Jane Wilson travels to New Zealand’s South Island to find there is more to enjoy than the native honey


You may think it is a little too far to travel for a jar of honey – and you may be right – but a trip to New Zealand, home to Manuku honey, is well worth the long journey for a massive dose of natural wellness.


Rare and indigenous, New Zealand honey is made from the nectar of the native Manuka plant (Leptospermum scoparium, to be precise) and is highly valued for its complex properties. It is the nectar of the New Zealand Manuka flower that provides unique natural ingredients distinguishing it from other honeys.

Methylglyoxal (MGO) has been demonstrated to be the naturally occurring compound that makes this honey so special. This is formed in the honey from Manuka nectar, and as the honey ripens, the MGO content increases. It is believed that its antibacterial power is derived from this – the higher its concentration, the stronger the effects.

Manuka honey carries a medicinal reputation dating from ancient times, although it wasn’t until the late 19th century that it was recognised for its natural antibacterial qualities. Research has shown that it is excellent for a range of ailments – from treating acid reflux, acne, eczema, burns, wounds and ulcers, to helping prevent tooth decay, improving sore throats, immunity and improving sleep. However, the amount per year is limited to the few weeks a year when the plant is in flower, so it naturally comes with a high price tag.

But New Zealand has more on prescription than medicinal honey. Apart from this particular health-bearing native natural resource, it is a country of vast spectacular scenery and breath-taking vistas. Think soaring mountains jigsawed with glaciers compacted with an icy topping, meandering paths carved into the landscapes and waterfalls splashing movement into the gigantic backdrop. Compressed into walks, nature and vista, they offer the necessary ingredients for wellness travel and a destination offering healthy climate and awe-inspiring thoughts.


During my travels to this country, I visited Lake Matheson, a close neighbour to one of nature’s power forces, Fox Glacier, in the South Island. With the early morning mist lifting, the mirror reflections were worth the distance travelled. Silent, still, spectacular. This is one of New Zealand’s most known picture postcard scenes which you will often see featured on book covers, biscuit tins, stamps and even beer bottle labels. The mirror image of mountains, sky and forest has become an icon of scenic New Zealand and a deserving recipient of quotes from writers and poets displayed around the water’s edge.

“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her”. William Wordsworth


“I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more.” John Burroughs (American Naturalist)


There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story   Linda Hogan (Author of Solar Storms)


If a destination could be utilised as a wellness therapy, New Zealand would be on the menu, together with a jar of Manuku honey.





Jane Wilson, editor TheHealthcareHoliday