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TRAVEL: Go ‘Forest Bathing’ At These 5 Unplugged Escapes in New Zealand

Get back to nature and bask in the great New Zealand outdoors!

Modern life as we know brings about many daily stresses. Individuals have to constantly stay ‘connected’; either on a phone, typing away on a computer or multi-tasking a whole host of matters. Research has shown that ‘forest bathing’, spending time in a wooded area within nature, is beneficial for the body, mind and spirit. It has shown to decrease blood pressure levels, increase a sense of self-awareness and relaxation peaks to a higher level.

The next time you plan a trip, take a moment to consider your wellness as part of the whole holiday experience. New Zealand’s vast landscapes provide the precise starting point for ‘disconnecting’ and getting back to nature. Here are 5 unplugged escapes that promises to revitalize and restore one’s self physically, mentally and emotionally.

1. Awaroa Lodge

Number 1 on the list for the ultimate unplugged escape is the isolated Awaroa Lodge. Nestled in the heart of the Abel Tasman National Park, it is not accessible by road which makes it extremely secluded. Get there by taking a water taxi to a part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, before walking a short distance to the lodge. There are no televisions or mobile phone signals, so the word ‘disconnect’ is strongly emphasised and guests are encouraged to get closer to nature. Their minimally designed rooms are set amongst lush trees, some overlooking native bush and wetland views. Enjoy walks by the beach, guided sea kayaking, or take flight in a small plane to see spectacular aerial views of the coastline and park. Experience Awaroa lodge on the Elegant South trip.

2. Furneaux Lodge

Just like when Captain Cook first arrived at this historic destination, Furneaux Lodge has made its name for its extremely remote location. It is so sheltered that it is only accessible by boat, even the locals get their groceries and mail brought in by boat once a week! It is situated at the foot of Mount Furneaux, and is surrounded by 2000 acres of forest deep in the Marlborough Sounds. The native bush nearby is renowned for some of the best flora and fauna found in New Zealand. Apart from the restaurant at the lodge, there are no other restaurants or shops around for urban necessities. Sit back and relax at the lodge or bask in pure nature. Inhale the scent of native flowers in the air on an early morning stroll through the beautiful Waterfall Walk, or explore the glow worm grotto at night.

3. Milford Sound Lodge

The Milford Sound Lodge is the only accommodation site to stay at in Mildford Sound. It is a 30 to 35 minute walk from the closest boat terminal therefore its privacy is one of its big appeals. The beautiful riverside chalets sit on the banks of the Cleddau River, and have been designed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding native beech forest and views. Wake up in the morning and take a moment to listen to the sweet secluded sound of nature and breathe in the fresh mountain air. You can also go kayaking beyond Stirling Falls, explore the neighbouring hiking tracks or go trout fishing at the nearby lakes.

4. Martins Bay Lodge

Exclusivity and inaccessiblity go together in one sentence when it comes to the Martins Bay Lodge. It is perched at the remote end of the Hollyford Track, so it is not reachable at all by road. Expect to arrive at the lodge by helicopter, not just for a dramatic entrance, but also because it is only one of two ways to gain access to the lodge. Likewise, expect to leave the lodge in a similar fashion. However the only difference is that guests take a jetboat water taxi part way down Lake McKerrow before walking back to the lodge to make a grand exit via helicopter. The lodge is located within a natural clearing and surrounded by wild growths of flax grass, gorse, and other bush. It has the feel of a private home, so expect a warm welcome and to be treated like long lost friends by the lodge hosts as they prepare 3 course dinners daily for guests. Take a walk to Long Reef Point to look at the nearby colony of New Zealand fur seals or simply unwind with a glass of wine by the panoramic windows.

5. Camp Glenorchy

Although not set in the middle of a forest like the others, Camp Glenorchy makes the list because it offers a unique take on ‘disconnecting’. Positioned near the head of Lake Wakatipu and the base of the Richardson and Humboldt mountains, the camp has a rustic homely feel and is known as a Net Zero energy destination with spectacular views all around. Therefore if you’re wanting to travel back in time to simpler days and good old fashioned peace and quiet, this is the place for you. Don’t worry the necessary luxuries haven’t been forsaken. There is underfloor heating, amazing sound insulation, compost toilets, starry filled night skies and a warm homemade breakfast served every morning. Mrs Wooly’s General Stores down the road is an absolute charmer to visit and there are plenty of opportunities to slow down and connect with nature. Take your pick from horse rising by the lake, to guided nature walks.

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