I am walking away with a well-fed stomach and a well-fed soul. I didn't come here to experience a "personal retreat", but that is exactly what I got. There are stories that suggest the land that Mana Retreat Centre is on has healing powers. True or not, one real, concrete fact that I know is true is Mana has space! Space for your thoughts, your emotions, space to play and run and jump and laugh. Space to work and space sit 
quietly.  Space to be social and space to be reclusive. Space to heal old wounds and space to think. This place is an all-encompassing sanctuary. It is your choice while here to do anything from challenge yourself mentally, physically or spiritually to do ab-so-lute-ly nothing! No thinking, no feeling, just being. I came to Mana in search of a basket. I found that basket, and I am now leaving with it full of goodies! 

As a wwoofer at Mana you are treated as a family. The longer you stay, the stronger the family becomes. The work is not hard, and you feel good doing it, because you know that the guests who will benefit from your work, are the type of people who will appreciate it. They are coming here to better themselves, and you are aiding them in this process. There is a calmness that comes with finding a respectful environment, and that's exactly what Mana is. While traveling, sometimes it is hard to anticipate the environment you will soon be in. Mana is like a safe and comforting home to protect yourself in. Whatever your beliefs or your lifestyle, if you bring respect to Mana, it will be returned ten-fold. A wise friend named Cyril once said, "I came to Mana to feed my soul," and that is exactly what has happened to me in the two weeks I have been here. The natural scenery - from the ocean to the mountain, the never-ending hikes and trails, the jaw-dropping and inspiring views, the incredible people with amazing knowledge and compassion and the work-worth-doing are all reasons that I will be returning to Mana. It takes a very strong vision to create a space that welcomes such a large variety of people and lifestyles and does so with complete respect and compassion. I can truly say that my eyes have been opened to a fresher, more real way of living my life. I think the name Mana in Maori means "seeing the beauty within". That is exactly what you will find when you wwoof here. 

The Secret


Love From New Zealand

An insightful poem for you to ponder while listening to some beautiful music. Both of these two things helped me through a very challenging day today. 

At the end of the poem lays a surprise for you! 

Enjoy :-)

"Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become.

You never know who these people may be–a roommate, a neighbor, a professor, a friend, a lover, or even a complete stranger–but when you lock eyes with them, you know at that very moment they will affect your life in some profound way.

Sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible, painful and unfair at first, but in reflection you find that without overcoming those obstacles, you would have never realized your potential, strength, willpower, or heart.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of good luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved straight flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet who affect your life, and the success and downfalls you experience, help to create who you are and who you become. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are sometimes the most important ones.

If someone loves you, give love back to them in whatever way you can. Not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things.

If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart to.

Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and actually listen to what they have to say.

Let yourself fall in love, break free and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself, it will be hard for others to believe in you.

You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life and then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets. Most importantly, if you love someone tell him or her, for you never know what tomorrow will have in store. You learn a lesson in life each day you live. Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday."
— Unknown 
thank you to a very wonderful friend for sending me this quote when I needed it! <3

Your Surprise!!


Hot Water Beach

Truth be told... New Zealand's pretty amazing. Not just in the nice people, the fun accent, the obsessive number of time saving and efficient round abouts (pronounced [aboots] for Canadian sake), but in the nature! I suppose that may not come as a surprise. I'd say the vast majority of people that know something about New Zealand know that it has stunningly beautiful scenery. I was among those people before stepping foot on NZ soil. I still am. However, from being here and actually experiencing the nature first hand, I've learned that it really, truly and entirely is amazing! And not just in the "wow" factor category. It has unreal and unbelievable secrets. These secrets, you can experience them!! It's not just history and stories, it's touchable, smellable - experiential! This pure realization occured the other day as Luke and I opted to do as our Lonely Planet book told us to and check out the "Hot Water Beach" on the Coromandel Peninsula. So far we have had the pleasure of experiencing the geothermal activity all across the North Island in the form of natural hot creeks and rivers, natural boiling mud puddles and the absolutely rank sulphuric stench of Rotorua. Each of these activities definitely created an "oh wow" reaction. But the Hot Water Beach, it was different! Perhaps it is because I have been here long enough to feel a small, burrowing sense of pride and knowledge about New Zealand. Or perhaps it is because on a rainy, chilly, grey afternoon, I was able to sit in a small pool of water, dug into the sand, directly touching the incoming ocean waves, and feel so hot that my skin turned red and a few times I literally yelped in pain!!! 

