NO BAD CORNERS
New Zealand’s vast expanse and many delightful landscapes make for a soulful, nature-filled vacation
ABRISK BREEZE flows through Queenstown, the place where Rosanna, her husband Marco, and her clan decide to spend the holidays. The temperature reaches nine degrees Celsius at night but the warmth of the season still manages to make itself felt. A good 30 people are present, including Rosanna’s mother at 80 years young, all her five siblings, and each of their respective families. A strip of five houses—all beside each other—make for the clan’s temporary place of residence for the next 12 days. Traveling with over 30 people is no joke. Chaos can easily ensue with conflicts in itineraries, not to mention the actual scheduling of activities is next to impossi
ble. Even if Rosanna has grown accustomed to wearing the hat of a planner, handling such a big group is a different challenge altogether. Usually, during previous vacations, it wouldn’t be so much of a challenge to figure out where they should be going and when. But this time around, considering the sheer number of personalities in the fold, they anticipated a wide variety of interests and appetites for the kinds of adventures New Zealand could offer. “We were so many. We had kids aged from three months old, and my mom who was 80,” Rosanna shared. So instead, they opted for a relaxed and leisurely lineup of activities. They agreed not to force anyone to do anything, thus leaving each family to go about the activities that suited them at their most comfortable pace. “There was no way for everyone to want to do the same thing, so our deal was that everyone could do what they wanted as long as—in the evening—we all have dinner together.” And it worked like a charm. “Every single person enjoyed!” she proudly exclaimed. Marco and Rosanna couldn’t be more ecstatic to share how smoothly things went during their 12-day sojourn into the Maori country. New Zealand lies southeast of Australia, among the countries of the Oceania continental zone. It’s home to a weave of Maori, Asian, Pacific Island, and European cultures that makes it a unique place to visit. It also ranks quite high in terms of quality of life, education, health, economic freedom, and protection of civil liberties. With already a high standard for living, New Zealand’s main attraction, at least for the Rodriguezes, is the land. Quite literally. “It was really a nature-filled vacation, and everywhere you look, there’s just beauty.” Rosanna recalls. “It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.” Like Rosanna, Marco couldn’t help but admire the many delightful landscapes while they were there. He shared, “There were a lot of amazing open spaces. New Zealand is really expansive. And so, to make the most of the place, you really have to go out.” There were a whole range of options for families. For Marco, it was an early morning bike trail. For Rosanna’s mom, it was a quiet stroll through one of the nearby nature trails. Some members of the family even took on the adventure of New Zealand’s Shotover jet boat ride, an exciting and
adrenaline-filled way to go about exploring the canyons. One of the highlights for the couple on this trip was exploring the fields on horseback—and seeing the stunning white-speckled mountain ranges that were dotted—not with snow—but with sheep. As some people may know, sheep outnumber the local population to about seven to one. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a trip for Marco and Rosanna if they didn’t consider the food. At this point, Marco took over. “There was a lot of game. I’m not usually a lamb person—but it was something so widely produced that I ended up getting some from the grocery.” During the evenings, their families would be cooking their dinners, so there was a lot of passing on of dishes. Each family would have their own recipe and it was definitely a sharing culture within the clan. “I’d say that the cuisine here is more European but what makes it unique is the ingredients that they use that are indigenous to the region,” Marco said. “And the dairy!” Rosanna exclaimed. “The milk and cheese were just amazing. Our kids couldn’t stop raving about the dairy products.” And for the drinks? Wine was the libation of choice. “It’s the first time I felt that every other person stepping out of the store had a bottle of wine,” he mused. Wine just seems to be widely produced and accessible in New Zealand. It’s not surprising as the climate there is quite cool. Special occasions abounded during the family’s stay in New Zealand. To make the trip even more special, the family decided to invite Sweet Escape to Rosanna’s mom’s 80th birthday vacation. “It was a wonderful experience— because since New Zealand has no bad corners, it’s a perfect place to photograph. Especially given that some of those precious photos were taken with my mom.” Their stay in New Zealand also coincided with Rosanna’s birthday. On the day of her celebration, Rosanna and Marco chose to visit Arrowtown, which was about 30 to 45 minutes away from where they were staying. It was a quaint town with a vintage feel, also known for meat pies. From there, they made their way to Arrowtown, a historical mining town and currently home to several vineyards and stone fruit orchards. Needless to say, more wine was enjoyed that day. Getting around was also a thrill in itself, with the politeness and courteousness of the locals on and off the road. The reason was the orientation, as the roads are made for righthand drive. “The first time, I was so nervous… and there were a lot of roundabouts, so I really had to be aware of where I was at all times.”
Marco comically shares that every time he had to signal, his wipers would suddenly turn on. So it definitely took some getting used to. But for Rosanna, it was definitely easier getting their own car. While public transport is an option and there are buses and good paths to get around, they were still with their children. “The space is really so expansive, so to experience New Zealand, you really have to go out,” she said. As such, having their own transportation helped a great deal. Still, the cabins that the family rented were very central. As such, there was very little pressure to stray far from where they were. Just relaxing was enough. The couple shared that there was a lot of lazing around, simply delighting in front of the fireplace. The Rodriguezes thoroughly enjoyed their trip to New Zealand. And what they took home were insights that are just as valuable as the long list of wonderful encounters and experiences they had while they were there. “There are two major takeaways I got from this vacation,” shared Rosanna. “First, that family is everything. And this trip was mostly a reflection of that.” Being raised in a big and tight knit family, she knows how important they can be. Marco has a similar outlook, as he is also part of a big family. They can be different at times, but what matters is the bond between them. “My second biggest takeaway is that you really need to time to just unplug and respect the nature that surrounds you—because it really gives back.” Swayed by their surroundings, Rosanna actually chose to get off social media while she was there, even deleting one of the major apps she frequently uses. “The real luxury anyone has is time. We have these opportunities to create our lives, and are given the choice of how to spend it.” Rosanna shares that the trip was as soulful as it was because of the attention given to the world outside of the digital space that she is so frequently exposed to. “For a business owner whose model revolves around social media, this was almost unthinkable. But there’s just so much freedom that comes with just deleting an app.” “We will definitely be back,” shared Marco. With some unticked items off their New Zealand checklist, the couple already has a return vacation in sight. Because in a place of beauty with no bad corners, it is almost impossible not to notice the expansive wonder that places like New Zealand can provide—and the added warmth of the right company.