Te Arai Links

We have barely begun to adjust to our new exotic environment of New Zealand and we are on our way to Te Arai Links. If I did not know this course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw I could have worked it out. The fact that it is so walkable, the excellent routing, the short distance from green to next tee, maximizing the beauty and all the natural features of the site — all their hallmarks are present.

The local Māori meaning of Te Arai is “the other side of the veil” and the terrain of trees, sand dunes and coastal views are all unveiled as we play our round. Coore and Crenshaw use the heaving sand ridge landforms and meandering valleys to create drama. Like a symphony, there are soft passages and then crescendos of beauty unfolding like when we see the stunning, white sand surf beaches. We also took the time to view their handsomely-appointed on-site suites. It would certainly be great to stay there when the new North Course, designed by Tom Doak, opens in October 2023. There is great fun to be had at Jim’s Folly, the 2.5 acre putting green.

You might have heard of Tara Iti Golf Club, opened in 2015, and also designed by Tom Doak. We saw a steady stream of helicopters, possibly from Tara Iti, shuttling golfers and perhaps prospective buyers to look at the exclusive housing lots being released on the Te Arai property. Quite a busy corner of Mangawhai.


Lake Taupo — our restful home for a couple of nights

We loved being around this gigantic crater lake, created by a massive volcanic eruption that occurred about 25,000 years ago. The lake is obviously a popular holiday spot, especially for trout fishing. In the town of Taupo I also discovered a French themed salon called Creme Brulee, where in the capable hands of Cheyenne (her Kiwi mom just loved the name), I could tidy up my disheveled hair.

We found great eateries like Victoria’s Cafe Kitchen Bar, serving all day breakfast/brunch and the Thai Delight Restaurant where we indulged in Prawn Cakes (minced prawn and pork with plum sauce) for a starter. They also had excellent wine choices like the Brookfields Sauvignon Blanc from Hawke’s Bay, which we found had a high evaporation rate!

From our base by Lake Taupo Kevin and I zipped over to The Kinloch Club. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, and opened in 2007, we were amused by the “Irish drop rule” printed on the scorecard: Any lost ball can be treated as lost in a water hazard. One shot penalty at point of entry. Very handy for me on this difficult course, where I often noted on my card: “Very tough hole.” No problem for Kevin though, who plays off a 6 handicap and relished the stern test.

Tom Long, the Director of Golf, PGA Golf Professional, graciously met us on his day off to provide the essential Course Guide and point us in the direction of the first tee. Other than the grounds crew, we had the place to ourselves. The gorgeous scenery included distant views of the deep blue lake. It was fun to learn that Tom is a fellow writer and contributor to a New Zealand-based magazine called THE CUT GOLF.

Harrie Geraerts, Manager of Kinloch Manor & Villas showed us around the luxurious accommodations, which were fully booked months in advance. The main building, modern with eccentric touches here and there, featured a comfortable great room with magnificent views, a quirky bar area and a spacious dining room. Abundant vegetable gardens graced the lower ground, framed by heaving hills where cattle grazed.

At The Kinloch Club, we also learned about Treetops, a sister property, that is a Wilderness Retreat, nestled in the rural hills of Rotorua. It sounds like a fabulous place to unwind and restore.


Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary

Although we did not play a round at Wairakei, we enjoyed learning about the bird sanctuary that is part of this property outside of Taupo. The ambitious project is the brainchild of owner Gary Lane. The course is immersed inside a wildlife sanctuary, where around 25,000 native trees and five thousand exotics have been planted to encourage bird life and further improve the park-like surroundings.

Pheasants, guinea fowl, and fallow deer have also been released on to the property. Wairakei has become home to many kiwi chicks now that there is a kiwi egg incubation facility at the sanctuary.

There has been a noticeable increase in insect life, tree seedlings and native birds like the tui, with its distinctive white throat tuft, which is part of the Wairakei emblem.The sanctuary eagerly awaits the two kārearea (New Zealand falcon) that return annually to nest.



Here you can read New Zealand Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4