How is that possible? How, I ask, how can there be so much heat directly below the oceanic sand that when your burrow your toes into it, they becoming scaldingly hot and you yank them away? Then, one moment later, a massive ocean wave comes crashing in over the sand... leaving the sand above freezing cold, but 10cms below, boiling hot. How!? 

As you may have guessed, science was never my strong passion. Otherwise I would have researched and learned what the scientific reasons are. Obviously there are logical reasons for these natural occurrences having to do with awesome volcanic activity. But I prefer to look at it from a different level. If you take out the logical science pieces of it and think solely on the basis of human ideas of what is and what isn't... isn't it just a little bit mind boggling? A little bit, amazing, perhaps? I was flabbergasted, in a wonderful way! New Zealand... keep on being awesome, because clearly you're good at it!!
The sun was shining, the rain had stopped. It was a glorious new morning as Luke and I enjoyed a cup of coffee in Ahipara, the first town bordering 90 Mile Beach. Neither of us felt like eating our cereal for breakfast (not the cereal's fault, although I'm sure that it's pretty stale after two weeks of wwoofing, but I had been too lazy to put our milk in the fridge the night before) but we knew that we had a big day ahead of us. We drove to the teeny tiny petrol station and browsed our options. Final decision: $3 cheapest loaf of bread, $3 tub of peanut butter, a $2 steak and cheese pie(yum), a $1 bag of gummy candies and $50 of petrol (which really gives you next to zero gas due to the massively inflated petrol prices..but.. when in New Zealand...) Breakfast of Champions! As we happily nibbled away at our warm steak and cheese pie at 9:30am, Luke drove us to the drive-on entrance to 90 Mile Beach. We had found this entrance late the night before (late being 6:30pm... it gets dark early) and when Luke saw the tire tracks on the sand, he happily reverted back 10 years! A very giddy young boy, enthused by the prospect of driving on the beach. Now, I was the first one to point out that we had an old Toyota Camry, not exactly Luke's F-150 from home. Nor a Jeep - beep beep. And the sand was quite deep and soft. So, out of the car we go, walking through the sand to determine if we can make it. Being a little city girl who seems to often find herself in the company of non-city kids, I am well-versed in the art of asking probing questions instead of actually adding any useful information to the situation. Example: Luke says, "Pretty sure if we drive in these tracks that have already been made, we'll make it." My response, "Are you suuuuure Luke?" aka, just making him reassure himself that it's a good idea and he actually believes it could work.
Back in the car, seat belts on (safety first!!), decision made, we might as well give it a try! ZOOM - and we're on the beach, driving!! The little Camry really made it onto the beach! Woohoo!! Luke was in HEAVEN, zooming along, steering like a madman, or no steering at all... nothing in front of us but sweet sweet freedom.
Can Camry make it on? I'mmm not sure!
Yup! Sure Can! Just driving in the ocean..NBD
Being that the name of the beach is 90 Mile Beach, and after a brief glance at the map, we decided to drive the whole 90 miles on the beach instead of the highway... clearly much more enjoyable scenery! We were already headed that direction anyway! Life just seemed to fall into place. So along we went, zoom zoom, "woohoo", munch munch on gummy candies, life was good! After about an hour of driving, we figured we should be getting somewhat close to the end of the beach. I was quite happy about this as I had been a very good co-pilot and had paid diligent attention to the continuously closer and closer incoming tide. As it made its way in and began to cover some of the tire tracks we had previously been following, I would comment to Luke, attempting to hide my true scared feelings. I mentioned that we should maybe keep an eye out for a way off the beach, and so we did. But funny thing, there didn't seem to be any... hmmmm