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At Ribbonwood Retreat, we believe in the transformative power of nature and its ability to heal, inspire, and rejuvenate the human spirit. Our purpose is to create a sanctuary where guests can disconnect from the hectic pace of modern life and reconnect with the beauty and serenity of Mother Nature. Our passion for sustainability and deep connection to the stunning landscape of the Southern Alps and Glacier Country drives us. 

  • Meaningful Experiences: At Ribbonwood Retreat, we go beyond providing just accommodation; we curate meaningful experiences that touch the soul. We believe that each guest should leave feeling refreshed and inspired. Our why is the driving force behind our dedication to offering personalised adventures and activities based on individual interests, ensuring every guest has a truly memorable and transformative stay. 

  • Eco-friendly and Sustainable: Our commitment to sustainability is at the core of everything we do. Our "why" is to protect and preserve the natural beauty that surrounds us. By choosing Ribbonwood Retreat, guests become a part of our eco-conscious journey, where we have planted native trees, nurtured edible gardens, and created a haven for birds and wildlife. Marketing our eco-friendly practices appeals to conscious travellers and allows guests to contribute to environmental conservation. 

  • Connection with Nature: The heart of Ribbonwood Retreat lies in the belief that connecting with nature is essential for the well-being of the mind, body, and soul. Through our marketing efforts, we emphasize the therapeutic benefits of our location, encouraging guests to immerse themselves in the stunning native garden, bask in breathtaking sunsets, and experience the rejuvenating power of the Southern Alps. By focusing on the "Why," we instil a sense of longing for the natural beauty that awaits guests at our retreat. 

  • Unwind and Recharge: We aim to help guests escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and find true relaxation and serenity. We strive to create an environment where guests can instantly unwind and "switch off" from the noise of the world. Through our marketing messages, we communicate the tranquil ambience, the comfort of our heavenly beds, and the joy of disconnecting from technology to reconnect with themselves and nature. 

  • Inspiring Journeys: We strive to inspire and ignite a sense of adventure in our guests. By showcasing breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities, we motivate travellers to explore and embrace the wonders of Glacier Country. Whether trekking through the rainforest, exploring the nearby glaciers, or simply stargazing on our deck, Ribbonwood Retreat is a gateway to unforgettable experiences and self-discovery. 

Ribbonwood Retreat is more than just a destination; it is a transformative journey that guests will cherish for a lifetime. 

Aoraki Mount Cook From West Coast Angle New Zealand Southern Alps



For nearly a decade, Jo and Julie made their home near the serene Lake Mahinapua in Ruatapu, where Jo pursued a career as a possum hunter and Julie shaped young minds as a school teacher. However, as the year 2000 dawned, they felt an irresistible pull towards the mountains - a call they couldn't ignore.

Both avid hikers, bird enthusiasts, and lovers of the great outdoors, the quaint town of Franz Josef Glacier, known for its magnificent glacial landscapes, caught their attention. Jo found an opportunity to contribute to conservation efforts with a role at the Department of Conservation as the manager of the "Save the Kiwi" initiative. With this, they embarked on a journey southward, carrying with them a dream of creating a new life in this picturesque locale.

Two years later, that dream began to take shape when they purchased two bare plots of land. This marked the inception of Ribbonwood Retreat. Their initial vision was to construct their dream home and cultivate a self-sustaining lifestyle by growing their food and populating their land with native trees. Thus began their journey of harmonious living, intertwined with nature.

When Jo & Julie first settled on their one-hectare plot, there were no more than two empty paddocks, save for a cluster of majestic totara trees. Jonathan, with his innate affinity for horticulture and an unquenchable passion for gardening, envisioned transforming this bare land into a verdant oasis.


The dream was to cultivate a diverse range of trees, a mix of native species to uphold the local ecosystem's integrity, and exotic varieties for practical purposes like nuts and firewood.


Today, the property boasts over 200 thriving trees and shrubs, carefully arranged to preserve open vistas of the surrounding mountains and the nearby Kiwi sanctuary. This lush environment has become a haven for a variety of bird species. Tuis, bellbirds, fantails, pukekos, tomtits, grey warblers, and kereru now grace the garden with their presence, along with several other garden birds introduced to the area.


