The Cure-All Prescription for Winter Wellbeing: The Girls Getaway Weekend

As winter sets in and the work and school weeks pile up one on top of the other, life can get a little bit groundhog day.  School lunches, homework, taxi-ing children to a never-ending list of extra-curricular activities…

Weekends aren’t much better.  Winter is an in-the-thick-of-it time; a busy grind of work, household chores and co-ordinating family schedules.  The balmy ease of summer feels a long-distant memory and the next one’s still a long way away.

There is really only one solution for putting pizzazz back into a woman’s life during the winter months.  It’s easy, it’s affordable and it’s like hitting the reset button on your winter spirits.  It’s The Girls Getaway Weekend.

The Girls Getaway Weekend benefits mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Here’s how:


When you’re feeling blue, finding friends to laugh with can help your brain trigger its own laughter response.  It also fosters closeness, contributing to an improved sense of well-being.  According to Deepak Chopra, the healthiest response to life is laughter. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and you know there’ll be plenty of it on a girls weekend.


According to Dr. Louann Brizendine, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, and author of “The Female Brain” – a woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000.”  Well, ladies.  Here’s your opportunity to get those 20,000 words OUT.  Nowhere else but a Girls Weekend will give you such ample opportunity to talk (and talk…and talk….and talk).


This quote by famous food writer Laurie Colwin says it all;

“One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”

What girls weekend doesn’t include all of these delights at once?!


As life gets busier and women get older, friendships can sadly slip from their former proud place on the priority list.  A Girls Weekend is an opportunity to reconnect with friends near and far.  Carving out time to share with friends is so important.  Make it happen – you’ll regret it if you don’t.

Quality Time

Women tend to care a great deal for the well-being of others.  A weekend away from loved ones and little ones gives you permission to care for your own well-being.  Imagine it…acres of free time to spend how you please. Shopping, strolling, pampering, sleeping…(I can almost hear you sigh).


Remember the joy, the spark, the effervescence of life?  If not, them maybe it’s time to reclaim it.  Whether it’s from bottles of bubbles, or a room full of bubbly women, the Girls Weekend is guaranteed to put the fizz back into your winter-weary soul. It will make you feel like you again.

For the ultimate in luxury and comfort this winter, multi-award winning Tairua bed & breakfast, Sunlover Retreat, are collaborating with Tairua businesses, Sea Escape Hair and Beauty and Manaia Kitchen and Bar to provide a Girls Getaway Weekend on the Coromandel.  Custom-designed for ladies in need of a winter break from city life, the package is filled with fabulous indulgences, including beauty salon pampering, morning yoga/stretching sessions and a two course meal at Manaia Kitchen & Bar.

The Girls Getaway package includes two nights Twin Share luxury accommodation, with breakfast included, for four guests.  Sunlover Retreat has two guest bedrooms with private decks and ensuite bathrooms, and a luxurious communal lounge and outdoor living area with sensational views.  It is the perfect place to relax and celebrate a Girls Getaway Weekend this winter.  Available June-July-August, weekends only.

Book now or learn more

Intimacy is of the Utmost Importance

Intimacy is of utmost importance to Donna Brooke of Sunlover Retreat, who also adds marriage celebrant to her skill set. Should you wish, your romantic escape at Sunlover Retreat could be preceded by a small, stunning wedding ceremony.

Freeing you from the stress of a large, event-style gathering, Donna is an advocate of intimate occasions that highlight the importance of the occasion – your love for each other.

Here are five reasons Donna encourages brides to consider an intimate celebration: 

1. “When creating an intimate wedding, by its very nature, you have fewer people, creating more intimacy between you and your loved one. As a celebrant, I find that I am talking directly to the couple instead of including the audience. It is very special and romantic.”

2. “An intimate wedding allows you to think of a destination that suits you, without feeling the pressure to take into account how people are going to get there, where will they stay, how will they manage walking to this perfect spot you have found on a beach… You might choose a destination in the off-season and save money.”

