Jo Seagar - television personality, celebrity cook, food and travel writer - arrived in Katikati on Sunday and it wasn't long before she met a few of the 'locals'.
The first was the town's iconic Kiwi bloke, 'Barry', then Tony Hall, who was quick to park himself between the ladies seated outside the Talisman Hotel.
Tony was at the Classic Car and Hot Rod Show held there and came over to say hello.
Seagar was in Katikati with her first Girls on the Road Again NZ tour, escorting 14 women from all over the country exploring Tauranga to Waihi eating, meeting new people, and taking photographs.
"We're foodie people and were supposed to be in Italy or Morroco on tour.
"Covid is not stopping us, we're looking at the treasures in our own country," says Seagar.
Girls on the Road Again is a four-day fully escorted foodie and photography tour initiative founded by Jo Seagar and photographer Lesley Whyte, and organised by House of Travel's Pam Young.
This was the first NZ tour, the next tour starts on November 20 to Unforgettable McKenzie Country and Tekapo, and is sold out.
Jo lives with her husband Ross in the small town of Oxford in North Canterbury.
She was invited to Katikati through close friend Kate Williams who joined her on one of her tours to Italy last September.
"Jo is such a down to earth person who has an amazing sense of humour, great empathy – not to mention a fabulous cook," says Kate.
The pair became firm friends and keep in contact via Messenger with the occasional long chat on the phone.
During Covid they discussed how sad it was that Jo's overseas tours would not be proceeding and started talking at length about doing short bursts around New Zealand.
"Together with her travel agent, areas of interest throughout NZ were discussed.
"I said you must come to the Bay and have a Katikati day."
Hence a mural tour in Katikati was organised plus morning tea at Western Bay Museum where "the girls were just enchanted with the activities".
The museum hosted the women for tea and fresh scones baked in the coal range. Museum manager Paula Gaelic says Jo has cooked on a coal range a lot and was pretty impressed with Iona's scones.
"The ladies were delightful, happy, and said they thought Katikati was fabulous."
Comments they left in the visitor's book: "We walked around the town and finished at this wonderful museum having scones from the coal range served by 'maids' in uniform – Great fun and delicious scones too!"
The tour joined Kate and husband Mike in their garden for refreshments and enjoyed lunch in their "old hen house".
"It was such a relaxed afternoon full of laughter, nice food, and friendship. Local produce was sought where possible for the days fare and the ladies all left saying they will be back to Katikati."
Jo Seagar was impressed with our town.
"It's so fabulous ... I can't rave and thank you enough."
Kate says Jo has had floods of praise pouring in from the girls about how wonderful the weekend was ... "great Katikati hospitality, great hen house lunch and the two tours".