Barack Obama's arrival good for New Zealand - Sir John Key

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key says Barack Obama's arrival in New Zealand will be good for the country.

Mr Obama touched down last night, and will speak at an event for the US-NZ Council and major sponsor Air New Zealand on Thursday night. But he's also made time to catch up with his mate, Sir John, for golf.

Appearing on The AM Show on Wednesday, Sir John says hosting the former US President will lead to tourism benefits.

"He's still one of the most influential people on the planet," he told host Duncan Garner.

"From a New Zealand-US perspective [this is] really important, and from a tourism perspective the reality is there's 100 million people [who] follow him.

"So if there's a picture of him on a great New Zealand golf course it's gotta be good."

Asked what Mr Obama is really like, Sir John said he was "a really, thoroughly nice down-to-earth guy".

Sir John is expected to challenge his mate on the golf course.

"He is a bit like me, a golf tragic," Sir John told The AM Show, adding they have "pretty similar handicaps".

Then, Mr Obama will return to Auckland on Thursday, to hold a "moderated conversation" with actor Sam Neill.

Sir John praises Mr Obama's time in office, including handling the Global Financial Crisis and presiding over the capture of Osama bin Laden.

"I think history is going to treat him incredibly kindly," he says.

"I think the Iran deal will prove actually - despite what President Trump says - to be a very, very good deal."

Newshub.