Saturday 30 January 2016

New Zealand Adventures: 7. Heading North for Summer and Retreat at Waiora Gardens...

Kia Ora! Greetings from New Zealand and its Summer!

Well having left Auckland after 3 months, I hit the road and headed North into the tropical 'North Lands' of New Zealand to the next big town of Whangarei. As fate would have it, I was sitting next to a New Zealander man on the flight to Auckland from Melbourne who had built his very own bush dwelling up in the mountains of Waima Forest and was very clean living in his vegetarian diet, mind and beliefs, heavily practicing the Hare Krishna Mantra after spending a lot of time travelling around India and absorbing the mentality and practices of detoxes and water fasts...he was a pretty healthy man!

He had bought the plot of land up here in the mountains and cultivated his own gardens, water source from the springs and built a pretty sweet cabin with a deck, where we did a bit of work cutting it to drop down the outside bath....having a midnight hot bath underneath the stars was just euphoric - with no guilt as it was a plentiful water supply from the springs..

Escape to the country, the view from the land

The bush dwelling....including an outside hot bath!

Kitty cats coming along for the ride???

After spending a day or two in the New Zealand mountains, we travelled north to the harbour side fishing village of Rawene south side of the Hokianga Harbour to catch the ferry to the Northern Hokianga to the timber milling town of Kohukohu being one of the first European Settlements is New Zealand.

It was here he would go lead Hare Krishna chanting sessions at a German woman, Angela's property which was the Healing Retreat of Waiora Gardens nestled in the wild hills of the Northern Hokianga region. Angela had run away from home in Germany at 15 years old and travelled across the world to settle in New Zealand with the dream of living in nature and enjoy life in a conscious way with connecting with the planet through permaculture and well being. She had cultivated the healing retreat over 30 years with her family, friends and volunteers to create a haven to help people with detoxification, fasting, yoga, massage, counselling and life coaching! 

Crossing the Hokianga Harbour

Over 30 years, many people have contributed to the development of the property and have lived in the community of Waiora Gardens as long term residence, healers, counselors, friends or just travellers passing through...with many stories echoing off the green mountains and bush land over three decades of Angela's life at Waiora. As this special place is always needing things to be done, Angela invited me to stay at her retreat as a 'Wwoofer' to work on it in exchange for a guest room (I was expecting a caravan) and wholesome organic vegetarian food - how could I say no!  

The happy community of Waiora Gardens who I was staying with...really interesting nice people from around the world and learnt alot about better well being from them

The Retreat pond, many a time taking a mid day swim and being waist deep fishing out all the weeds!

Life at Waiora Gardens

The idea of the retreat was to allow people to be diluted from alcohol, drugs, tobacco and advocated a cleaner healthy living of positive energy, meditation, calmness and an open heart in a safe sanctuary environment....really a complete change to Auckland city life, but maybe this was just what I needed....learning alot about positive energy, alternative mind sets and just being a more wholesome better person - it was deep stuff here...

The soft serene sounds of the twittering New Zealand Birds in the native bush....bliss

The gardens worked on eco-friendly systems, drop down compost toilets (even though you couldn't escape the damn mosquitos biting your bum!) drinking water was filtered from the rain water from the hose under the tank and we used pond water through the taps to clean the dishes. There was no distraction of television and the emphasis was on community, chanting an 'Om' before eating delicious organically prepared food - including lots of zucchini's (courgettes) that just grew rampant in the harvest garden - I hadn't eaten this healthy in a long time and the richness of conversations will stick out in my memory.

The visiting nutritionists and life coaches Poppy and Peter of NZ Health Retreat practitioners ran programmes for guests in detoxification and life coaching sessions (including giving me a sneaky late night orange biscuit when noone was looking :))  

Drop down self composting toilet 

Special Kiwi Loo Roll!

The Whale Lodge, place for dance classes, sunrise meditation, massages and movie nights :) I would usually go in there at 6am most mornings

Also Hare Krishna Chanting sessions would be in this lodge which was quite interesting to sit in on and very musical!

The Gardens....well... garden...with lots of yummy food to harvest!

Fresh eggs from the Chookies!

Into The Wild...just like the 'Magic Bus'
 there were lots of random features to the gardens, but this old bus Angela had used to travel to fetivals back in the day but now needed some sprucing up and tender loving care...

I was very happy having three dogs on the property, including sweet six month old pup Arhee who would give me lots of affection! She was abandoned on a beach as a puppy and Angela's son and wife rescued her and brought her home to live at Waiora - she was very hard to resist, even though she got great pleasure out of chewing on my limbs!

As a Wwoofer, we had a mixture of tasks to do around a big property like Waiora Gardens to keep it looking fresh and tranquil. What was nice also was the cosmopolitan crowd from around the world that was attracted to vision of Waiora Gardens. Some of jobs involved cleaning out bush cabins, clearing wild grass, repotting trees, pruning, felling bamboo trees, snedding the branches with machetes and then splitting the poles into halves for wall decorations as Aranka a Dutch dancer and masseur is doing here... semi interesting job was going out onto the rolling hills to local farm land to retrieve the deposits from the cows....well their dung anyway....fantastic for fertilising the vegetable plants in the harvest garden apparently so who needed the gym when you can collect cow poo!

The main job that I was recruited to do which I was super enthusiastic about was renovating a pink caravan Angela had come to hate and had been left to decay as a storage caravan which had the potential to become a new form of funky accommodation for visitors and Wwoofers.

I stayed on for 3 weeks to take it on as my little...well it actually was quite a big project to clean and paint the caravan which had a complete transformation through lots of artistic experimentation with our limited paint supply!

Aranka and Erin with our generous collection of poo!

From Pink Caravan....... Bamboo Caravan!

This sign I painted on the back of the door of the caravan is my Mayan Galactic Birth Sign 'The Self Existing Sun' my Mayan Tribe symbol which is read from my date and year of birth which I had read here at the retreat..... so this was my way of leaving a subtle spiritual legacy attached to my work on the caravan. You can find out your sign here...its pretty interesting

So after 3 weeks of meeting and learning alot from some very interesting, nice people in this special haven nestled in the hills of the Northland, my job at Waiora Gardens was done and was time to hit the road and move on further North to the Bay of Islands to continue my summer adventures in New Zealand....

Peter and Poppy seeing me off as I hit the road to the Bay of Islands

See you next time and Thanks for reading - Namaste! 'I bow to the divine in you'

Kohukohu, New Zealand 

With Lonely Planet Travel Guide New Zealand 

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