The Wairakei International Golf Course was built by the New Zealand government’s Tourist Hotel Corporation, set midway between Auckland and Wellington, in the heart of the spectacular scenery of the Lake Taupo region. Built as a green fee facility, rather than a club facility, the course is open to all who spend their holidays in the neighbourhood of Lake Taupo.
Officially opened in 1970, the course lies on 180 hectares of natural rolling countryside and was developed to meet the rigorous design standards required for world-class championship competition. The difficult job of design was put in the hands of the late Commander John Harris, Michael Wolveridge and Peter Thomson. Commander Harris was England’s leading and most travelled golf course architect, whose family had been involved in the construction of Moor Park, Wentworth and Sunningdale. Combined with Wolveridge, an Englishman whose keen appreciation of the subtleties of golf course architecture, was enriched by a spell on the US professional tour. This pair was enhanced by the involvement of one of the world’s greatest ever playing professionals, Australian Peter Thomson, 5 times winner of the British Open plus many other tour events. With the aim of producing New Zealand’s first internationally recognised golf course, there is little doubt in any New Zealanders mind that this trio exceeded all expectations.
The end result is a course that sprawls over the property using the natural contours to the fullest. This coupled with the 6414 metres from the championship tees and 108 large well placed bunkers, has lead to worldwide acclaim. In 2005 US Golf Digest rated Wairakei 54th best golf course outside of the USA. This plus featuring in publications like the World Atlas of Golf, enhance our growing reputation but really it is the natural beauty and sheer experience of the property that makes Wairakei a must for both serious and casual golfers. A don’t miss experience.
Overall the general layout of the course remains true to the original design, but over the last four decades there have been a number of enhancements to the golf course and experience.
Lakes, waterfalls and streams are some of the features that have been added over the years, complementing the natural beauty of the landscape and testing the skill of players.
To enhance the ecological habitats for wildlife, the golf course owner concluded that a predator proof fence was the only effective way to achieve our objective. Hence a 5.5km boundary fence was erected around the course, preventing both climbing and burrowing animals from entering the property.
Around 25,000 native trees and five thousand exotics have been planted to encourage bird life and further improve the park like surroundings. Mixed colour pheasants, guinea fowl, peking ducks and fallow deer have also been released on to the property.
In 2012, an agreement was established between Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary and the Department of Conservation to work cooperatively together to make the most of conservation and restoration opportunities within the sanctuary. That includes using the predator free environment as a crèche for kiwi chicks, a safe place for them to "find their feet" and grow.
“In Another World”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 9 June 2015
If you are serious about golf (even if your not), this is one of the courses in New Zealand you must play.
Drive through the gates and your in another world. Not only is it appealing to the eye and the other senses, it feels great.
I was very pleasantly surprised at the excellent condition of the course for a wintery day (previously been raining).
After having a good front nine on a challenging but beautiful front nine, Steve from the pro shop came out to see us on the tenth tee and offered to go back to the clubhouse and make us coffees; what a legend.
The back nine just got better, deer crossing the creek on the 11th hole, pheasants and ducks laughing at our tee shots, what a way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
A totally relaxing and wonderful experience, we'll be back, very soon!
Visited June 2015
“One of the best golf experiences in NZ”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 14 April 2015
Recently played Wairakei with a friend from Hawkes Bay and we both thoroughly enjoyed the day. From the minute we entered the course precinct we knew we were in for a treat. Front desk service was attentive and friendly. Our early pre golf lunch in the clubhouse was excellent and the practice facilities are first class. The course (on Saturday!) was not overly busy and we played at our own pace which was great. The sanctuary bird life is terrific to see (we even saw pheasants on one hole) and the course was maintained to a very high standard. Excellent greens. The golf course is challenging but most enjoyable. Highly recommended.
Visited March 2015
“Gorgeous golf course, idyllic setting”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 April 2015
Impeccably maintained parkland golf course set among lush surrounding and with beautiful vistas due to the rolling terrain. The variety of birds among the sanctuary added to the charm. An excellent variety of holes and the pace of play was a great tempo but not rushed!
Visited February 2015