Waihī Beach’s beloved Secret Garden has long attracted locals and visitors for its lush ambience and delish coffee, but this year has seen The Garden evolve with renewed energy and spirit.

This has all been driven by a highly creative and talented collective of women, drawn together by their passion for sustainability, wellbeing, self-nurture and experimenting with new ideas.

This collective consists of Willy, who runs the The Secret Garden and Pirates of Bohemia along with Mandie, Katie and Gaylene of Ahu, Shelly-Anne Judson from The Luna Magdalene and Caitlin from Caitlin’s Little Nail Room.

Each character has their own story and with it a different and fresh perspective to a collaboration that has developed organically. Ideas are thrown around in between brewing coffee or mixing up a cocktail, stocking up of Ahu organic skincare, or reading tarot cards. As Willy likes to say, “It’s a never-ending creative vortex working with these ladies.”

The Secret Garden opened its doors 16 years ago, with Willy at the helm. It has seen several different owners over that time, but Willy was drawn back last year to reignite a local, favourite hotspot. At long last she achieved what locals had been dreaming of for years — to enjoy a beer or cocktail there in the evening, in addition to the café offerings during the daytime. This immediately opened other avenues; the introduction of music and other creative events have grown in the past year. One gathering that has become a staple, is ‘Sunday Open Mic’, where children and adults alike can perform a song, read a poem, play an instrument and just give it a go in front of a supportive audience. This has attracted people from far and wide and influenced ideas for potential future events that can be held in the space.

An extension of the Secret Garden is Ahu, a natural aromatherapy and skincare retail space, created by Katie and Gaylene. Both born and bred locally, they have a strong passion for the area and sustainability.  Katie, a qualified Aromatherapist, lived in the islands for a length of time and was inspired by the scents of the tropics and Gaylene, with her extensive knowledge of oils and natural products, came together and shared their skillset to create a bespoke range of skincare and aromatherapy products. On top of their unique range, they offer sustainable boho clothing and accessories, beach and homewares.  A one stop space for soul wellness!

Katie’s daughter Caitlin, a qualified nail technician, has taken a spot in the Ahu space, offering up gel manicures and pedicures. She was drawn back to Waihi Beach, where she was born to offer a quality service that is in demand at the beach.

Shelley-Anne Judson, of The Luna Magdalene, has lived in Waihī Beach for the past 8 years. With an instinct for human design and people connection, Shelley-Anne worked from home but was asked by the ladies to join their collaboration and bring her talents to The Garden. She offers cosmetic tattoo and body tattoo art, tarot reading, Reiki and more.

Mandie and Willy run Pirates of Bohemia, a treasure chest of sustainable jewellery, hair wraps, henna tattoos and all things summer. You can find Mandie handmaking a range of intricate and interesting pieces. Willy, never one to rest, offers permanent tattoos as part of the Pirates offering.

And so, after many months of constant scheming and planning, all these highly creative individuals have come together to bring a wild and wonderful energy to The Garden this summer and beyond.

Check them out on Facebook: