WHY Retreat is located in Northland, New Zealand, third on the Lonely Planet list of top 10 destinations in Asia Pacific for 2019.

Two of the hikes at our doorstep are among the top 10 in New Zealand (Mt Manaia and the Te Whara track).


If you’re looking for paradise, that’s simple & affordable, if you’re  looking for a great selection of yoga and selfless me time, if you’re looking for heathy eating delicious vegetarian meals freshly cooked daily from natural produce, then this place is for you. - JB, Austrailia

Thank you Jo
I arrived to the incredible WHY Retreat in Whangareri heads almost 4 weeks ago as a helping hand & yoga teacher for an inspiring lady & sister yogi, Jo.

I actually thought I had arrived in paradise. To be honest I truly believe I did.

My back story I will be very brief as I’m trying to heal a terrible tragedy & loss, for this reason I was drawn to this special spiritual healing part of the world, and drawn to the empathy of beautiful Jo. and what she has created in this special space.

The scenery from my window each and every morning reminds me of how very blessed I am to experience the beautifully majestic Mount Mania; she stands tall & grounded elegant and verdant. It’s such a privilege to see, climb, & experience this wonderful treasure

(there are many walks and hikes but Mania is a must to do)

The sounds of nature the ocean the happy chirping birds, the wind through the numerous lush trees, are like an orchestra of fine musicians. Peaceful but engaging. It’s as though the arms of the ocean surround and protect this bay.

The smell of nature’s medicine, herbs growing in the beautiful healthy veggie garden that has had years of TLC makes one feel healthy just to stand and admire.

If you’re looking for paradise, that’s simple & affordable, if you’re looking for a great selection of yoga and selfless me time, if you’re looking for heathy eating delicious vegetarian meals freshly cooked daily from natural produce, then this place is for you.

On a deeper level, if you’re looking for a gentle place to heal, to mend, to reflect to rebuild your connection. Or if you’re simply wanting to just be.

WHY retreat is a safe nurturing environment, it offers a tranquillity and a balance of healthy mindful options Yoga, meditation, massage, reiki and superb healthy eats, and last but not least, smiles & laughter.

I would in a heart beat come check the WHY Retreat out. You won’t be sorry.

JB, Australia

This was a beautiful location for me to have the space, time and support to relax and unwind and to reconnect and refocus on my health and life. - Meg, Austrailia

I attended a 6 day hiking and yoga retreat at WHY retreat after finding it through an internet search for a yoga retreat. Hiking and yoga are two of my favourite things and this retreat combined both beautifully and exceeded my expectations. Jo is a warm and generous host, with a great understanding of health. I was able to attend daily yoga classes of different styles with Jo and with other local teachers and was able to deepen my own practice, and learn new flows, postures and meditation techniques. The hikes were through the stunning New Zealand forrests, with incredible views that seemed to stretch out forever. Jo was able to provide great local knowledge about the trails, particularly around lookouts and bird life and also the best swimming beaches. I felt refreshed by the mountains, the trees and the seas. The accomodation was comfortable and inviting and there were great communal spaces with a relaxed vibe to talk to others, yet there were also quiet places for contemplation and reflection. I spent many an hour looking out at the views across the water from the accomodation. The vegetarian meals were delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed eating meals with Jo and the other guests. Jo has a wealth of knowledge regarding food and nutrition, and I was able to gain valuable insights into this area of my health. I am still feeling the positive benefits of my time there nearly one month later. A truly wonderful experience – I would thoroughly recommend the WHY retreat and I would go again!
– Meg, Austrailia

A great escape and chance to reconnect with myself and nature! - Abby, Auckland

Yoga – very professional. Jo has lots of experience. Massage – Incredible. Intuitive and healing. HIGHLY recommended. Great food – so fresh and alive with lots of love gone into the preparation and making of it! A great escape and chance to reconnect with myself and nature! Thank you.
– Abby, Auckland

The insight I gained today truly empowered my heart and mind with a simple yet spiritual way of life. - Lori, USA

Today I learned about experiences. Now that may sound crazy because you might think… What is there to learn about experiences? They are just that… Experiences. But, the real question is, ‘Are you actually feeling, being aware- actually experiencing those experiences?

