Former US president Barack Obama will jet into Auckland late tonight, landing at Auckland Airport before being choppered up to Northland for some golf tomorrow.

Obama will arrive after almost two days in Singapore. He is expected to land in Auckland tonight, and spend the night in Auckland.

Then it is up north for golf on the helicopters. His golf mate Sir John Key is not revealing where they will play but they are set to visit more than one course - those are likely to be Kauri Cliffs at Matauri Bay, owned by Julian Robertson, and the Carrington golf course on the Karikari Peninsula.

Obama is tipped to be staying at The Landings while in Northland before returning on Thursday for an official welcome at Government House in Auckland.


There he will experience his first powhiri and hongi - it is understood officials have been asked to send detailed information about the process and meaning of the hongi for him.

He will hold a private meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The only event open to media is the official powhiri at Government House.

Actor Sam Neill has now revealed on Twitter that he is the moderator for Obama's speaking event on Thursday night.

"I'm honoured to be In Conversation with President Barack Obama for an hour on stage this week in Auckland. [I may also be a tad overexcited right now.]"

Despite the secrecy surrounding the trip and lack of public opportunities, because of Obama's status the Government is providing some support for the visit. About $50,000 is expected to be spent from a fund to host VIP visitors for things such as transport in the Crown limos, airport facilitation and some security.

NZ Police are likely to be involved in security around the locations Obama will be at. A spokesman said they did not comment on individuals. "New Zealand Police has extensive experience of policing visits by a wide range of high-profile individuals, however we do not discuss specific security matters regarding those individuals."

Max Key and then US President Barack Obama after a round of Golf in Hawaii in 2014. Photo / Max Key's Facebook page
Max Key and then US President Barack Obama after a round of Golf in Hawaii in 2014. Photo / Max Key's Facebook page

Obama is visiting for the first time - and Key told Newstalk ZB this morning it was worth it for the tourism promotion, pointing out Obama has 101 million followers on Twitter alone and is likely to tweet during his stay.


However, there will be precious few opportunities for the New Zealand public to see him.

Obama is visiting as private citizen and there are political sensitivities around how much he can say publicly.

There will be no media interviews or reporting from his speaking event and at previous events elsewhere, those attending have been told not to share the occasion on social media.

On Thursday night he will be at his main speaking event in Auckland. That is being organised by the NZ-US Council and co-sponsored by Air NZ, Westpac and MasterCard.

The invite-only audience of about 1000 will include prominent business people and MPs - about 35 MPs have been invited although Ardern herself will not attend.

MPs attending include National Party leader Simon Bridges, MP Alfred Ngaro, NZ First MP Shane Jones. Green Party co-leader James Shaw said he was invited but could not attend because of another appointment.

Obama is visiting on a trip around Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Japan – New Zealand can at least claim the lion's share of that week long tour – it has Obama for almost three days while Singapore, Australia and Japan secured less than two days each.