I'm often struck by just how much the Western Bay has to offer as a lifestyle destination.
It's one of the sunniest spots in the country, has world-class beaches, and stunning lakes, rivers and forests are on our doorstep.
All these elements combine to provide an incentive to get out of the house and make the most of life. Little wonder, then, that Bay of Plenty residents are flourishing compared with the rest of New Zealand, according to the largest national wellbeing survey conducted.
As we reported yesterday, the inaugural Sovereign Wellbeing Index canvassed nearly 10,000 people across 15 regions around the country over nine key indicators of wellbeing.
The Bay of Plenty came out top overall. The report found those who experienced higher levels of wellbeing were: socially connected with others; gave time and resources to others; were able to appreciate and take notice of things around them; were learning new things in their life; and were physically active.
On a region-by-region basis, the Bay of Plenty was found to have the least depressed people; was fourth out of 15 regions for connecting to other people and for giving to others; and placed second nationally for continued learning.
Les Simmonds, national clinical leader for family services with Relationships Aotearoa, says it's not just the environment that makes this region special.
He noticed a marked difference in people's attitudes when he moved from Auckland about 10 years ago. The biggest difference he noticed was people would say hello and were friendly on the street.
In many ways, the survey results confirm what most of us know already: we live in a special part of the world.