Looking for a world-class health retreat that encompasses spiritual, physical and mental health? Step into the land of the long white cloud, lace up your boots and prepare to be immersed in all of Mother Natures Glory.

In a world where time is poor and stress is a part of everyday life, it’s hard to imagine a place where tranquillity is king and taking time out for a little R&R and would take precedence. I’m telling you now, I found that place and if there was a heaven on earth, this would be it. A chilly 2 degree Celsius in heaven at the time of my stay, but still an angelic one at that. Less than a four hour plane ride from the east coast of Australia to the adventure capital of the world – where ski/water sports are on your doorstep and adrenalin junkies rejoice, lies charming Queenstown. Drive another 50km south-west near the tiny town of Glenorchy and you meet this heaven; Aro Ha retreat, nestled in the valley upon the shores of Lake Wakatipu and protected by snow-capped alpine peaks. The vision is complete serenity.

16  acres of luxury eco-friendly retreat amongst the natural beauty of the rolling hills and wide-open farmland. A luxury that comes from intelligent design and function of space rather than opulence or excess and this was to be my home away from home for the next six nights. #missionaccepted.

Some might say it’s a cruel sadistic afflict that in a country renowned for its world-class vinos, lamb and dairy products, a Vegan health retreat should open and it would be a place that guests will forgo all such indulgences. But, for co-founders Damian Chaparro and Chris Madison the vision was to create Aro Ha: (which translates to “In the presence of divine breath”) A place for supporting life transformation, though adventurous experience. A place that harnesses wellbeing, and consideration of the human body and mind together with Mother Nature and all its inhabitants.

This immersive all-inclusive detox escape built with permaculture principles and sustainability in mind encompasses just that.

“Aro Ha: (which translates to “In the presence of divine breath”) A place for supporting life transformation, though adventurous experience. “

And if you are looking for a place to put your feet up, laze by the spa all day and sleep at leisure, then maybe this place isn’t for you. While days are indulgent, they are challenging. With an intensive program at play (designed for maximum wellness of course) you can be sure to be guided by the team on a complete experience from two yoga classes a day, 10 – 15km sub alpine hikes, high-intensity interval training, cooking classes, scheduled massages, and informative seminars, and self-discovery workshops – be warned your days are full.  Top it off with a 1300 calorie a day diet and a one-day juice fast  this retreat is one for the more advanced. Or… For any ol’ Joe Blow looking for a bit of a life shake up and a hit of that reset button. Just remember to wear your hiking boots in pre-retreat. #yolo

The Itinerary

With the likes of yoga, hiking, cooking classes and therapeutic massages you will find your days full and accomplished. “We’ll let you know when you should be somewhere,” assures Damian when I repeatedly ask what time I should be and where. “We don’t work on time” It’s part of the experience of de-stressing and letting go.” As an A-type personality who is bound by my Google Calender you can only imagine my anxiety at the thought. Come day three, I let go, embraced the days of activities and no-timeframes and rolled with it. So chilled, I even missed 5 or so scheduled client calls with Australia. Woops. The power of letting your body let go, truly is a magical gift that sometimes we need to put before work and bring into play with our manic schedules.

The food

With thirty five per cent of the menu and sixty five edible species grown on site, Aro Ha favours a vegan menu – limiting guests to a 1300 calorie a day portion sizing. The Paleo-Vegan philosophy behind Aro Ha’s meal plan is to aid the stomach’s digestive processes and help flush out toxins, giving the intestines a break from foods that are aren’t easily absorbed. So, with no meat, no dairy or gluten, no caffeine and of course no mini bar in your room (No, I didn’t take any contraband ), Be prepared to let the body heal through food, expect some headaches from withdrawals, but most importantly be prepared to feel amazing and reap the benefits of this organic plant-based diet you begin to crave. Oh, and yes we were hiking 15k’s a day, but surprisingly I was never hungry.

The Accommodation

The entire retreat is run on hydro and solar power, the buildings designed sustainable and built from larch wood and local stone made up of 11 cedar-clad pavilions designed with local architects Tenant Brown. Every room and communal space takes in the amazing scenery. Off the pebble stone path, past the famed Aro Ha spa lies the accommodation which you will call home. A large king size bed, looks out to the morning mist, lifting to reveal the lake is a glistening jade hue. The distant ivory specks of sheep scatter across the rolling terrain, with no traffic, no alarms, no distraction; your room becomes your haven, your safe place and the perfect spot for those afternoon naps. Trust me, you will have earnt it. Clocking over 50km in hiking; you feel the burn.

the verdict

A luxury retreat, Aro Ha is the true definition of luxury wellness. The establishment built for relaxing and chilling out, focuses on an intense health reboot set into the backdrop of some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery. If a total body overhaul and spiritual awakening is what you are after this is your place, with nourishing wholesome meals, challenging yet invigorating hikes and full days dedicated to cleansing your mind and body you will leave Aro Ha feeling alive, inspired, and reconnected to yourself and our beloved mother nature. A true wellness experience and the best thing a busy minded person like me could possibly do. Tack on a few extra days in the bustling town of Queenstown and enjoy an invigorating New Zealand getaway.


from $4,550 NZ




Yoga, massage, subalpine hikes, cooking classes, HIIT, meditation, self-discovery workshops


To hit the reset button on life. and reconnect with one’s self and nature.



Brooke Meredith

Brooke Meredith, is the passionate founder and Editor-In-Chief of A Conscious Collection Magazine. A glowing representation of wellness, and an advocate for healthy living. Brooke’s passion for health and wellbeing began following the discovery of her own intolerances and health ailments. Her house soon became a hub for recreating healthy versions of her favourite recipes, and soon her home was filled with an abundance of nourishing, nutritious whole foods. A certified Health Coach, Brooke’s passion lies with helping others become the best version of themselves and created A Conscious Collection to nurture, empower and inspire. As an Australian model, Brooke lives and breathes wellness, understanding the direct correlation between looking and feeling your best, which comes with a life in balance. When you can pry her away from working on all things ACC, you’ll find her fleeting around the globe on wellness escapes, enjoying three hour brunch dates with girlfriends and diving mouth first in to her famous healthified chocolate brownies.