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Rail Trail Tales With Wanderlust Solo Women Tours

Gina Cambridge is a long-time local to the breathtaking Coromandel Peninsula, particularly the Paeroa area, where she grew up. She’s a passionate traveller with many solo global adventures up her sleeve, and subsequently took a leap to create her own local, boutique women’s retreats in New Zealand.

Gina wanted to be able to share the unique magic of the area, as she’s passionate about sharing her backyard and providing a personal and warm experience. So, Wanderlust Solo Women Tours launched on the Coromandel, with the aim of offering an authentic and exclusive women’s-only retreat experience. 

In recent months, Gina joined the Trail as an Official Partner to support our community, alongside many of the local businesses she supports that make up part of the trail experience. On a more personal note, Gina also grew up playing on what were the old railway tracks and ruins which now make up the trail. 

We slipped into holiday mode and caught up with Gina to hear more about the philosophy behind her retreats, why she encourages women to join her adventures, and of course where she’s intending to explore in the world next.


Photo credit: Wanderlust Solo Women Tours - Tropical bike rides 


Your business was created from a desire to change your lifestyle. Tell us how this came about, and the philosophy of being / living in the moment.

Wanderlust Solo Women Tours was born out of my own transformative travel experiences and passion for solo travel later in life. Coming out of a long-term relationship breakup as I neared 40, getting out and experiencing the world had an enormous positive impact on my self esteem and confidence.


While many Kiwi’s headed overseas in their earlier years, I had never left New Zealand, and when my stable world came crumbling down around me, I felt like I needed a major lifestyle shift to propel me into the next chapter of my life. 

Taking a leap of faith, I filled a single backpack and headed to Europe with a one-way ticket, very little money and plenty of determination. I spent the next eight months backpacking solo, volunteering, and working my way around Europe, Wales, UK, Morocco and Turkey. I spent my 40th birthday in Paris under the Eiffel Tower celebrating with strangers that had become new friends, and I have not looked back since. 

This experience transformed my life and filled me with a sense of confidence and vitality that I never knew existed within me. It also taught me that age was not a barrier when it comes to experiencing the world (especially for women). This realisation inspired me to reach out and help other women going through their own life challenges. 


Photo credit: Carmen Bird Photography - Log Cabin Accommodation


Tell us about Wanderlust Solo Women Tours, and what you love about the Trail locations included in your itineraries.

Wanderlust Solo Women’s Tours evokes the wanderlust spirit we all have within us. These getaways are an invitation for women from all walks of life to shake off anything that has been weighing them down and reconnect with themselves and their zest for life.

The escape retreat weekends are designed for you to fit in a much-needed short break, because we all know how hard it can be to get away with work and family commitments.

They are small, women-only groups to allow for a more intimate experience, spontaneity and connection. It’s an opportunity to try new experiences in a fun and safe environment. You’ll get to meet new people and enjoy this little part of paradise I call home.

We get to enjoy local gems from a locals perspective. I share stories from growing up in the area and its history, and explore some of my favourite spots and businesses. At Laughing Pottery, we get creative, hear a few ghost stories and then sip boutique gin at a private tasting at the Waikino Hotel, or indulge in gorgeous produce from the Falls Retreat. These are very flexible and relaxed weekends where all you need to worry about is getting your lovely self there, and I take care of the rest.


Photo credit: Wanderlust Solo Women Tours - Hands on fun at Laughing Pottery


What can guests expect when they join one of your Tours?

My retreat packages facilitate a safe space for women that have a longing for new experiences and new horizons, yet may be new to solo travel. 

Eschewing the 6am starts and jam-packed schedules often associated with a retreat, Wanderlust Solo Women’s Tours is about enjoying and savouring the best things in life, alongside like-minded company.

Forget the tight schedules, early morning rises, and detox protocols. These retreats are all about fireside chats, new experiences, great food and lots of laughs.

My retreats encourage guests to be themselves, relax, de-stress and try something new. My guests are welcome to tip toe out of their usual comfort zones, knowing they are within a supportive community every step of the way. 

