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Destinations Cities

10 of the best New Zealand retreats

Looking for somewhere to go where you can reconnect with yourself? Here are our top picks.

North Island

[Art break]
Waihi
If tapping into your creativity is what you're after, you'll love Art Break Waihi, where you get to hang out with your muse for a whole weekend.
Just a two-minute walk from Waihi Beach, the retreat offers a guided package, where all materials and art tuition are provided. Alternatively, if you already know what you're doing you can go the independent route, where you simply pay for your room, take your own materials and work on your project alongside other artists.
All meals and nibbles are included, except for one night where you do your own thing. The cost for two nights is $200 to $420, depending on which package you choose, whether you're a single or room sharing, and also the room in which you're staying.
[Te Wahi Ora]
Piha, Auckland
This retreat, 'run by women for women', at west Auckland's wild and wonderful Piha beach, offers you the chance to simply get away from it all. There are no scheduled activities – unless, that is, you're booking for one of the Weekend Writing Workshops held throughout the year.
Instead expect a nurturing environment with beautiful rooms and meals 'made with love' (they bring breakfast to your room; bliss) in a stunning location. Bev Holt, honorary manager of the Te Wahi Ora Charitable Trust, says the women who attend "usually know what they need to be restored, to recover, to feel better, to regain their sense of direction".
Women are offered "the freedom to sleep lots, walk the beach, climb the headlands, wander up the bush trails, read, eat the meals that happen three times a day without any work on their part – just 'be' for as long as they can come".
Massage and spiritual counselling are offered at reduced rates. One very cool aspect of this retreat is that, as a charitable trust, they accept donations which are used to help women in need pay for their stay. From $150 for one night.
Phoenix Belly dancing.
[Phoenix Belly Dance]
Auckland
How do you fancy spending a weekend in Egypt? Well, not literally, but on the Journey Through Egypt: Special Edition Belly Dance Retreat, you'll be steeped in the exotic Africa/Middle East culture.
Held at the Bella Rakha Retreat Centre, just 25 minutes from Auckland, the retreat offers "a safe environment for dancers to really let their hair down, be silly and play". The 20-hour course, under the tuition of 'belly dance icon' Sahra Saeeda, will take you through the posture, steps, clothing, culture and history of this very saucy dance form.
As well as the tuition, the package includes: two nights' accommodation at the beautiful Bella Rakha Retreat Centre, set among 32 acres of native bush; and two meals (you can either take your own food for breakfast and lunch or pay for their pre-packed ones).
Use this as an opportunity to polish your skills or turn up as an absolute beginner and learn how to get a wiggle on. From $600 for a twin share.
Weight loss deliciousness at Resolution Retreats.
[Resolution Retreats]
Tauranga
If you're anything like us, you'll be used to returning from holiday with excess baggage – but how about coming home a few kilos lighter? That's what you are offered at Resolution Retreats, a women-only weight-loss programme which includes cooking classes, meditation, personal training, yoga, beauty therapies, expert speakers and more.
You're free to skip activities if, say, you want to follow up your spa visit with a snooze by the fire or a nap on your plush, comfy bed. But with so much en-suite
expertise, it's a shame not to glean as much as you can. Choose from three, seven, 10, 14 and 21-day retreats, with accommodation at a beautiful location.
Coming up: the Two Week Transformation Retreat, Oct 27-Nov 9; and Three Week Life Changer Retreat, Nov 11-Dec 1.
[Te Moata]
Coromandel
Want to truly get away from it all? Head to remote Te Moata retreat, set in native bush in Tairua, in the Coromandel Peninsula. You can stroll along the walking tracks by streams and waterfalls and, if you want time to reflect, the centre has a purpose-built meditation room.
There are four solitary retreat huts available too, situated on high ridges deep in the bush, if you fancy a bit of alone time. Retreats are year-round.
The stunning view from the Waterfall Cabin at Falls Retreat.
[Falls Retreat]
Karangahake Gorge
Another retreat where you can immerse yourself in nature, Falls has two cottages located in natural woodland, which are only a two-minute walk to the retreat's award-winning bistro.
There's plenty to do in the surrounding area, including the Hauraki Rail Trail – a cycle path running from Paeroa to Waihi – nature walks, and exploring Waihi Beach.
If you're keen to learn more about the retreat's farm-to-table ethos, they run gardening courses throughout the year on everything from worm farming to keeping chickens. Rates for the cottages start at $150, or choose from one of three packages, including a Girls' Weekend Away.

