As I watch from the UK, NZ lowering their restrictions on isolation and lockdown, it has made me think of all the gorgeous spots I can't wait to get back to when I'm home.
If you haven't been following me for long then you may not know that I love to travel, including within stunning NZ. I love finding great camping spots and heading away, from anywhere between 2 nights and a few weeks on the airbed and in a tent.
So while reminiscing and dreaming of the spots I will head to once home, I thought I'd make a little list of my all time faves.
Starting from the north, Ruakaka is probably my number 1. It's hard to say for sure because there are so many great places and the ones listed here are all very high up on my list, but Ruakaka is probably it!
A good friend introduced me to this place back in 2009 and now I'm not even sure how many times I've been back. It has one of the largest camp grounds in NZ, with loads of powered and non powered sites.
The supermarket down the road is big enough for all the essentials and Whangarei is just a half hour drive away for anything else you may have forgotten.
What I also love about this spot is the estuary right in front of the campground. Its a great safe place to swim without any crashing waves, also gets to a nice temperature in the afternoon sun.
Next on my list, a little further south is Muriwai. Another spot where I really rate the campground, Muriwai Beach Campground. It's fab for all its tall sheltering, shading trees, which are also handy for hanging up a hammock.
Now Muriwai beach, I have been in the water here, but it is more known for its surfing. It can get pretty rough on this West Coast Beach so I've only gotten in when its been stinking hot.
I have seen some of the most stunning sunsets from this gorgeous place though and the gannet colony is always a must do, even if you've done it before. Heading on from the Gannet colony, you can head down to Maori Bay which is also a great spot to park up for the afternoon.
Heading back over to the East Coast I can't make this list without mentioning the Coromandel. It was hard to choose somewhere specific and not just the whole damn peninsula, but I came to the conclusion that Opito Bay and Coroglen are two of my faves.
It is from my understanding that there sadly isn't a campground at Optio Bay and the closest one would be at Kuaotunu Campground. But if you have the time while your in the Whitianga area then I would highly recommend heading to this spot for a day or so.
If you don't mind a bit of gravel road, then you will be rewarded with some gorgeous views once here.
My favourite thing about Opito Bay is the Opito Pa Walk and Crayfish Bay Walk, these are both at the far end of the beach. The Optio Pa walk goes up onto the ridge where you can look out over Mercury Bay - such a stunning sight and makes for an amazing sunset. The walk to Crayfish bay is a little easier and the Bay is just stunning. Take your togs with you for that one!
Also in the Coromandel is Coroglen. It's not often that I choose somewhere that isn't AT the beach to go camping, but this one was chosen for me and has subsequently changed my mind on that theory and become a firm fave. The campground here is call Riverglen Holiday Park and Campground and it's located on the banks of the Waiwawa river.
When taking a dip, be warned the water is always blinkin cold, as its a running river, but you soon get used to it and it is so nice on those really hot days. It's also handy to help with that sunburny feeling.
At the end of the gravel road is the famous Coroglen Tavern, serving up some delish food, cold drinks and quality live music! Whitianga is only a 20minute drive away and has plenty to offer if you need some entertaining. Or if you'd like some more relaxing then there is always The Lost Spring with there geo-thermal pools.
Papamoa and Mount Maunganui have forever been somewhere close to my heart. Just over an hour from my parents place, this was the one spot we visited nearly every school holidays as a day trip. A dip in the harbour side, a dip in the ocean side, a dip in the hot pools and a trip to Bayfair was what the one day always consisted of.
As I've gotten older, those trips have consisted less of Bayfair and more inclined to go for a walk up the Mount and a short drive to visit Kaiate Falls.
I couldn't make this list without mentioning Rotorua. I know it is like tourist central, but it is that way for a reason. Once you get over the smell this is a great lakeside city.
I'm not someone who really does the 'touristy' things more than once, but pretty much every time I visit you'll find me at the Redwood Forest, as well as the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools.
Then there is of course the Hamurana Springs walk around the other side of the lake which is always worth a visit as well.
Lake Waikaremoana. I feel like this is a place you could go through life without even knowing about it. I don't hear many people talk about it and the only reason I know of it, is from a friend doing a walk around it many years ago. I've only been twice, but both times were incredible.
To get there it is a bit of a trek but definitely worth it in the end. The Waikaremoana Holiday park is a great wee spot and sets you up to head out on many different walking tracks.
My favourite thing about this spot is the amount of waterfalls you can walk to and see. There really are so many and if your anything like me you could stop and watch a waterfall for a decent amount of time.
Further down the country my last but not least fave spot is Taranaki. A lot of people probably disagree with me here but I think this place is totally underrated.
If you love the outdoors then its perfect. You have the mountain and the ocean, as well as a whole bunch of walks you can do in the surrounding areas.
It's also great because it is so underrated, you wont find nearly as many people, compared to loads of other tourist hot spots. The mountain is spectacular to look at whether you are in New Plymouth, Stratford, Hawera… no matter where you are in the region she is a beauty to take in.
I find there are also some great gems along State Highway 45, such a Kaupokonui Beach, which has made for a great sunset spot for me in the past.
That's it for my list of spots I look forward to going back to when I get home. There are of course a whole bunch more, but these are the top spots.
Is there anywhere that you'd highly recommend I check out?