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.

Kerikeri's Kevin Hall was one of the marquee players on Saturday. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Kerikeri's Kevin Hall was one of the marquee players on Saturday. Photo / Michael Cunningham

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.

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Northland croquet representative Jonny Halton, 16, thrived in the competitive atmosphere in Kensington on Saturday. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Northland croquet representative Jonny Halton, 16, thrived in the competitive atmosphere in Kensington on Saturday. Photo / Michael Cunningham

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.

Auckland croquet player Sabri Mullaaliu stands proudly with his spoils from a weekend in Northland. Photo / Supplied
Auckland croquet player Sabri Mullaaliu stands proudly with his spoils from a weekend in Northland. Photo / Supplied

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.

Maungakaramea's John Schollum, also a senior referee, was impressed with the level of play from some of the North Island's best players. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Maungakaramea's John Schollum, also a senior referee, was impressed with the level of play from some of the North Island's best players. Photo / Michael Cunningham

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."

Croquet New Zealand vice president Rod Templeman lines up the shot. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Croquet New Zealand vice president Rod Templeman lines up the shot. Photo / Michael Cunningham

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.

Tournament manager Jean Tafa from Waipū was glad to see Northland attract some big names in the sport. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Tournament manager Jean Tafa from Waipū was glad to see Northland attract some big names in the sport. Photo / Michael Cunningham

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."

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Kensington's Robert Oldale saunters over to his mark. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Kensington's Robert Oldale saunters over to his mark. Photo / Michael Cunningham