It's fair to say this year has felt like a decade and we're all suffering at the end of it. But of course, thanks to the festive season and Christmas just around the corner, many of us are having to rally the energy to rev into high gear: buying presents for loved ones, going hard at Christmas parties and starting to think about cooking that daunting Christmas dinner.
If you are also seeing a pale and frizzy shell of your former self when you look into the mirror, it's time to do something about it - you've earned a treat or two.
Whether it's a quick afternoon pick-me-up or an overnight stay away here are my top picks for luxe ways to treat yourself around Auckland city.
A spa treatment is one of those things you may never think you have the time or the money for - but honestly, if you're strung out and tired it's the best way to calm your adrenal system and allow your body to fully relax. Physical touch increases levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that help regulate your mood as well as help your body relieve stress and anxiety. If you're short on time, pop in to see one of the facialists at Commercial Bay's Skintopia for a personalised Pro30 skin treatment - you can easily fit it in whilst Christmas shopping and nobody need be any the wiser.
If you have a whole afternoon or day on your hands, the spa in the Viduact's newly-opened Park Hyatt hotel is absolutely world-class. Any treatment over 90 minutes gets you full access to the facilities, including the hydrotherapy room and pool which looks out over the harbour bridge. I recently indulged in a 60-minute massage and had no idea how tight my poor neck and shoulders were after a year hunched over my laptop at home, until the masseuse laid her healing hands on me.
Hop on the ferry to the 'heke
There's just something about boarding the ferry to Waiheke - an air of excitement akin to boarding a plane, but without the two weeks quarantining at a hotel. Yay! Heading over to Waiheke always makes me feel like I'm going on a bougie summer holiday. Even though it's only 45 minutes away, the vibe is way more relaxed, the people seem nicer and of course, the wine tastes better. Fullers ferry is currently running its Wine and Dine promotion, which allows you to enjoy an indulgent lunch or dinner at one of their vineyards, with ferry trips and transfers for you and a friend included. Enjoy a seasonal, multi-course meal from one of seven restaurants on offer, wither with a glass of wine, or a full wine tasting. We'd recommend the tasting every time.
Have a staycation out west
The old saying 'west is best' truly rings true when it comes to the wineries. If you're looking for a mini-break but can't face the holiday traffic out of the city, why not stay within Auckland's city limits - while gazing upon rolling hills with a glass of award-winning wine, of course. The Hunting Lodge winery recently added Wildernest to their estate, an idyllic private glamping spot perfect for a little R&R. This isn't camping as you know it - the tent comes with a beautiful bed, a full en suite, and a delicious dinner for two in the winery's restaurant. During the day, grab a table, picnic blanket or a spot on the grass to enjoy a few wines with friends.
Catch a film
It sounds simple, but a midday movie session is truly one of the most indulgent ways to spend an afternoon - especially if you can leave the kids with a babysitter for a couple of hours. Plus, the comfortable air conditioning is one of the best ways to escape Auckland's summer heat and humidity. If you haven't been to the recently opened Event cinemas in Westfield Newmarket, they're absolutely worth a visit. Splash out on seats in one of the boutique cinemas or even get a comfortable daybed. Order a couple of glasses of bubbles, mix your popcorn with some M&Ms, and you're away. Just try not to fall asleep during the movie - you'd be forgiven at this pointy end of the year.