I'm not going to lie, when I hear the words "wellness retreat," I immediately think of mung beans, yoga, vegans and hippies.
Not that there's anything wrong with any of the above. It's just not my vibe.
So when my personal trainer Paddy Flavell invited me on a wellness retreat into the Franz Josef rainforest, I found every reason to say a firm but polite 'no, thank you'.
Fortunately, Paddy is a persistent kind of guy, and to be honest, the timing was perfect.
I had been juggling work and parenting for a couple of months while my husband Scott was away in India. At the same time, there was the small matter of a stressful company restructure.
In the end, I decided to look into Wellness Retreats NZ's 'Rainforest Retreat'.
When I saw tagline 'wellness meets adventure', I thought 'OK, this is a bit of me' and made the decision to sign up.
Why? Because I view wellness as balance. It's doing the things that make you healthy, both mentally and physically, but also make you happy.
I have always been into exercise and nutrition, but I also don't deny myself some of the pleasures in life. I guess for me it's my yin and yang: I love to move, and then I love to relax.
Shamefully though, I had never been to the west coast of the South Island, so when we arrived in Hokitika, I felt some feelings of trepidation.
It was rugged and slightly eerie. Here I was on a bus with 16 others, heading towards a rainforest with really no idea what I had got myself into.
It took maybe ten minutes on that bus to realise I was with like-minded and very normal people.
One group had gotten over-excited the night before and were a little green around the gills - this was definitely no tea-total group.
The next thing that really put my mind at ease was the accommodation.
The Rainforest Retreat nestled in the sleepy town of Franz Josef was perfect for a mix of action and relaxation.
We all had luxurious tree huts, complete with spa pools. While I was a little anxious about sharing my plus 50-year-old habits with a total stranger, those nerves were gone in a flash.
My roommate Mel Homer was as relaxed as the West Coast vibe we had rolled into.
Now I'm not a huge eater, but I am a foodie, so the menu was always going to be a make or break for me.
It's always tricky to get the balance right: Feed up the big guys, nourish the sparrows, and appease the more fussy palate.
Honestly, I didn't hear one person complain about the food. It was healthy, gluten-free and dairy-free but definitely not taste-free. The only criticism, if you could call it one, was there was too much food!
It's hard not to sound like an advertisement but the breakfasts were unbelievable. Smoothie stations, buckwheat pancakes, chia pots, freshly baked bread, fruit platters eggs and more. Not to mention the ability to satisfy my caffeine addiction just a two-minute walk away.
One night we had local whitebait, followed by a seafood curry, salad and coconut crème brulee! And if you wanted to wash it down with a nice drop, you could - no judgement here. Several group members chose not to drink, while some of us had a couple each night just to wind down and listen to our hosts run through the itinerary for the following day.
Due to the fact I have ants in my pants, I was up for everything, but there was no requirement to do any of it if you didn't want to. Again it was a no judgement zone - this was about doing whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.
Each day had a balanced mix of good food, adventure, wellness and rest.
That balance was only achieved because the three co-hosts were all very unique, and brought different skills to the table, but worked really well together. Maybe it was a little chaotic behind the scenes, but we would never have known.
Wellness Retreats NZ director Mel Carroll was our yoga instructor, and a very calm, thoroughly organised, and nurturing leader.
She made it clear from the get-go, this retreat was about "us". Very quickly she recognized my need for calm and stretch, even with my less-than-enthusiastic desire to partake in yoga.
Let's just say, Mel made sure I was there, and I'm glad she did. I actually enjoyed slowing down and listening to my body for a change.
In total contrast, nutritionist Kaytee Boyd was more my kind of personality. A pocket rocket who ran enlightening workshops on nutrition, fasting, and hormones.
I pride myself on having a pretty good understanding of the human body, but Kaytee's expertise and delivery were captivating.
You know someone is inspiring when the men are engaged and taking notes.
Mel and Kaytee were balanced out by Patrick Flavell, our fitness guru. Paddy has been my personal trainer for years at Les Mills, so he knows how to read a room, and there was certainly a room to read! We had people who were fit, unfit, injured, inflexible, flexible.. and somehow Paddy made it work for everyone, although there were a few sore bodies rolling up for breaky each day.
Of course, it's possible the soreness came from some of the adventures we embarked on.
I'm going to say the quad biking was a highlight. Two hours of adrenalin-filled riding through the local river beds and forest: I actually had a sore face from smiling.
I could go on and on about all the fantastic activities, but what was so cool was the contrast. Heli-flying over the Franz Josef Glacier taking in the force of nature, then kayaking on a serene, mirror-like lake, and let's not forget the bucket list challenge - leaping out of a plane at 20,000 feet in a tandem skydive.
I expected wellness, but a bi-product I least expected was friendship. I can talk to anyone, including complete strangers in an elevator, so I knew I would enjoy everyone's company.
But never thought I would make the long-lasting connections as I did.
What became clear to me was everyone was on the retreat because they needed a reset.
This was their journey to begin that process, whether it was mental, physical, emotional or spiritual. It's pretty hard to put a price on that.
Was it worth it? It was well(ness) worth it.
Since my return, I've raved about it to anyone who will listen, and I can't wait to do another one.
Nicky attended 'Retreat into the Rainforest' courtesy of Wellness Retreats NZ.