Retreats & Accommodation
In his Rule for Monasteries St. Benedict, inspired as he was by the example and teaching of Jesus, devotes a chapter to the reception of guests. There he notes that monasteries will never be lacking in guests. This is as true today, fifteen hundred years after St. Benedict, as it was then. Our constitutions take up this theme:
Guesthouse, Southern Star Abbey
Let those whom the providence of God has led to the monastery be received by the brothers with reverence and kindness but without allowing this service to impair monastic quiet (OCSO Constitutions and Statutes).
People come for a variety of reasons with differing needs and expectations. As far as possible we welcome and accommodate this diversity. To facilitate this there needs to be co-operation among guests, respecting each one’s need for quiet, rest and privacy.
Our constitutions go on to encourage us to ‘render assistance to those who come to the monastery looking for deeper prayer’.
This is done in a number of ways:
- Simply by providing an opportunity to be in an environment which is spacious, tranquil and holy.
- We invite participation in our public worship of God celebrated regularly throughout the day, and encourage the use of the Church and prayer room at other times.
- Consultation with a monk. This is by request and subject to a monk being available.
- There is also a small collection of books in the guest house which may be of help.
Bookings are essential. We can be contacted by phone (no later than 7.00pm), letter or email. Please inform us as early as possible regarding cancellations, confirmation or changes so that we can accommodate others.
For further information contact the Guest House Staff:
Telephone: +64 6 855 8249
Suitable times to telephone:
9.00am – 11.15am, 2.15pm – 6.00pm
The Guest House – located near to the church, has 5 single rooms with shared bathrooms. There is one twin bedded room with an en-suite bathroom. Another twin bedded room has facilities for disabled guests. Generally people come for a period of 1 to 7 days.
The Guesthouse is a mobile telephone free area. If guests wish to make calls they need to leave the guesthouse and make their calls from outside. There is no access to television and those who bring their own radio etc., need to also bring earphones.
Day Centre, Southern Star Abbey
The Hermitage – located in the river gorge behind the monastery, is a small self-contained unit providing more seclusion.
Note particularly that the weather can be bracing at any time of the year. It is advisable to bring warm clothing. Sturdy shoes are recommended for the walking tracks on the property.
Bed linen is provided in both the Guesthouse and the Hermitage.
We would appreciate guests arriving no later than 7.30pm. If you are unable to arrive before this time please let us know for our convenience.
There is no charge for staying in the guest house but donations are appreciated. This money goes to help with the daily running expenses and maintenance of the guest house.
Norsewood is the nearest bus stop. When you have made your booking please notify us so that we can arrange to meet you there.
Map and Directions
Please consult the map. All roads are well sign posted.
a) From the north.
- South of Waipukurau turn left off State Highway 2 into Takapau Township.
- Travel for another 8kms after leaving Takapau towards Ormondville.
- Kopua Rd is on your right.
- The monastery entrance is 800ms on your right.
b) Approaching from the south.
- North of Dannevirke is Norsewood.
- An overpass spans the highway at Norsewood.
- Kopua road is 2km further north, on your right.
- Follow Kopua Road for approximately 5.3kms.
- The monastery entrance is on your left.
The Journey to Kopua
Our monastery is set in a very rural area. This makes a difference. All of us who live here have journeyed in and out many times. Every journey recalls the first time we came here and all our guests share in that same journey.
A person comes to stay in this place in order to seek God, to get close to God and is inevitably and all at once excited by the adventure ready for the dedication and afraid that their strength may not match their hope.
To turn the corner at the bottom of the drive and start the journey to the monastery is to turn a corner in your life. You enter the avenue of trees and a separation from the life left behind is quickly effected. The trees are beautiful. They are like a word from God that whispers and waves a message over you: “You are in a new place,” they say, “and life will be different here.”
The drive through the trees is a passage, a space that must be traversed in order to reach what you have come for in the first place: the monastic wisdom that points a way towards God.
The journey to Kopua is a combination of both the tiring and the gentle and so also is the way to God. Although this is not the arduous climb of a rugged mountain or of a sheer cliff it nonetheless requires some effort, but an effort that is paced and ultimately modest. Making the effort, making the journey, is the first expression of our desire to get nearer to God. It is not a huge effort, but it is deeply significant
At the end of the avenue you suddenly crest a slight rise and come into an open space, the church, the guesthouse, the garden, the monastery, the other buildings gathered around. There are beautiful views in every direction of hills and mountains and pasture. Peace invades and fills the heart.
The Drive, Southern Star Abbey
A place and the lives that unfold in a place inevitably interpenetrate. There is an exchange between them such that each composes the other and accompanies the other. Affection grows. Monks love their place, and the place loves its monks.
As the years of searching for God in this place pass, we love the place more and more because progressively its features and details are gathered into our story. In a holy and special way the cemetery and graves record the love lived out between the community and this place.
Visitors to this place are endowed with a share of these feelings, these gifts. With every return the feelings and gifts increase as they too come to love this place.
This love is stirred up in all of us with every journey in or out. If we go out we are on the way elsewhere and feel the difference as we go. If the absence is to be a long one, the emotion of leaving what is loved is more sharply borne.
On returning from afar, however far, it is in turning the corner at the bottom of the drive that we know we are returned home. In the short time it takes to travel to the top this place envelopes us and blesses us with peace.