Elisabeth Easther stays at Paihia's Admiral's View Lodge, in the Bay of Islands
Getting there: Drive, or fly to Kerikeri, hire a car and drive the remaining 25km.
Check-in experience: We were welcomed with efficiency and charm by our host, Craig, a man who clearly loves his job in the beautiful Bay of Islands.
The owners: Craig is a former fitter/welder and fabricator and Penny is a former travel agent - eight and a half years ago they made a seachange and bought a motel. They've never looked back.
First impressions: The scooter and bikes at the front door spoke of a warm family atmosphere, and were also evidence that Craig and Penny's son had just celebrated his 7th birthday, which lent the place a festive air.
Room: The Sea View Spa Studio was super clean, comfortable, spacious and recently redecorated with a subtle nautical theme. The open-plan suite featured two beds, one king, one single. The roomy bathroom contained a shower and a super-sized spa bath where, if you angled the TV right you could watch your favourite show from the tub. I chose to withhold that information from my son.
Kitchen: Well-equipped, it features two elements, a microwave, a fridge and a wide array of utensils, pots, pans, crockery. There is also salt and pepper, proper grinders no less, and a coffee plunger provided, as well as a good selection of teas, coffee, hot chocolate and complimentary milk. A flash-looking barbecue is also available to guests, and we were told we'd be welcome to cook our kingfish on it, when we caught one, and we could even use the family's olive oil. Now that's hospitality.
Toiletries: South Pacific Bath Co. shampoo, conditioners and soaps but the fanciest thing was the sachet of relaxing bath salts, a Restorative Bath Bag Infusion, which was quite a novelty and just the thing after a day on the ocean. NB: The bath was big enough be able to share a soak with a friend and not feel awkward. Snowy white bathrobes were also provided.
View: Stunning. Lie in bed and gaze through the ranch sliders, out across trees and tennis courts to the ocean.
More stuff: There's a smart TV, a DVD player, bottomless Wi-Fi, a heat pump, electric blankets, a good-sized balcony and you can also borrow bicycles.
Anyone for tennis: The courts opposite the lodge first opened in the 1920s and you can borrow balls and racquets if you fancy a hit.
H2O: Some people say Paihia's town water supply has a bit of a chemical tang, but not at the Lodge as they filter all their water.
What's in the neighbourhood? There are some stunning walks. We especially loved the Paihia to Ōpua trail. The roadside fruit stall by the bridge as you enter Paihia from the south is excellent, and I filled my pockets with avocados on one wander. And talking of food, the farmers' market every Thursday afternoon from 12:30-3:30pm is a mind-blowing utopia for all who enjoy good kai.
Did someone say kai: Admiral's View is within easy walking distance of Paihia township. The Tipsy Oyster and Charlotte's Kitchen are two of the many excellent eateries.
For the birds: If you know what you're listening for, you might hear kiwi calling as you lie in bed.
Perfect for: Families, friends and romantic runaways.
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