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Culture June 12, 2017


The weather has turned cold and daylight hours have dwindled. The Auckland traffic is as awful as ever, and life is feeling just a bit too samey. Time for a seasonal mood-buster, but where to find one that won’t take too big a bite out of the bank account?

The answer is easy: head on down to the spa capital of the South Pacific and find out why Rotorua offers the ultimate winter weekend getaway.

The city’s beautiful forests, lakes and nature-based experiences make it the ultimate destination for refreshing the soul during the winter months. The abundance of natural geothermal energy means that there is always a blissful soak in a naturally heated hot pool just waiting to be enjoyed, with Polynesian Spa offering the near perfect experience.

I love Polynesian Spa, for so many reasons, and visit on an annual basis. That view across the lake from the comfort of a hot spring brings on a deep feeling of tranquility without fail. The gulls of Sulphur Bay always busy, whooping, circling and landing.

Then there is the Retreat, with its dazzling menu of treatments, from their Signature Mud Wrap and Aix therapy to aromatherapy and Swedish full body massage.


Polynesian Spa. Thermal hot springs and health spa. Rotorua, New Zealand. model release # 602



A relatively new addition to Polynesian Spa is the MINDFUL MOMENTS RETREAT. It is a two-day weekend experience and offers anyone wanting to escape the rigours of city living with an ultimate spa experience.

Hosted by Makaia Carr ( and retreat manager Helena Keenan, the weekend is an exercise in becoming more mindful, being in the here and now, and calming the mind. The programme is varied and interesting, and covers the how-to of meditation, and other relaxation techniques, interspersed with walks in the forest, really good food and conversation, your massage of choice, and long delicious soaks in warm healing waters.

While there is so much to love about this fabulous weekend away, the highlights for me were the following:

  • The professionalism and in-depth subject knowledge of the programme facilitators.
  • Soaking in the hot springs (for which Polynesian Spa is famous).
  • The Aix hydrotherapy spa treatment — totally different to any other massage I have ever had, and utterly relaxing (especially for those with water in their birth signs).
  • The tasty, wholesome food, teas and juices.
  • Being introduced to the Shakti acupressure mat.
  • The early morning yoga/stretch session on the shores of the lake.

But perhaps one of the best things about this retreat, is its affordability and the ease of getting there (45-minute flight, or 3hr 15min drive from Auckland). If, like me, you love the idea of participating in a wellness retreat, but simply can’t afford the thousands of dollars’ price tag, then a MINDFUL MOMENTS RETREAT is for you. With a price tag of just $479 per person, who can resist?

The next Mindful Moments Retreat will be held Saturday 12 August – Sunday 13 August. $479 per person.


Words: Agnes Harrison



Spa therapy tips from Retreat manager, Helena Keenan

As retreat manager, Helena notices many clients struggle to switch off from their busy lives as they come in for therapy. However, clients that come in for regular therapies seem to switch off much quicker. The secret, she says, is making time before and after the therapy to truly relax.

“Before you come in for a therapy, I’d suggest giving yourself an hour or two to wind down so you can fully enjoy the treatment. If possible, don’t go straight back into something busy or stressful after the therapy.”

The many benefits of spa therapies are similar to those of physical exercise. Helena suggests monthly treatments to maximise the benefits on one’s health and wellness.

“A monthly spa therapy is ideal for people to get through life on top of their game. Constant spa therapy allows you to reach a state of complete relaxation, and reduces your levels of stress. It’s ideal, especially when life is so hectic.”


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