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Island Time Writing Retreat

Waiheke Island, New Zealand
20-24 January 2020

** HURRY! Only a few rooms left for the January retreat. **


Island Time
Writing Retreat 

Waiheke Island, 20-24 January and 7-10 July 2020


Reconnect with the pleasures of writing at this five-day luxury retreat hosted by international writing expert Dr Helen Sword on beautiful Waiheke Island, ranked #5 in Travel and Leisure’s 2018 list of “The World’s Best Islands.”

Whether you are a scholarly or professional writer trying to finish an article or book, a novelist, poet, or nonfiction writer working on a manuscript, or simply a traveller looking for fresh inspiration, this immersive retreat will replenish your creative energies and provide you with strategies for getting your writing done.


The journey

Wave goodbye to the mainland as your ferry slips away from the passenger wharf in downtown Auckland to start its thirty-five minute voyage across the Waitemata Harbour (in Māori, the name means “sparkling waters”) and into the Hauraki Gulf. You’ll pass brooding volcanic islands, jaunty sailboats, and lonely buoys as the city skyline recedes from view. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a pod of dolphins or a family of orcas out chasing stingrays.

As the ferry pulls into the wharf at Matiatia, take a moment to silently thank the local residents who have campaigned to keep developers from turning this peaceful horseshoe-shaped bay into a commercial marina. A ten-minute bus or taxi ride will bring you to Kauri Springs Lodge at the heart of the island, your home for the next five days. En route you may notice a large sign proclaiming Waiheke’s unofficial motto: Slow Down You’re Here!


The lodge

Kauri Springs Lodge offers luxury accommodation on five acres of exquisitely manicured native bush. Accommodation for the retreat includes thirteen double bedrooms and seven luxuriously appointed bathrooms scattered among four spacious houses. Each house has its own special character; all of them offer a shared kitchen, a comfortable living area, and beautiful views of the surrounding subtropical bush.

Writing retreat guests will have the full run of the property. You can wander along landscaped pathways, sit on a bench and listen to the song of the tuis, or drop into the main Lodge for a barista-style coffee prepared on the industrial-sized espresso machine. Meals include self-catered breakfasts and delicious lunches and dinners prepared by local caterers to suit your dietary requirements. You are welcome to bring your own alcoholic beverages or to have a supply delivered to the property from one of the island’s many vineyards, breweries, or wine shops.


The island

Summer on Waiheke Island is idyllic. Holidaying New Zealanders mingle with international visitors on the beaches and in the bays, enjoying activities ranging from swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddle-boarding to fishing, golf, and horseback riding. Home to dozens of boutique wineries, Waiheke is easily accessible by public transportation and crisscrossed by scenic hiking trails. Best of all, the white sands and turquoise waters of beautiful Palm Beach are an easy ten minute walk from the Lodge. For the adventurous, the island’s only nudist bathing spot is discretely tucked around the cliff at the beach’s western end.

Winter at Kauri Springs Lodge is equally magical. You can curl up on a sofa by the huge stone fireplace, go for a sunset stroll along a deserted clifftop, or relax in the outdoor hot tub on a cloudless night under the glowing stars of the Milky Way. Even on rainy days you’ll enjoy restorative views of lush native bush from nearly every window at the property.


The schedule

But mostly, you’re here to write! Facilitator Helen Sword, an award-winning teacher and internationally acclaimed expert on writing in all genres, has crafted an evidence-based programme designed to foster your productivity by broadening and deepening your pleasure in writing. The daily retreat schedule includes morning and afternoon masterclasses, small-group feedback sessions, and plenty of focused writing time. You’ll also be encouraged to indulge in restorative activities such as yoga classes, therapeutic massage, and relaxing soaks in the Lodge’s saltwater spa. For those who crave more vigorous physical activity, Helen will lead daily excursions along some of her favourite walking tracks. On the final day of the retreat, guests are invited to join her on a guided tour of the island culminating with lunch at one of Waiheke’s spectacular vineyard restaurants.



11:30 am – 12:30 pm Arrival and orientation
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Lunch
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Writing time
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Afternoon masterclass
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Free time (Optional walk/swim)
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Dinner
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm Small group feedback session


7:00 am – 9:00 am Free time; breakfast on your own (Optional walk/swim)
9:00 am – 11:30 am Writing time
11:30 am – 12:30 pm Morning masterclass
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Lunch
1:30 pm – 4:00 pm Writing time
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Afternoon masterclass
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Free time (Optional yoga class or walk/swim)
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Dinner
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm Small group feedback session


7:00 am – 9:00 am Free time or writing time; breakfast on your own
9:00 am – 10:00 am Packing up; check out of your room by 10 am
10:00 am – 12:00 pm Final masterclass; feedback and farewells
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm Optional island tour and vineyard lunch


Note: Prices are in US dollars. For currency conversion, please visit

High season: January 20-24, 2020

** Hurry! Only a few rooms left for the January retreat. **

$2300 per person twin share

$3000 single occupancy

Low season: July 7-10, 2020

$1800 per person twin share

$2500 single occupancy

Optional extras:

Friday afternoon island tour and vineyard lunch $150

“Plus one” accommodation and meals $600

Note: “Plus one” pricing is for a partner or friend sharing a room with a retreat participant who is paying the full single occupancy price. The extra $600 fee covers accommodation and two meals per day (breakfast and dinner) for the non-retreating partner. “Plus ones” are welcome to take part in optional retreat activities but should make their own plans during the day.