Winter is coming! Those cold and rainy nights are approaching and our thoughts of escaping New Zealand are starting to grow.

Going to Fiji, Rarotonga or even Bali are popular destinations; but, have you ever considered going on a wellness retreat to one of these places?

People are using vacations not just as a time to sit on the beach and read a book, but to also go on a vacation to achieve their wellness and fitness goals. It's a perfect way to relax yet also have the time to work on your body and mind.

Wellness retreats allows you to go to a stunning location, meet new and old friends, and kickstart or ramp up your mind and body fitness. And how you could not love being on vacation and able to do exercise, yoga, or meditation whenever you wanted?

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Part of the allure is the exotic location, but it is also going with people who are like-minded and want to work on themselves in a holistic way. Sounds amazing doesn't it?

Try something you have never done before and use the retreat to spend as much time as possible experimenting with this new fitness, eating or mindfulness regime.
Try something you have never done before and use the retreat to spend as much time as possible experimenting with this new fitness, eating or mindfulness regime.

Once you've decided you want to go, where do you start? Well, here are some tips to finding the right wellness vacation or retreat for you.

First off, you should figure out what you would like to focus on while you are on vacation. Do you want to eat certain foods, study yoga and meditation, get some heart-pounding workouts, spa treatments, or visit exotic/luxurious locations? So many different themes to think about, and they all sound amazing.

Maybe you want to try eating vegetarian/vegan foods for a week or maybe you want to go on a surfing retreat. I suggest you pick one thing you are passionate about changing in your life and then move from there.

By choosing one thing, you can sift through the myriad of choices and narrow your choices.

Try something you have never done before and use the retreat to spend as much time as possible experimenting with this new fitness, eating or mindfulness regime. This way, you can try this new lifestyle choice, without any of the usual distractions, and come back and find out if this is going to be the new direction you want to take your life.

A women-only surf, yoga, wellness, fitness, detox retreat set in a luxury private villa in Canggu, Bali.
A women-only surf, yoga, wellness, fitness, detox retreat set in a luxury private villa in Canggu, Bali.

So, you've figured out your passion for what you want your retreat to focus on, next step is finding that perfect location. This world has so many amazing locations and New Zealand is home to many of them.

You might not even have to leave New Zealand, there are many people leading wellness retreats around the country. But maybe you are looking at further horizons and so where do you start?

For me, I love exploring new places, so I would pick a place I hadn't been before and try to match my wellness goal with that location. It might not be a perfect fit, so you may need to go to somewhere you have already been, but with new people, and a guide to the sights and culture, you have may a totally different experience from the last time you went.

Familiarity can be soothing and being somewhere where you know the language and culture can make it easier, it can also be thrilling to step out of your comfort zone and see the world.

Third step is to find the price point and experience you are after. Some people want all the luxuries, with beachfront vistas, spa treatments, and five-star food options. Others would be home in a hostel-style accommodation with simple food and shared rooms.

One isn't necessarily better than the other, but either spectrum could be what you are after. A vipassana in many places is run by volunteers and many are free.

The best part, when you take a wellness vacation is secluding yourself from the outside world and focus on you and living the life you want; doesn't matter if that is five-star or on a budget.

You don't have to go on a vacation to start new habits and try new things. But if you are planning on an escape this winter, a wellness vacation may be something you want to consider.

The choices are endless from budget to the full five-star treatment. Figure out what you want to achieve, the location that will help you do that and with your budget in mind, start looking!

This fine autumn weather won't be with us forever and when winter hits, you don't want to be scrambling trying to find that perfect escape.

■ Tim Seutter is a firefighter, yoga teacher and manager at The Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangarei.