I had the privilege of going on a silent meditation retreat at Wangapeka Study and Retreat Center on the northern part of the South Island. It was a peaceful, contemplative, and beautiful experience and I am so grateful that I got to go (and a big thanks and shout out to James for planning and enacting an epic weekend for the kids here in Christchurch!).
The drive took me about 5 hours, not including a couple of rest stops and a cafe for lunch. I barely even minded the lack of music in the car as the scenery and my own thoughts gave me plenty to enjoy and ponder.
I stopped along the road through Lewis Pass to see a waterfall and stretch my legs, as well as use the public toilet. (New Zealand is amazing about posting permanent dunnies/outhouses/public toilets along roads and near picnic spots… and often include hand sanitizer!)
In Murchison, a town set amidst the mountains that reminds me a bit of southern Delaware in terms of farming equipment and remoteness from large cities, I stopped for some gas and a surprisingly good lunch–veggie quiche and an amazing salad.
Finally nearing my destination, the rain and mist that had been on and off my whole drive came down more solidly even as the sun shone from over a hill. I love a good sunshower.
Getting off of the pavement and onto a two lane unsealed (gravel) road, I was within 8 kilometers of the retreat center but it took about 30 minutes to make it that final stretch. Along the way, I saw pastoral scene and wilderness abutting each other.
I will keep details of the actual time I spent at the retreat private because it was for my own spiritual and emotional growth, but I do want to share a few photos.
The centre covers over 100 acres of beautiful mountain hillside. Tracks and trails and meandering paths offer various ways up and down, from the base of the mountain and the rockstrewn riverbed to the main hall to the whare (pronounced “FAIR-eh”). There are huts for solo private retreat and also rooms (like mine below) for retreat participants who eat in the main hall.
The toilets and showers (4 of each) are attached to the main hall where there’s also the tea/coffee service, kitchen, and library. Three sides of the high-ceilinged building are covered with windows revealing stunning mountain scenery.
The retreat started on Friday night with dinner at 6 and ran until lunchtime on Sunday. We were silent from 8 on Friday night until 9 on Sunday morning.
And it was wonderful.