New Zealand or as locals like to call it, Aotearoa, our land of the long white cloud, is made up for 3 main islands; Te Wai Pounamu (South Island); Te Ika a Maui (North Island); and Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui or Rakiura (Steward Island) which out of interest is runner up (after South America) to being the closest human-dwelling-island to Antartica (still a mere 4,000kms away but).
If we were to book a Maui Campervan and drive from Bluff (the Southern most point in the South Island) to Cape Reinga (the Northern most point in the North Island where our souls fly into the winds and across the seas after we’ve made a tiki-tour-visit of our ancestors throughout Aotearoa) it would take us 31 hours and we would travel 2222.1 kilometres (kia ora AA Maps). We would of course have to board the Interislander Ferry which crosses the Cook Strait. A most beautiful experience sailing through the Marlborough Sounds and arriving into Wellington’s Harbour (our capital and arguably voted the best city in New Zealand). Wellington is home to WOW: World of Wearable Art (happens September – October) and the New Zealand Festival (a biennial festival in February/March).
As a ‘kiwi’ five things i love most about our country is:
From anywhere in our green green friendly land it will only take you 2 hours to drive from the most inland spot to the ocean. This gives people an expansive experience of living, being able to see to feel ‘the edge’ the sense of possibility to keep travelling beyond our shores. Hence why we are great sailers – Go Team NZ – American’s Cup! The only exception is Milford Sound, a breathtaking location in the South Island which you can incorporate into a 4 day hike called Milford Track. This (one of many great walks) is open from late October until late April. You can be self-sufficient and trek carrying your own food etc, or pay for the more ‘deluxe’ version and get someone else to share the load and cooking might i add. When you choose to take on this walk you stay in cabins within the bush. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Once you leave the splendour of the trees, that air, those bird calls, and waterfalls you’ll need to drive about 5 hours to get to the coast again.
They’re everywhere and stunning. From the white squeaky sands of Rarawa Beach or Maitai Bay (both come complete with DOC Campsites in the Far North) to the golden sands of Golden Bay, or the long long surf beach of Mt Maunganui (home to little YOGA festival), or the black sanded beaches of our west-coast such as Karekare, or Raglan (a favourite surfing spot and home to Solscape Retreat). You’ll find a beach perfect for your needs. Surf? Off the grid? In amongst the action? Tucked away and only accessible via foot or water-craft? We’ve got it to share.
Everywhere you go you’ll taste fresh, innovative and wholesome food.
I love our kai. We eat plenty of kai moana in Aotearoa which is no surprise really. Kaikoura (South Island) is famous for its crayfish. Bluff for its oysters. Our mussels are among the largest in the world and can be twisted off the rocks in the Coromandel. Our river fish is delicious too – Salmon and Trout. If you know someone who loves Trout Fishing send them to Taupo and the surrounding towns such as Turangi. Snapper, Terakihi and Gurnard are my young family’s favourite fish. I’ve personally caught a snapper off the rocks on Kawau Island – the only land here with wallabies (our neighbour Australia’s native animal). We adore our coffee, wine and most recently craft beer here in New Zealand. Everywhere you go you’ll taste fresh, innovative and wholesome food.
A sense of adventure, a sense of innovation, a sense of mucking in and doing it together. Aroha. Mana. Wairua.
People come to New Zealand first and foremost for Nature. The North Island walks are beautiful such as Lake Waikaremoana (centre /coastal North Island), The Pinnacles Track (Coromandel), Tongariro Alpine Crossing (Tongariro National Park), Mt Taranaki Walk (which is also home to WOMAD festival which happens in March each year and features world music, camping onsite, and is a great festival to take kids to). In the South Island among the most famous are: Routeburn Track, Abel Tasman, Heaphy Track, Kepler. For an official list of the great walks click here. Our Maunga (Mountains) are found in both islands, which provide epic skiing through June – October (depending on the snow each year). Our lakes, rivers need our help to become clean again, but they still hold enormous wairua and beauty.
