A golf course was not the surprise Bonnie Moir was expecting when her partner Ray Rahui phoned her on her birthday.

Rahui and Moir decided to move back to New Zealand to be closer to family after 28 years in Australia. After settling on Whanganui as the preferred location for their new home, Rahui came over from Australia to look for a house.

"We were originally looking along the east coast but we love the river, the beach and the town here," Rahui said.

"I had come over by myself and was driving to look at a house when I saw a for sale sign on the Tawhero golf course," Rahui said.

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"It was the same real estate company I was dealing with about the house so I thought I'd give them a call. Then I rang Bonnie on her birthday and said 'I've bought a golf course'."

Moir was rather less excited than Rahui but the couple now also has a house which is not far from the golf course and Moir is enjoying meeting the locals, saying everyone is "so friendly".

Rivercity Golf's new owner Ray Rahui has plans to upgrade and diversify the Tawhero golf course.
Rivercity Golf's new owner Ray Rahui has plans to upgrade and diversify the Tawhero golf course.

Since taking over Rivercity Golf on June 29, Rahui and Moir have started making improvements and have expansion plans for the future.

"We'll spend about a year fixing the machinery and fairways," Rahui said.

"There's a lot of capeweed and that's one of the big bugbears for the golfers so we want to get rid of it.

"It's a bit slow at the moment being winter so it was a good time for us to buy and ease into it. We'll spend some time getting the machinery up to scratch and we've bought Marton Golf Club's greens mower."

They have also purchased about 1200 new golf balls and plan to slowly build up the golf club stock.

The Tawhero Golf Club is a separate entity and Rahui said its members had been "really helpful".

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"They're even willing to help with labour," he said.

Rahui is looking at diversifying next year and is considering adding a mini putt course and installing a baseball pitching machine at the driving range. A small cafe selling coffee and some food items is also on the cards.

The course will host the 2019 New Zealand Masters Games 9-hole competition in February.