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Blissing out at Aro Ha Wellness

Physical wellbeing meets emotional awareness, softened by stunning surrounds at New Zealand’s new Aro Ha Wellness

Chris Madison and Damian Chaparro are unlikely bedfellows: Chris is a former hedge fund wunderkind who made big money on the world financial markets, while Damian, raised by a hippy mother, is a world-class wellness educator.

They met when Chris visited the ashram in California where Damian was teaching at the time; Chris swore it was a one time only thing. Their friendship was cemented when he returned six months later.

Friendship developed into a business partnership when the two started discussing the possibility of opening a wellness retreat together, somewhere people could come to immerse themselves in the practice of yoga and all things healthy in expansive, luxurious surroundings.

After years of searching for sites around the world, they homed in on New Zealand, a country filled with fresh air and vast tracks of unspoilt land. And Aro Ha was born.

Located on an 8.4-hectare site 35 minutes’ drive outside of Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island, the centre is an environmentally conscious temple to health and wellbeing, where guests come for five- or seven-day programs of vinyasa yoga, introspective techniques, sub-alpine hiking, dynamic movement and organic detoxifying cuisine.

There’s no coming and going: activities are compulsory and experienced as a group, although they can be tailored to health and skill levels, and there is no popping down to town (the township of Glenorchy is five minutes away) to sabotage all that good work.

But, with its architecturally designed lodge, with uncluttered yet cosy rooms, restful common areas, vast yoga studio and its outdoor pool overlooking jutting mountain ranges, there is never a feeling of being isolated, rather a sense of being enveloped in total goodness.

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This article appeared in issue 11


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