Best of 2021

2021 has been a rough year. I thought it would be a better year than 2020 but the pandemic is still ongoing and lockdown hit me a lot harder this year. I’ve already posted what lockdown was like for me so I wanted my last blog post in 2021 to be a more positive one. I’ve put together the best parts of this year. From travel, experience, food I’ve had to best purchases, I’ve collated them all in this post. I looked back on the past year and picked out the good bits from this pretty shit year.


The first half of the year was pretty good as we were pretty much back to ‘normal’ and we could freely travel within NZ. Here were the best places I went to in 2021:

Oakura – Whangaruru Beachfront campsite

Whangaruru northland

I’ve already posted about this trip back in my January Highlights post but it was one of my favourite trips this year. We camped in the van, swam, I tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time and didn’t suck at it. It was a few days of relaxation and enjoying the sunshine.


Another one I specifically blogged about in my Christchurch Trip post. This Taylors Mistake airbnb I booked was still the best one I’ve stayed at. The view was incredible and we had an amazing time here. I still dream of waking up to that view again. Some days, mentally I want to be transported back there.

The reason we were in Christchurch was for a wedding and it was the only wedding I went to this year. It was a great wedding too. The weather was great and we had a lovely time dancing til the end of the night.


Back in April, I also went to Wellington. I initially planned on writing a blog post about this trip but I never got around to it. I tagged along when Max had a work trip over the long wekeend. I spent a few days exploring, eating and shopping. I finally went to Zealandia Ecosanctuary and it’s a pretty cool place. If you love nature, it’s pretty much paradise. You can get a free shuttle to and from the city as well.

We also went to Wellington Zoo which was a spontaneous trip. I found out that afternoon that my Lola (grandma) in the Philippines passed away. Being over here in NZ, my family couldn’t go back due to the pandemic so it was sad. M took me to the Zoo to cheer me up and we had an amazing close encounter with the giraffes! Found out then they have such long and beautiful eyelashes. They’re gorgeous animals.


I’m so glad I booked this fairly last minute. This is the Once & Floral Cottage in Kaukapakapa. This was back in July so it was still winter. This place was secluded, had an awesome outdoor bath and a fireplace inside. It’s also not that far from home. We had a relaxing time here and little did we know, this would’ve been our last trip before the almost 4-month long lockdown. I’m grateful we got to relax here.


Noho marae

I’ve said in my this post that I started learning te reo this year. It was a full-time in person course. Sadly, the last few months were done online due to lockdown. However, I am so grateful we got to experience one noho marae in 2021. It was one of my favourite experiences this year.

Pottery class

Back in August, I booked us a pottery and coffee class from The Clay Centre. It was our first time doing it and it was so much fun. I wasn’t the best at it but Max was. He made the blue cup in the middle and the taller one on the right. I’d love to do another pottery class!


It’s been a big year for me at work. The first part of the year we were visiting mana whenua and training them on our projects which was awesome. We got to go to different places even up to Whangarei which was cool. Then towards the end of this year, my main project finally wrapped up which involved me training about 150+ internal staff and getting the project up online. I’ve had some challenges but it’s been quite a rewarding role. I’m grateful for the experience I’ve gained this year.

Purchases / Things

I thought I’d add the best things I’ve bought this year. I’ve tried to be better with shopping but I did treat myself too. It’s been a hard year but I also had reasons to celebrate.

Best secondhand scores:

Hands down, the two best secondhand finds for me were my two designer bags. I have zero regrets buying these. The pink Burberry one is me in a bag. I love using it. It brightens and completes my outfit. The second one is this vintage Valentino bag. I saw it and couldn’t resist. Even though it’s old, it’s in pretty good condition. It’s a classic black bag and it fits a lot too.

Also one of my best scores from TradeMe was this spin bike shoes! I have posted about my love for spin before. I can talk about it for a long time. Spin is so good for me mentally as well as physically. I’ve been wanting to get shoes with cleats for a while but brand new ones costs close to $200. When I saw these on TM for $10, pretty much brand new and in my size, I got so excited. It’s the best $10 I’ve ever spent.

New Clothing:

If I had to pick my top brand new clothing purchases this year, these two came to mind. Hine Collection activewear is so good! I had to get two pairs of their 7/8 leggings as I loved them during the colder months. For summer I love the bike shorts and the matching crop bra. I want to get another pair as I go to spin class 3-4 times a week and need more pairs of shorts. However, they’re sold out in my size. If you’re looking for activewear, check out Hine. It’s a NZ brand and Māori owned too!

On the right are my linen pyjamas from Bed, Bath & Beyond. They’re from their Ecoanthology range and they’re 100% linen. I’ve ignored all my other pjs because it’s all I want to wear when I sleep. I love them. Linen is more durable, breathable, hypoallergenic and also a natural fibre. I can’t rave about these pjs enough.

I also wanted to mention my Ruby Mirella dress. I’ve only worn it twice (once for dinner out and the other was dressed up at home for an online meeting) but I love it. It’s memorable for me because I rarely ever buy pricier clothing especially at full price. I fell in love with this dress when I tried it on in store and I was planning on wearing it to a wedding (that got cancelled due to lockdown). I plan on wearing this dress many more times and although it’s a bright red, it can be dressed up and down depending on accessories.

Face Mask:

The most popular accessory this year is the face mask. I’ve tried quite a few different ones and the best mask I’ve used is this one from Aviro. It doesn’t fog up my eyeglasses and it’s comfortable to wear too. I highly recommend it.


