You don’t need to leave town these school holidays - stay local, says Megan Singleton.
On a blustery afternoon with leaves swirling like tiny dancers we wound our way up the driveway of Duckpond Luxury B&B. Indeed, the duckpond delivered on the promise and its tenants were quietly ushered from the gravel driveway before we turned them into dinner. Beside the owners' house is the cutest cottage you ever did see that opens on to a swimming pool. Fresh zucchini loaf was waiting in our room and home-made breakfast delivered on a tray the next morning was sublime.
2. Waiheke Island
Within an hour of downtown Auckland you can be on the doorstep of The White House at Little Oneroa. This two-storey, beautifully furnished home with decks to capture every mood of the sun can sleep up to eight within cooee of the beach. Just 10 minutes' walk and you're in Oneroa, with your greatest concern being which cafe to have brunch at. Perfect for a group of friends " and they had Sky TV for the boys while we girls sat on the veranda laughing like magpies.
3. Heritage Hotel
For an inner city experience the Heritage Hotel really packs it in. The rooftop pool overlooking the harbour has a gym with doors opening poolside and bikes facing the bridge. You could be in LA. But the biggest buzz is their sought-after raw food menu. Hint: the raw muesli with coconut parfait and berry coulis is worth getting up for.
4. Bethells Beach
On a wild day there's nowhere better to run than along the sand at Bethells. You'll join people on horseback with the wind in their hair, wetsuit-clad surfers and strollers breathing in the rugged west coast air. Stay at Ara Station, a two-storey former station house with a roaring fire, surrounded by kowhai decorated with singing tui.
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5. Hauraki Blue
For a night away with a difference, board the Ipipiri, a three-story catamaran in the Viaduct, and tootle out with afternoon tea (or make it happy hour) in the harbour anchoring at Motutapu. The energetic can get the kayaks out and paddle to shore. The others can sit on the roof being happy before the captain moves on and decides where to anchor for the night, dinner is served and the board games come out.