Where is Kaitaia Golf Club?
Kaitaia is located in Ahipara, one of the furthest points north on the North Island and one of the last points prior to continuing up toward Cape Reinga. Finding the golf club itself was somewhat of a challenge, as there are not markers or signs for many of the clubs in New Zealand and this one was no exception. Relying on GPS will bring you to an unpaved road near the course, but will result in a u-turn and following instinct toward the sea.
Follow Ahipara Rd until you find the school (Ahipara School) on the left and take a right on Takahe Rd. Follow it past the homes until it ends and you are there. As you approach the course you will emerge from farmland (pretty much dominates the landscape for the last 45 mins as you drive west toward the coast) to be greeted by the course itself located directly next to 90 mile beach.
This is almost the beginning of the beach, which is a beautiful and long and wide- complete with a gorgeous wave break. There is no water that comes into play on the course itself, but players do need to account for what the wind is doing off of the sea in order to shape shots correctly.x
Getting to this course is over an hour's drive west from the Kerikeri Airport (KKE) or about 3.5 hours north from Auckland. If driving, once leaving the Auckland CBD the roads are well paved with hills and beach towns dotted up the coast. Many of these towns will be where second homes and beach "batches" for those in Auckland to escape on the weekends and in the summer.
What are the course and surroundings like at Kaitaia?
Referred to as an "experience" course by New Zealand Tourism this course is locally maintained and home to members that live in the area (and a few beyond). It was in decent condition when visited on our last "famil" (November 2016) considering that there has been rain in the area for pretty much all of spring. The fairways had patches of brown and the greens were quick due to a steady prevailing wind which came off of the beach. Fairways were well drained due to the sandy base underneath. Small pine trees and native brush trees separated holes, perhaps removing Kaitaia from the traditional definition of a links, however its seaside location, small mounds/ dunes and undulations are no doubt shaped from the earth.
This course does not have the budget to maintain the fairways to championship condition, but that is not what one should expect when playing it. Think about stepping back in time to when golf as a game showed off the local conditions and players needed to account for changing conditions, local brush and hole locations shaped from what the land provided. Kaitaia is a throwback golf course and should be appreciated for what it is- which is certainly something many do not get to experience in the United States.
When is the best time of the year to play Kaitaia?
Because Kaitaia is located at one of the most northern parts of the North Island this course can be played all year long. The "winterless north" is the most mild in the country. However you are close to the sea when playing this course so be prepared to bring rain gear and to battle wind.
Are there accommodations around Kaitaia?
The town of Kaitaia is small... very small, with little in terms of accommodations that we would recommend for clients. Including Kaitaia into your itinerary should take into account expectations of the player, elements, and how the course would fit into larger travel plans.
With the weather cooperating between bouts of rain on a visit in the springtime (November) I was able to get decent overhead views of the course and surrounding area. The prevailing wind was off of the ocean with a decent wind coming off of the water and a high cloud cover threatened sprinkles but never opened up. I really enjoyed Kaitaia and thought it was cool to see the club holding a meeting in the clubhouse the afternoon I arrived- complete with Christmas tree already decorated. A very Kiwi experience!