3. “On the subject of money, fewer guests mean less expense – well, at least, less expense spent on others. It allows you to create a beautiful, elegant wedding just the way you want it. You can decide what is important to you and your loved one.”

4. “An intimate wedding reduces planning stress. From trying to please others, managing seating with relatives that have fallen out, friends and family wanting to bring kids … And there are certainly couples I have married that simply don’t want to be in the spotlight.”

5. “Your wedding should signify you and your love story. It’s about your life, your relationship, and what matters most to the two of you. An intimate wedding keeps the focus on where it should be ­– a beautiful love story of two fabulous people who have found each other and want to do life together.”

Whangamata’s Run Walk festival’s really got legs

WhangamatarunThe G J Gardner Whangamata Run Walk Festival will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year – and that’s no mean ‘feet’! With a half marathon (21km), a 10km and a 5km course to choose from, this iconic event for the town attracts serious and recreational runners and walkers alike – from preschoolers to 90 year olds!

Race Director Jan Findlay, says preparations are well underway for the family-oriented festival which this year will be held on Saturday, 12 September. She confirms that ‘early bird’ entries are now open and that this year’s prize pool will feature some extra special treats in recognition of the festival’s 20-year milestone.

“We are very lucky to receive so much support from our loyal sponsors and the community – whether that’s through volunteers giving their time before and on the day, or through donated materials and prizes. For example, as well as merit prizes, we have incidental prizes at registration time, and a range of spot prizes which anyone can win. To date these include: a fabulous bike; a G J Gardner/Placemakers building materials voucher; a $2,000 travel voucher; 20th Anniversary limited edition T-Shirts, and a ‘Go Pro’ camera.

With an emphasis on safety and fun, each of the three categories is also professionally timed, and photographed. The real strength of the festival though is its ability to bring a wide range of people together, says Jan. “It’s an opportunity to enjoy a healthy activity, to meet old friends and make new ones – all the while supporting the local community by helping to raise funds that go back into the community. No individuals get paid, yet they have the opportunity to nominate which groups they would like to see any profits go to.”

In recent years when Jan and Katrina Batters have been the organizers, money raised through the festival has helped support a wide range of local groups and activities: from IT equipment and sportsgear for local schools; contributing to the establishment of X-ray facilities in the town; to supplying defibrillators to our surf lifesaving clubs, and supporting environmental initiatives such as beach care and dotterel recovery programmes. The three nominated major beneficiaries from the 2014 festival were the St John Ambulance, Whangamata Area School and Whangamata Lions Inc.

“We’re hoping for a solid turnout this year for the 20th anniversary event,” says Jan. “We also make an effort to keep our entry fees as reasonable as possible.and believe they compare very favourably with other similar events run elsewhere.” Firms in town also welcome and appreciate a crowd. “There’s plenty to do and see in Whangamata. We hope everyone taking part has a great time both during the festival and by supporting our district’s businesses and attractions while they’re here.”

For more information, to enter online (preferred) or download a printout of an entry form, see the festival website at You can also ‘like’ the festival’s Facebook page and go in the draw to win a free entry – there are two to be won each month until August.
Online entries close 10 September and a late entry fee applies after 7 September for both online and entry form registrations. Entries will be taken up until the day (12 September) until 30 minutes before the first event starts at 9.00am. Race enquiries to:

Budding Artist?

The Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust is looking for submissions from prospective artists interested in joining the Art Escape.

The Art Escape Selection Panel is looking for artists who demonstrate a high level of skill, originality of design and quality exhibited in the execution of their work.  Applicants must live, work or have a have a close family link with a permanent property in the geographical area of Otama to Pauanui.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of joining the weekend escape .. well … you’re missing out!  We love it because you are not only seeing some wonderful art but are driving to places on the Coromandel that you don’t always get to see.

