Wairakei Golf Course & Sanctuary

The first world-renown course in New Zealand, this quintessential Kiwi forest course features a pre-European natural surrounding in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary.

Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary

Built by the New Zealand government in 1970s to support tourism in the Lake Taupo area, Wairakei is now privately owned and boasts both incredible natural beauty and thermal activity. Golfers will notice a large perimeter fence to keep out predators from preying on birds which make their home in the sanctuary.

The course is very picturesque, with plumes of steam common as you walk amongst the geysers. Spread over a large area, landing zones are large but there is challenge via doglegs and water hazards throughout. Drivers off the tee will often sitdown upon landing (due to heavy watering within the fairway) so don't expect large rolls via a links-style course. Always well maintained, Wairakei is a truly a unique golfing experience in the heart of the country.

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Signature Holes:

6th: This 437 yard par-4 begins from an elevated tee box, actually the highest point on the course, which results in the tee-shot down to a two-step fairway. Long hitters will have a higher lofted club for an approach to a narrow green banked by sand on three sides.

8th: A challenging par-4 which plays 382 yards, the tee shot is important in order to avoid the water hazard to the right and to land on the flat part of the fairway. With water short and bunkers to the left and right of a two-tiered green, control of the approach shot is crucial. This is a very interesting hole!

14th: One of the longest and most iconic holes in New Zealand is "The Rogue." This 600 yard par-5 features a dogleg right and a very large tree which essentially blocks the approach to a elevated boomerang-shaped green. After a very straight tee shot players need to decide which way to hit.. right or left. An ability to shape shots around the tree and you might be able to putt for Eagle. However, as the green is very elevated, split-level, and protected by three deep bunkers... getting past the tree safely and taking the third shot with a lofted wedge is the correct play.

Customer reviews

We had a spectacular time on our trip after leaving Port Douglas and all the arrangements that you made for us came off without a hitch. All flights and transportation that you arranged were on time and we were well taken care of at all the places we went to.

The Boatshed was incredible. We met Johnathan and had a small dinner with him on our second night. We were the only guests at the hotel and he and his staff just made us feel right at home. Jack and Jen, Johnathan’s staff, took us out to a couple of wineries and we had lunch together. When we got back Johnathan treated us to dinner prepared by his own self. Fantastic.

Next up was Napier/Hastings and the Craggy Range cottage. Excellent choice for us. We were close enough to Havelock North to be able to easily drive into the town and wander around. We went and played Cape Kidnapers as well. The course was wet so no carts were allowed out. Craggy Range winery was great to us and we had dinner at Terroire. Great staff and good eats to be sure. On to Queenstown.

What a wonderfully European feel Queenstown had. Small intimate streets and people all over the place. The Spire was perfect for us. Florence greeted us and was superlative in her suggestions and ideas for us to do. We did take a plane ride out to Milford Sound and the cruise. We went wine tasting and went to Amisfield for lunch where there was a spectacular sunset. It was so good that the staff came outside to take pictures. Simply wonderful. We took the gondola ride up the hill and enjoyed a glass of champagne while we took in the view. That was our last day and really enjoyable. We left the next day and flew back home.

Again, all the arrangements you made of us came off without a hitch. I even drove on the left side of the road without incident. It’s not so bad once you figure out the roundabouts. Thanks to you and your team for setting this up. Will highly recommend this service to our friends should they need to journey down under.

—​Bob E & Sharyn B, San Francisco

Highlights Of The Trip: Getting off the plane in Queenstown – overwhelmed with the beauty. The boat ride in Queenstown to experience the expansiveness.

The drive from Queenstown to Franz Joseph - the mountains and glacier lakes that went on forever. Our lunch spot that day at a campsite on a lake. Abel Tasman: this is where I want to return and spend a week to hike the entire trail. Spent the day biking in Napier to wineries.

—Mary Jean S., Chapel Hill, NC