Spice up your life with a little glam camping for two, suggests Sinead Corcoran
I'll take a wild stab in the dark and guess 2020 is not panning out the way you'd planned.
Whether it was a wedding you've had to reschedule, your London OE or a family holiday in Fiji - I bet you're in dire need of some pampering.
I'll let you in on a little secret.
Just an hour out of Auckland is a retreat that would rival any international honeymoon hot spot.
Overlooking Kariotahi Beach on the West Coast, Castaways resort Glam Camping is the ultimate blend of nature and luxury – so no leaky tents from your miserable camping trips as a kid, think gourmet meals and an outdoor bath.
My boyfriend and I spent a mid-week night at Castaways. Here's how it went:
He says: Driving over the hill to see Karioitahi Beach felt almost apocalyptic. Wild, frothing waves thrashed the beach. A lone horse rider galloped through the shallows. It was powerfully evocative. I summed it up in a moment of pure poetry: "Chaotic beauty". Sinead laughed.
Just 8km or so from Waiuku and little more than an hour from central Auckland, Castaways feels not only like a different country - but also a different time. It boasts waterfront studio units, two-bedroom chalets, a giant glamping village (up to 50 people) for corporate getaways, weddings or milestone birthdays. And, of course, it has romantic couples glamping...
She says: If you're also attempting to subtly scout potential wedding locations without your partner cottoning on, Castaways is a must-visit. The giant glamping village would be perfect for a rustic-chic, Pinterest-worthy wedding (or "surprise birthday party" if your partner is in earshot while you're hurtling catering questions at the tour guide).
She says: Bersantai Day Spa is on top of the resort cliff and offers a range of massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. We enjoyed an hour-long couples massage complete with a lovely foot soak in a little bathtub.
The masseuse had the softest handsI have ever encountered in my life and the kindest energy.
He says: The spa is nestled in the hills like some lost Inca palace. From the moment you walk through the doors, it is pure relaxation.
I didn't want it to end and could easily have booked in for another two hours.
She says: Less tent, more romantic and cosy DOC hut. My personal favourite part was the USB mix-tape they provided which featured Beyonce.
He says: I store my memories of camping with other childhood horrors like accidentally watching Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 7.
The nadir was a week in Scotland, abandoned after three solid days and nights of torrential rain seeping through the canvas. Castaways tents are a world of comparable luxury.
A wooden structure, king-sized bed, table and chairs, carpet, fridge, barbecue and personal bathroom - that isn't a shared toilet block 50 metres of wet mud away.
I even enjoyed the structure that allowed wind to blow through the canvas inner creating a real flapping tent experience - even though it briefly took me back to -6C in Kirkcudbright circa 1984.
She says: We kicked off our gorging getaway with lunch at the on-site restaurant, stuffing our faces with duck confit salad and fries.
On realising this was supposed to be a romantic night, we panic-ordered a round of espresso martinis in a desperate attempt to revive ourselves from our food comas. On arriving at our tent, we accepted that those days are long gone and finished strong with a tube of Pringles.
Along with chips, our tent had been stocked up with an array of snacks, fruit and a pre-prepared gourmet dinner and breakfast to cook up on the barbecue.
As my boyfriend does all the cooking at home, I decided to really spice things up and generously let him cook on his one night off too. While I drunk the bottle of wine for two, he whipped up steak, scalloped potatoes and salad - which were all *chefs kiss*.
He says: Castaways Restaurant and Bar is glorious. Stunning views, espresso martinis and great food. The duck confit salad was simultaneously rich and light. Special mention to the waiter who was one of the friendliest, welcoming humans I've met.
At the campsite, I was able to lay to rest the ghost of a portable stove and lukewarm beans on soggy fried bread. Castaways glamping has a fridge stocked with food prepped by a chef. It simply needs heating or cooking on the barbecue.
She says: There's no denying it has the best views in town - think sunsets and crashing waves on the coastline. That being said, I'm not afraid to admit I care less about the picturesque landscape than I do about the Instagrammable outdoor bath, which is 10/10.
Before you book though, it does pay to know that there isn't any Wi-Fi or reception as far as the eye can see – so it's perfect if you're wanting to completely unplug and unwind.
And don't forget, you can always talk your partner into driving up the mountain to get cell service; just convince him he's probably got urgent work emails piling up.
He says: Awhitu Peninsula is surprisingly vast. Rolling countryside for walking and biking, the beautiful bays and white sand of Awhitu Regional Park (contrasting with Karioitahi on the west), the historic lighthouse with its remarkable panoramic views - and even the boutique vineyard Awhitu Wines for a tasting.
You can do most of it in just a day - but could easily go off the grid and spend a lot longer exploring.
CHECKLIST: Castaways Resort
GETTING THERECastaways Resort is at Karioitahi Beach just under an hour's drive southwest of central Auckland via Glenbrook and Waiuku. The resort's Glam Camping Experiences start at $430 per couple which includes a gourmet dinner and breakfast package.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com