5) He Tangata. He Tangata. He Tangata.
It is the people, the people, the people. We’re a fairly relaxed country of people (especially those who live outside of Auckland and the larger cities). FYI: I have nothing against Auckland, I lived there on and off for 10 years and some of my favourite people on the planet still do. It’s a bustling city with terrific food, a thriving arts & film industry, glorious beaches and green spaces (parks and reserves) and it literally twinkles in summer, set against the harbour. The City of Sails is ‘her’ name. We have 3 official languages in our Antipodean land. Te Reo Maori, English and Sign Language. We consider ourselves of pioneering ‘stock’. We all ventured here to the ‘ends of the earth’ to the promised land, or to new possibilities and our people have that flavour in their bones. A sense of adventure, a sense of innovation, a sense of mucking in and doing it together. Aroha. Mana. Wairua.
Which segues smoothly into our festival season. A collection of events which have ‘possibility’ at the heart, and bring people together to experience transformation. Without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, people of Both-Genders, younger people and older people…
Guide to Wellness Festivals in Aotearoa
15 – 17 September 2017
May Street Reserve, 13 May Street, Mt Maunganui (North Island)
Camping, cabins, caravans available 1 km from site – 10 minute walk along the beach
Aotearoa’s most handmade Arts & Wellness festival bringing people from around the world together to celebrate Spring. Hosted in Mt Maunganui, home to New Zealand’s most beautiful white-sanded east-coast beach, alchemy awaits you at little YOGA festival 2017. Bring you, your whanau, your bestie, whoever uplifts you to share our nourishing workshops, inspiring speakers, good food, and soul-ful music tenderly curated for you. Soak in the hotpools, make new friends, watch the sun go down, laugh with your children, come home to your whole self, acro yoga with your partner, however you wish to experience our festival we promise it will be one of the happiest weekends of your life. Welcome, Nau mai, Haere mai, thrice welcome to our weekend of whole-heartedness.
25-30 January 2018
136 Cooks Rd, Hunterville (North Island)
Camping on site (off grid)
Family Friendly? (i haven’t heard of many mamas and papas taking their kids feel free to comment below if it’s family friendly in your opinion OR not…)
Kiwiburn is a participatory festival, where we – the participants – bring and make the things that we want to have here. There are no central stages or headline acts, no queues and very few crowds, just a series of surprises. Every performance and art piece is there because somebody has decided to bring it and put in the effort to make it happen. If you want to listen to a particular kind of music or create some other kind of fanstastical experience you can get together with friends and set up a theme camp. If you have inspiration, you can make art or host an event. Kiwiburn is a collective experience. Everybody contributes, everybody buys a ticket, even people who have volunteered year-round to make this event happen. As there are no paid performers at the event, there are no spectators and what is shared are the passions and dreams of those who gift them. You cannot “attend” Kiwiburn, but you can be a part of it. There will be no money exchanged for anything at the event. We are co-creating a gift economy and a different kind of social reality to go along with it. Feel free to radically express yourself and please respect other people’s boundaries. Due to this collective nature we cannot offer you a program or featured artist list. You can check out the list of registered theme camps and art installations, but as to the true nature of what will be at Kiwiburn, we have no idea—and that’s half the beauty. There will be various kinds of music, art installations and people in costume, neon lights, fire spinners, drummers, random surprises, dancers, free spirits and healers… but that’s just us, and what we are doing… bring your passion and share with us your dreams.
26-28 January 2018
Founders Heritage Park, Nelson
Camping for tents and motorhomes on site
Evolve Festival is an annual celebration of old customs and new ways to transform the health and wellbeing of individuals, the community and the earth. Feed your mind, soul, heart – and tummy! Share knowledge about sustainable living, hear inspirational leaders and visionary pioneers – and dance, laugh and play. With so much on offer, there is something for everyone.
