Some may remember their first ever round of golf, especially if like me they began playing as an adult. For me it was at Wairakei International, as it was known then. I remember the feelings of nervousness and trepidation standing on the first tee of this highly rated course.
I have played there several times since and every time I go I become more impressed at the beauty, stunning environment and now at the variety of birds and animals that can be found around the course.
On our latest visit, I made a point of spending time just relaxing in the modern clubhouse. The original clubhouse sat beside the 18th green, inside the fence. It was a beautiful place to sit as Tuis frequented the gardens and trees around it. As part of turning the course into a sanctuary the new clubhouse was built outside the fence and the original building stopped being used and eventually removed.
I love the layout of the comfortable clubhouse with its open plan. Entering through the pro shop it is easy to be tempted to buy something to add to the golf attire section of the wardrobe but I manage to steal myself away from the displays and carry on into the café. Its high vaulted ceiling and different seating areas with enormous potted palms dotted around makes it an enjoyable place to sit and have a coffee (or in my case a wine) and something tasty from the menu. The outdoor seating is especially inviting allowing you to look over a practice putting green on one side or take in the view over the first fairway and the new lake from the other side.
The lake is the latest addition to the ongoing development of Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary and lies between the clubhouse and first fairway.
Sitting on the golf course side of the ‘XCluder’ fence the lake with its small waterfall joining the two levels, provides a picturesque diversion for both people sitting in the café and those teeing off the first.
From the clubhouse the lake gives the impression that the water could cause problems as you tee off but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
While there is the possibility of hitting over the water from the two back tees, depending on where you place your ball and aim, it shouldn’t interfere with your game as the water’s edge doesn’t extend past the beginning of the fairway.
The lake has plenty of life around with numerous ducks and water birds of varying breeds making it their playground and home. While I was there I saw two families of ducks with their ducklings along with several other water birds. Adding to the interest was a group of white ducks that came waddling across the fairway to greet me, I assume they thought my camera was food!
Once I managed to drag myself away from the serenity of the lake I continued around the course. I continue to be in awe of what has been achieved every time I drive around the course. The 3rd to 5th holes are where I always slow down as the Takahe can often be seen around here. Considering there are so few left in the world I have been lucky enough to see these fascinating birds each time I have visited Wairakei. This time I considered myself extremely lucky as I spotted a little ball of black fluff darting through the long grass beside the path. It is easy to think it is some other type of bird as the black fluff bears no resemblance to the beautifully coloured bird that it will grow into.
Continuing around the course there is the natural beauty and the wildlife to continually slow visitors down as you take it all in. I am a bit of a sucker for New Zealand’s natural environment. I love being outside enjoying the beautiful natural environment that New Zealand has so being able to play golf on a world class course and inside a sanctuary is a fantastic experience.
My admiration goes out to everybody who has had a hand in developing both the course and the sanctuary, it is a tribute to all of them and something that we should all be proud of as a place that will be on the bucket list of New Zealand and International visiting golfers.
I can’t wait until my next visit!
18 hole championship golf course – Par 72, 6460 metres from the championship tees.
Pro shop – Is fully stocked with leading brands like Callaway, Taylormade, Adidas, Footjoy, Oakley, and more. An excellent selection of mens and ladies Wairakei branded clothing, caps and visors. A variety of shoes, golf balls, putters, bags and accessories are also on offer. Everything a golfer needs.
Hire carts – There are 62 motorised golf carts available for hire. Bookings advised.
Hire clubs – They offer an executive range of hire clubs that include the latest models from Callaway, Ping, Taylormade and Titleist. Bookings essential.
Hire trundlers – Complimentary three wheel trundlers are available upon request.
Clubhouse. Fully licensed, serving fresh and delicious food whilst overlooking the beautiful scenery of the golf course.
Practice areas – full swing practice tee, short game bunker area and putting green.
Phone: +64 7 374 8152