Aro Ha Wellness Retreat

Hidden away from the world in the Glenorchy, Aro Ha Wellness is where you go to escape from problems, burdens and the stresses of life.  In the words of Vogue Magazine, it’s where you receive a “full physical and emotional overhaul”, before being released back into the wilds of the world feeling refreshed, replenished, revitalised…and ready to take back control of your life.   

It’s a hefty task.  Yet, Aro Ha enjoys a distinguished reputation for doing exactly that, as evidenced by glowing write-ups from the wonderfully glossy pages of Conde Naste and other magazines.  Then there’s the awards.  Lot’s of them.

Central to the experience is the setting itself.  With elevated views of Lake Wakatipu, the retreat is a mixture of natural stone and warming wood.  The colours blend to the surroundings, grounding and connecting the man-made to nature.  Part of this is due to the thoughtful addition of a number of natives and other plants.  They are never overpowering.  Nor do they stand in attention-grabbing contrast to their surroundings.  Rather, they are just there, relaxed and in an almost symbiotic relationship with those enjoying a retreat.  

Around the property and driveway, Nothofagus cliffortioides – Mountain Beach, with its small dark green sprays of leaves attached to short stems, stand unflinchingly when exposed to the bitter bite of winter.  This useful evergreen is hardy and perfectly suited to such locations. 

Softening the setting, Chinochloa rubra – Red Tussock, billows gently in the breeze, its red tinge warming the grounds.  This native tussock is perfect for introducing what might be described as a cushioned aesthetic – its actions are gentle and unhurried, for this is a relaxing plant that slows time.  No, there’s no need to rush here.  

That gentleness is echoed in the semi-weeping habit of the Sophora microphylla – Kowhai.  Planted around the property, along with Beech and Tussock, the compact and fine leaves of this NZ native are separated and distinct.  It comes alive in late spring with bell-shaped golden flowers and, depending on the severity of winter, can retain some leaves being semi-deciduous.  Either way, it’s hardy enough to weather almost any conditions.

Elsewhere around the grounds, there is the Cordyline australis – Cabbage TreePittosporum Tenuifolium – Kohuhu, Phormium tenax – Harakeke or Flax, Cortaderia richardii – Toitoi, and the Muehlenbeckia astonii – Mingimingi.  They are either mixed or planted in groups.  Regardless, whilst it is evident the grounds are very well designed, it all appears somehow natural.  As if the plants are where they’d want to be. 

One thing is for sure, Aro Ha is where many of us would want to be.  

To learn more about Aro Ha, visit