St Isaac's Retreat House

Retreat at St Isaac’s Retreat House

A mid-winter contemplative retreat was held during July 2019 at St Isaacs Retreat House in Waiotemarama Gorge, near Opononi (Northland) where the small residential community maintain a rhythm of prayer.
The five retreatants loved the physical presence of the setting with its hills, huge macrocarpa trees, beautiful bush walk and simple buildings. Gumboots were a must to navigate the mud and cross the paddock. Agnes Hermans, member of the CNA coordinating group, facilitated this retreat which included shared silence, sitting practice, conscious work, chant, lectio divina, recorded teachings by James Finley, and opportunities for group reflection. The work removing tree prunings and stacking firewood provided another opportunity to practice conscious presence, as were the meditation and teaching periods together in the warmth of the fire and the intimacy of the group.

Writing of this retreat gives us a lovely way to profile St Isaac's.  It is well worth knowing about as a place to spend some quiet time, and for holding individual or small group retreats either self/peer led or with a facilitator: 

About St Isaac’s Retreat House

st isaacs18St Isaac’s Retreat house was founded in 1974 by Rev Clementina Gordon and was established in 1982 as an ecumenical Christian Trust. Clem was inspired by the writing and teaching of St Isaac of Syria, a hermit and a profound theologian of prayer, who lived in the 7th century.

When Clem’s health began to fail, the Sisters of the Love of God (SLG), an Anglican Contemplative Community in Oxford, UK, were invited to live, work and worship here. The Sisters returned to the UK in 2006. Since then Sr. Anne SLG has served as warden, followed by others. The current warden is Rev Oenone Woodhams, with the support of her husband Mike.  St Isaac’s is primarily a place of prayer. Morning and evening prayer are said daily in the chapel and anyone is welcome.

St Isaacs Retreat House



On the property there are a number of places to pause and be found by God. There is a walk through the native bush; and a walk through the macrocarpa trees with the Stations of the Cross.  Up to about seven guests can be accommodated in three houses on the property. The hospitality offered includes the option of a midday cooked meal with the community, and the provision of basic food items in the houses. Guests only have to turn up with clothes and toiletries! Payment is by koha.

Contact details: St Isaac’s Retreat House, 197 Waiotemarama Gorge Road, Opononi, phone 09 405 8834, email:


Posted on 19/07/2019 by Agnes Hermans