Property editor of the NZ Herald

US election drives golfers down under

Tara Iti golf course, 90 minutes north of Auckland, is on the beachfront.
Tara Iti golf course, 90 minutes north of Auckland, is on the beachfront.

The United States' election has prompted visiting American golfers to consider investing in New Zealand.

Jim Rohrstaff, the American-born executive who manages real estate sales and memberships for the exclusive private members-only club Tara Iti 90 minutes north of Auckland, said the elections had resulted in some members considering purchasing property here.

Jim Rohrstaff of Legacy Partners manages membership and sales at Tara Iti north of Auckland. Photo/Greg Bowker
Jim Rohrstaff of Legacy Partners manages membership and sales at Tara Iti north of Auckland. Photo/Greg Bowker

"We do talk to more and more people who are concerned about the direction the United States is heading in, the extremes of both parties and the fact that the candidates - regardless of whether you're Republican or Democrat - you can't look at the field this year and say 'wow, we're really pleased with our choice'," Rohrstaff said.

Tara Iti was developed by American investment strategy billionaire Ric Kayne with wealthy New Zealand resort specialist and landscape architect John Darby, headquartered in Queenstown.

"The two current candidates help our business a little bit," Rohrstaff said. "I'm saying that joking. People are thinking of investing here before they come, on the phone, saying 'if so-and-so wins, we sure would like to have a place outside of the U.S.' They're looking at Auckland and the surrounding coastlines, then in the Queenstown and Wanaka areas," Rohrstaff said.

The summer season opened last Tuesday and runs till late April or early May and Rohrstaff said the business celebrated its first birthday on October 1.

"It's going to be a big year for us, the course has really grown well and our members and their guests are gaga, in love with this place. It could not be going better," said Rohrstaff, himself a top golfer.

Tara Iti was developed in sand dunes on the coast north of Auckland.
Tara Iti was developed in sand dunes on the coast north of Auckland.

"Right now, till the end of April or early May, is when we see the bulk of our members, clients and guests. This is go time. Americans come down here in the US wintertime. They can get warmth in Florida, Arizona, California or Hawaii at this time of the year, but it's dark in some of those places at 4.30pm or 5pm whereas we get long days in New Zealand during the summer when it doesn't get dark until 9.30pm," he said.

America was not the only source of members but the US West Coast market was dominant for Tara Iti, with golfers often boarding flights in the evening, sleeping en route and arriving at Auckland International Airport around 7am, Rohrstaff said.

"But they come from all over the US, both east and west coasts," he said.

Kayne told Bloomberg how he fell for a stretch of New Zealand coastline 20 years ago, imagining how the rolling sand dunes could be transformed into a spectacular golf course.

He and wife Suzanne have returned multiple times since, taking the 13-hour flight from Los Angeles and enjoying the country aboard their super-yacht, he said.

"New Zealand is far, but easy, especially for West Coasters and Texans," Kayne said in an email. "My wife and I have been back countless times and fall deeper in love with the country each time," Bloomberg reported.

- NZ Herald

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