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My Visit to HANA - New Zealand's First Infrared Healing Sanctuary


Last week I had the pleasure of visiting HANA, New Zealand's first dedicated Infrared Sauna and Light Therapy Wellness Centre, located in the heart of Grey Lynn, Auckland. HANA, which translates to shine, glow and radiate in Maori, was founded by Sarah Higgins with the aim of providing a calming and healing sanctuary that encourages the art of relaxation, and taking time for self-care.

Consciously designed with a calming and modern aesthetic by Pennant & Triumph, I felt an immediate sense of calm as soon as I entered the beautiful space. Greeted by Sara, I was interested to learn that her personal wellness journey battling unexplained fatigue was what led her to the healing power of infrared saunas and light therapies. “I spent years seeking answers from multiple health practitioners, trying to get to the root cause. Through this process, I learnt a lot about alternative options to conventional treatments and came across the healing benefits of saunas and more recently red light therapy. I wanted to be able to make it easy for people to access these treatments.”

With a career background as a Pharmacist with nutritional and environmental medicine training, Sara is passionate about guiding people on their own journey of wellness. "Our bodies detoxify through our skin, and infrared saunas and light therapy help to activate and encourage the process. Sometimes we just need to give it some time, heat and space to heal.”

While hugely popular in New York and London, the concept of a wellness space dedicated to infrared sauna is completely new to NZ, but its use is proven to provide head-to-toe benefits such as full detoxification, ultimate relaxation, alleviation from pain, glowing skin, more energy, improved circulation and a strengthened immune system. The full body Photobiomodulation (red light) therapy pods, which use red and near infrared light to help mitochondria (the power house of our bodies cells) to function better. The treatment comes scientifically backed to also repair sun damage, reduce wrinkles, speed muscle recovery, heal scarring and stretch marks, reduce inflammation, boost testosterone levels and enhance collagen.

I got to experience both the red light therapy pod and sauna during my visit, and it was such a treat. I felt a deep sense of relaxation and the pain in my muscles (which were sore from a workout the day before) melted away. My skin was glowing following the treatments and I could feel the benefits for may hours afterwards. I can see how this could become addictive! Post sweat, I completed my spa ritual with a private shower that runs filtered water - a critical component post sauna - and products from my favourite skin and hair care brand Sans Ceuticals along with luxury towels by Baina.

The design of the space was a key factor for Sara when bringing her overall vision to life. Wanting to gain a little more insight, I spoke to Justin Roderique, Architectural Director of Pennant & Triumph...

Can you tell us a little bit about the brief, and the inspiration behind the design?
The HANA brief was to create a unique retreat environment within an existing industrial warehouse space at the Scrap Yard development in Grey Lynn. Our response and ultimate goal was to create a sanctuary for customers to relax and unwind within a calming and unique space.

Were there any obstacles long the way, and if so, how did you overcome them?
The challenge was to separate the existing base building industrial feel and provide that sense of calm the moment customers entered the space. We wanted to provide a space that transported customers to another place, give each customer an authentic experience and make them feel good and wanting more.

What materials did you use to bring the vision to life, and how does the palette play a part in the overall concept?
When establishing our initial concepts the material choice and detailing was a key consideration. Materials needed to feel cohesive and work with the existing base material palette. Natural stone and off white textured hand rendered plaster was chosen to warm the space whilst letting the light play and transform throughout the day. Bespoke timber joinery is showcased against the existing concrete floor. Natural stone tiles line the base of the showers contrasting against a textured olive wall tile and brass fixtures and fittings. 

The design features beautiful arches and bespoke elements. Talk us through these... 
A minimal approach put a real emphasis on a high level of detail throughout. The final layout was created to provide a sense of discovery with the use of small openings and sight lines throughout to allow subtle cues to the space that lies beyond. Curves and arches were introduced to soften the space and also provide an organic feel. Humans naturally react positively and feel more comfortable towards curves and soft edges.

The use of natural and artificial lighting was a key factor to allow our client to set the mood at different times of the day or night but also to allow for different spaces to work separately as required. To ensure a fully considered result all elements within the space including the joinery, fixtures and fitting were bespoke - designed and manufactured for HANA allowing us to showcase a space that allows customers to be immersed within.

Photography by Jono Parker

The private infrared saunas can be booked for up to 45 minutes and Photobiomodulation (red light) therapy pods, for up to 20 minutes. The wellness centre also provides holistic practitioner pop-ups such as massage therapy and pilates. For more information, opening hours and bookings, visit

This post was created in collaboration with HANA. I only work with brands and products I love, and all opinions are my own. For more information please visit my About Page.

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