Newly-wed Bay hockey star Gemma McCaw is stepping out in her first public appearance since her nuptials as the face of a new campaign to celebrate the best of the Bay of Plenty.
Black Sticks midfielder McCaw, just a few weeks after tying the knot with former All Black Captain Richie McCaw, joins other Bay personalities as the faces of a campaign by Tourism Bay of Plenty called No Place Like Home, including Olympian silver medallist Luuka Jones, Black Caps captain Kane Williamson, and musicians Ria Hall and Tiki Taane.
Tourism Bay of Plenty's Kath Low said the campaign was designed to get residents out and about in their own backyard, by exploring opportunities the region had to offer and sharing experiences and unique "hotspots" in the Bay.
McCaw (nee Flynn), 26, is a former Tauranga Girls' College student who has competed at three Olympics and two Commonwealth Games.
Her parents still lived in Tauranga, but McCaw has been based in Christchurch with Richie McCaw since 2014, and said she missed the laid-back atmosphere of the region.
"You come here and you just feel good. It's that relaxed atmosphere, and the friendliness of the community and the culture.
"We're so lucky with the layout of the land and the variety of activities you can do - you can be surfing or swimming one day, then hiking through the bush in the Kaimais the next. It's so accessible for all ages and there really is something for everyone."
The friendliness of residents was another plus, McCaw said.
"You can go for a run up the Mount and people are so friendly, saying 'Good morning' or 'Good afternoon'. When I'm away, I miss that - everyone has a really positive outlook on life and there is a really relaxed vibe."
A must-do when she was back home was heading up or around Mauao.
"I love going over to the Mount for a run - up or around - but getting to the top and seeing that beautiful view . . . there is nothing like it. That view is one-of-a-kind."
Like McCaw, musician Hall (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga) described the Bay as a place of healing where she could "just breathe", while for Taane it was a place he came to feel revitalised.
"If I am driving or flying in, as soon as I see Mauao, I'm like, 'Yes! I'm home'. It's like a big sense of relief," Hall said.
Taane said the Bay was his "oasis" after all the time he spent touring around the planet and making music.
"This is my oasis, my safe zone, where my kids and my whanau are. It's about getting back to normality in a world surrounded by craziness."
Jones and Williamson also spent much of their time travelling around the world, and both said they looked forward to returning to the Bay during their precious downtime.
"I love the friendly people and the beach culture," Williamson said. "The climate just promotes being active and outdoors, and with plenty of walks and sports on offer we are spoilt for choice."
Jones said there truly was no place like home.
"I love the variety of activities and that you can just wake up and go surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, or hike up a mountain. There is so much to do."
The campaign No Place Like Home would kick off with a community survey to find out what locals loved about living in the Bay, the attractions or places they liked to visit, and where they took family and friends.
Ms Low said the campaign was about giving residents a sense of appreciation for what a fabulous part of New Zealand the Bay was.
"It's about getting back to grassroots because nothing beats expert, local knowledge. If residents know what is out there, they can be well-equipped with the knowledge of where to go and what to do, and can then tailor their guests' experiences to suit."
The campaign gets its name from Taane and Hall's 2016 hit single, which paid tribute to the region through song.
The No Place Like Home community survey is available online until February 20 and takes about 10 minutes.
To join the conversation and fill in the online survey, visit noplacelikehome.nz
Every entry goes into the draw to win prizes from local businesses, including a luxury weekend escape for two in the Bay of Plenty.