Despite the lack of foreign tourists, Northland has been buzzing this Easter holiday weekend, with many visitors flocking here for the first time as international borders remain closed.
Among them are Auckland couples Milad Nasiri and Valentina Cartes and their friends, Edward Balandino and Pamela Riquelme, with their 1-year-old son, Noah. They pitched tents at the Ruakākā Beach Holiday Park and enthused about their first visit to Northland.
Nasiri is from Iran, Balandino is Brazilian while the other two are Chilean.
It was their first camp in Northland since being in New Zealand for about seven years and they marvelled at the peace and tranquil environment they enjoyed in Ruakākā.
"We mostly go holidaying to Rotorua and the South Island but we heard from people that beaches in Northland are nice and decided to check it out and to also get away from Auckland," Nasiri said.
They arrived on Sunday and left yesterday.
"It's a great place for kids, there are a lot of open spaces, very relaxing. We plan to return when it's not peak season and hopefully visit Kai Iwi Lakes."
The couples attended the Waipū Easter Festival on Saturday and said they loved the vibe, with a collection of everything from food and art and craft.
They used to be flatmates in Auckland many years ago and reconnected lately through a chance meeting in the city.
Many campers were packing up about lunchtime on an overcast day yesterday
following three days of mostly fine weather in Northland.
Campground manager Anne-Marie Abel said it had been an amazing week, with bookings for the Easter weekend made three months in advance.
"It's been full the whole weekend from Friday, a lot of new families from Auckland and further south who haven't been here before, couples, and it's about the choices people make.
"They want to travel to new areas. We're a very big campground so for us to be full is pretty amazing. Weather's been amazing, people have been swimming, the water has been warm," she said.
The campground has 350 sites and nine cabins with a maximum of six people at each site.