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NZ: Billionaire’s golf tourism vision for Mangawhai region

POSTED ON July 1, 2020 @ 5:21 pm

Build it and they will come. A US billionaire’s plan to build more golf courses in Mangawhai to attract tourists rolls on despite border closures. 

A town north of Auckland which is home to around 10,000 residents is set to have four golf courses.

Two of those are existing: one has been there since the 1970s – a local course with green fees ranging from $85 for overseas visitors to $35 for under 18s – and the second is the exclusive members-only Tara Iti golf course. Tara Iti was built by US billionaire Ric Kayne and does not publicise membership costs. Now Kayne plans to build two more links-style courses, but these will be open to the public.

Brad Grimmer, the general manager of the existing public Mangawhai Golf Club, personally supports the new development, saying he would like the area to “become like Queenstown, a ‘golfing destination’ that would attract tourists”.

Kayne’s application to acquire 169 hectares of land for two more 18-hole public golf courses on the coast has now been approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

The value of the transaction is listed by the OIO as $3.49 million. The majority of the land will be leased, and 25 hectares will be purchased.

The land is currently covered in a pine forest, which was planted to control sand dunes. These will be felled as part of the development, with golf greens and native plantings established in their place. Two public walking tracks will be built leading to the shore, along with visitor accommodation and at least one clubhouse.

The OIO approval for the offshore purchase was based on the development of the courses bringing benefits to New Zealand. The billionaire’s development is seen as advancing the New Zealand-Aotearoa Government Tourism Strategy. It’s expected that by 2022 the development will bring in export receipts of $6m, despite Covid-19 meaning international tourism is likely to remain low.

A spokesperson for the development said plans were on track despite uncertainty caused by border closures: “While it’s hard to predict, the current Covid-19 impacts on NZ’s tourism sector will, hopefully, have abated by the time the courses are completed and ready to open.”

The Tara Iti course is currently ranked the world’s second-best course outside of the United States.

“The expectation is that these courses will be of a similar calibre, meaning the Auckland region will become one of the world’s most sought-after golfing destinations – similar to places like Monterey in California.”

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