Host of the Month for December 2024 | Shanti Smith | Pohara, New Zealand

Editor’s note: Each month, we like to introduce one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and ask what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we’re showcasing Glamping Hub’s Host of the Month for December 2023, Shanti Smith in Pohara, South Island, New Zealand. Shanti has a profound passion for gardening and growing produce on her permaculture farm. This deep connection to nature is not only a personal joy but also a wonderful opportunity to share the marvels of the natural world with her daughter and guests visiting her gorgeous glamping site on the South Island.

Here’s a bit more about Shanti, in her own words:

Originally hailing from the US, I’ve called New Zealand home for nearly two decades and have proudly raised my daughter here. In 2015, I acquired my half-acre permaculture farm and have found immense joy in tending to it ever since. Owning this property has been incredibly rewarding as it enables me to introduce guests to a farm-to-table lifestyle through glamping experiences. With over 50 varieties of fruit and nut trees thriving on the land, sharing the bountiful produce with glampers has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this venture.

What attracted you to owning a glamping property?

I’ve always cherished having a close connection to nature and previously enjoyed glamping experiences in yurts and yurt-like structures. Growing up, my father had a yurt nestled on the Black Mesa in Colorado, so venturing into the glamping space feels somewhat familiar. Determined to provide guests with a balance of nature and comfort, we did extensive research to find the ideal glamping unit for my space. I aimed to offer visitors the magic of New Zealand’s nature while ensuring they could indulge in luxuries such as a plush bed and soothing cups of tea, all within the confines of a canvas tent. New Zealand, renowned for its distinctive bird life, boasts an array of unique birds whose melodies are truly captivating.

Are there any remarkable or unique stories connected to your glamping site?

My journey in New Zealand began as a WWOOFER – a dedicated volunteer working on organic farms. This program attracts individuals keen on learning about farm life while embracing travel opportunities. It was when we began hosting WWOOFERs on my property that one introduced us to the concept of glamping and generously gifted us a Lotus Belle tent. However, it became apparent that this type of tent wasn’t suited for New Zealand’s unpredictable weather.

Consequently, we decided to craft a custom tent specifically designed to withstand our local weather conditions, utilizing locally sourced materials. This approach made the entire project a testament to our commitment to local craftsmanship and grassroots initiatives. Every aspect of this endeavor has been meticulously tended to with care– from the stones adorning the shower area to those lining the footpaths, each one handpicked from a nearby beach. This space was truly a labor of love.

Can you tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date?

It’s impossible to single out the most memorable guest among the wonderful individuals who have graced our property. We consider it a true privilege when newlyweds choose our space for their honeymoons, some even spending two weeks here. Witnessing city dwellers revel in the embrace of nature, cherishing the enchanting birdsong at dawn and the tranquil murmur of the creek, is always a heartwarming experience. Likewise, it fills us with gratitude when well-traveled guests, who have explored the world, express sheer amazement at the beauty and simplicity of our space. Our aim with all our guests is to instill a sense of harmony with nature, encouraging them to deepen their appreciation for it.

If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?

If I could choose anyone without limitations, my grandmother would unquestionably be my first choice. Her love for New Zealand, evident during her visit, resonates deeply with me, and I’m certain she would beam with pride witnessing what we’ve cultivated here. Another individual I’d be thrilled to welcome onto my property is Michael Franti. I deeply admire his music and the messages he shares, and I’m confident he would find solace and appreciation in this space.

What are some of the challenges you face and what have you learned since opening? From my personal experience, we’ve found that weather poses the most significant challenge in our region. New Zealand experiences frequent bouts of wind, rain, and unpredictable weather patterns, occasionally interspersed with intense heat. Taking this into account, we prioritized weather resilience when constructing our glamping unit, ensuring its ability to endure severe weather conditions.

The addition of a PVC fly over the tent has proven instrumental in safeguarding the canvas against various elements such as rain, sunlight, bird droppings, and tree sap. Weather remains beyond our control; hence, our approach is to acknowledge its unpredictability, adapt to its nuances, and make necessary adjustments along the way. Our overarching philosophy revolves around designing our lifestyle to harmonize with our natural surroundings.

How was your first time hosting?

I initially felt a sense of nervousness, which I suppose is normal, as we wanted to ensure our guests experienced the utmost comfort amidst nature. Along our hosting journey, we’ve experimented with several tents, and feel that we have finally found the ideal setup that truly caters to the needs of our glampers.

What do you love the most about running a glamping site?

It’s hard not to fall in love with the glamping host lifestyle. Welcoming people from various corners of the world into our home has been an enriching experience. Through interactions with our glampers, we’ve gleaned invaluable insights and perspectives, almost as though I’ve embarked on a global voyage myself. What brings me immense joy is demonstrating the incredible potential of a small patch of land when it comes to cultivating fresh produce. Introducing visitors to the true essence of freshness and sharing the harvest from our garden is immensely rewarding. Our guests are often intrigued by our methods to extend the life of our scraps. We’ve developed a system where scraps are utilized for composting, contributing to our sustainable practices. Additionally, we implement a composting toilet, further maximizing the utilization of waste in our eco-friendly approach. The presence of guests infuses our space with renewed vitality, and we revel in the vibrant energy they bring.

Where is your ideal holiday destination? Other than your glamping property of course!

Two dream destinations at the top of my bucket list are Japan, for its incredible snowboarding experiences, and Tahiti, for a relaxing, exotic getaway.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start or improve their own glamping business? My foremost advice would be to infuse your heart and passion into crafting your glamping space. I’ve discovered that the more you invest in it, the more you receive in return. Giving your all inevitably reflects in the experience you provide.

Our community of hosts means everything to us here at Glamping Hub, which is why we love to share their stories in our Host of the Month feature. If you’re looking for a special stay on a permaculture farm in South Island, New Zealand, book your stay today!

Have you stayed with one of our incredible hosts recently and would like to nominate them for Glamping Hub’s Host of the Month? Send us a message via Facebook or Instagram explaining who you’ve chosen and why!

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