Claire Chitham makes a guest appearance in Basement Theatre's annual Christmas show. 'Santa Claus' runs until December 20.

1. Coromandel town

For the quickest access to beautiful beaches that are far enough out of Auckland to make me feel like I'm truly on holiday I love gapping it to the Coromandel. There are so many amazing places to choose from. I stay at The Greenhouse B&B in Coromandel township, forthe best hospitality and homemade breakfast in the country. And then I pick a beach from there — Opito Bay, Whangapoua and the magic that is New Chums are close. I head to a secret spot I'm lucky enough to visit with friends, which is a kiwi sanctuary and virtually uninhabited with untouched beaches and an uninterrupted view of Mercury Bay. Emerald green water on one side, turquoise on the other. And no stay down that way is complete without a stop-off at Lukes Kitchen in Kuaotunu on the way home for pizza and ciderin the sun and picking up fresh mussels from the Mussel Inn. Yum.

2. Hahei campground
I fell in love with this spot last year — it's right on the beach,really good facilities and super cute little beach cabins if sleeping in tents ain't yourthing. I'm taking friends of mine from the US there this year so I can show off Cathedral Cove to them. Nothing quite beats the view of the azure blue sea and those white cliff faces along that coast from the top of the hill. Apart from when you finally step down on to the beach afterthe trek from the top. It's famous for good reason.


3. Bay of Islands by boat
I was lucky enough to grow up in a boating family. My dad was a sailor and built our first yacht in our front yard. My favourite memories of summer are cruising around the islands, pulling in to bays that feel pre-historic, imagining you're the only people on the planet, rowing ashore to barbecue on a steel plate on the beach and hanging out with the dolphins swimming along the bow as we sail around. Pure paradise.

Claire Chitham.
Claire Chitham.

4. Great Barrier Island

I feel like the Barrieris still about as off the grid as you can get in the North Island. No electricity, sharks and stingrays cruising in and out of the bay, snapper and crays at the ready, surf beaches, white sands. You feel like you could be in another country altogether. Or even better — another time.

5. Abel Tasman National Park is my next summer holiday destination goal. I've never been, but I think that area of the country looks and sounds spectacular. I want to walk the length of it and paddleboard around the edges. That and exploring Milford Sound are on the bucket list for 2018. Lucky Kiwi buggers that we are.

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