Auckland Council initiative to transform golf courses into biodiversity havens

Publish Date : 21 Feb 2024
Golf Is Green Pupuke
Panoramic shot of Pupuke looking out across Hauraki Gulf to Rangitoto Island

Imagine a world where golf courses are not just places for sport and recreation, but vibrant hubs for community conservation and well-being.

This vision is becoming a reality thanks to Auckland Council's new initiative, Golf is Green!

The collaborative project has brought together 22 golf courses and their neighbouring communities to connect these green spaces with collective care for the environment.

“Our ultimate goal is to see all of Auckland's 36 golf courses join this initiative; we hope to see more collaboration with the communities surrounding those green oases,” says Izabela Joshi, Golf is Green project manager.

Publicly leased Pupuke Golf Course on Auckland’s north shore is an example of a golf course transformation.

This forward-thinking club embraced the initiative and is actively working towards the prestigious GEO accreditation, a global recognition for golf courses demonstrating exceptional environmental and social responsibility.

Matthew Owen, Pupuke General Manager says it’s a continuous process; we are 84 per cent of the way there but we’re always looking at what we can do to improve.

“We have been working with the Bush Society and council to select the best plants and their position in the park. As a result, we have been able to reduce the erosion on the course caused by extreme events.”

The Pupuke commitment to sustainability extends beyond conservation efforts. They have changed their name to simply "Pupuke," reflecting their vision for the future as a welcoming community space. They picture people walking the greens and pathways, enjoying a cup of coffee at the cafe, and simply connecting with the natural beauty of the surroundings.

The results: a flourishing community of nature and well-being:

  • 2,000 native trees and shrubs planted by hundreds of volunteers

  • a significant increase in native birdlife

  • a shift from chemical to natural greenkeeping practices.

The initiative is building a new era where golf courses are being reimagined as more than just manicured greens; they are valuable contributors to a more biodiverse and inclusive Tāmaki Makaurau.

The future: a continuous evolution of inclusivity and sustainability

The dedication of Pupuke to inclusivity extends beyond physical boundaries. They are committed to working with their community and stakeholders to maximise every aspect of their operations, from the course itself to the club facilities, membership, and community engagement. In the immediate future, they are partnering with Watercare to reuse greywater on the course, diverting it from the sea – a win-win for Pupuke, the environment, and the public.

A collaborative approach

Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Council isn't just providing funding or guidance; it’s actively partnering with participating golf clubs across the region.

Auckland Council has designed an Ecological Enhancement Plan for golf clubs. This roadmap outlines resource-efficient pest reduction strategies and practical habitat restoration programmes with local communities, schools and community groups being involved.

The approach fosters a shared responsibility with Auckland Council leading the way, showcasing what's possible through the Golf is Green initiative, while the clubs finance the necessary tools and trees.

The real heroes of the project are the volunteers who roll up their sleeves on planting days and conservation projects. This collaborative spirit ensures everyone wins: the environment, the communities, and the golf clubs themselves.

Visit your local golf course this summer

This summer, why not check out what's happening at your local golf course? You might be surprised at the positive changes taking place and the opportunities to get involved in environmental initiatives.

Together, through Golf is Green, we can create a more sustainable and vibrant Auckland for everyone.

Back to News