Whitianga Scallop Festival 2015 – General Tickets on Sale Now

Scallop Festival fever is starting to gain momentum as we count down to the celebration of the popular local delicacy at the 11th annual Whitianga Scallop Festival on 19 September.

Scallop Festival planning is well under way. Once again this delectable mollusc, will be served up in a myriad of ways to tempt your palette’, says Festival Coordinator Linda Simonsen.’ The festival is famous for its inventive stallholders who each year, come up with fresh new recipes as they try to outdo each other to gain the coveted title of Best Dish’, she adds.
General Admission tickets to this year’s Whitianga Scallop Festival are now on sale. This event is always sold out prior to the day and expectations are that this year will be no different as it’s popularity increases. Tickets are available through Eventfinder, the Lost Spring Shop on Albert St in Whitianga or the Whitianga Scallop Festival website. Earlybird tickets went crazy for this iconic event, so you don’t want to miss out.

Lip-smacking highlights for the 2015 festival will include pan seared scallops with black pudding, cauliflower purée, lime chilli chutney and pancetta, scallop and bacon fritters, scallops sautéed in garlic butter and white wine served in their shells, or why not try some tempura scallops with dill, lime and coriander dipping sauce. Dive Zone will again be cooking their popular Fog Dog beer battered scallop kebabs. If scallops aren’t your thing then don’t worry there are always a variety of other food options to cater to everyone’s taste. This is just a small selection of what you can expect at the 2015 Scallop Festival.

Chefs Confirmed: For 2105 we welcome back crowd favourite Ray McVinnie, Chef extraordinaire and Masterchef Judge, along with 2014 Masterchef winners Karena and Kasey Bird, we also have “The Great Scallop Cook Off” where the chefs from Salt Restaurant and Motu Kitchen will battle it out on stage for the best Scallop dish honours.
Immortalise your memories – For the first time at the festival we will have the Classic Photo booth where you can take home a memento of your day on a photo strip for the fridge and to share via social media which you can upload directly from the festival.

Best dressed: Don’t forget to grab your crew and find yourself some funky outfits to wear to the festival.
‘Best Dressed’ has been gathering momentum in the last few years with great prizes up for grabs, we have had some very creative costumes in the past, so we look forward to see what’s on offer this year. .
Something to wash that down with? The official beer at the 2015 Whitianga Scallop Festival is Asaihi – a perfect fit with the festival and the seafood delicacies on offer.

Scallop Festival hand picks a selection of wineries to showcase their wines at the festival along with Mills Reef Winery, who have been our wine partner for many years. Mills Reef Winery hails from the Bay of Plenty and it’s a great opportunity to come and meet their crew and enjoy their wines at Scallop Festival.

To find out more check out Whitianga Scallop Festival website or get online with Eventfinder, and purchase your tickets today… you don’t want to miss this one!

WW1 Memorial Forest

WWI Memorial Forest to take root with ANZAC Day plantings

ANZAC Day will see the first trees planted in our Council’s World War I Memorial Forest.
Two signature native trees are to be planted at three sites around the Coromandel as part of ANZAC Day commemorations on 25 April.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, when New Zealand troops fought their first major campaign of WWI.
In all, 18,166 New Zealanders died in the war. By the 100th anniversary of the war’s end in 2018, that number of trees will have been planted at 10 sites across the Coromandel.

The trees will be planted in forests that represent major battles and campaigns that New Zealand forces took part in.
“The New Zealand World War I Memorial Forest is a fitting and long-lasting tribute to the New Zealand men and women who fought and died in the service of their country a century ago,” says Economic Development Programme Manager Ben Dunbar-Smith. Mr Dunbar-Smith has been overseeing this complex project that also involves significant contributions from RSAs, community groups, schools, Waikato Regional Council and the Department of Conservation.

The 10 forest sites will also form a growing tourism attraction, with trees available for purchase and each tree GPS-located.
“The tourism benefits of the Forest are considerable and in the early stages of planting there will be spin-off effects from the local goods and services related to the project,” says Mr Dunbar-Smith.

