Fruits Of The Forage: Totem Retreat

In the Whangaripo Valley, just over the hill and down the road from Matakana Village, is the whimsical property Totem Retreat, curated by professional food stylist Kate Arbuthnot and husband Dave Hassan. This fabulous villa is available as accommodation, in addition to and alongside a new and unique offering. 

Kate and a small team of wildly, talented locals have created workshops in Foraged Lunches, Botanical Styling and Totem Sculpture, with more workshops in the making. One of those involved is Kaiwaka born food writer, Amber Rose, forager and author of ‘Love, Bake, Nourish’ and ‘The Wholefood Pantry’. Together Kate and Amber run the Foraged Lunches at Totem.

Arriving at Totem Retreat for a Foraged Lunch is a bit like stepping into another world. You'll be welcomed around the fire with a brew of wild tea, talked through some foraging tips and sent out into the wild to explore and to put your newfound knowledge to use. Together, under Amber’s guidance, you'll prepare your lunch, cook it over a fire and dine under the trees, out in the fresh air. 

"The emphasis is on the experience and allowing time to connect,” says Kate. “There's something so satisfying and 'real' about gathering around a fire and cooking together - letting go of perfection and leaving the result to circumstance."  Don't come expecting manicured lawns and trimmed hedgerows, here they embrace nature and let it take its course. If it is wild and overgrown, there is a reason for it, for in amongst it all you might find your lunch! “I like that it's a little out of some people’s comfort zone, allowing them to open themselves to a new experience and go away feeling that they've done something different, in a world that sometimes seems so routine and rigorous,” she says. 

Workshops are available upon request, when you book to stay at Totem Retreat and there will be quarter-annual, seasonal foraged lunches focusing on seasonal ingredients. Other than that groups and  teams of people can book mid-week (Tues/Thurs) for an experience. “We're hoping corporate groups might also be attracted to the lunches as part of a team building experience and put the house to use for small meetings at the same time or even stay over... get some work done, connect with the team and have a unique experience all in one go.”


Amber Rose’s latest book 'Wild Delicious' is set to be released in September 2018. 

You can follow them in Instagram at totemretreatnz, wild_delicious, and kate.arbuthnot.stylist 

For more on their adventures and details on their next foraged lunch.


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