Confession: My name is Sarah and I'm what you might call 'camping averse'.
I would put sleeping in a tiny, freezing tent up in the hills or on the beach on my top ten 'things I don't want to do' list. All the unzipping of tent zips, showering in communal camping bathrooms (if you shower at all)... absolutely not.
My boyfriend, however, is what I would call 'camping adjacent'. He very much likes the idea of us going into nature, and even bought a three-roomed tent, which he's never used apart from "with the boys at Northern Bass".
As a compromise, I suggested we ease in to the idea with glamping.
Probably something you've seen your Instagram feed, glamping seems to be the nature-based antidote to the stresses of the big city - but with all the creature comforts you want on a luxury holiday.
The people at Glamping Hub offered me the chance to get away from it all and my God I was happy to oblige. With no idea what the terrain involved, we packed up the Toyota Hilux from Avis in case we were venturing deep into the bush - probably unnecessary for State Highway 2, but comfy all the same.
Instead, our host Sandy greeted us on the edge of a serene avocado orchard in Matata, leading us past the trees and orchard beehives to 'The Grove', our luxury yurt for the night.
From the outside, the yurt looked like a traditional Mongolian tent - slightly out of place in the very Kiwi setting. When we stepped inside, we were greeted with fairy lights woven into the ceiling, a plush queen-sized bed with numerous pillows, a couch with a fur throw - even a flat screen TV with Sky.
Not camping, perhaps, but I couldn't be happier.
I was worried the yurt might be basic in all senses of the word but no - a kitchen, bathroom and deck is attached, and it even has a hot tub. Sandy also left us some complimentary crackers and cheese, but for an extra $100 promises a full platter and wine - handy if you don't want to venture down to the local shops.
A sign outside the yurt promises to point you to 'The Beach', which really undersells the empty stretch of white sand and blue sea that awaits you. Granted, we went in April, but it was as private as kilometers of empty space can be. Only some Hilux tracks and dog prints showed there might be a community of locals around us.
We even braved a dip, despite the chill, and were rewarded by two women walking their dog who called out, "you're brave!", which was particularly validating.
If you're in the neighbourhood, do not miss Auntie's Fish and Chips on the main road. Absolutely starving after our beach dip, we drove down to see what could be eaten, with reasonably middling expectations. But it was easily the best fish and chips I've ever eaten, and would probably make the trip again just for that battered tarakihi.
Dinner was of course followed by champagne in the hot tub - how else to finish off a fish and chip feed?
The yurt comes into its own at night; fairy lights twinkling and with a light pitter-patter of rain on the roof, we couldn't help but point out how weird it is going to sleep without the buzz that usually simmers in the background of our Grey Lynn apartment block.
Even the sound of birds jumping onto the tent gave me a fright in the pitch black darkness, but only like, the first 20 times.
All in all, glamping is the answer for any camping newbies or naysayers like me. All of the fun: nature! Beach! Rain on canvas!... and none of the drag: Communal bathrooms! Collapsing tents! Wild animals!
Camping without the tantrums or tears - a miracle.
Sarah and her partner stayed in the Whakatane Luxury Yurt courtesy of Glamping Hub. They travelled there in one of Avis NZ's luxury utes.