Check in for a clean break at Aro Ha, a celebrated wellness retreat near Glenorchy on New Zealand's South Island.

“I think subconsciously we’re all craving a bit of quiet,” says Californian “wellness architect” Damian Chaparro.

In an alpine valley on New Zealand’s South Island, beside the mirrored surface of turquoise Lake Wakatipu, Chaparro’s retreat, Aro Ha (, redefines serenity. The 20-room property, founded seven years ago, is a utopian community in one of the planet’s most peaceable nations.

Stays at Aro Ha, which is located about 40 minutes from the adventure capital of Queenstown, typically last six days and include a roster of worthy pursuits, such as yoga, Pilates, barre, interval training and subalpine hikes. Daily massages and homegrown produce are an easy sell.

There’s also a focus on the most important practice: mindfulness.

Wake to the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl or salute the sunrise from the yoga studio overlooking beautiful islands and valleys.

Every guest is encouraged to ditch their devices and spend 20 minutes a day walking in silence. “We have to slow down enough to get out of the rush of life in order to even feel who we are,” says Chaparro. “Silence gives you perspective.”

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Nine hectares dotted with bamboo and rainforest. Glass, timber and polished-concrete guestrooms and a freshwater pool. Organic Ayurvedic meals. Oh, and Nicole Kidman’s tick of approval – her latest miniseries, Nine Perfect Strangers, was partly shot here. Don’t expect patchouli oil and mung beans at Soma in Byron Bay on NSW’s North Coast. Guests can choose from two-, three- or four-night itineraries that include yoga, optional treatments such as sound healing, massage and meditation with master practitioner Gary Gorrow.

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Image credit: Paul A. Broben, Romello Pereira, Clare Plumer.

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