Come sauna with me

Mark Amery on why, if you’d like to experience a gorgeous Paekākāriki community sauna this winter, you need to commit a little by 16 June to make the dream a reality!

Sally Hett and Malcolm Johnstone, Campfire Sauna

One of my all-time favourite places is a hot community space. A place to connect, bump into friends, and share. 

What’s even better? A hot, steamy community space – in winter! It’s a community sauna planned to be sited at Paekākāriki Holiday Park from July 2024. But for that to be realised, we need to commit as a community – paying for some sessions ahead by 16 June (at this stage it’s just a pledge, no money leaves your account until they meet their goal).

For me, as a sauna-goer, to see the dream of a 14-person wooden sauna where the park meets the sea, we need other friends and villagers to commit to joining me and my sweetheart on the wooden slats.

By 16 June, the Campfire Sauna To Paekākāriki project at needs to reach its goal of $30,000 worth of pledges to operate from July. As I write, 100 people have pledged just over $12,000 – but I’m concerned there aren’t more of my friends and neighbours in there. I’m worried this remarkable opportunity will pass us by. 

At Pledgeme you can pledge anything from a single community sauna session at $20, to a five sauna pass, or a ten. You could even become a naming sponsor, or get a surf or yoga lesson. Or you can book a private sauna session for you and 13 mates.

Importantly, this is all being run by two locals looking to create a genuine new kind of community space in the village. As Sally Hett and Malcolm Johnstone write, they “came to the sauna idea separately. Sally loved the idea of creating a community asset, while Malcolm had been nurturing a dream of building a floating sauna. As new residents of Paekākāriki, they decided to join dreams to make Campfire Sauna happen for the local community.” They explain more in a video at the Pledgeme link.

The sauna is to be set up at the ocean end of the Paekākāriki Holiday Park (cold plunge optional), and can be booked for individuals and groups, or open for what I’m looking forward to: regular open community sessions. 

Campfire Sauna

Further, as they told Emile Donovan on RNZ Nights, the thing is not a plastic contraption, but something that sounds like it deservedly bills itself as sustainable. They’ll build it and run it, all we need to do is make some commitment before the 16th of June. You can keep up to date by subscribing through their website:

Paekākā is a community-built, funded and run website. All funds go to weekly running costs, with huge amounts of professional work donated behind the scenes.  If you can help financially, at a time when many supporting local businesses are hurting, we have launched a donation gateway.