Our Workshops & Trainings

Rites of Passage Programs

Natures Resonance

Young Women’s

Rite of Passage 

A Coming of Age Ceremony

Waitati Ecotherapy Centre, Waitati, Otago

9th to 15th April 2024

There was a time, not so long ago, as tribes, we knew the value, the necessity of supporting our young tribe members to engage in a ritual or ceremony acknowledging their stage of life.

This time came when as their tribe we recognised the signs of yearning, aching, restlessness, readiness, and desire for autonomy, responsibility, and contribution. They were invited, called, into the wild lands to quest, seek, ache for guidance, for vision of their true nature, their soul’s song, gift, purpose.

Upon their return we welcomed them home, acknowledged their ordeals, listened carefully to the collective wisdom they had received.  As elders and their community, we reflected and offered our understanding of their unique gifts they have come into the world with and had been shown on their solo time on the land. We welcomed them home as contributing, whole and valued members of the tribe.

The purpose for this 8-day program/ceremony is to revision this precious and sacred process to align with our contemporary world. To support the young women coming of age, to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and supported, to step into what is and has always been their ecological and soulful truth for them. Many of these women will have already encountered and experienced initiatory ordeals but were never fully welcomed home and supported.

This program is to welcome those young women back, hear their ordeals, their gifts, wisdom, and knowledge in preparation to take their gifts into the world.

The Structure: The young women and their caretaker/s are welcomed onto the land and into the initial separation ceremony. The caretakers are invited to stay the night and to leave quietly the next day.

The young women are supported to set up their base camp as and are supported as they head into the first 3 days of individuation, separation, and intention. This is followed by a threshold of 3 nights of solo fasting on the land as they quest for guidance and knowing. This is followed by the return – two days of welcoming, listening, witnessing, integrating and their return. Their caretaker/s are invited back for the final afternoon. As part of the integration process there will be guidance and invitations for creativity through, poetry, story, clay art, song, dance etc….

Following the 10 day program participants are asked to join the guides for 4hr monthly gatherings over 12 months. The purpose of these gatherings are to support ongoing intergation and support as they bring their experiences from the 10 day program, into their daily lives.


Preparatory Individual Hui: Women interested in participating will be invited to join us for a one on one get together to answer any questions, see if this program is a good fit, and to get to know us a little before meeting in person with a group of people. If the participants are local to Dunedin the visits will be in person, for participants outside of the region the meetings will be via zoom.


The specific lineage-holders of knowledge that this training takes particular inspiration from are: Dave Talamo with Wilderness Reflections; Steve Foster and Meredith Little with The School of Lost Borders; Joanna Macy with The Work that Reconnects; Marshall Rosenberg and Nonviolent Communication, Jon Young with the Wilderness Awareness School; Bill Plotkin and the Animus Valley Institute; Ron Kurtz and Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy, and S.N Goenka with the Vipassana Meditation Centre.


What we provide: Accommodation, meals, (gluten free plant based), tents if needed, hot showers, composting toilets, guidance, support, and supportive company.

What participants provide: Tents and other camping equipment (list provided upon registration), sense of humour, humility, and openness.


Rites of Passage Main Guides:

Toni McErlane – Ecotherapist, Counsellor, Mediator, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Facilitator, Aunt

Holly Bracknall – Ecotherapist, Rites Of Passage Guide


This Program is Fully Funded and limited to 8 female participants ages 15 to 18 years of age.

Please contact toni@restorativerelationships.co.nz   for application info

Whale Song

8 Day Soul Quest


A Contemporary

Rite of Passage 

Waitati Ecotherapy Centre, Waitati, Otago

20th to 28th March 2024

  • Do you feel stuck without direction or purpose?
  • Has the fullness of life evaporated your creative soul?
  • Are you longing for solitude and reflection to listen deeply?
  • Or are you wanting to just pause and allow your authentic creative self to show you a more soul driven path?

If you feel ready to plunge into the depths of your own mythic adventure into the wilderness, to step into the humble passage of seeking vision, then we invite you to this ancient ceremony. A ceremony that is beyond any human teaching and until recently has been hiding in the dark rich soil of the forest unseen. This ceremony, sometimes referred to as a Vision Quest, has been carried out pan-culturally as a Rite of Passage for thousands of years and it is now time to re-awaken the ceremony in the modern day so that together we may flourish as individuals and communities with the Earth.

Throughout this ceremony you will be supported by experienced guides and therapists who have all undertaken their own Whale of a dive into the wilderness passage. They encourage you to step into the unknown and give up a little bit of comfort, in return you may just find what you have been seeking.


Structure of the Program

The is an eight day program that includes pre and post individual sessions to support participants to gain the most of their quest experience.

The first two days on the land will be in group where you will be supported by your guides to gain clarity on your intention and to prepare. The solo time is four nights after which your are welcomed back with ceremony by your guides and supported to integrate and weave your experience on the land into your daily life.

Follow up support after you go home in also included.

The specific lineage-holders of knowledge that this contemporary rite of passage ceremony is inspired  from are: Dave Talamo with Wilderness Reflections; Steve Foster and Meredith Little with The School of Lost Borders; Joanna Macy with The Work that Reconnects; Marshall Rosenberg and Nonviolent Communication, Jon Young with the Wilderness Awareness School; Bill Plotkin and the Animus Valley Institute; Ron Kurtz and Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy, and S.N Goenka with the Vipassana Meditation Centre.

Why Whale Song?

In Myths, Folklore and Tribal Cultures the world over, Whales are considered the wisdom keepers of our great Mother Earth, where the sacred knowledge and guidance for our personal change and spiritual growth resides. Symbolically, Whale also reminds us to re-connect with our Great Mother, to remember our deeper connection to the ecology of life. The archaic echo sound of the Whale reminds us to slow down and connect to our own rhythmical nature, to feel into our hearts with Earth and remember the heartbeat we all shared when we were in our own Mother’s womb.

For more information about this process please contact us to set up a time to answer any questions.

Meet Your Guides:

Toni McErlane – Ecotherapist, Counsellor, Mediator, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Facilitator, Outdoor Adventurer

Brendon Whitmore – Ecotherapist, Craniosacral Therapist, Deep Nature Connection Mentor and Wilderness Rites of Passage Facilitator


Quest Investment:

(includes meals and camping accommodation)

$600.00 (Scholorship special)


Cancellations: We will not provide any refunds if particpation is cancelled less than 2 months prior to the event start date unless the event is cancelled by the organisers.

Submit Payment to:
Account name:  Restorative Relationships
Account Number:  01-0322-0212196-01
Reference:  [your name]
Code:  SoulQuest

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