South Island

Massage at Split Apple.
[Split Apple]
Abel Tasman
Split Apple Retreat was built by a doctor and chef couple who were "determined to provide a luxury, restorative oasis". The retreat is located on the edge of the
Abel Tasman National Park overlooking Tasman Bay, and visitors can make the most of the surrounds with bush walks, horse riding and helicopter trips.
Or stay in and enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and calligraphy session with a Japanese grand master calligrapher. On the wellness side, you can sign up for a private yoga session in the rose garden's yoga pavilion, enjoy a range of massages, from reiki to deep tissue, or have a soak in the saltwater infinity pool.
There's also plenty of healthy indulgence available – Split Apple is renowned for its Asian-Mediterranean fusion cuisine, and guests can choose to have cooking lessons with Chef Pen so they can prepare the retreat's delicious meals at home.
Choose either a three-day or seven-day wellness package, $1990 + GST per night for two people.
[Hurunui River]
Christchurch
Just over an hour's drive from Christchurch, this beautiful rural getaway lies in a secluded valley near the Hurunui River, with expansive views across the Hurunui plains to the foothills of the Southern Alps.
Founded by Tina and Grant Duncan, former owners of White Tie Catering, the retreat offers accommodation in two cosy cottages, which are equipped with fully appointed kitchens. But if you feel like having some proper time out, guests can arrange for picnics, antipasto platters on arrival or a gourmet dinner made from local and seasonal ingredients.
Cool off in summer with a swim in the river, just a short stroll away from the retreat, or in winter, take advantage of the proximity to the nearby ski fields.
For a proper foodie getaway, take a 30-minute drive to the Pegasus Bay and Black Estate vineyards, or sign up for one of Tina's cooking classes, which are held at the retreat. From $200 per night for two people, for five nights.
Aro Ha
Queenstown
A "Zen-inspired luxury" retreat, Aro Ha is just 40 minutes' drive from Queenstown. With sweeping views of Lake Wakatipu, the retreat is designed to rejuvenate mind, body and soul through yoga, spa therapy, mindfulness practices and an enzymatically-active vegetarian menu.
All fitness levels are welcome, and you'll "be supported while challenged" through a range of activities including yoga, pilates, interval training and sub-alpine hiking. The retreat is designed around encouraging people to inter-mingle in shared spaces, but it also caters for those moments when you simply need a bit of 'me time'.
Just seek out one of the private, eco-friendly rooms, which have areas where you can curl up with a book, and desks for journalling. Retreats range from five to seven days, with prices starting at $4550.
Meditate and grab your daily dose of vitamin D at Yoga Nature.
[Yoga Nature]
Nelson
For the yoga retreat that has it all – and that includes hot tubs, horses and healing gongs – you really need look no further than Yoga Nature's Awakening Adventure Holiday.
What's on the menu? Their website offers this rather poetic line "We will meditate on the elements of earth, water, fire and air as we play between forest and coastline of the internationally renowned Abel Tasman National Park".
And meditate you will – both morning and evening during the six-night stay at the beautiful Golden Bay location. You will also do a spot of yin yoga, yang yoga, beach horse riding (including optional vaulting lessons; no, not actually jumping over the horse but learning how to balance on it), tuck into delicious organic food (all dishes are vegetarian), hike, kayak and be fabulised and thoroughly pampered in the spa. Aah.
To be honest, they had us at 'hot tubs'. Prices start from $2395.

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