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Designed to blend with the surrounding bush and terrain, Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary provides a picturesque setting thanks to a first-of-its-kind pest-proof sanctuary. It is recognised as one of the top golf courses in all of New Zealand. While navigating the track, a few holes stand out.
Sixth hole - a 400m par four features an elevated tee box that is set at the highest point on the course, with a two-step fairway that leads to a narrow green surrounded by sand on three sides. Without an accurate, long drive, an accurate long-iron will be necessary to be putting for Birdie.
Eighth hole - a slightly shorter par-four at 349m, the eighth requires another accurate tee shot, this time to avoid the water hazard off to the right in order to land on the fairway’s flat part. The two-tiered green is guarded by water in the front, along with bunkers on either side.
Fourteenth hole - deemed “The Rogue”, the par-five fourteenth hole is a mammoth 549m righthand dogleg with a large tree strategically placed to block approach shots into the elevated, boomerang-shaped green. Once safely on the fairway, players must decide which way to approach the green, to the right or left of the tree. The goal of a clear, lofted wedge for a third shot will be the norm, as reaching in two and having a putt for Eagle is a rare event.
The first and only Jack Nicklaus signature golf course in New Zealand, the Kinloch Club opened its first nine-hole track in March 2007. The second nine opened for play in December that year. While many think of Muirfield Village when considering a Nicklaus design, this is not the case at Kinloch. The course pays homage to the great Irish and British links-style courses, even as it lies about as far from the sea as one can get in New Zealand.
One pair of holes is particularly interesting while traversing the Nicklaus masterpiece.
Third hole - an elevated tee shot over a water hazard looms on this 169m par-three, where a lightning-fast green awaits. The view is the tale here. Thanks to Lake Taupo in the distance the hole is the most visually stunning hole on the front-side.
18th hole - among the more approachable holes on the course, the 517m par-five hole is widely considered one of the finest finishing holes in New Zealand. An open landing zone from the tee box is off to the left, while the fairway moves to the right before coming back to a water-protected green. Not overly difficult, this welcoming closer may just ease some of the pain inflicted by many lost balls and challenges over the prior 17 holes.
With a pair of 18-hole golf courses, Taupo Golf Club offers golfers a fine example of a classic Kiwi inland course. Thanks to a track set among the geothermal activity that is prevalent in the region. The scenic views and rugged terrain create a unique experience. The par-five seventh hole on the Centennial Course represents the most difficult of the 36. Like all holes on the track, it requires a solid strategy as recovery is difficult throughout the course.
The 19th hole is another important tradition in golf. A completed round of golf need not mean the day is at an end. When it comes to après golf — that is, after golf — Taupo has some great places to catch a meal and the drink of your choice while discussing the course.
Plateau Restaurant + Eatery is a good choice if you’re into a community-oriented environment, fresh and innovative food (their words), and good craft beer. For a quick, local bite, Piccolo Licensed Cafe would be a good place to stop in. Taupo offers an amazing array of eating options though, from dine dining to mobile food trucks and a pub lunch with a beer.
But why not make a day of it and spend those golfing "after hours" doing something equally interesting or relaxing and fun?
Beyond eating and drinking, après golf extends to other activities. Taupo is packed with unique experiences that make a wonderful end to a hard-fought round of golf.
Get out on the water for a kayaking adventure or, for those with a taste for more extreme sports, flyboarding. For a more cultural experience, take a sailing trip to view the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings. Anyone seeking body treatments needs to visit Soothe Spa at Taupo DeBretts for the perfect way to relax after a sporty morning.