Splore’s “Wendy’s Wellness” has become a festival within a festival at the popular three-day immersive entertainment extravaganza on the picturesque shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park.
Each year more than 10,000 mindful partygoers flock here to swim, dance, listen to live acts, and partake in the greatest costume party in Aotearoa and in the case of the Wendy’s Wellness zone to chill, connect and stretch.
It’s where the audience can step away from the stimulus and take a moment to re-centre themselves in wellness modalities.
“Whilst Splorers love to get dressed up and party, some prefer a more balanced experience,” says Splore wellness coordinator Wendy Douglas. “Getting up early for a yoga class, listening to interesting talks, or having a relaxing treatment, Wendy’s Wellness provides the perfect counterbalance.”
The packed programme is such that you could easily spend all three days here partaking in breathwork, yoga, sound healing, massage, meaningful discussions and listening to insightful talks.
A question that comes up a lot is ‘who is Wendy?’
Well, that would be the dynamic Wendy Douglas, who originally hails from the UK and has been curating the wellbeing hub at Splore for the past six years.
Naming it Wendy’s Wellness was not her idea though she admits it has a ring to it and it fits with the festival’s fun vibe.
Douglas, also a DJ and former radio and television presenter, first became involved with Splore back in 2010 when she and her former partner brought an impressive sound system over with them from the UK and launched the Rum Shack (now known as Crystal Palace) in a beachside location at the festival and coordinated 30 DJs.
Her vivacious personality and easy banter make her a magnetic personality and the perfect choice for co-creating a festival like Splore which she feels really privileged to be part of.
Wendy’s worked in radio in the UK and New Zealand (George FM). She kickstarted her career at Kiss FM, the first legal dance music station in Britain where she co-presented a 15-minute daily show with interviews, club listings, film and club reviews, art, and fashion.
Her first foray into TV was with SKY television, and assignment, was a trip to Florida for a Pepsi event where she interviewed Jean Claude Van Dam, Cindy Crawford, Andre Agassi and Luke Perry.
Another memorable job saw her working alongside comedian Rowland Rivron doing celebrity interviews in the back of a limo which is how she met Oprah Winfrey, Cliff Richard, Will Smith, Sandra Bullock and Denzel Washington to namedrop a few celebs.
Wendy also presented a snowboarding programme for three seasons – even though she wasn’t an amazing snowboarder – which is where she met her Kiwi partner and subsequently made the big flight to Godzone to attend Golden Bay dance party festival The Gathering to see in the millennium.
Even though the festival was a washout due to bad weather Wendy fell in love with New Zealand which she has called home since 2006.
“It was a completely different lifestyle and so completely different from where I was from and that was exciting,” she says.
What Wendy has in store for Splore
This year Wendy has scheduled daily breath work sessions into the Wendy’s Wellness programme including Wim Hof Breath with Scott Townsend.
One of the sessions is being led by Amanda Wright, co-founder of Splore, who’s studied with “breath master” Dan Brule.
Wright will be sharing a series of breathwork techniques that reduce anxiety, stress and tension, while energising and creating clarity in the mind. Her teaching will include education around the physiological and psychological benefits of breathwork.
All techniques shared will provide takeaway tips and techniques to integrate into your daily lives and practices.
Laughter yoga “which is always popular” is back, and there’s a different yoga class each day including Tantrik, kids yoga and beginners acro yoga.
“What a way to start the day with an amazing yoga session and then you’ve got the rest of the day to go and swim, listen to bands and maybe come back for After Dark in the evening. Splorers love to party but many are conscious about their health and this offers a bit of balance,” she says.
Highlights include an indigenous dance session with Jade Whaanga of Manaaki Movement. Jade is an Indigenous Dance Artist (Director/Choreographer/Performer) who hails from Ngati Rakaipaaka and was raised in Te Waipounamu.
Manaaki is to care for, protect and show generosity toward others. This workshop invites us to explore movement and embodiment that reflects Manaaki, other Indigenous values, and the natural world. Through movement exploration, we seek to deepen our connection to self, others and our environment.
Afro Connection Dance with Camilla Chicon is a high-vibe dance with drumming designed to activate the body and express yourself through movement to the rhythm of the drums.
Another Wendy’s Wellness programme highlight is a sound journey with Sika – a journey on the sound waves of ancient instruments, didgeridoo, flute, and drum with the natural sounds of wood, stone, shell and bone.
Open group Workshops are also accompanied by pre-booked one-on-one sessions including massage, reiki and tarot reading, traditional Māori healing, and reflexology. (Bookings for these open online two weeks before the festival).
Wellness Tent Talks cover a range of topics from self-leadership to plant-based diets as well as psychedelic healing.
There’s also a Brotherhood Circle with Rich Hackney focused on just men and a safe place for them to share their experiences.
“There’s a lot of workshops and places for women to go. It’s kind of natural for us to gather and to talk about what’s going on for us. I don’t think it’s quite as easy for men so it’s really awesome to dedicate some time and space for them to just do their thing,” says Wendy.
For the first time Wendy’s Wellness is breaking out of its zone and making its way to the Te Kanikani stage to host an ecstatic dance session. “The producer and director of the festival thought it might be nice to have something else in there apart from a DJ so we’re going to have this ecstatic dance for the first time and see how ecstatic it gets,” says Wendy. “It’s an opportunity for people to let go of any inhibitions and really tune into themselves and the music. It’s a really beautiful thing and can have a profound effect on people.”
In the evening the area is transformed into Wendy’s Wellness After Dark, a dedicated chill-out space where you’ll find DJs, performances, and live music while you sip on a bedtime chai.
“The premise of After Dark is to offer a chill-out space. When I’m programming I want to introduce acts that are a little bit different. A place where people can just drop in, enjoy a crystal bowl session or live act.”
Also new to the mix this year is an on-site co-op shop Wendy’s Wares which will be offering products from some wellness practitioners as well as head garlands crafted from crystals and hats made from recycled materials.
Check out the full Wendy’s Wellness and After Dark programmes here.