It’s back to Sanctuary Hill for lunch, with various workshops through the afternoon before a restorative yoga class in the evening, with an emphasis on breathing and relaxation.
“Yoga is not just about the physical stretches,” says Brenda, describing it as more of a lifestyle that can help us handle challenges. A yoga pose restricts the body — adding stress — but with practice, you can control your breathing and learn to manage the situation.
“It’s the process of learning how to relax while challenging yourself and those lessons go through life with you too,” adds Richard.
Is two days is enough to make those lessons last, I wonder? I catch a glimpse of my eyes in the mirror before leaving and I’m sure the whites are whiter.
I’m also hearing birds outside my window.
Husband and wife team Gina and Tama Blackburn have all the local secrets to help you discover something uniquely Taranaki. They run Nau Mai Tours, connecting visitors to “people with passions”. “It’s the undiscovered jewel in the country to connect with people,” Gina says.
Okurukuru Restaurant and Winery
Views from this spot on rolling coastal countryside are spectacular north and south. Here, they manage to produce a pinotage from vines battling exposed conditions on the slopes below. The restaurant is welcoming with ceiling-high windows so you don’t miss the view. Chef Sohnke Danger’s German heritage influences some dishes, like the traditional Schweinshaxe (slow-cooked pork).
● 738 Surf Highway, New Plymouth.
A popular central New Plymouth stop, Monica’s Eatery has plenty of enticing menu options, with some Italian influence. Named after Monica Brewster, a local well-known arts patron and women’s rights advocate, the cafe adjoins the country’s first contemporary art gallery that she helped establish. Don’t miss the adjacent Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre. Its distinctive stainless steel exterior and rippled concrete interior walls have become an attraction.
● Corner of King St and Queen St, New Plymouth
Three Sisters Brewery
A relative newcomer to craft brewing in the region, Three Sisters is the creation of husband-and-wife team Joe Emans and Sarah Markert. Over the past year, they’ve transformed their Oakura coastal garage into a boutique brewery, where they are now turning out award-winning craft beers — including a pilsner, IPA, APA and a mānuka smoked lager. Their production runs are limited, so you won’t find this beer far and wide.
Another new boutique business turning heads is this impressive distillery and its topshelf label, Juno Gin. Established by engineer Dave James and his gin aficionado wife, Jo James, their gin is infused with interesting botanical flavours, sourced locally where possible, such as strawberries and chilli, or berries and thyme. It’s better to enjoy neat, or with a splash of subtle mixers, Jo says. They make 200ml bottles as well as a standard 700ml size, so people can enjoy a smaller “taste adventure” with friends.
● 16 Sunley St, New Plymouth
This 12km smooth walkway is a must-see, either on foot or bike. It hugs the coastline with significant artworks dotted along the way, including Len Lye’s famous Wind Wand, struck by lightning last year.
● Start at St Aubyn St, New Plymouth, and head north.
Seeing the stunning beach and forest landscapes of Taranaki by horseback is something quite special. Lydia Quay offers a range of treks and fun competitive group games days. She also runs Clearwater Riding School and is a highly regarded local mentor.
Yes, surfing is a year-round activity in Taranaki. Fitzroy Beach has a huge reputation and its attraction doesn’t fade in the winter. For the best breaks of the day, however, local surf guns Tama Blackburn and Eli MacDonald are your go-to guides. They run NZ Surfing Adventures and deliver surfers from around the world to secret spots, using a network of contacts and weather forecasting.
flies from Auckland to New Plymouth with one-way Seat fares from $56.
Sanctuary Hill‘s upcoming retreats include:
Winter Wellness Retreat, July 27-29
Renewal 1-day retreat, Sept 28
Spring Detox, Nov 2-4
Prices are $585, including meals and two nights accommodation, or $185 for one day retreats, including two meals.
Book a tour with Nau Mai New Plymouth tours to find the best of Taranaki.