Heart centered living is a way of life, a lifestyle, that encourages you to feel alive! I learned practices that will help me align my mind, body and soul. It is a practice that guides you to ask yourself simplistic questions which actually focuses finding your inner deep longings, passions which connect with your energy- your natural state which goes after your dreams. A lifestyle that focuses on learning what your soul really wants.

When we are in the relationship of connections and are aware or our energy we put off into the world and what energy we receive, we trust- because our hearts are courageous. Our hearts know no fear. We don’t know the end, but the soul trusts.

The insight I gained today truly empowered my heart and mind with a simple yet spiritual way of life. The overwhelmingly positive thoughts and happiness when I feel when understanding and acknowledging it’s love- it’s love and energy that makes the world go ’round. I mean, obviously! We as humans make life so hard and complicated with our way of self doubt.

We must free our energy! Awaken our hearts and energize our souls! If we go out looking for unity and harmony, then that is what we will find. With Brian and Cameron so passionate about heart centered living, I have found their positive energy contagious. The workshop today taught me a powerful message- there may not be a linear process to this everyday practice, but the answer to how is always yes.
Open your heart and be aware.
– Lori, USA

Accommodation Testimonials

“Yoga, relaxation, nature and wonderful host’s” - Sander, Belgium

I enjoyed my week at the WHY very much, the place is amazing, beautiful rooms, shared living, dining room and kitchen for the guests. The view from the deck over the bay is amazing to relax in the afternoon or evening, plenty of walking trails around in stunning scenery and healthy delicious meals every day. Jo and Rob are such a friendly and wonderful couple they make it the perfect place to relax and recharge. I would recommend this to everyone
– Sander, Belgium

“A great place to stay with wonderful people being your hosts “ - Franz and Viki, Germany

We spent a great, exciting and fun week with Jo and her husband Rob, living in a nice and comfy caravan with a beautiful view on the ocean. This property has an amazing energy and can make your stay be a retreat for mind,body and soul even as a wwoofer 😉 We even joined one of Jo’s yogalates hours and had a yummy dinner together with them. Our project was building a paddio in front of the studio and gardening work. We gained a lot of building experience and had much fun finishing the project with Rob. Jo and Rob are both very special people, kind, helpful, nice and caring and it was a pleasure to meet them. Whangarei Heads is definitely a beautiful place to stay, full of great spots waiting for you 🙂
– Franz and Viki, Germany
You have an amazing set up there and credit goes to you both for that. - Hilary, Wellington

Hi Jo & Rob,
Just wanted to let you know that Jo and I had a wonderful time on our yoga retreat with you a few weeks back.
I have been speaking highly of you to all my yoga friends down here – the best advertising you can get.
Cheers to you both and all the best with your journey forward.
– Hilary, Wellington

You have an amazing place and it’s truly and awesome area for hiking swimming and rejuvenating and such a fantastic part of NZ.. - Glen, Canada

A perfect little place to rest and recover! - Stene, Christchurch

What a perfect little place to rest and recover! Wonderful hosts, and the location is paradise. Food, ambience and good books to read. Be as energetic or as relaxed as you want.
– Stene, Christchurch

We stayed three nights at the yoga retreat accommodation and it was awesome. The perfect holiday. It is the perfect place to relax and calm down. - Lydia and Chris, Germany

From our room we had a lovely view on the sea and the stunning countryside of Whangarei Heads. Everything is new in the accommodation and our room was nicely done up. The bed was comfortable and the rooms and facilities were very clean and we felt as snug as a bug in a rug. An amazing and quite beach was not fare away, were you can go for a swim or just sunbathing. We did also some walks. One was quite easy the other one to Mt Manaia was a little bit exhausting but you get amply rewarded be the view. We attended a few of Jo’s yoga classes – it was really nice. Perfect to exercise your body and relax at once. Jo and Rob were lovely, helpful and kind hosts. The meals were delicious, healthy and always fresh cooked. We had everything we needed and more. We would highly recommend and will definitely come back!