The once bare land is now a thriving ecosystem, a testament to the power of diligent gardening and a love for nature.

Photo Of West Coast Possumer Posing With Possum Outside Back Country Hut In New Zealand
Photo Of Bare Paddock With Digger Starting To Excavate So The Build Can Start For Ribbonwood Retreat
Tramper In New Zealand On The Grassy Mountain Tops With Patches Of Snow And Tasman Ocean In The Background West Coast New Zealand

One day, Julie and Jo received an unexpected call from fellow local motel owners, seeking assistance for some travellers stranded without a place to stay as the town's accommodations were fully booked. Without hesitation, Julie & Jo welcomed these wanderers into their home.

This spontaneous act of hospitality marked a profound realisation for Julie and Jo - they had a passion for hosting and sharing their sanctuary with others. What began as a chance encounter gradually evolved into a dedicated bed and breakfast experience.


In 2005, they expanded their venture by building a cottage on the property. This allowed them to enhance Ribbonwood Retreat's offerings, providing guests with an exclusive, boutique accommodation experience amidst the seclusion and tranquillity of their beautiful estate.

Jo and Julie, the heart and soul of Ribbonwood Retreat, are devoted to sharing more than just their splendid accommodation offerings with visitors. They also provide a glimpse into their unique West Coast lifestyle.

Julie an avid swimmer, takes a daily dip in the nearby lake and is always eager to reveal her favourite local hideaways to guests. Jo is a font of knowledge about the local flora, fauna, and wildlife. The region's natural resources and favourable climate allow them to cultivate much of their food on the property. This homegrown aspect of their lives becomes apparent as guests gather for breakfast, indulging in a delightful spread of homemade dishes.

Mount Tasman and Mount Cook Towering Over Lake Mapourika Near Franz Josef Glacier West Coast New Zealand On A Sunny Blue Day

A stay at Ribbonwood Retreat transcends the conventional accommodation experience. For Jo and Julie, it is important guests depart feeling refreshed and inspired.

From seemingly minor details like the pure, chemical-free drinking water to the serenity and birdsong that envelop you upon entering Ribbonwood's gardens - Jo and Julie go above and beyond to ensure your stay is not only memorable but also embodies the true essence of the West Coast.

Photo By Ribbonwood Retreat Of The Snow Capped Southern Alps Of New Zealand Taken From The West Coast On A Blue Bird Sunny Day
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Twenty-four years ago, our lives took a transformative turn. Jo's advancement within the Department of Conservation, as the manager for 'Save the Kiwi' program in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, led us to make this idyllic region our home.

We christened our abode "Ribbonwood Retreat," drawing inspiration from the majestic Ribbonwood tree. Despite their once widespread presence, these trees are declining due to their palatability to possums and livestock.

Photo By Ribbonwood Retreat In Franz Josef Glacier Of The Fifty To Seventy Year Old Ribbonwood Tree That Ribbonwood Retreat Is Named After

To restore the natural balance, we've planted Ribbonwood's and other species indigenous to the area. Our garden now resonates with the song of native birds, attracted back by the lush greenery. The local Kereru, in particular, seems to be quite fond of the fresh leaves that sprout in early spring. Our humble efforts have not only added to the charm of Ribbonwood Retreat but also contributed to conserving our precious ecosystem.


​Jonathan studied botany at University. He came to Westland in the 80s to work for the Forest Service and never left.

Reliving his days as a possum hunter in the backcountry on the Coast,  he will regale you with stories galore from 'going bush' for months at a time. 

​In 2000. he was appointed manager of the local Kiwi Recovery Programme, working for the Department of Conservation in Franz Josef. Jo has extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna in our area and loves to share his knowledge and stories.

Photo By Ribbonwood Retreat Of A Kayaker Kayaking On lake Mapourika Near Franz Josef Glacier On A Misty Morning


Julie's career highlight was gaining a Royal Society Science Award which enabled her to work with the Kiwi program on Rowi.

Living overseas, she taught children in Jordan, Egypt, and Italy.​ Julie was a teacher at the local school, fostering an appreciation for caring for our environment, and won a West Coast Community Award for her environmental work with children. 

Photo Of Ribbonwood Retreat Owners Enjoying A Delicious Homemade Breakfast From Their Garden
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