Golf in paradise
Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary has grown from strength to strength since it opened in 2011. Auckland business man Gary Lane, who runs and owns the park which is part of the Wairakei Golf Course near Taupo, said he decided to open the sanctuary as the opportunity to work with DOC to use it as a safe haven for threatened native species like kiwi was very rewarding. Gary Lane said the idea to create the sanctuary came on the iconic 180 ha golf course property was sparked by an article he read that said 95% of kiwi born in the wild were likely to be killed by stoats, weasels and other predators. “The objective has been to provide an environment where kiwi and other threatened species can grow and survive and I feel privileged to receive the first two kiwi to Wairakei,” he says. In 2012, an agreement was established between Wairakei Golf + Sanctuary and the Department of Conservation to work cooperatively together to make the most of conservation and restoration opportunities within the sanctuary. That includes using the predator free environment as a crèche for kiwi chicks, a safe place for them to "find their feet" and grow. As part of the development, round 25,000 native trees and 5000 thousand exotic trees have been planted to encourage bird life and further enhance the park-like surroundings. Two hundred mixed colour pheasant have also been released on to the golf course property. The 5km long Xcluder fence, erected around the sanctuary, is designed to keep out predators like rats, mice, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, feral cats and possums. A small herd of around 15 fallow deer and a stag are being reared on site, within a deer fenced area.