– Lydia and Chris, Germany

Jo and Rob are just amazing people, very kind and truly inspiring. They have a big treasure trove of experience and a great sense of humour. - Johannes, Germany

I enjoyed the retreat and was even able to start learning yoga 🙂 Another highlight was the visit to Blue Moon, Rob and Jo’s beautiful hand built sailing boat. Would have loved to stay for a longer time!

– Johannes, Germany

Personal training testimonials

Jo is an awesome trainer. She knew exactly what my body needed and helped me get my strength back after years of illness and inactivity. I’m so grateful. - Robyn, Whangarei Heads
Jo is the kind of person who can focus on you exclusively. She is always interested in you and your achievements.  - Pam, Walkworth

“I have been attending a gym of one form or another for a good number of years. Really haven’t seen much change in fitness, fatness or weight levels. Motivation became extremly difficult to raise. The manager at Anytime Fitness suggested I consult a personal trainer and recommended Jo Woollacott.

Jo is the kind of person who can focus on you exclusively. She is always interested in you and your achievements.

At my age [64] I have started with internal problems and Jo always has a remedy.
She is a personal trainer in every sense of the word. She has an amazing touch and gets to the base of any problem very quickly. At the same time I am not pushed to do more than is possible for me and she always has my best interests at heart.

Jo is a valuable asset to Anytime Fitness.”

– Pam, Walkworth


I went for a kyak this morning and concentrated for a full hour on the core and also the way i was bracing my knees as that is also all connected to the core – and guess what ‘ no sore right arm’. Felt really good on my return – though i must say it was pretty calm out there. Also saw a baby seal sunning him/herself on a rock

– Bernadett, Whangarei Heads

Thanks to Jo’s easy to understand explanations and exercises I finally found the muscles I have been trying to target.  - Sonya, Warkworth

“I am a dance teacher in my mid-thirties, and have suffered from a variety of neck problems and pain for approximately 10 years. I have seen many physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and quacks in an attempt to find some lasting relief from the tension and muscle spasms that plague my shoulders and neck.

I was referred to Jo by my mother, and I can truely claim that I have finally found the answer to my pain problems. Jo’s initial assessment and treatment was swift and accurate, and by using her pressure point technique she dealt to the problem areas. The headaches stopped and I could turn my head again. To my surprise, I didn’t suffer any pain the following day, which usually happens after an intense physio massage, and the relief I felt from Jo’s treatment lasted at lot longer than any other treatment I have ever had. I fully intend booking further appointments with Jo whenever I am in Whangarei.

Jo also helped me with some core stability exercises. I have sought help in this area from other personal trainers, but thanks to Jo’s easy to understand explanations and exercises I finally found the muscles I have been trying to target. I discovered that I have been exercising the wrong muscles (outer abdominals) for years now.
I look forward to seeing Jo again in the very near future.”
– Sonya, Warkworth

I feel good and look better, so I have just signed up for another 10 week package! Thanks Jo! - Lynda S

“I have been working out at the gym for more than 30 years with several goals in mind:

  • To maintain muscle mass that would burn calories and slow the accumulation of extra body weight without the need to diet.
  • To slow the onset and reduce the effects of osteoporosis that saw my mother lose 10cm in height as she aged.
  • To retain strength and fitness for gardening, hiking, childcare (of grandchildren these days!) and farm work.
  • To reduce stress – although since I retired that has been less important.
  • To maintain and, hopefully, improve body shape.

As a runner, I was never interested in adding bulk, but didn’t want to look flabby. Over the years I had developed my own programmes with the help of the occasional assessment and advice from gym trainers, other gym members and personal trainers. I thought that I was achieving pretty reasonable results.

