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Homeward Bound

Cityscape caught up with former Christchurch lad Jonnie Halstead, who’s bringing the first Wanderlust 108 to the seaside suburb of Sumner in December, to find out all about the event that’s taking the world by storm.

How did Christchurch make the Wanderlust list?
Well, without sounding too much like a home-sick Kiwi; I grew-up in Christchurch and the South Island’s iconic landscape was my adventure playground till the tender age of 19. It is also where my career in events and festivals started in the mid-90s rave scene. Many years later I was honoured to be involved in the earthquake relief efforts, producing festivals to reward and entertain the striving student volunteer army and workers rebuilding the city. Christchurch has always had a spirit of community at heart, and that community lives in harmony with the natural environment. This is synergistic with our core mission here at Wanderlust; to grow the mindful living community and help urban dwellers to be their best selves, living consciously and sustainably. When we launched Wanderlust NZ in Auckland and then Great Lake Taupo, we always knew our next port-of-call in Aotearoa would be the South Island’s largest city. In the 3 years since we have watched Christchurch’s yoga and wellness industry grow, with many creative individuals doing great things there. It’s a privilege to bring our festival there as a platform for the local community to come together and show the world that unique South Island spirit. I can’t wait!

Tell us about Wanderlust 108.
Wanderlust 4-day festivals are held in the world’s most desirable destination resorts such as Oahu, Aspen, Sunshine Coast and at Great Lake Taupo, to name a few. We created the Wanderlust 108 event as a taste of Wanderlust on offer in the urban backyard. It’s a more accessible 1-day version; we often refer to it as the “gateway” to Wanderlust. We choose a hallmark city park as the venue and then hold the world’s only ‘mindful triathlon’, consisting of a 5km fun run or walk around the park, then back at the main stage we hold a mass yoga-class with an international calibre teacher and DJ, followed by a guided meditation. 1 + 0 + 8 / run + yoga + meditate make-up the three parts of your triathlon challenge. We also have a series of bonus activities that attendees can schedule into and a diverse marketplace of international and local craft and food offerings.

What is the idea behind it?
It’s a great day out in the sun, a challenge to PLAY, and a chance to disconnect from life’s ordinary routine and reconnect with nature, a like-minded community, and yourself. We hope in doing so attendees leave somewhat transformed, or at the very least inspired and armed with a toolkit to live their best life.

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How did the ‘Mindful Triathlon’ come about?
As I mentioned earlier; at Wanderlust our mission is to grow the mindful living community. What this means is we are trying to help mainstream New Zealanders live a healthy, more balanced lifestyle. We recognised that not everyone has a regular yoga and meditation practice, and may not be able to travel to our resort festivals. So we partnered with Adidas to create a city event that is fun and easy-going, but also has an element of challenge. It is non-competitive; we like to say at the run “we track smiles, not miles” and “it’s five k your way”. The community spirit these events help create in cities creates positive ripple effects felt across the world.

What’s involved in bringing Wanderlust to Christchurch?
Firstly a conversation with the Christchurch City Council, who are actively seeking events that offer diversity and betterment to the people of the city whilst also broadcasting to the world. From there it was about finding partners with a similar vision, a strong community, an authentic voice, many late nights, lots of tears (good and bad), plus this undying passion and belief in what I am doing and the positive effects it is helping to create. Christchurch is the 10th Wanderlust location my team and I are producing across this summer season.

You have a Yoga DJ – how does that work?
The yoga teacher and the DJ are like a super band – a lot of work goes in pre-show to design a set of music that flows with the yoga class. It has a story-line much like the moving postures do, with build-ups to high points and the deep restorative moments as well. A festival yoga class set to live music is not like what you experience in a studio. It’s alive! And fuelled by hundreds of people moving together.

Any tips for getting our meditation on in a huge group outdoors?
Just get comfortable, close your eyes, breathe and let the teacher’s words guide you from there. Don’t expect to find nirvana; that’s a common misconception for those just starting with meditation. You will come out feeling better, I have no doubt.

What activities need to be on our radars?
Acro Yoga is a lot of fun, especially if you are coming with a partner or friend. There is nothing like getting upside down with people holding and helping you. It’s scary at first, but then once the trust sets in, you breathe and the brain is flooded with fresh blood. You come out of that feeling like a super hero.

Wanderlust 108 Christchurch
St Leonards Park, Sumner, Dec 2
www.wanderlust.com

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