As it happened: The Barack Obama - John Key golf game

  • Updated
  • 21/03/2018

Barack Obama has touched down in New Zealand for the first time.

The former US president flew into the country on Wednesday under the cover of darkness.

What you need to know:

  • Mr Obama is off to stay at the luxurious The Landing in the Bay of Islands later today.
  • He's then expected to challenge his mate Sir John Key on the Kauri Cliffs golf course.
  • Mr Obama will return to Auckland on Thursday, to hold a "moderated conversation" with homegrown actor Sam Neill.
  • Mr Obama is expected to leave on Friday.

These live updates have now concluded.

3:15pm - The President shows off his left-handed swing

Barack Obama is among the 10 percent of the world's population who is left-handed.

The former President showed off his unorthodox swing in this candid shot, posted by Air New Zealand to Twitter. 

2:25pm - High-fives and ocean snaps

The mood on the greens appears to be cheerful, with Mr Obama and Sir John key exchanging a congratulatory high-five.

The President is clearly taken with the view of the Pacific Ocean at Kauri Cliffs, stopping to snap some photos with his phone.

2:10pm - Sir John Key snaps pics of the former President 

Mr Obama and Sir John Key are about to tee off on the 14th hole.

The former President “won the honours” on the last hole, and is first to tee off.

Sir John Key is taking photos of Mr Obama.

Mr Obama swings - there is no visible reaction as to whether it was good or bad.

The mystery fourth man - potentially former Ambassador Mark Gilbert - tees off next.

2:00pm - President Obama unhappy about missing a putt

Mr Obama just missed a putt, and was not happy. Not happy at all.

Hole 13 is a short par three.

A jovial hole, Mr Obama put his arm around Sir John.

1:45pm - Two former leaders begin their game

Newshub's National Correspondent Patrick Gower will be providing live updates on the game of golf between the two former world leaders.


Accompanied by one greenkeeper, the two friends are enjoying a friendly game. Sir John Key was caught in the sand on the 13th hole, but hit his way out.

President Barack Obama was required to sink a long putt.

The two former leaders are joined by businessman Craig Heatley, an unknown fourth player and what appears to be a local professional golfer.

Security are trailing behind.

1:00pm - Barack Obama and Sir John Key share moment

Barack Obama and Sir John Key have shared a moment together during their golf match.

The image shared to Twitter shows the pair with their arms around eachother on the green.

"Great to see @POTUS44 enjoying his time in NZ," Air NZ says.

12:50pm - Controversy over Obama's 'privileged schedule'

While former US president Barack Obama's visit has been praised for its benefits to our tourism industry, others aren't so impressed.

Media commentator Peter Rees has slammed Mr Obama's "privileged schedule", saying it doesn't take him to the "real NZ".

"Welcome to Aotearoa @BarackObama. Fancy a trip to South/West Auckland while you're here?" he said on Twitter.

"Be a nice distraction from the privileged schedule your rich hosts have for you. See the real NZ, many of whom were inspired to break down barriers and convention when you were president."

12:30pm - Far North excited over Obama's visit

Far North Mayor John Carter says there's a "great deal of interest" in Mr Obama's arrival.

"There's been chatter about it in the community," he told RadioLIVE.

"People are interested obviously, and delighted that he chose not just to come to New Zealand, but chose to come to the North and the Far North to enjoy himself."

Mr Carter says if Mr Obama shares photos of his visit to his social media it will be fantastic for his region's tourism.

"He's in the nicest place in the world," he says.

"We just want other people to know about it. It's great. It's a great opportunity for us."

11:20am - Golf match begins

Barack Obama and Sir John Key appear to have begun their match of golf. A group has left Kauri Cliffs lodge in golf buggies and set off towards the greens. Photos show the group teeing off.

10:50am - Video shows Obama's helicopter landing 

Video shot by Newshub's national correspondent Patrick Gower shows Barack Obama's helicopter landing at Kauri Cliffs, Northland, for a game of golf with Sir John Key.

10:25am - Mixed weather for Obama's golf

Despite waiting years for the opportunity, Barack Obama faces mixed weather for his first golf game in New Zealand.

MetService's forecast for Kerikeri shows occasional rain today.

"Partly cloudy with a few showers. Easterlies easing in the evening," it says.

10:00am - Barack Obama has landed

Barack Obama has landed at Kauri Cliffs for a round of golf.

09:25am - Obama's choppers land at Kauri Cliffs

Two helicopters ferrying Barack Obama's golf crew have landed at The Kauri Cliffs resort in Northland.

The helicopters landed at 9:15am, after flying up alongside each other.

It is believed that Obama was not in the choppers.

One of the helicopters took a longer flight over the course before landing.

As it happened: The Barack Obama - John Key golf game
Photo credit: Max Key / Instagram

09:15am - The Keys have arrived

The Keys' chopper has touched down at their destination, and they're now waiting for Mr Obama.

As it happened: The Barack Obama - John Key golf game
Photo credit: Max Key / Instagram

08:55am - Barack Obama spotted at helicopter pad

Barack Obama has been spotted at a helicopter pad in Auckland's Mechanics Bay as he prepares to leave for his game with Sir John Key.

08:00am - Sir John Key spotted at helicopter pad

Sir John has been spotted at a helicopter pad in Auckland's Mechanics Bay with his golf clubs as he prepares to leave for his game with Barack Obama. His wife Bronagh and son Max are joining him.

07:50am - Max Key prepares to meet Barack Obama

Sir John Key's son, Max Key has shared a photo to Instagram showing him in a helicopter with his father.

He's believed to be playing golf against Barack Obama later today.

"Always a pleasure for @johnkeypm to spend quality time with his favourite child," he said.

07:30am - 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.

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."

06:00am - Barack Obama arrives in NZ

Former US president Barack Obama touched down in New Zealand for the first time last night.

He's heading up north later today to play golf with former New Zealand prime minister Sir John Key, before speaking at an event in Auckland on Thursday.

There will be no interviews and media cannot report from inside his event.

Newshub has learned the secrecy extends to those invited to his event, who are set to be prohibited from posting to their own social media.

And it won't come cheap. Mr Obama's speaking fee is said to be US$400,000 (NZ$550,000).