In April this year I met Jo Woollacott. At first she offered me some friendly advice about getting more benefit from the exercises I was doing and then asked if I would like an assessment. It was several years since I had had an assessment, so I agreed. I discovered that I had slipped from the “athletic” to a “normal” body fat percentage and had lost muscle mass.

Since then Jo has been training me on a once a week basis, with me working out twice a week on my own between sessions, and walking for an hour or so on the other days. She has focused on helping me achieve all my goals – and a few she worked out herself! After the first 6 weeks I had regained athletic body fat status and restored muscle mass. I have now had a further 10 weeks of training with Jo and, in addition to the above, I have

  • improved strength, fitness and muscle tone
  • a waistline
  • a tighter butt
  • firmer thighs
  • better posture
  • more flexibility
  • better lifting technique
  • ewer aches and pains in my back, neck and shoulders

I feel good and look better, so I have just signed up for another 10 week package! Thanks Jo!

– Lynda S

Massage Testimonials

– Incredible massage. Intuitive and healing. HIGHLY recommended. - Abby, Auckland

“I struggled for years with a shoulder injury. Jo was able to go straight to the problem and also gave me some exercises to help get my range of motion back. I haven’t felt this good for ages!”

“My back has been so much better since Jo worked her magic on it. It still bothers me if I do something silly but at least now I know how to manage it, and I see Jo if it really gets sore and she fixes it up right away.”

Yoga Testimonials

– I have never felt so enthusiastic about Yoga before. - Wendy, Whangarei Heads

Am loving your yoga, a big highlight of the week for me, I look forward to it every Monday, really, I have never felt so enthusiastic about it before and I can feel my yoga improving every week – your teaching clicks with me and is spot on, many many thanks. Can’t believe it that you are a hop skip and jump from me, we are so lucky
– Wendy, Whangarei Heads
– Yoga – very professional. Jo has lots of experience - Abby, Auckland

Good morning Jo,
Just thinking how I appreciate your coaching … I hadn’t done the nostril breathing for years…it is very calming … The pace of the YOGA class and the words you say that give us a choice in the pose are very useful…Thanks for being there !  Warm wishes.

– Cathy

Jo, I just want to say how fantastic your class was today, as always  But particularly today, because even though I had some of my usual challenges in moments of it, I have felt incredible, almost “normal”, with more “vertical integrity” than for ages, & without pain all day since class!  Thank you so much for your well balanced, nicely challenging, yet sensitively delivered classes.  I am so so grateful for everything you have been doing to help me get free of pain, huge breakthrough!

– Lisa

Love your classes! - Cathy, Whangarei Heads

Good morning Jo ! I am so grateful for your studio place, and certainly your tutoring the classes…I always find something useful in bits of information that you share. We love your place of retreat and calm. You have such a gift for imparting confidence, and planning an atmosphere of serenity and acceptance. The info on styles of YOGA, history, etc. gave me a deeper understanding of the practice. The routines are ever-fresh, and music to create mood and moment for us who come along needing the WHY to be our transcendent place for an hour ! Thank You friend for your caring and professional approach. You go the extra mile for your clients and make them feel like friends. We are blessed to have you out here.
– Cathy, Whangarei Heads


I have no hesitation in recommending Jo’s treatment and instruction for injury, operation recovery and general good health. - Karol, Whangarei Heads

I’m a 58yr old woman who’s had a total hip joint replacement in March 2014. Four months after the operation I am totally mobile and enjoying walking and back to Yoga. I’m pain and stiffness free and once again enjoying a active life.
I put the good recovery down to comprehensive instruction and treatment by Jo Woollacott, my yoga teacher.
Pre-operation yoga maintained my muscle tone and flexibility, post operation yoga 10 weeks after the operation and one on one treatment by Jo has re-balanced my hip muscles and regained strength lost after my operation.

I have no hesitation in recommending Jo’s treatment and instruction for injury, operation recovery and general good health, I’m so pleased the way things are going and now enjoying two yoga classes a week

– Karol, Whangarei Heads