I also got new glasses from Bailey Nelson and I am so happy with them! I think I’ve been wearing glasses for almost 20 years and I’ve always hated wearing them because they’re annoying, heavy and I usually don’t like the look of them on me. I love the two pairs I got though and now I prefer wearing glasses over contact lenses. One pair (bottom one) I use when I’m working / staring at a computer all day. The top pair I added transition lenses and it is amazing. It changes when it’s bright and I basically don’t need sunglasses when I’m outside. Transition lenses are a total gamechanger for me and it was the best add-on.

I also treated myself to some Bare Jewellery. I’ve been eyeing them up for a while and I got two of the hoop earrings. They’re the only pairs I’ve worn since getting them.


One of my best and favourite purchases this year is this new perfume. I used to have a lot of perfume bottles but I’ve decluttered my collection and I only want to keep one that I really love. I knew that once my previous perfume (Maison Margiela Replica in Beach Walk) runs out that I wanted to get a new fragrance. I stumbled upon the Libertine Parfumerie section in Smith & Caughey’s in the city and fell in love with the L’Artisan Parfumeur Un Air De Bretagne. Back when I went to the office, I’d stop by S&C before going to my bus stop to spray this on me to really make sure I love the scent and that it doesn’t give me any headache. When the beach walk perfume finally run out, I purchased this new bottle.


I have my absolute favourite skincare products that I’ve been using for years and still love (Loveskin serum, Two Birds Beauty serum, Laneige lip sleeping mask, Mecca To Save Face sunscreen) but I’ve also tried new products this year. The best ones I’ll gladly repurchase are:

  • Trilogy Hydrating mist toner (ad / gifted) – I swapped to this toner after winter. I find this refreshing to use and it smells nice too.
  • COSRX advanced snail 96 mucin power essence – I follow @shitskinchat on IG and she raves about this. I finally decided to give it a go and my skin also loves this.
  • COSRX pimple patches – I think the main brand I loved this year is COSRX! These pimple patches are awesome and cheap! Maskne is a real thing so I use these on those pesky breakouts around my face.
  • Heimish watermelon gel cream – This is such a nice and lightweight moisturiser! I used to love Clinique moisture surge but this is better for me. It’s also much cheaper.
  • Le Tan SPF50 – I recently got this but I want to put this here because I know it is going to be my number 1 body spf this summer. It smells great and is not sticky at all.
  • Trilogy cleansing gel (ad/gifted) – I love this as my main cleanser. It’s not heavy and I like how my skin feels afterwards. I use this every day.
  • Innisfree apple seed cleansing oil – I used to be a cleansing balm person (the Trilogy cleansing balm is great) but for summer, I wanted to try something lighter so I got this. It smells so nice and gets rid of all your makeup easily.
  • COSRX Low pH Good Night soft peeling gel – I don’t use this every day but I love the feeling after using this. This is probably the most gentle exfoliator I’ve tried but it really works. It’s good for sensitive.


  • Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder – the powder is so fine, it’s great to set your makeup. My sister loves this too.
  • Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop skin tint – this has replaced all my other foundations.
  • Mecca Max whip lash tubing mascara – such an awesome mascara to prevent any panda eyes!
  • Naked Sundays hydrating glow mist spf50 – this is a recent addition but I know it’s going to be a staple. I love that it has spf50 in it so it’s great when I have makeup on and I need to top up on my sunscreen.


I’m going to end this blog post with the best food I’ve had this year. Food is my life so there’s a lot here.

Home cooking:

We’ve cooked some awesome food this year. Joan has started making fried chicken everything: chicken katsu, chicken katsu curry, chicken karaage and popcorn chicken. They’re so good! We also nailed the perfect-looking lumpia (Filipino spring rolls). This year I also discovered Pineapple Adobo exists and if you love classic adobo, you have to try it.

I had to include coffee in here as having our Breville barista coffee machine has been a godsend especially during lockdown. I rarely buy takeaway coffee anymore. I grind the beans fresh every morning to make myself a cup of coffee. Special mention to Boring Oat Milk as it is the only oat milk I like. I’ve tried so many alternative milks but hated them all. I like the Boring Oat Milk for iced lattes.

For coffee beans, we go through them a lot and have tried a few brands. My current favourite is L’AFFARE summer limited edition beans.


Nanam was my top restaurant this year. It really is my favourite restaurant. We dined here a few times this year and I also made takeaway orders during L3 lockdown. We’ve never had a bad meal here and it’s so consistently good. If you’re in Takapuna, please go to Nanam.

Our last dinner out before lockdown started was at Culprit. We had the jet set menu and it was a great experience. It was our first time dining there too. The duck was good.

For cafes, Beam in Milford was a favourite. Their fried chicken eggs benedict is the best. The prawn eggs bene is a close second. Major Tom in Albany was one we also frequented.

For desserts, Birthday Everyday is great if you love chocolate mousse. Choux also do amazing macarons, long macarons and eclairs. They’re both in Takapuna and well worth a visit!

I also had to mention Francesca’s Italian Kitchen when we went to Christchurch. I remember having a lovely meal there. Ebisu and Amano in the Auckland CBD are also nice.

That is all for my big roundup of 2021! It has been a rough year with lockdowns and new covid variants but I wanted to end the year looking back on positive things. I can only hope and wish that 2022 will bring even more great things.

PS, I specifically didn’t include any of my best books because I’ll do another roundup in the new year for that.

I hope you all have a great Christmas and New Years! 🙂

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