Property developer buys top championship 18-hole golf course north of Auckland

One of New Zealand’s top golf courses and a favourite of Kiwi star Lydia Ko has been sold to an entity associated with prominent Auckland developer Greg Olliver.

A spokesperson for Gulf Harbour Country Club at Whangaparāoa said the property had just changed hands but declined to give further details.

Companies Office records show last Friday developer Greg Olliver was appointed a director and his company – The Pheonix Trust Limited – became the sole shareholder in the company registered as the owner of the popular seaside club in the fast-growing area.

The course is a premier club with a championship record and is just over an hour north of Auckland, offering information in Mandarin, Korean and Japanese.

Property records show that in late 2012 Long River Investments Corporation bought 180 Gulf Harbour Dr which is where the Gulf Harbour Country Club is situated. The purchase price back then was $12.8 million.

Long River was until last week owned by Yi Li of Mt Eden but Olliver took control on July 23 through The Pheonix Trust.

Requests to Olliver to comment on whether he had taken control of the prominent golf course and what his future plans might be went unanswered yesterday.

The Herald has reported extensively on Olliver’s businesses over some years.

Projects he has worked on included Stonefields at Mt Wellington, Long Bay on Auckland’s North Shore and a Marlborough vineyard.

The club land and buildings are today valued at more than $20m.

Property records from four years ago show the golf club land had a rateable valuation of $18.3m, of which $9.4m was the land value and $8.8m the buildings. It was sold for just $12.8m in December, 2012.

The site within Rodney district is designated for active outdoor and sporting use and is listed as having an area of 89ha.

Gulf Harbour has an 18-hole course that hosted the 1998 World Cup.

Boats stop at a marina and ferry passenger terminal which links to Tiritiri Matangi Island bird sanctuary and Auckland’s Downtown Ferry Terminal which has been upgraded recently.

The golf club spokesperson said yesterday it was true that an ownership change had indeed occurred but she was not at liberty to say any more.

Although she said she would make inquiries about whether the new owner wanted to speak, she said she did not think any further information would be provided at this stage.

A newsletter has gone out to members, she said.

The cliff-top course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and has houses on its boundaries. It has been a favourite with many overseas visiting golfing tourists, allowing green fee or casual golfers to play there for a fee.

A sporting industry organisation would not make any comment about the sale today but a spokesman also confirmed the transaction.

“I’m not comfortable saying anything. You should talk to the club. It won’t be long. It will all come out soon enough,” the spokesman for that sporting organisation said.

Any news about the deal was up to the club to announce, he said, not his entity.

Homes around the course edge are privately owned. The Herald also reported this year about a 370sq m private home nestled on top of one of the country’s best golf courses being up for sale.

The house on Pacific Cliffs Dr overlooks hole 16 of the course, said to be the favourite of former world No 1-ranked woman professional golfing Kiwi Lydia Ko.

Over the years, the club has suffered financial troubles and big plans have been conceived.

In 2008, the Herald reported how Gulf Harbour Country Club owed Capital+Merchant Finance a significant sum of money.

Around 2007, ex-Bluechip boss Mark Bryers was involved in plans to develop a big resort at the club with 200 guest rooms and the two- and three-storey villas with a new bar and restaurant, conference facilities for 200 delegates, underground parking for 350 cars and extensive landscaping and gardens.

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