Arikikapakapa Golf Club
A geothermal wonderland disguised as a golf course, Arikikapakapa presents an experience unique to the golfing world
The Round Up
Location: Rotorua, Central North Island
Green Fees: NZ Resident- $55, Overseas Visitor- $95
Kiwi Caddy’s First Tee Advice: Hit a driver hard, there’s nothing to scare you off it!
The Takeaways: Decent conditioning across a unique landscape, Elite 4 hole stretch (14-17) of vistas and hole layouts, Friendly and welcoming environment, The front 9 leaves plenty to be desired
Signature Hole: 16th Hole
Insider Knowledge: Pack a few extra balls, you may need them!
The Par 3 14th requires a carry over the geothermal lake to a sloping green, with geothermal pools short left.
The 15th is a short par 4 with the thermal lakes to your right, opportunity to drive the green for longer hitters, excellent risk reward!
The par 4 16th hole is the signature hole, a dogleg right from an elevated tee with the lake hugging the entire right hand side of the fairway – views on views!
There’s something in the air in Rotorua. It certainly doesn’t smell good, but it’s the reason the reason the land rolls as It does, the turf plays so well, and the views are so magnificent. Using any measuring stick in the world of golf, Arikikapapa is if nothing else, unique. Laid out in the Central North Island city of Rotorua, Arikikapapa (Translating to ‘the gentle sound of plopping mud’ in the native Maori language) presents one of only two global opportunities to play golf across active geothermal land.
However, established in 1906 as one of the oldest clubs in the country, Arikikapakapa should not be relegated to novelty status. Upon visiting and playing the golf course in 1927, the late, great Dr. Alistair McKenzie noted “They have a course in Rotorua, in the middle of the volcanic region, where the turf is as good as any golf course. Its excellence seems to indicate that an excess of Sulphur is favourable to the development of the finest of the dwarf golfing grasses”. You would be hard pressed to find a golfer who isn’t a fan of Mckenzie’s work, so I don’t think it’s unfair to say that anything that’s good enough for him is good enough for me.
Arikikapapa has a proud local community feel and upon realizing we weren’t locals, a number of members jumped at the opportunity to welcome us to their home, set the scene for the unique experience to come, as well as explaining how much the golf club means to themselves and their community. Arikikapakapa is a proper local kiwi club.
Arikikapapa is a tale of two nines. The front nine, primarily routed away from the geothermal activity and lakes, is an orthodox parkland golf course with fairly straight, tree lined holes, leaving a lot to be desired. It does however, provide glimpses of the featured holes on the back nine, building anticipation for what’s to come. Although the front side is playable, it's certainly nothing to write home about.
As forgettable as the front nine is, the back side is equally unforgettable. Holes 14 through 17 are expertly routed, winding through geothermal pools and lakes which cling to the edge of the fairway, boasting expansive views throughout. This stretch of holes alone makes Arikikapakapa worth the price of admission with steaming lakes and the sound of gurgling mud presenting a Jurassic feel to the place.
The par 4 16th hole is the signature hole, a dogleg right from an elevated tee with the lake hugging the entire right hand side of the fairway – views on views! Take a moment to truly savour this stretch of holes as it’s a golfing experience like no other and showcases a side of New Zealand people travel across the world for. In speaking to the pro, he was quick to mention the club has future plans to re-route a number of holes through the geothermal features, making better use of the incredible land at their disposal. If done so correctly, this will boost Rotorua up the list of New Zealand golf courses.
Could the course do with some re-routing? Sure, but sheer quality of the four hole stretch on the back nine should be enough to convince anyone that Arikikapakapa is a golf course worth playing if they're in the area. There are plenty of fun shots with some quirky designs implemented into the course, including a centre-fairway tree on the closing hole! Sit back and enjoy the show, it’s a unique golfing and cultural experience, bundled up into a friendly community club.
Booking a Tee Time
Arikikapakapa could not be more welcoming of guests. They will greet you with a smile and treat you as a member for the day. Bookings are easily arranged a few days in advance and you likely won't have any issues walking up and playing!
Send an email to the pro shop HERE to arrange a tee time
Where to Stay
Rotorua is a tourism centre of New Zealand. The city showcases geothermal activity and traditional Maori culture, attracting crowds of tourists across the year. There is plenty to do off the golf course that will keep you both busy and informed.
High End: The Pullman Rotorua is the first and only 5 star offering in Rotorua. Offering sharp rooms with expansive views, the Pullman is the pick of the bunch within the city centre.
Mid-Range: The Holiday Inn, located in the CBD offers comfortable rooms a short walk from the geothermal centre
Budget: KARANDA B&B, located a 10 minute from the centre, offers boutique rooms featuring patios with expansive views at great value!
Best Golf Within 45 Minutes:
Rotorua is part of the Western Bay of Plenty region and if you're keen to play some more golf there are a few alternative options:
- Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary (Taupo)
- Springfield Golf Club
- Lakeview Golf & Country Club
What to do in the Area
Buckle up and go whitewater rafting along the Kaituna River, featuring world's highest commercially rafted waterfall boasting an almighty 7 metre drop with Kaitiaki Adventures
Educate yourself with Māori culture and the stories of the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at Te Puia. View the Pōhutu Geyser spurting hot water, view traditional carvings at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, and take down a traditional Maori meal a 'hangi'
Take a night walk through the towering Redwoods with Redwoods Treewalk
Soak your body post-round in the famous Polynesian Hot Springs on the lakefront