A 90-minute drive north of Auckland, but in chaotic traffic, prepare for around the two-hour mark. Once there, it's all worth the wait.
Check-in experience: Lovely staff and welcoming to three dishevelled, tired Aucklanders. We had lots of questions, which the owners were more than happy to answer as well as letting us know we could go watch the stingrays in the lagoon. That made for an even more exciting trip away.
Room: A tidy, self-contained unit with two bedrooms and new bathroom and an aged kitchen. It was clean and had been aired after a piping hot day, which made it fresh smelling and welcoming.
Price: From $105 a night, pretty reasonable for a self-contained unit next to one of the country's most idyllic beaches.
What's so good about this place?: The surf beach, the fishing, the stingrays and of course the friendly townsfolk. And a lovely market on Saturday morning to shop to your heart's desire.
And the bad?:
The ants and the local Four Square that shuts at 6.30pm "because they are rich", according to the guy at the petrol station next door, who was more than happy to have us shop in there.
What's in the neighbourhood?: A boat club, a lagoon with stingrays, a magnificent surf beach where you get a view of the Hen and Chicken Islands, perfect for diving and fishing enthusiasts. Also the Mangawhai Golf Club and two small seaside townships.
Toiletries: The basics - toilet paper, cleaner, soap and hand towels.
Food and drink: We bought our own food and drink to enjoy over the weekend.
The bed: The queen bed provided a super-comfy sleep and the madam was spoiled for choice with either a single bed or a double bunk. Of course she went for the top bunk. We supplied our own bedding, which was expected.
Bathroom: Newly renovated and easy to keep clean, it was pretty spacious.
Address: 2 Mangawhai Heads Rd, Mangawhai. (09) 431 4675.
Noise: Cars turning around now and then on the dead-end gravel road.
Free wi-fi?: Yes, but you have to arrange at reception.
Recreation: Tonnes of things to get excited about - paddleboarding/surfing/swimming/walking/cycling/golfing/diving/fishing and kayaking.
History: Maori named it Mangawhai, meaning stream of stingrays, which never seemed to disappoint either. They didn't seem to mind the noise of the boat ramp or the kids screaming from the platoon.
Perfect for: A quick getaway and a spot of fishing.
Would I return?: Rain or shine.