Aro Hā wellness retreat is set in the subalpine glacial valleys of central Otago and its concept was initially developed by Queenstown-based American Damian Chaparro, who describes himself as a wellness architect. “Aro Hā brings people together to learn about nature, about the world, and ultimately about themselves. Aro Hā models a transitional path toward a regenerative relationship with our planet. We’ve done our best to design a place that meets the needs of the present without compromising our future,” Chaparro says. The word ‘aro’ means to focus and direct, while ‘ha-’ translates as the breath of life. For Chaparro, and architect Hugh Tennent – who is also a meditation teacher – the words had an innate, and intimate, meaning. It was one of a journey: a journey to renewed connection with oneself, with the environment and with others.
The space, landscape and structure were a pleasure to be in and photograph, the majestic surroundings inspiring awe and stillness. These photographs have featured in Architecture NZ magazine and their associated online spaces, as well as in a beautiful publication by Tennent Brown Architects called “Habits for Habits”.