On Wednesday we had a 10:00 tee time at Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary. Wairakei is owned by a wealthy dairy farmer that the locals in Taupo refer to as smiley, because no one has ever seen him smiling. As you arrive at the course you first see this beautiful totem pole from the Maori, beautiful they we headed to the golf shop to sign in. It is at this point you get your golf cart and then proceed to a gate that opens and lets you into the course. Russ, the golf pro explained to us that the course is barricaded all around to keep out rodents and other critters that can damage the grounds or eat other wildlife that is within the sanctuary grounds. They have many variety of wildlife that has a hard time surviving outside the protected area such as the Kiwi bird.
A little history on the course development: “The Wairakei Geothermal Park is a place of majestic beauty. It was against this impressive backdrop that leading British Golf Course Architect Commander John Harris saw potential to create a championship golf course like no other.
Skirting the edges of active geothermal fields he used the volcanic contours to sculpt fairways, elevate tees and greens and bury hazards within the natural landscape.”
According to the book “Greatest Golf Holes of New Zealand” In the 1970’s the course was considered to be in the world top 100. After the course was sold, it fell on bad times for many years from neglect. Since the new owner, “Smiley” took over it has become pristine. The course is now considered one of the best resort courses in New Zealand because it is a fair test of golf to all abilities.
We went to the practice area to warm up and soon it was our turn on the tee, what a beautiful entry to hole #1 (the first picture). The grounds and golf course are pristine. We could see that this would be a course to remember. There are dry areas on the course because they have not had ran in about 7 weeks but the ball is very playable any place you land except the high grass. Since the entire course is fenced there seems to be mostly birds on the course. We saw a number of pheasant and quail. We cam up to #7 tee to see this Mom and baby..pretty cute! This course is not to be missed it was a good challenge, pristine lies and the greens were wonderful.
Here are a few of our golf pictures!
We returned for a another wonderful night at Pat and Russell’s.
John and Janice – I am so enjoying the highlights of your trip to New Zealand. I so wish we could have gone with you, but things are crazy at work, so it would not have been a good time to take that much time off! But when I get to be retired like you two, then I’ll have all the time in the world! Have another bottle of wine or two or three for me and Bill.