By Jodi Bryant
The Doubtless Bay and Karikari Peninsula area has long been a favourite holiday spot of mine. For years we lugged everything, including the newborn twins, toddler and two cats, along with all the required paraphernalia you can imagine you would need for a camping holiday on bare land with no running water or power, to Taipa.
I must've had a lot of energy back then. These days, I take the easy and much more luxurious option and treat myself every year to a night or two at the Ramada Resort Reia Taipa Beach.
Situated in the midst of Mangonui, Cooper's Beach and the golden sands of Cable Bay, and further on, the Karikari Peninsula, with its vast array: the pohutukawa-shaded Whatuwhiwhi, Fiji-like Rangiputa and the picturesque sweep of Matai Bay, it's a matter of take-your-pick which beach you will visit.
And then there's the long stretch of Taipa Bay itself, suitable for surfing on the right day. This is the outlook for the luxury resort which boasts prime position beachfront. Unlike Cable Bay and Cooper's Beach before it, Taipa's jewel is not apparent from the main road. However, veer east off the State Highway, and within seconds you have discovered it.
At the resort, you are greeted by a scene resembling the tropics. Palms galore border the swimming pool, surrounded with gazebos, recliners, picnic tables, a bbq area and spa. Next to this are the tennis courts, all set in amongst beautifully-maintained gardens with blooming hibiscus.
Having holidayed here without children, I knew they would love it and vowed to start saving for a family holiday here. Last summer we did that and the kids spent the entire time in the pool, spa, playing tennis and surfing. We didn't use the car once!
With a special family occasion coming up, we asked where they'd like to go to celebrate and so a return trip was planned – albeit this time in the winter.
Last weekend, we set off north-bound and arrived two hours later. As usual, the staff were warm, welcoming and professional. It's worth mentioning they remain this way for the duration, despite my children's repeated visits to reception requesting and returning tennis rackets, not to mention spare swipe cards every time they lock themselves out!
We headed down the huge corridor, and I eyed the racks of magazines with their vast array of reading material, taking note to return later. There's also a games cupboard, including petanque, cricket, body boards, board games and books.
Rather than beach-front, this time we opted for poolside, seeing as the kids spend most of their time out the back and, being a large family, had adjoining rooms. The kids thought it pretty cool, having their own 'house'.
The revamped studios are spacious and have everything you could need. With the heat pump on and the sun outside, it was easy to forget we were in the midst of winter and the kids donned shorts and jandals the following day. Stepping outside, the cold hit them and they remembered they weren't actually in the tropics!
We headed to breakfast with its sunny outlook of the beach, to discover the Northland Rugby Team in residence and also dining – popular place!
After breakfast, it was time for copious rounds of tennis, followed by the excruciating game they had started the afternoon before; running from the hot spa into the ice-cold waters of the pool on repeat!
There was still down-time, which consisted of either Sky tv or devices (humph) for the boys, while my daughter raided the games cupboard, but they kept active enough. Plus, the warm sunset hues reflecting off the glistening sands at low-tide were just too tempting so we hauled them out for a stroll along the beach before dinner.
The classic Traffic Light, Pink Panther, Coke Float and milkshake drinks were a hit and we dined in the restaurant both nights, with friends joining us the second night for the milestone birthday occasion.
The onsite restaurant, with bar, and café are constantly humming with the café a regular stop-off for tourist buses, not to mention locals, many opting for alfresco dining, taking in the ever-changing landscape and scene around them.
On the final day, after a scrummy cooked breakfast, including The Big Breakfast, eggs benedict, french toast and toasted sandwiches, while watching the mist rapidly rise off the surf across the way, it was time to order yet another of their delicious coffees and take one last walk along the beach where, by then an absolute glorious day had unfolded.
All too soon our holiday had come to an end and we promised the kids to their repeated requests of 'one more game of tennis' and 'one more swim', that they would just have to wait until next time.