There are some places you really like but you don’t really have any real inclination to go back to. And then there are places like Paradise Beach in Papamoa. But twice in eight months? Even that felt too long between stays because after our first Paradise Beach experience back in March 2020, my wife and I vowed we’d have to be back again within a matter of weeks. That’s right, weeks! And then a certain thing called Covid happened and the world changed.
The world changed, but blessedly, not so much New Zealand. Sure, there were a couple of lockdowns – including one very major one – and sure, the Kiwi economy took a chunky hit, but any time you feel like a moan just remember that 2020 is ending with Aotearoa one of the few places on Earth that still allows you to take non-selfish, non-super-spreading, non-mask-wearing holidays.
So yes, it wasn’t a matter of weeks and more-so a matter of eight months, but there we were, enormously grateful to be back again at the brilliantly realised luxury barns of Paradise Beach.
For those not in the know, Papamoa is a beachside suburb of the greater Tauranga urban area in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island. Located a 2-and-a-half-hour-drive southeast from 1.5-million-strong metropolis of Auckland, the 150,000 people that comprise greater Tauranga are enough to chalk this up as the country’s fifth largest urban area. Rapidly growing too.
The appeal is obvious: sunny climate, beautiful coastal setting and good proximity to Auckland, though with just a tenth of the population. These factors, plus a sense there was a gap in the local marketplace for world-class, boutique beachside accommodation, inspired the husband-and-wife pairing of Aaron and Sarah Paku to create Paradise Beach.
With Aaron a builder and Sarah an interior designer, they envisioned something that would feel 5-star while still being family friendly. In mid-2019 that initial dream finally became a reality and Paradise Beach took its first paying guests.
As I wrote about Paradise Beach in a New Zealand Herald article back in June, “My wife and I had the upstairs loft, our baby Riley her own bedroom below, and everything about this high-end, sun-splashed, open-plan property shouted that rare harmony of relatability and luxury”.
Split into two barns that can either be rented separately or as a whole, Barn One is a single level and has one bedroom with ensuite, a full-sized kitchen and an open plan dining and living area. This opens out to a further outdoor deck with couches and a BBQ. Barn One is perfect for couples or even parents with one young child as there is a child’s bed in the bedroom.
Barn Two is where the wow factor steps up a notch with the two-level property encompassing two master bedrooms – one upstairs and one downstairs – with an additional bunk-room also upstairs for the kids. In Barn Two alone you could sleep six people in total if there were two couples plus two people in the bunk-room. Or if you combined with Barn One, Paradise Beach could provide the ultimate Kiwi beach escape for eight people (nine if there was another child).
The design of Barn Two is extremely clever in that Aaron and Sarah have taken a not especially large footprint and found a way to make it feel like a genuinely large space. This is done by having the living area (adjacent to the kitchen and also opening out to a lovely tropical-looking garden and BBQ-friendly deck) be two-levels in height but only the one-storey.
The high-stud gives a sense of roominess, while also offering plenty light. And then you can look diagonally up from the living room to the loft-bedroom above where barn-style doors slide open against a clear-glass railing. Or vice-versa, you can be in the upstair master bedroom either have the doors closed for privacy, or open for the views outside and to the living room below.
You don’t often think of a hotel living room as being part of the “view”, but with the clean, elegant, North American beach-house vibe of Sarah’s interior decorating, it certainly is. In short, the place looks sensational and is one of the standout pieces of design – both inside and out – along the Papamoa strip.
The very reason for the existence of that ever-increasing strip are the waves and the white sands that stretch for miles from Mount Maunganui all the way to Whakatane and beyond. Travelling with our 17-month baby Riley, it was a breeze to pick her up with one arm, grab a beach bag with the other and walk through some small mounds of tussock grass to see that famous sand.
As you might be able to tell from the photos, little Riley is a bum-shuffler and her extensive shuffle-trails suggest she rates this beach very, very highly. Her parents concur.
One final thought about why we’ve loved our two stays at Paradise Beach so much is that the location is not just ideal for hitting the beach, you’re also located less than a couple of hundred metres from a new Fresh Choice supermarket as well as a couple of excellent pubs and cafes with Goodhome and Pearl Kitchen.
Given the Barns are such wonderful, easy places to entertain, we liked the option of picking up some food at the supermarket and bringing it back to Paradise Beach to prepare and eat. And then if we didn’t feel like cooking, you know you don’t need the car and can just stroll to the pub or the cafe.
Add to that the delicious home-baked bread and fresh eggs that are complimentary at breakfast, Paradise Beach is – as the name suggests – a stunning beach, but it’s also a straightforward, stressless luxury escape. Enjoy the photos!