1- 8 February 2017
Canaan Downs, Takaka Hill (South Island)
Camping on site (off the grid and must bring own tent/camping equipment)
Welcome to Luminate, a vibrant festival of cutting-edge live & electronic music, visual & performing arts, inspirational knowledge sharing, and pioneering environmental initiatives. We celebrate the ancient summer harvest festival of Lughnasadgh, midway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. Luminate is a place to re-energise on the dancefloor, participate in workshops, be inspired about living sustainably, receive a massage, join in drumming around the fire, relax with a warm chai, watch an enlightening movie, be in harmony with nature, and celebrate a sense of conscious community.
22-25 February 2018
Kawai Purapura, Albany, Auckland (North Island)
Accomodation on site
We invite you come and join us in “Embracing Your Inner Mastery” amongst our finest teachers and practitioners here at the 7th annual festival. Our foundations for the Yoga Festival are now steadfast, and now we wish to extend our content to bring out more depth in experiences 2018. The number 7 in numerology, isn’t just a lucky number, it’s meaning is; spiritual, intelligent, analytical, focused, introspective, studious, intuitive, knowledgeable, contemplative, serious, persevering, refined, gracious and displays much inner wisdom. To celebrate and accentuate this auspicious number, we are giving the festival more time/space for a deeper immersion of practices and transformation. We are delighted to announce our festival will now start on Thursday evening and finish on Sunday afternoon, giving us an extra day to connect to our mastery in YOGA in the presence of more masters from different lineages; supported by more workshops that give the depth and width of the knowledge and teachings.
8-11 March 2018
Great Lake Taupo (North Island)
Accomodation on site
Family Friendly (but not as many of my friends have taken their kids as with other festivals)
Unplug from the ordinary. Adventure awaits. Wanderlust Great Lake Taupō is a 4-day celebration of mindful living. We bring together a remarkable group of yoga and meditation instructors, musical performers, speakers, artists, and chefs for a transformational retreat in one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural resorts. Your experience may start on your mat, on a mountain trail, or on the dancefloor, but Wanderlust will get into your mind, body and soul. It may start in your ears, whether from the inspirational words of a speaker or the pulse-pounding beats of a musical artist. It may begin in your eyes, as you drink in the surrounding natural beauty or learn to align a challenging pose. It may start in your heart, as you make new friends or experience the joy of trying something you’ve never dared to do.Regardless of what starts you on your path, Wanderlust is an experience that will leave you different than when you came — with new ideas, new friends, newly discovered abilities, and greater peace. Find your true north.
23-25 March 2018
Kawai Purapura, Albany, Auckland (North Island)
Accomodation on site
Indigenous cultures throughout the world have maintained a reciprocal relationship with the Earth, have protected the sacred sites and are wisdom keepers for the modern world. This wisdom and knowledge is being shared and remembered within many people. The foundations of a new consciousness is now birthed to a new awareness from these ancestral wisdom to evolve new solutions, to embody a more sustainable and harmonious world for the entire community, our Global Family.
It’s all about re-Connection with Self, Others and Mother Earth!
This is New Zealand’s unique chance to experience indigenous leaders, visionaries and inspirational speakers, healers, practitioner’s gardeners, artists and musicians, all co-creating and harmonising in one place at one time! Voices of Sacred Earth Festival provides the space for Indigenous healing from many cultures and perspectives. Sharing knowledge and the power of all the elements, how we are all connected to water, fire, earth and air. We will gather together and celebrate through the ceremonies being offered during this weekend festival. You will have the chance to journey into remembrance with vibrational healing sounds, ancient tones and teachings activating and transporting us into higher dimensions within our Being, to connect with Heaven on Earth. More than 100 inspiring workshops – leading international wisdom keepers, ancient earth based traditions, indigenous world music and healing ceremonies. Come and learn with us how to make a tangible difference in our personal lives and larger communities with insights and practical solutions for personal and social improvements.
We’d love to hear if we’ve left any Wellness Festivals off the ‘destination’ map. Feel free to write your comments below or visit us at www.facebook.com/wildandgrace.
Go well and come visit our Land of the Long White Cloud Downunder.
Written by Emily of wild & grace