Apr 17


Relax, reset, release, repeat

 Those who read edition 51 would know we were pretty enamoured with a off-grid cabin operation called Unyoked which we discovered while interviewing photographer Stephen Liew. 

 So impressed were we that we have decided to embark on a special editorial series whereby we will showcase over several editions some of the bespoke getaways in their range, the first being Whetū in Raglan, New Zealand. After all, aside from publishing Smorgasboarder, we run a creative agency called Horse & Water and writing retreats are always in favour. Escapes like these certainly free up the creative juices, and it’s kind of handy some of them are coincidentally near surf breaks. 

Whetū, Raglan 

Notes from the field

Derived from the Indigenous peoples Te reo Maori name for the stars which guided and navigated the people of Tainui Waka for centuries, Whetū can be seen on clear nights from Whaingaroa Te Moana all the way to Karioi Te Maunga. A symbol of the relationship between the people and the land, Whetū has always been part of our journey, wherever we are.

“An ancient remedy for modern times. We provide 9-5ers, creatives and dreamers a place to define yourselves beyond your desks…

Aside from the elegant simplicity of these retreats, the ethos behind them is equally as engaging. Some text from their website encapsulates it all, “An ancient remedy for modern times. We provide 9-5ers, creatives and dreamers a place to define yourselves beyond your desks. Our unique locations give easy access to the wild, so that getting lost in nature becomes as natural as getting stuck on your feed.” 

Company spokesman Julian Rapattoni, Head of Global Operations, expanded on that statement explaining Unyoked’s core purpose. “Nowadays we all lead increasingly busy lives. We get so caught up in the day-to-day of juggling work commitments that we lose perspective. We forget to live. It’s commonly known that modern day living comes hand-in hand with mental fatigue and low productivity. Numerous scientific studies have shown spending an extended period of time in nature is the perfect antidote. 

Unyoked was created to help us all understand how nature can make us better and allow us to weave it into our lives easily, and regularly. The cabins came second; nature was first. Everything we do is to help our people kickstart a nature habit, one built on understanding how- and when-it can help them personally.” 

To that end, Unyoked have curated a super select range of high-quality nature experiences to help people relax, rest and release. So selective are they that they have reportedly said no to many more locations than they have said yes to. 

Julian elaborated on this statement. 

“We search until the most unique and unyoked landscapes have been found. We want our guests to truly relax. Most of us have a busy, noisy, always-on life in the city. So, we aim to get people out into nature where there’s no interruptions. We want to provide an environment where our guests can reset their expectations and get some regular perspective thanks to the vastness of the outdoors and ‘release’ by way of giving them a change of scenery. Nobody ever comes up with great ideas staring at the same four walls. So, we get them out there, so they can be inspired and finally get the space to start that big creative project, whether it’s work, relationship or personal.” 

Wise words indeed, in fact the Unyoked website reaffirms the science behind this approach. 

Nature helps you feel better. 

Cortisol is another name for a stress hormone, otherwise known as the thing that peaks in busy people around 3pm every Wednesday. Recent studies have shown that even one night in nature – as opposed to the median strip near your office that someone called a park – can significantly decrease your cortisol levels. Getting out into greenery regularly not only slows down overactive minds and replaces circulated office aircon with crisp 02, but it can genuinely affect your mood. 

Nature recentres you. 

If you want to get an instant understanding of how small our issues are in the grand scheme of things, there’s nothing quite like throwing your arms around a tree that’s been alive for hundreds of years. Out in the middle of nowhere, distraction-free with only rolling hills, clear night sky and a few birds for company, the truth about what really matters naturally presents itself. 

Nature stimulates creativity. 

The uninterrupted vastness of wild green spaces, away from screens and schedules is the perfect place to bend your grey matter, follow strange new thoughts down rabbit holes and daydream productively. Whether it’s work-related or simply the chance to think differently about life or love, nature is your new creative happy place.

Whetū is described as being a perfect way to “find the relief you’re searching for”. 2 hours south of Auckland in the hills overlooking Manu Bay in Raglan, it is awe-inspiring. 

This retreat, if only for a weekend, is sure to relieve those stress headaches from work. 

As you weave your way uphill to your cabin you will feel your blood pressure drop as you gaze out at the expanse of Manu Bay extending all the way to the Tasman Sea. 

Feeling bogged down by the same old routine? Head uphill to the epic expanse of Whetū, spectacularly positioned with sweeping views of the sea.