‘Goodness’ on Waiheke Island; mindfulness, nature, forest bathing and delicious wine experiences all in one festival

In the spirit of supporting local, we look at the many activities on offer at one of New Zealand’s most favourite mini-break destinations, Waiheke Island. Renowned by Kiwis and overseas visitors alike for beautiful white-sand beaches, delicious local food and wine, and stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island has more even more to offer than we first thought.

We take a look at the ‘Goodness’ Waiheke has on offer this November, with mindfulness, nature walks, forest bathing and new delightful wine experiences all on offer for the eleventh instalment of the Waiheke Walking Festival.

Mindfulness in Whakanewha

This two hour walk led by simply b’s Mel Burdett through beautiful Whakanewha Regional Park will invigorate the mind and body. With over 30 years of experience in yoga and personal development, Mel will guide walkers through the principles of mindfulness. Walkers will experience how to use their senses with intent and connect them with nature and themselves.

The medium grade walk will finish with spectacular views and a delicious, specially priced optional lunch and bubbles at Batch Winery. To ensure the experience is intimate and connected, bookings will be limited to max 30 people for this walk, happening on Tuesday 17th November, 10am – 12pm at $35.

Shrinrin-Yoku – Forest Bathing Walk

Join accredited nature and forest therapy guide, Gabrielle Young on a forest bathing (Shinrin-Yoku) experience in Goodwin Reserve. Walkers will get the chance to slow down, connect with nature, become mindful, and open their senses during this special two-and-a-half-hour experience.

Forest Therapy is a research-based framework for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural environments. Gabrielle Young has been guiding nature and forest therapy walks for years, and will lead walkers through a series of invitations to deliberately slow down, become present and mindful, while walking in a beautiful location.

A pleasant, low grade walk is on offer, which ends with a relaxing Japanese tea ceremony. The forest bathing experience will be limited to just 20 people for this walk, to ensure a tranquil, present and connected experience. The Forest Bathing Walk with Gabrielle Young will take place Wednesday 25th November, from 9:30am – 12:30pm, and is free for participants, but must be booked prior to arrival.

Delicious local food and wine

And who would want to visit Waiheke Island without experiencing the renowned local food and wine on offer. One of the Island’s biggest draw cards, this year’s Waiheke Walking Festival has a plenty of walks on offer that ensure you’ve earnt your wine at the end of your exercise.

The Onetangi Valley to Rangihoua Olives Walk sees walkers join passionate olive grower Anne Stanimiroff of the award winning Rangihoua Estate, on a walk through the private olive groves of the Onetangi Valley. The walk will include a pruning demonstration, planting advice and finish with a tour and tasting at Rangihoua Estate. Sign up to join this experience on Friday 13th November 1-4pm at $16.

Or join local Helen Elscott, well known medical herbalist, and gin maker, for the Wild Herbal Gin and Tonic Walk. Helen, from the popular Botanical’s Distillery, will lead walkers for a wander in Whakanewha Regional Park. The experience will then finish with a gin masterclass, high tea and bubbles at Batch winery. A pleasant, medium grade walk, on Tuesday 24th November 1-4pm at $95.

One of Waiheke’s most popular walks, The Progressive Lunch is back for 2020. This year the walk offers two date options at different restaurants, hitting some of the best food spots on Waiheke Island. Eat and drink at Casita Miro, Tantalus Estate and Three Seven Two on Thursday 12th November or Obsidian, Shed at Te Motu and Three Seven Two on Thursday 26th November. Both walks are from 10am – 4pm, and cost $110 each.

About the Waiheke Walking Festival

Now in its eleventh year, the 2020 Waiheke Walking Festival offers a huge range of walks over 18 days, (11th – 29th November 2020). The walks vary to ensure all abilities and interests are catered for. The walks cover everything from photography, music, conservation, fitness, offer an opportunity to walk on private land, many are family-friendly, while some of the walks end up at Waiheke’s vineyards to allow participants to enjoy the local food and wine on offer.

With COVID-19 now a reality in our world, for the 2020 festival to go ahead with absolute confidence, all walks will operate with limited numbers, including guides and volunteers. This also takes into consideration feedback from previous years participants, ensuring a better walking experience for all. To counter the smaller number on each walk, the festival is longer in duration and some of the more popular walks are repeated more than once. Becoming a Patron or a Friend ($100) of the festival will assist with early access to booking walks, helping to increase your chance of getting onto the walks you want to.

So, grab a group of friends, put the dates aside and use the festival as a good excuse to become healthier and fitter, and support local, whilst having fun! Head to the website for the programme, booking information and to sign up to the e-newsletter for updates: waihekewalkingfestival.org.

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