Destination envy hits hard when you've made the wrong choice, writes Shandelle Battersby.
I've always had jobs where working through Christmas and New Year — and the public holidays surrounding them — is the norm.
Spending endless sunny summer days in the office was what happened at this time of year, with the luxury of a few extra bucks in your pocket from working the statutory holidays, and the small comfort that at least it's your choice when you take your break, rather than being dictated to by your employer. At least, that's what you tell yourself anyway while everyone else is gallivanting about at campgrounds and embarking on long, hot road trips full of swims, icecreams, barbecues and beers.
This summer I found myself in the unusual position of having the same time off as the masses, and though I mostly loved it, I found social media put a whole level of pressure on the tight holiday break that I hadn't anticipated.
The major sticking point was the weather. In my mind, weather in New Zealand in late December hasn't been great since the 80s. These days, it's changeable and blustery — cold even ("Christchurch was freezing," a friend lamented, and I can attest Wellington was not much better). You've got a 50 per cent chance of getting good weather and that spin of the dice - whether you head north or south — impacts everything.
This year, it seemed north was the winner. How do I know? Because I was south, wrapped up in jeans, a hoodie and a scarf, sneaking envious looks at friends' posts.
Meanwhile, friends online were posting from the Bay of Islands, Tutukaka, Matapouri, Whangarei Heads, Langs Beach, even Goat Island, and it all looked mint. Golden beaches, crystal waters, not many people. Paradise. Not many were swimming but at least it was pretty.
And herein lies the problem. Social media. In some cases, even if 90 per cent of the weather on your holiday getaway is nice, you'll post only the 10 per cent — the shots where the sun was out and the skies were clear. I know this because I did the very same thing myself on a trip to Taranaki in the new year when the sun shone for half a day. I was still in jeans and a sweatshirt, but at least I'd been able to apply sunblock and put on a cap. I Instagrammed the crap out of it.
At the time of writing, I have one week of leave left. The pressure is on. I don't want to go back to work feeling cheated because I made The Wrong Choice and went south not north. I've opted for north. But the forecast doesn't look great.
Here in Auckland, we've just had a beautiful sunset and the wind has dropped for the first time in days. It's a great time to be in the city, when most people have gone back to work and the roads and beaches are emptier. Maybe I should stay around? Or will it be even better in Northland? What to do? Arrghhhhh ...