The goal is to empower women by building confidence and friendships through travel experiences. Guests may start off as strangers, but leave with a close circle of new-found friends.


Photo credit: Wanderlust Solo Women Tours - Enjoying the natural environment at Owharoa Falls


What is the aim of your Retreats, and why would you encourage women to participate?

Many women wish to travel and explore the world (or their own country), however they may have no-one to accompany them or they feel nervous or anxious about venturing out on their own. There are also common trepidations around ‘not fitting in’ or feeling ‘too old’ to travel or go on retreat. 

My retreats and travel experiences support women with a safe space where they can rediscover themselves, have fun with other like-minded women and put any insecurities behind them.

The ‘modern woman’ these days also often struggles with work-life balance and their own self-care often falls to the bottom of a never ending to-do list. Taking time out for themselves, their own wellbeing or their own bucket-list goals can feel uncomfortably indulgent. Yet a retreat offers women a chance to gain perspective and offers the realisation that taking time out is a necessity, not a luxury.

On retreat, guests are given the freedom and space to join in and do as little or as much as they please. Guests can unleash their creative side with pottery making classes, try yoga for the first time, taste boutique gins, go on guided walks, or simply enjoy time with new people making new connections.

The connections made extend beyond the retreat experience alone, with guests heading back home with a new community they can turn to for encouragement, understanding and a gentle nudge to keep getting out there and exploring.

I’m also excited to soon be offering Travel Coaching alongside my retreats to support you right through your travel experience, from planning and logistics to the “why” behind wanting to travel so you can get the most out of your adventure.


Photo credit: Wanderlust Solo Women Tours - Sampling Eliza's Claim Gin at the Waikino Hotel


Tell us about the location choices for your New Zealand and Overseas Retreats.

The Coromandel Region is where my heart lies locally, and I believe local knowledge plays a big part in having authentic travel experiences. With clear demand for this style and genre of getaway, I aim to increase and diversify my retreat packages and experiences leading into 2024, while still staying true to my mission to empower women to travel with joy and confidence.

Wellness Tourism is a rapid growth market within New Zealand. With the events of the last 3 years, people are interested and invested in making their health and wellbeing a priority more than ever before. 

My international retreats are now mainly based in Bali with my 5th one planned for this October. I love sharing a more authentic and cultural side of Bali with my guests beyond the normal tourist hotspots. I like to be close to all the activities we get to do to avoid hours travelling in a vehicle, and to find locations that invoke that WOW factor to base the retreat or travel experiences in.

Like the cozy log cabin we stay in up the Waitawheta Valley, with a great local history. I have now proudly completed my 18th local retreat located near Waihi and the Hauraki Rail Trail, and 6th international retreat. With an exciting announcement of a very special travel experience to Cuba planned for late 2024.

With time to reflect on the important things in life, people are also now valuing time with like-minded communities, as well as opting for more meaningful life experiences. 


Tell us about the variety of women who come on the Tours. What proportion are locals, from across New Zealand, or International visitors, and do they have to be single? 

Women from all walks of life and age are warmly welcome to start their travel journey with me. The local escape weekend retreats have drawn mostly locals from all over New Zealand with varying ages, and with international borders now open, I look forward to hosting more international guests. 

My Bali retreat attracts a mix of New Zealand, Australian and United States women, which offers a great diversity. The small group size and boutique retreat style allows for genuine connections and an authentic personal experience.

You also don’t have to be a single woman to join our tours or retreats. Whether you’re coming with a couple of girlfriends, or you’re leaving your spouse at home, or are rocking it solo, we welcome you just as you are. My goal is to encourage women to travel and enjoy themselves whilst building confidence and strong friendships along the way.


Photo credit: Wanderlust Solo Women Tours - Bali 


Where are you personally hoping to adventure next?

Oh there's always a new adventure in the pipeline! After my next retreat in October, I have opted to extend my stopover in Singapore on the way home and spend a couple days exploring. Otherwise India and Nepal, or South America could be on the cards for next year, along with my return to Cuba hosting a tour there. Just can’t stop that WANDERLUST.


For more inspiration to join Gina’s Retreats, check out her Facebook and Instagram.


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