• Annabel Emery

Biophilia: Wellness & Holistic Festival

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

Determined to head to a New Zealand festival this summer, I opted for an event that offered something a little different to the ordinary alcohol induced music fest. Biophilia is a family-friendly lifestyle festival that celebrates humanity and nature as one, bringing immersive mind, body and ecology experiences together in one big field encompassed by the mountains. Exploring and developing our innate human potentials, Biophilia hosts a series of classes with a diverse team of local and international teachers, educators and healers who voluntarily offer their skills to share and educate those willing to open their minds.

BIOPHILIA [bahy-oh-fil-ee-uh]


An innate love for the natural world. The universal human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature.

The festival thrives on the generosity and kindness of those attending; fusing playful practise, inspirational philosophies, elation through exercise and active mindfulness within nature. The radical gathering was devised in order to join people from all over the planet in one creative space beneath the sun, to soak up all the goodness that we can offer each other. And it really was, just that. Wholesome, hearty, beautiful goodness.


Dates: 22 - 24th February 2019

Entry pricing: $85 day pass, $190 full 3 day pass/camping

Location: Moke Lake, Queenstown, Central Otago

Vibe: Hippy, holistic, well being, bohemian

Dress: Casual, easy to move about in - a lot of people were wearing yoga pants. Of course, I wore sequins regardless. Apparently everyone dresses up on the Saturday to the theme that this year was 'birds of a feather'.

Food Vendors: Yes, however when I was there on the friday there was only two food trucks and they were offering delicious salads.

Activities: Acro-yoga, silent disco, dream catcher making, art classes, parkour park, Reiki sessions, workshops, dance, slack lining, pole, children's classes, massages, acupuncture and spa treatments, palm reading, holistic healing and more!


Biophilia: where strangers come together to bask in holistic healing and joy

Unfortunately I could only attend on the Friday due to work commitments, which was rather gutting because in hindsight, Friday was probably the worst day to rock up as it was fairly quiet and a lot of the classes that were on began on the Saturday! Nevertheless, it was still a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone questioning whether to attend in the future - just opt for the full weekend pass!

Biophilia is a festival of giving, relying on participants to bring food to share, their talents to teach and stretching the arms of generosity by giving their voluntary time and resources. On the Friday night I was lucky enough to feast on some of the incredible dishes many festival goers donated to the community potluck dinner. I wish I had taken a photo of the almighty buffet but I was too busy stuffing my face with curry, risotto, greens, rice dishes, vegetarian stews, cake, artisan breads and bean salads - dishes iconic to the many ethnic groups that participated.

I had never seen anything like this before. The attendees brought over sauce pans, tupperware boxes and platters full of delicious vegetarian food (and one salmon plate) that we were all invited to tuck into free of charge. If you weren't able to bring an edible donation, you could pay $15 to one of the food vendors who would then cook up a couple of plates to give instead. It meant that everyday got to eat and indulge in the gift of sharing; an absolutely wonderful and selfless idea.

Stunning handcrafted crystal jewelry


I had never been to a no substance festival before and I had no idea what to expect. I was a little nervous to go and join in with people that had such seemingly vibrant lifestyles without any liquid confidence. I'm quite an outgoing and confident person, but throw me into a situation where I feel new to the teachings or way of life and I shrink back into my shell (unless I've had a couple of wines). I became a vegetarian last May and have recently adopted a 'vegan at home' rule to help ease into the lifestyle transition. But I am still learning everyday, so being around avid advocates for this sort of thing - though extremely interesting and educational - can feel a little intimidating.

I attended the festival with my hip-hop dance instructor; a lovely American girl called Emily, with whom I hadn't gotten to know too well previous to the event - so it was a great bonding session for us too! We crept up to a flock of people who were downward-dogging on yoga mats outside one of the two giant tipi's and lay on the grass next to them eager to join in. I had never given yoga or full meditation a proper go - my terrible balance, high energy levels and inability to focus on anything longer than a couple of minutes (i.e. why this blog took so long to launch) deterred me from wanting to ever try anything too fixated on sitting still. But this was different, I felt very free to do what I wanted and there was no pressure to conform. In fact, the instructor was encouraging us to do our own thing and just feel. The idea wasn't to look uniformed in our actions, but to all be feeling the same - riding the same rhythm, but interpreting it as individuals.

The instructor was a beautiful, exotic woman who stood with a microphone at the front, alongside a DJ, speaking to her students and guiding them through the exercise. Before I knew it, I had my eyes closed and arms outstretched to the sky, twisting, twirling, moving to the rhythm... the voice over then told us to walk between ourselves, smiling and indicating love for each other by having our hands pressed to our hearts. There was at least 50 people now, moving and swaying and beaming with joy - my mouth was so dry from smiling that my lips were getting stuck to my teeth.

I felt high. I felt so elated and euphoric and I couldn't believe that all I had drank was water and all I had eaten was a Peace Bowl salad from one of the vendors. Out of nowhere, all my embarrassment and inhibitions had completely subsided as I moved around this circle of free-minded people - of all ages and backgrounds - holding their hands, hugging, kissing and communicating with big bambi eyes and toothy grins.

The tempo of the music eventually grew more and more heavy - they were remixing Toto Africa, which ironically is my self-nominated funeral song, so my little happy feet couldn't stay still! I bounced into the mass of dancers who were now flailing their arms up in the air and stomping on the earth. I felt immense. Safe to say my shoulders now ache from having my arms spread so wide for the duration of this event - but oh it was worth it.

This state of euphoria sat on my back like a rucksack as I carried it around through the festival, feeling pretty cheerful and confident to begin the conversation with others. We spoke with artists and jewelry makers, therapists, chefs and other travelers who continued to inspire that creative spark that was burning brightly in my soul as we indulged in what Biophilia had to offer.

As previously stated, if I could do it all again I would have booked off the entire weekend, packed more warm clothes and perhaps even set up my own little stand with some artwork on it to sell!

Massive round of applause for the creator, Damian Chaparro. You have imagined a world of better things and placed it in our back yard. Kudos x

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