John Key reveals he was the 'bait' that lured Barack Obama to New Zealand after many years of private text messages

Source: 1News

John Key has described himself as the "bait" which lured former US President Barack Obama to New Zealand, but admitted his arrival last night comes after many years of text messages trying to sell him a golfing trip down under.

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast, Mr Key revealed details of the nature of his friendship with Obama, confirming he definitely has "numbers" in his phone to contact him, and that the pair both share houses in Hawaii.

But despite this closeness, there were several obstacles preventing an Obama trip to Kiwi shores while he was president.

"He genuinely wants to come to New Zealand, the problem is that it's a long way obviously, and we're quite a small country that generally isn't in great shape with the United States. So if you're a litte country causing problems" Key said.

"A US President will come if you're a really big country, they've obviously they've got to come, but it's tricky fitting in a trip to New Zealand."

Key said the two former world leaders had been APEC meeting "buddies" over Obama's eight years in power and he's looking forward to several rounds of golf with him - with possibly son Max in tow.

"We're playing golf obviously, so we've got a couple of rounds over the next few days and that's going to be fun, just sort of hanging out and he's going to see some beautiful scenery, he's going to get a chance to sample some of the best of New Zealand," Key said.

However, the frustration from people globally over Obama's diminished public profile since leaving the presidency has good reason, said Key.

"It's one of those things where there's probably been a bit of frustration over why can't everyone see more of him, why can't he do more," he said.

"I think to understand this, his office is really sensitive, and it's a long standing issue of not wanting to trample over the new administration.

"He's not the US President any more, he does come in a capacity as a private citizen, so that's one thing."

The luxury accommodation former US President Barack Obama will be staying at tonight in Northland's Bay of Islands is The Landing, 1 NEWS understands.

The lodge which looks picturesquely down upon Rangihoua Bay and takes its name from its history as the place of arrival of New Zealand's first European settlers.

There has been a heavy police presence over the Kauri Cliffs Golf Course during the past few days and there's also a flight restriction over the area.