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Designed to blend with the surrounding bush and terrain, the Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary provides a picturesque setting with a first-of-its-kind pest-proof sanctuary that has become recognized as one of the top golf courses in all of New Zealand. While navigating the track, a few holes stand out.
6th Hole - a 437 yard par-4 features an elevated tee box that is set at the highest point on the course, leading to a two-step fairway which 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.
8th Hole - a slightly shorter par-4 at 382 yards, the 8th requires another accurate tee shot, this time to avoid the water hazard off to the right so 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.
14th Hole - deemed “The Rogue”, the par-5 8th hole is a mammoth 600-yard dogleg right 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 built in New Zealand, the Kinloch Club opened its first nine-hole track in March of 2007, with the second nine opened for play in December of that year. While many think of Muirfield Village when considering a Nicklaus design, not so is the case at Kinloch. The course pays homage to the great Irish and British links-style courses, even as it is set about as far from the sea as one can get in New Zealand.
A pair of holes are particularly interesting while making the way through the Nicklaus masterpiece.
3rd Hole - an elevated tee shot over a water hazard looms on this 185 yard par-3, where a lightning-fast green awaits. The view is the tale on this hole, with Lake Taupo seen off in the distance the hole is the most visually stunning hole on the front-side.
18th Hole - one of the more approachable holes on the course, the 565 yard par-5 finishing hole is widely considered as 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, the welcoming closer can ease some of the pain of the many lost balls from the challenges of the prior 17 holes.
With a pair of 18-hole golf courses, the Taupo Golf Club offers golfers a fine example of a classic Kiwi inland course, with the track set among the geothermal activity that is prevalent in the region. The scenic views and rugged terrain create a unique experience, and while none of the holes are particularly of note, the par-5 7th 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. Once your round of golf is done, that doesn’t 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 your day on 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. If you’re more into a quick, local bite, Piccolo Licensed Cafe would be a good place to stop in. There’s an array of amazing restaurants around Taupo, though, so wherever you are, you should find something worthwhile.
You don’t need to just get a meal and a drink, though. Après golf extends to other activities. Taupo is packed with unique experiences that would make a wonderful end to a hard-fought round of golf.
If you enjoy being on the water, you can go on a kayaking adventure, or for those with more a taste of extreme sports, flyboarding. For a more cultural experience, take a sailing trip to view some of the best Maori carvings around. If you’re into body treatments, Soothe Spa at Taupo DeBretts is a must-visit and the perfect way to relax after a sporty morning.
The 19th hole doesn’t have to be about a pub lunch and a beer (although it can be if that’s what you’re feeling into!). You’re going to be spending hours on the golf course already, why not make a day of it and spend the “after hours” doing something equally as interesting but more relaxing and fun?
Imagine the experience of playing golf on a world class championship course, immersed in the natural beauty of a wildlife sanctuary. The predator-free sanctuary offers a safe haven to fallow deer and many birdlife including endangered kiwi & takahē.$195 - $275
A Top 100 golf course, the Kinloch Club is a Championship inland links style Jack Nicklaus signature design. Measuring 6519 yards off the white tees, and 7363 yards off the Championship tees, Kinloch offers an exceptional golfing experience.$125 - $235
Taupo's local course complements its famous near neighbours by offering the New Zealand version of Augusta's famous 'Amen Corner'.$15 - $70
The Hole in One is a fun activity for all ages. Try hitting a golf ball 100 metres over the lake and onto a floating pontoon - it's a challenge. We have the best views over the Lake to the Mountains for taking the ultimate holiday snap. A must do.$1 - $25