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  • Mei Anne Foo

Life In NZ: Earth Energies Sanctuary Is Something Else

This rural rustic retreat nestled in the rolling hills of New Zealand’s Waikato district has the right energy and the right people to help towards complete balance of one’s body, mind and soul.

Earth Energies Sanctuary

We missed our final turning into Earth Energies Sanctuary. Going 80 km/h along New Zealand’s State Highway 2, it was hard to spot the modest entrance of the new wellness getaway: A plain wooden farmgate and a small signboard planted nearby. A quick U-ey brings us back to where we’re supposed to be.

A couple of minutes after shutting the gate behind us, we’re greeted by the sight of Duncan McKenzie rolling down a gravel drive on a farm tractor. The owner of the land flashes a megawatt smile, revealing pearly whites accompanied by a single, most striking gold tooth crown. “My wife’s expecting you at the private cabin so follow me up,” McKenzie says.

The approach along the snaking dirt road that contours fertile hills is peppered with miles of fencing, a dam and thousands of native plants. Nearing our accommodation, the furor of the freeway and missed-turn are long forgotten. This elevated vista provides a soothing backdrop for a memorable arrival at Earth Energies Sanctuary, a rural rustic retreat that’s located about an hour’s drive from Auckland Airport or Hamilton, on the edge of the Waikato district. Its strategic location likewise makes this place suitable for a post- or pre-flight respite while in New Zealand.

True to McKenzie’s words, his wife welcomed us at the property’s sole cabin, which can room up to four guests at a time. Marie Latus is primarily to thank for wanting to transform the family’s working farm and residence into the exclusive health haven it is today. After a 20-year-long, nomadic career in the mining industry, the couple personally know what a stress-filled work environment is like. They moved back to New Zealand a decade ago and have since developed their own piece of sanctuary. Latus soon became drawn to the healing modalities of natural remedies and physical therapies, spending the last ten years honing her skills. Fully supported by her handyman husband, they birthed their latest brainchild in the form of the Sanctuary, which opened its doors to guests last May.

While Latus plays the utmost hostess and personal therapist, McKenzie helps out by managing the 200-acre sustainably developed farmland and tending to their herd of Red Devon Cattle, while also foraging native Kawakawa herbs for the couple’s established botanicals product range launched a couple of years ago. Fondly known as the “pharmacy of the forest”, Kawakawa is an important element in the local Maori system of healing. Everything from its harvest to manufacture is carried out with the right intent and energy too. Latus explains, “From blessing the plants and earth as part of harvest, to handcrafting of the products in our own product rooms, that Duncan lovingly built; it’s all undertaken in an incredibly peaceful environment, and that’s why we love utilizing it. Plus, it is one of the most effective healing remedies nature has to offer — whether looking for relief from eczema or dealing with muscle or joint pain.”

Cabin cottage at Earth Energies Sanctuary

As a talented craftsman, McKenzie’s custom-built timber fittings and furniture not only take pride of place in Latus’ botanicals product rooms but in our charming cottage for the night as well. The private cabin feels like it is far away from civilization despite the highway just below. Perched on a remote hill in the heart of the property, the building’s seamless open-concept living and kitchen space presents breath-taking views of a native bush gully; waves of every shade of green framed by loft-sized windows and glass doors. A mezzanine carries the master bedroom, which is equally quaint. Other amenities such as a comfy entertainment area, wood-burning fireplace and big bathtub overlooking foliage complete the bucolic-feel of the house.

Alas, there was no time to spare for us to soak in that sumptuous in-cabin bath. Instead, we rushed off to the therapy rooms further up the estate as soon as we arrived. Our half-day spa program includes treatments with a definitive take on East meets West. Latus first performs the zero-balance therapy on my body and skull, utilizing light pressures to address the relationship between the structures of my body and energy flow. It is rooted in Western anatomy and the Eastern understanding of energy for bone-deep relaxation, says Latus. Her philosophy is to draw from the best of both worlds with a range of deep-relaxation therapies that have science-based reasoning for providing natural health benefits. Similarly, other treatments we partook in include floatation therapy, which takes place in the country’s only commissioned giant float orb filled with enough Epsom salts to make me float with ease; and clinical hypnotherapy. Latus, armed with a Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy, guides me to a place of safety and feeling protected during this recorded session.

Giant float orb filled with enough Epsom salts

After a relaxing afternoon, we retreated back to our own overnight place of safety to find the kitchen stocked with easy-to-follow ready-made meals. Mind you, this is no add-boiling-water ramen noodles, instead something rather scrumptious such as entrées of beetroot and gin-cured salmon with lemon crème fraiche, radish and fennel, plus a main course of pork belly with carrots and kumara rosti with apple tart syrup. It means guests can come here and completely cut off—being entirely independent—without the need for room service or a restaurant down the road. Though, we really didn’t mind finding a smiley McKenzie at the front door, delivering some freshly made sesame and linseed bread he forgot to leave behind. As for desserts, besides gorging on the gluten-free brownie, we set our eyes on the sweetest sight of the Milky Way we’ve ever seen, all from the comfort of the cabin’s cozy porch. The entire experience is like getting into a warm bath, where we let go and let this place work its invisible spell.

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