I suppose it's helpful and it's the obvious thing to do but I'm afraid I'm over reading about places we "must visit" in our own backyard.
Of course, Covid, with its international travel restrictions, has brought this about but there is a limit.
By now you have probably read about New Zealand's Best Pies, Best Lamingtons, Best Nature Walks, Most Interesting Small Towns, Child-friendly Destinations, Pet-friendly Destinations, Best Small-town Cafes, Towns with Micro-breweries, Towns without Micro-breweries, Gin-making Centres, Arty-crafty Small Towns, Towns with Interesting History, Towns without Interesting History, Best Bike Tracks, Most Unusual Food, New Zealand's Best Water Slides, Best Surf Beaches, Best Safe Family Beaches, Best Places to Buy Snowglobes, Best Lingerie Shops, Best Souvenir Shops, Best Towns for Cheap Accommodation, Best Toilet Facilities for the Traveller, Hottest Vape Shops, Top Towns with Tidy Main Streets and Towns without Annoying People Who Want to Wash your Windscreen at Traffic Lights.
And, invariably, all are tagged "must-see", "must-visit" or "must-do".
There's no doubting that I would like to revisit some of them; you wouldn't have to drag me back to Kaiteriteri, Bay of Islands or most beaches on the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, for example. But there might be a bit of dragging and some resistance involved in getting me to Bulls, Nightcaps or Washdyke.
And therein lurks the germ of an idea for this week's column. To balance the ledger we need some solid journalism on where NOT to go and, as you've probably guessed, I'm here to help. Here is my loosely-arranged top ten list of places to avoid if you'd like to relax a little during these restrictive times.
10. Any supermarket checkout with a queue.
9. Any supermarket with a young checkout person asking customers –perfect strangers – either of the following questions: -"How's your day been so far?"
- "Have you got any big plans for the weekend?"
8. A number of New Zealand rivers or lagoons where there is a risk of your swallowing some of the water. There are websites on which you can check the suitability of the water for swimming in most popular spots around the country so I recommend using them.
7. Any cinema that sells popcorn. There is not only the smell to contend with but also the mess. What is it with popcorn eaters that causes them to scatter their snack across a wide area of the cinema so that it becomes entangled in the carpet and the fabric of the seats?
6. Bulls – a town you pass through to get to other places.
5. A toilet queue at a major music festival (applies only to women). At Mission concerts, for instance, I have seen queues of women snaking almost back out the gates of the venue. Men are clearly favoured in this department.
4. Nightcaps. It appears that this settlement's main claim to fame is that it is a town in the Southland region of New Zealand's South Island.
3. Any known hoon burnout venue. Tell-tale signs will be black rubber "designs" on the tarseal.
2. Washdyke. I know I'm being unfair here because it is, after all, the industrial area of an otherwise attractive town. I believe the unappealing name is part of the problem (though I could also mention Cape Foulwind, Shag Pt and Mt Misery).
1. Any cafe or restaurant that puts pineapple on pizza or kiwifruit in a Caesar salad.
So, there you have it. If you follow those guidelines rigidly, you have a good chance of relaxing and enjoying your time in our own backyard.
But, in these difficult and uncertain times, nothing can be guaranteed so your safest bet is probably to stay at home.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.