taupo is a destination with a few of New Zealand's top courses, and is well worth extending your stay to play them:
- Taupo Centennial Golf Club
What to do in the Area
Taupo (10mins away) is often dubbed the 'Queenstown of the North' for tourism so you will be spoiled for choice. Get stuck into a few adventure activities while you're here: