The writer, photographer, and contact-tracer Maria Lenihan looks back on memorable Kiwi holidays
What are your favourite memories from childhood family holidays in NZ?
My all-time favourite memory would be a Christmas barbecue at Hatepe Beach, Lake Taupō. The water was unusually warm that day; us kids swam until well after dark, under the stars and full moon. It was magical. Nothing beats swimming in lakes. I also cherish memories of gathering mussels at Mitimiti, in the Hokianga, with my whānau.
Where is your favourite off the beaten track/secret spot in NZ to get away from it all?
I love Lake Wainamu, at Te Henga, Bethells Beach. It's a beautiful place to have a picnic and swim. You can access it by walking down a shallow stream, or traversing glittering black sand dunes. It's like a lunarscape; it's eerie and epic. I love the whole vibe out West.
If you were heading on a family getaway now, where would you go?
Cape Reinga, this summer. I'd love to go because I've never been there, and it holds profound significance for us Māori, as the leaping off place for the spirits. I've written about it in my forthcoming collection of short stories, Girl. On the way I'd catch up with whānau in the Hokianga; where my play Pīrairaka, Tīrairaka, co-written by Ava Williams, is set.
What's your dream New Zealand roadtrip?
I did it recently - driving from Invercargill to Te Anau, and then Milford Sound and the Catlins. I'm in Southland on a writer's residency; and my hosts, the Dan Davin Literary Foundation, have organised these trips, as well as a stay on Rakiura Stewart Island. It's my first time in Southland, so I'm excited. I've travelled the world and lived overseas for most of my adult life, yet still have plenty to explore in Aotearoa.
And if you could choose one ultimate, luxury, dream holiday in NZ, where would you go?
Huka Lodge. If it's good enough for the Queen…
Colleen Maria Lenihan (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi) is a writer, photographer, and contact tracer based in Auckland. Her debut book, Girl, will be released in April 2022 by Huia Publishers. Her play Pīrairaka, Tīrairaka, will be read as part of the Kōanga Festival 2021's Whakarongo Mai programme on October 8 at 7pm, available to watch online at tepoutheatre.nz/whakarongo-mai-2