Recommended places to escape to

Those of us living in cities and towns often run the risk of overlooking the natural and unspoilt scenery which New Zealand can offer.

Our country is unique for the variety of mountains, beaches, lakes, bush walks and snow-dusted areas we have at our doorstep.

Sometimes we all need just to escape from the humdrum of daily life to places of beauty and most importantly calm!

Whangapoua, Coromandel Peninsula

Whangapoua is a small beach township, about 20 minutes drive from Coromandel. At only two hours and 45 minutes from the heart of Auckland, this beach is easy enough to reach for a weekend getaway.

Whangapoua is not uninhabited, but those who do have baches and beach houses here are enjoying a laid-back and quiet pace of life. The beach itself is known as a ‘surf beach’, but it still great for casual paddles and time with the kids.

From the beach, there is a 30-minute walk to New Chum’s Beach, which can only be accessed by foot.

Going to New Chum’s feels as if you’re the first people to go there, and the beach itself is idyllic white sand and sparkling blue water.

Te Waihou River Reserve, Putaruru

It probably wasn’t one of your goals in life to go to where the ‘Pump’ bottled water is sourced, but a trip to the Te Waihou River Reserve achieves this, as an added something to tell your friends.

The river reserve is a five kilometre boarded walkway along the small river, just outside of Putaruru, in South Waikato. The track goes through farmland, and past the ‘Blue Springs’ water source.

The springs are a reason themselves to do the walk. They are azure blue in colour, a striking contrast to the greenery of the bush that surrounds them. It is safe to swim in the springs, but be warned-even in the middle of summer-they are cold!

Contact the Putaruru Information Office (07 883 7284) for more information on directions.

Blue Lake (Tikitapu), Rotorua

Continuing the ‘blue water’ theme, Blue Lake, one of the Roturua Lakes, is highly worth a trip.

The lake is just nine kilometres out of Rotorua, via the Te Ngau Road then the Tarawera Road. Blue Lake is tranquil place for swimming, boating or picnicing. Should you be coming from out of town, there is a Top Ten Caravan Site, almost on the lakefront.

Try doing the Blue Lake Track, which is 5.5 kilometres long, winding through bush and District Council Reserve land, after following the lake for a kilometre. Be aware that the track ends back on Tarawera Road, so take care on this part, especially if you’re with children who have a habit of running on ahead!

The above are just a few of literally hundreds of places around New Zealand that will give you a much-needed breath of fresh air, and a reminder of what a special place New Zealand is to live.