The Herald is this week profiling different beauty treatments in Auckland. Today, Sarah Harris tries a Hilot healing massage.

What is it:

An ancient Filipino art of healing, and is often used as an alternative to visiting medical doctors in the Philippines. A hilot practitioner, or manghihilot, uses chiropractic-like manipulation and massage to treat ailments. Herbs and banana leaves are also used in addition to massage to aid the healing.

Where: Bamboo Spa, 422 Great North Rd Henderson. 09-8351303.


It doesn't look like much from the outside. Just a sliding door covered in posters advertising massage deals.

But inside I had the most blissful hour of my life, or at the very least, my weekend.

The atmosphere was dark and relaxing with soothing music, tea lights and thick red curtains separating you from the other pampered people.

My entire body was kneaded, stretched and oiled during the Filipino hilot massage - it's the parlour's signature treatment and where they use hot-oiled banana leaves to target sore muscles.

My lovely masseuse Heidi Gutierrez intuitively knew where my sore points were. She systematically worked through them with her small, strong hands until my crunchy muscles smoothed back into place.

She said it was a traditional massage used to treat muscle aches and upper back pain.

"It's good for people working in the office."

Which was perfect for me as I had heaps of niggly spots thanks to long hours hunched over a computer and a recent 20km hike that sent knots up my legs.


She frequently checked in to make sure the pressure was right and to tell me what was going to happen next.

The hot banana leaves were used to detect muscle tension. Heidi used them to target the upper and lower back.

Too soon, it was over. Then the whole experience was sealed with a hot ginger tea.

As I closed the poster-covered sliding door I felt moisturised not greasy, my muscles relaxed but not tenderised and in a calmer head space than when I went in.