Signature trees
After discussions with RSAs and local communities, it was decided to keep the plantings on ANZAC Day low key so as not to detract from the day’s traditional remembrance ceremonies.  The three sites where planting will take place on ANZAC Day are: the new cemetery at Mercury Bay; Tairua’s RSA cemetery; and in Whangamata on the Council reserve near Durrant Drive.  At the new Mercury Bay cemetery 35 trees will be blessed on ANZAC Day. Two of these will be planted and the others taken away to be planted after 5 June when the weather conditions for planting are better.
After the trees are blessed and planted, a New Zealand WWI Memorial Forest sign will be unveiled that honours those from Mercury Bay who gave their lives in the war.

The cemetery forest site also remembers the Battle of Passchendaele, where eventually more than 2,000 trees will be planted.
At Tairua’s RSA cemetery two signature trees are to be planted on ANZAC Day after the dawn service.  A New Zealand WWI Memorial Forest sign honouring those from Tairua-Hikuai who served and died in the war will be unveiled at the same time.  A further 46 trees will be planted over the winter months, when conditions are best for tree planting.

Also on ANZAC Day, two signature trees are due to be planted at a Council reserve at the northern entrance to Whangamata near Durrant Drive that will represent the Battle of Le Quesnoy, where 122 Kiwi troops died.  A Memorial Forest sign will also be unveiled at this site. A further 120 trees will be planted here this winter with the final two signature trees to be planted in a special ceremony on 4 November, the anniversary of the battle, which was fought in 1918.
“Supreme Sacrifice”
There will be seven Memorial Forest locations. A site near Cathedral Cove on DOC-managed land will commemorate Gallipoli, where 2,779 New Zealanders were killed. Planting is due to begin in early June.  A third Mercury Bay site, at the Stella Evered Reserve at Purangi, is in the works but is not confirmed. About 5,000 trees could be planted there, representing those killed in the battles of The Somme in 1916 and 1918.
More than 200 trees will be planted at Rhodes Park in Thames to honour the war dead from that town. Planting is due to begin on 7 June, which is the anniversary of the Battle of Messines in 1917.

The Thames War Memorial will commemorate the Battle of Messines. Thirteen-hundred trees will be planted at this site beginning next year after weed clearance and track work is completed.  A Waikato Regional Council (WRC) site at Albert St in Coromandel Town will honour the war dead from that town. Thirty-nine trees are to be planted on 6 June.
TCDC land at the Hauraki Rd wastewater treatment plant will be the site of the forest representing “Supreme Sacrifice”. More than 1,000 trees are to be planted there beginning early June.  There is also potential for a walkway along Whangarahi Stream linking these two sites.
“This could prove a valuable tourist asset to Coromandel Town and provides an opportunity for community groups to get involved in planning and implementing it,” says Mr Dunbar-Smith.

In Pauanui, 640 trees representing the number killed in the Sinai-Palestine campaign are to be planted on Council and WRC land on Tangitarori Lane once some of the larger pines in the area have been felled.  Planting here could begin in early June and continue next year.
For more details on the WWI Memorial Forest project and the plantings around the Coromandel, go to
To find out more about ANZAC Day commemorations go to

Coromandel Arts Tour

The 9th Coromandel Artstour open studio event starts this weekend. For the next two weekends – April 11/12 and 18/19 – 32 artists from Coromandel and the Western Peninsula will open their studios and welcome you in. The Coromandel Artstour is an opportunity to meet some talented and inspiring artists, you’ll have a great adventure exploring the studios, and see fresh new work as it is created. You can purchase work direct from the artists, and discover hidden gems in this creative destination.

Tickets to the Artstour are only $5. Tickets include a collectable badge and a downloadable artist list with simple maps showing artist locations. Studios are open from 10am to 4pm daily during the Artstour, they are marked by big flags out on the street and arrows pointing the way from there.

