Top New Zealand croquet players made the trip to north for an inaugural Northland premier tournament over the weekend.
The two-day invitational singles golf croquet tournament, the first of its kind held in Northland, saw players from Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau and Waikato/King Country descend on Whangārei's Kensington Croquet Club.
Golf croquet differs from the more formal association croquet by removing more technical rules and allowing for a more social format.
The weekend competition, restricted to the sport's premier players, featured 12 players with most inside New Zealand's top 50 ranking as well as 16-year-old Northland representative Jonny Halton.
Auckland's Sabri Mullaaliu from the Mount Albert Croquet Club was the best from the weekend, winning the competition over Mt Maunganui Croquet Club member Ashley Cooke.
Kerikeri Croquet Club Kevin Hall finished third alongside Robert Oldale.
"For croquet players, it's just wonderful to have the level of expertise and skill I'm seeing around here," senior referee John Schollum said.
Tournament manager Jean Tafa said it was great to see such a high-level competition held in Northland and credited Croquet New Zealand vice-president and Northlander Rod Templeman for his part in the tournament's inception.
"[Rod] said, 'Why don't we try and bring people up here', because for Northlanders we are always travelling, whereas players south of the Harbour Bridge they've got each other to play with whenever they want to."
Tafa said the more social golf croquet had risen in popularity in Northland thanks to how accessible the sport was to those of all ages and declining numbers in association croquet.
Tafa, a Waipū club member, hoped these tournaments would bolster the sport's participation in the years to come.
"You just have to get somebody there with a mallet in their hand and they see what it's all about and they come back again."