Escaping the Madness of Life to Te Wahi Ora Retreat

Driving through the winding roads of Piha, I feel like I’ve come home.

Surrounded by the dense bush, rolling hills, and sound of the crashing waves on the shore reminds me that this is what life is all about. Escaping the frantic routine of every day life to enjoy the peaceful serenity that nature provides us is just what I need.

I arrive at my destination; Te Wahi Ora. The little blue house sits proud with its doors wide open and it beckons me to enter.

It’s silent. All I can hear is a tui singing, the cicadas buzzing, and the nearby waves breaking.

I’m greeted by a warm soul who introduces herself as Bev. She has a kind nature and invites me in. I can sense an air of wisdom about Bev, and the walls of this house are rich with history.

Bev takes me up a small flight of stairs to a quaint room. She explains that this is my quarters for the duration of my stay.

My room looks out to the gorgeous Piha beach. It’s equipped with a queen bed, large desk, ensuite, bar fridge and tea and coffee facilities. I’m thankful for the large desk that faces the ocean. I know great things are going to take place in the three days that I’m here.

Lunchtime takes place at 12.30pm. I’m introduced to five women, and I instantly feel welcome. There’s a sense of community here.

All the women at the retreat are mothers (some grandmothers too), each one wanting to escape the routine and hustle that comes with everyday life and motherhood.

We’re served a delicious home cooked meal; spinach crepes, corn, salad and sweet pecan pies. I savor each bite, thankful for each delight that arrests my tastebuds.

We all share our stories. Some have experienced grief, emotional trauma, physical abuse, divorce, and it reminds me that behind our smiles we all have our own demons and a reason for being here.

Overall we all want the same thing: to reconnect with ourselves without the madness that is life.

The sun is hot and I take myself for a short stroll to the beach opposite the retreat. The ruggedness of the mountainside and the strength of the thrashing waves reminds me just how powerful nature is.

The foam from the ocean laps at my feet and I relish in the relaxation of it all.

I take some snapshots of the scenery on my phone. I want to imprint these memories into my soul; a reminder of what a beautiful country I live in and a note to myself of how easily life’s troubles melt away when we connect with nature.

Dinner soon rolls around and I find myself looking forward to conversing with the women.

There’s an openness with everyone;  there’s no judgment here. We all share stories, drink wine, and eat delicious food. We share photographs of our children, tales from our travels, and I feel lucky to be blessed with such incredible company.

After dinner, I retreat to the solitude of my room and find myself picking up a paintbrush. I haven’t painted anything for years… I’ve never felt like I’ve had the time or the pleasure to commit to a project like a painting. I purchased a paint by numbers kit; there’s no thinking, no worries about colour choices, and no concerns about what I’m going to create. All I have to do is pick up the paintbrush and paint to my heart’s content.

Painting it’s incredibly meditative. The music in the background allows me to drift off to nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

I reflect on the past few years. Marriage, moving house, the birth of my child, a cancer scare, starting a business, hubby studying and working full time, that time I thought I almost lost my Dad, friendships dissolving… all of it has left me depleted, tired, and drained.

The warning signs were there. I have been irritable, tired, and my moods have been all over the show. It took me a long time to realise that my body was trying to tell me that I needed to slow down. I needed a break from my daily life to rejuvenate, to look after me and no-one else.

As the sun sets, I make a promise to be kinder to myself.
Tomorrow is another day.

The following morning, I sip on a hot cup of chai tea and relish reading through the books I’ve brought with me. Each and everyone has a powerful message and I’m not lost to the meaning behind them all; self-love, living in the moment, and not to be afraid of what’s around the corner.

Being on my own has been invigorating and although I miss my family, it has made me appreciate them all the more.

I find myself lost in the day and before I know it, it’s dinner time.

Several of the guests have departed, but that doesn’t hinder the depth of the conversation.

I’m fascinated by Bev, the co-founder of Te Wahi Ora. She tells me that she’s been running Te Wahi Ora for 28 years. It began in the 1980’s when the woman’s movement started. Originally a place for counselling and workshops, Bev realised that women needed a place to relax; somewhere they could escape to.

Today Te Wahi Ora is exactly that – a safe haven where women can feel safe, nurtured, and loved.

Bev and I share stories about India, and I’m delighted to hear that one of the ladies that works at Te Wahi Ora organises a trip to India each year. I’m excited at returning back to my one of my favourite places in the world and thankful that this opportunity has presented itself to me.

After dinner, I take another stroll on the beach. I’m incredibly grateful for my time here and it’s bittersweet knowing that I’ll be going home tomorrow.

On one hand I don’t want to return. I feel rested, more myself than I have in a long time.
On the other hand I can’t wait to have my little girl in my arms and my husband by my side.

As my final day rolls around, I am excited at the prospect of talking with Bev. I’ve booked a two-hour session with Bev to just talk.

Bev is an experienced counsellor and has helped so many women throughout her lifetime. I feel privileged to get this time with her.

We talk about anything and everything that’s been on my mind. We discuss my marriage, past friendships that have failed me, and how I am finally in a place of forgiveness.

Bev encourages me to write down any key phrases to keep as a snapshot of our discussion.

Time flies by and before I know it, our chat comes to an end. It also coincides with my time to go home.

This experience has been one of the most pleasing ways possible to reconnect with my self.

I feel a sense of peace.
I feel like I have come home to myself and I feel lighter; as though I’ve left my baggage and troubles behind.

As I bid farewell to Bev, I know I’ll be back.

After all, I turned up on Bev’s doorstep a depleted mother, and now I’m returning home a refreshed and enlightened woman.

If you would like to visit or recommend Te Wahi Ora, please feel free to visit their website below:
Te Wahi Ora





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