Kiwis' alpine cleanser

New Zealand's reputation for extreme activities now includes a detox spa retreat with the opening of Aro Ha, a 40-minute drive from Queenstown, just outside Glenorchy.

Based in the Southern Alps and on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, expect organic food (that's sprouted avocado benedict with cucumber lime juice cleanser and sushi cheese hand rolls), sub- alpine hikes, yoga, massage and strength training during a five or seven-day stay.

It's the small group size of about 14 on a firm schedule of activities and meals - minus caffeine and alcohol - that provides the physical and mental boost, according to Chris Madison, who with friend Damian Chaparro is behind the luxe retreat that's in the spirit of The Ashram in California.

"To look at this experience as a little bit of yoga, a little bit of healthy eating, a little bit of massage and a little bit of hiking sounds holistically hokey and does not explain what someone takes from this," Madison says.

"There's no fluff to the bodywork, it's medicinal . . . if you don't get your hour on the massage table you will struggle to get through the next day of three to four hours of hiking in the mountains."

The eight-hectare property, with 11 buildings, includes a spa with hot tub, cold plunge and sauna. Retreat at day's end is in a monastic single or private eco suite kitted with New Zealand woollen rugs, natural dyed blankets and hopefully a touch of zen.

A five-day, all inclusive stay costs from $NZ4850 ($4230) a person. See aro-ha.com.

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