A highly recommended accompaniment to the ticket is the 2015 Creative Coromandel Guide. This excellent 200 page book – designed by artist Daniel Kirsch – contains comprehensive artist profiles, easy to follow maps, wonderful images and much more. The guide comes with a free ticket. To get the most out of the Coromandel Artstour, to easily find the participating artists, this guide is essential. If you are in a group then at least one of you should carry one. It is a wonderful guide to Coromandel’s creative community, and also well worth having after the Artstour has finished for year round reference. The guide costs only $20 and is available online at, at The Source – Coromandel Artist Collective, The Thames Society of Arts, Coromandel Information Centre and at select artist studios.

For more information, please visit our website

Surf to Turf

Surf 2 Firth Bush Marathon 14 March
The Surf 2 Firth Bush marathon has been described as the most technically challenging marathon in New Zealand as it gives runners the opportunity to run from one side of The Coromandel to the other.

42 km marathon run, 22 km half marathon run/walk and 14km run/walk. Limited places available so register your interest

Extreme Toughness (Full Marathon 42km)

The marathon begins at Hikuai School on the eastern side of the Coromandel Ranges. There is a gentle 6 km run along a quiet gravel road to the end of Puketui valley. Into the bush there is a gut busting 690 metre climb over 6 kms as the track heads up past the Paton dam and Kaitarakihi junction to the Hihi trig. The race then descends down the Hihi to the BillyGoat track past the magnificent BillyGoat falls and into the Kauaeranga Valley floor.

The transition point for the start of the half marathon is at the WAINORA campground at the head of the Kauaeranga Valley which provides toilets, water and a base for First aid and supporters.

From the transition point it is 22 km to the finish. Competitors climb again over 4 kms up along the Wainora track to 650 metres under the iconic table top mountain before the long slow decent down to sea level at Thames High school to the finish.

Anyone game?

Tairua Pipe Masters

If you are like me, you probably could be forgiven for thinking the Pipe Masters is a bag pipe playing competition.  Well think again!  The Tairua Pipe Masters ran from 2003 to 2008, and was a favourite event on the New Zealand wakeboarding calendar.

Taking place in the waters off Pepe Reserve on 14th February 2015, the competition see riders towed behind jetskis onto custom built ramps, jumps and sliders made from pvc piping and other found materials.

A range of wakeboarders will take part; from local amateurs to international professional wakeboards hailing from Australia, America, South Africa.

It kicks off Friday at 3pm with a wildcard contest pitting New Zealand’s top riders against each other for three wildcard entries to the main action on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday’s main competition, also starting at 3pm, will be contested over three rounds. As there’s no seeding, riders names will be drawn out of a hat during the briefing on Friday evening.

Leadfoot Festival is on!

The Leadfoot Festival is a unique weekend bringing together a mix of classic cars, vintage motorcycles and motorsport legends. Limited tickets will be offered to the general public with an invitation to Rod Millen’s private grounds at Leadfoot Ranch.

The 150 acre, ocean-front estate in Hahei on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula features a long driveway that winds through the property designed to be the perfect hill climb. Guests will be given one of a kind experiences featuring unparalleled access to the drivers, pits and racecars. The Leadfoot Festival is designed for men and women, boys and girls. Visitors dress in period style clothing to step back in time making the Leadfoot Festival an incredible family experience and a true celebration of motorsports and all things automotive.

The selection of machinery on Leadfoot Ranch will include a spectacular array of the world’s finest competition cars and motorcycles. From classic formula and road race cars to off-road machines and motorcycles, the Leadfoot Festival attracts drivers, riders and race vehicles reminiscent of many eras in an enthusiastic display of speed, style, sound, smell and color.

Rod Millen personally hand selects championship racers from around the world to receive the coveted invitation to participate in the Leadfoot Festival. A collection of static celebrated vintage cars and bikes will line areas of the paddocks to complete the weekend.

Check out