In God’s Own Country
Hindy Weber-Tantoco found the perfect escape in New Zealand
“If you love nature, adventure, a relaxed vibe, and having breathing space, New Zealand is the place for you,” recommends Hindy WeberTantoco. She’s talking about her recent holiday trip with her family to the land of the kiwi, where they partook in thrilling activites like hang gliding and luging, and soaked in some of New Zealand’s culture through music and tours.
In the Tantocos’ itinerary were stops at Auckland, Waiheke, Queenstown, and Rotorua. Auckland is a major city between two large harbors, and its Sky Tower provides views of the Viaduct Harbor, lined with yachts and bars. Waiheke Island, meanwhile, is situated in the Hauraki Gulf and boasts many high quality vineyards, galleries, and boutiques. Queenstown sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is the base for adventure sports and historic mining towns. Lastly, Rotorua is a town in New Zealand’s North Island, where visitors can bask in the Māori culture. New Year’s Eve found the family at the Wondergarden Music Festival, an event that marries music, light installations, and sumptuous street food. Held at Silo Park in Auckland, the festival had the Tantocos enjoying music by Kiwi performers.
Known for being the adventure capital of the world, New Zealand also has plenty of action to offer. “Hang gliding, paragliding, fishing, horseback riding, ziplining, luging, camping, trekking...” Tantoco rattles off the activities that her family got into. But there were days too when they got to relax, go on road trips, and do “lots of nothing.” When asked what her most memorable experiences were, she mentioned a helicopter tour of the Fiordland National Park. “We landed on the top of a glacier and then hang glided off the top of a mountain. We relaxed in a coastline camp where it felt as if we were the only people on Earth. We also had a Māori teach us about traditional open-fire cooking, and we got to relax at a historic sporting and fishing lodge by a river.” Because they had such a great time, the family plans to visit again soon. “New Zealand has all the conveniences of the first world, but it doesn’t feel as fast as other big cities,” Tantoco observes. Echoing poet Thomas Bracken’s description of the country as “God’s own country,” she adds, “The natural environment is so beautiful and well-preserved. Plus, there are still so many activities we didn’t get to do.”
Asked to sum up her family’s sojourn, Tantoco says, “It was [about] slowly traveling around surreal landscapes where there is so much space to breath and to be—the perfect example of disconnecting in order to reconnect.” •
New Zealand’s unique landscapes gave Tantoco both the exhilarating rush of novelty and the rejuvenating peace that only a wide expanse of nature can bring.