For many travellers to New Zealand, including a visit to a wellness retreat has become a much-anticipated part of their trip itinerary.
In recent years, some of New Zealand’s high-end retreats have become primary destinations for visitors, rather than just stop-offs. While many offer excellent spa services (like massages), they also encompass bodywork like yoga and Pilates, as well as stress-reducing activities such as mindfulness meditation, that help keep guests living in the moment. Whether you want to recharge your batteries, create healthy habits or make larger life changes, you can find what you need in New Zealand.
Doubling as a luxury lodge, this destination retreat in the Abel Tasman National Park, near Nelson, opens onto two golden-sand beaches, one with a rock formation that resembles a split apple – hence, the name. Wellness packages of between three and seven nights include a health consultation, nature hikes, cooking lessons, Pilates, massage and guided mindfulness meditation; or you can opt for a personalized program. Co-owner and chef Pen Lee makes healthy dishes taste sinful, and her doctor husband, Lee Nelson, promises that blood tests on key health markers will improve – and good luck tearing yourself away from the infinity pool that spills over the horizon. (Photo below)
If any place can inspire wellness, Aro Ha is it. This multi-award-winning retreat, on a subalpine plain in Glenorchy, near Queenstown, offers “Wellness Adventures” that bring together the body and the mind. Two or three group retreats are run each each month, except in June. Typically lasting five, six or seven days, these programs involve nature hikes, yoga, body-strengthening classes, plant-based meals, spa therapy, massage and mindfulness meditation. Founders Chris Madison and Damian Chaparro believe that reconnecting with nature and being present in the moment can create life-altering change. Most guests – including honeymooners – fly in specifically to stay at this retreat, in eco-friendly cabins with lake and mountain views. (Photo below)
Overlooking Diamond Harbour, a secluded bay near Christchurch, Shunyata (meaning “openness”) aims to help you ditch unhelpful behaviour patterns for lasting change. Warm, welcoming owner Paru Clarke, who speaks fluent French and Spanish, has trained in just about every wellness practice imaginable, and works one-on-one with guests. While she can personalize retreats, the set packages are the most popular: from three-night tasters, to five- or seven-day cleansing, detoxing and weight-loss retreats. They include yoga, meditation, counselling, sugar-free meals and bodywork sessions. Shunyata offers alternative therapies such as “The Journey” (transformational sessions), a pampering-only package and a romantic couples’ retreat.
Marilyn and Bill Brownell’s organic lifestyle is the foundation for your retreat for anything from time out from your busy world to a specific life change. You can decide how long to stay, and can talk to Marilyn about which treatments you want. Her massages, which draw from Lomilomi (Hawaiian massage), reflexology and acupressure, help to unknot those muscles and relax your body and your mind. With her Watsu treatment, an aquatic therapy combining massage, shiatsu (Japanese acupressure) and joint mobilization, Marilyn bends, stretches and swirls your body in dance-like movements in a solar-heated pool. You can sweat out any toxins in the far infrared sauna, savour the spa, devour the endless tamarillos (an egg-shaped fruit), and enjoy the feeling of utter relaxation here.
It’s all about soul at Queenstown’s newest retreat, though the body gets its share of attention too. Yoga teachers and holistic-wellness experts Amanda Woolridge and Sandi Murphy run what they dub “real treats” from Murphy’s central-city Nadi Wellness Centre (they don’t provide accommodation, but have some recommendations). Choose from two-day Wellness Weekends or five-day retreats (Awaken Me, Inspire Me or Yoga Detox), which are run monthly in groups of six to 12. Therapies and activities include yoga, meditation, massages, hikes, shiatsu (Japanese acupressure) and life coaching.
Air New Zealand has direct non-stop flights from Vancouver to Auckland and offers flights from many other North American cities. Amazing new experiences are just one flight away.
For more information on New Zealand or to create your unique adventure, please visit: www.NewZealand.com and check out the “Wishlist” handy vacation planner.
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