Wellness in the wild

Helping businesses: Wellderness founder Steve Hodkinson

A former Cromwell College teacher’s using the wilderness to improve wellbeing outcomes for businesses and their staff.

Steve Hodkinson started Wellderness this year after a 25-year career, teaching mostly outdoor and physical education.

‘‘I still enjoy teaching, but I was in a position where I felt I need to do something more,’’ Hodkinson says.

‘‘What we do with Wellderness is we take groups of people into the outdoors and run through what is, essentially, a wellbeing course.

‘‘We encourage people [to be] more aware … and we give them tools and strategies to enhance their wellbeing and then, hopefully, that will lead to a happier, more fulfilled

Courses are generally aimed at office teams and businesses.

The goal’s to improve team cohesion, productivity and staff retention — which Hodkinson says local businesses have been struggling with.

He references a United States’ study which showed younger people valued wellbeing initiatives over financial rewards.

‘‘People are short on staff, there’s staff absences putting pressure on other members of staff,’’ Hodkinson says.

‘‘My promotion, I guess, to business owners is this idea that, if you put your staff through … this experience, then you are not only looking after them as people … but you’re also
retaining them because they feel part of a team, they feel valued, they feel that you actually care about them.’’

Most trips are two days long, based mostly in Mt Aspiring National Park, and involve walking, mindfulness, meditation, cold water immersion, breath work, team bonding and
whitewater rafting.

‘‘We want to challenge people socially, we want to challenge them mentally, and a little bit physically,’’ Hodkinson says.

‘‘People associate the outdoors sometimes with these big missions and [they worry they’ll] not manage it physically, but, no, it’s not about that.’’

He’s looking to run the courses through next winter, and expand to other parts of New Zealand.

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