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Taupo & Kauri Cliffs

Our last golf in this area was to be at Taupo Golf club where there are two courses. The Centennial Course was temporarily closed and looked ok but it was in poor condition due to the drought. We were booked to play the Tauhura Course. Upon arrival we took one look at the course and immediately cancelled. I can only say it was a very ordinary looking course design wise and the rock hard fairways looked terrible.

Our second week on the North Island was in the beautiful Bay of Islands at Paihia several hours drive north of Auckland and a very long drive from Taupo.

This is such a pretty area you need to allow time for sight seeing and not just golf.

I was hoping for good weather for our trip to Kauri Cliffs and we were not disappointed. It is a pleasant drive from Paihia to Kauri Cliffs. You head north on highway 10 and turn off at Matauri Bay Rd.

The clubhouse/lodge has a lovely Southern USA colonial style and provides brilliant views across the course and the adjacent coastline. The course looked immaculate and features the same grasses as Kidnappers -rye grass fairways and creeping bent greens.

We both enjoyed it even more than Kidnappers but that may have been partly due to the lovely sunny day and the dreamy views of the little islands dotted along the shoreline, especially when looking from around the 15th and 16th holes.

The opening holes are not too difficult but first time there the line off the tee is not always immediately apparent.  Don't go right on the first and, unless you are a long hitter, avoid left at the second. Looking back from behind the short par 4, 3rd provides a lovely view to the sea.

The par 3, 7th and par 5, 8th are both very pretty holes. From the white tees the 7th is a comfortable 160 metres but is considerably more difficult from the back at 201 metres.

Probably the only two holes I did not like very much were the 11th and 12th in the lower wetland area. If you have to lay up with your second shot on the 11th then you are uncertain of what lies ahead. If you go for the green in two then you have to carry high reeds which are only a few yards from the green and if you are too strong there is more water and reeds at the back. The par 3, 12th is over a wet area and a tree on the right at the end of the marsh may catch your shot if you are playing to the right hand side of the green.

From the 14th to the 17th you play alongside the cliffs and the breathtaking views to the numerous small islands. These are all very enjoyable holes to play - but in every case a good tee shot is necessary. The par 4, 17th is rated Index 1 but the day we played there was an unusual warm wind from the sea which favoured the last two holes.

The final hole plays over a deep valley filled with ferns and bracken and then up a steep hill to the lodge. The views from this tee, in any direction, are as good as it gets.

As with Kidnappers, the staff here are very friendly. At Kauri it was Paul Reid and Jeff Beaumont who I had the pleasure of playing with at Sorrento a few weeks later during their brief golfing visit to Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.

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