In conversation

Blog Emma Walters

In conversation

Setting out to shoot our latest campaign on the road to Mount Maunganui, we were lucky enough to meet with five likeminded women each with their own incredible businesses and projects who share the same ethos and approach to their projects as we do here at Max.
For the first stop on our summer roadie, we visited The Falls Retreat - an idyllic home away from home tucked behind the Karangahake Gorge. A family run escape owned by Emma and her husband Brad along with their two children and four-legged pup Layla, we had the pleasure of meeting Emma to learn more about how they came to own such a picturesque retreat and their goals for making The Falls self-sustainable.

Emma Walters - The Falls Retreat

Being at the Falls Retreat is a special experience from the beautiful gardens to the welcoming smiles of your team, can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to owning the Falls Retreat?

We stumbled upon this beautiful property whilst on a holiday. This place was a tearoom at the time and my husband and I came across it while visiting his family. At that time Brad, my husband, was working long hours as a chef and I was in Marketing and juggling the demands of having a baby. We were looking for a more “simple life”
and immediately had a vision to create a business that would enable us to live by our values and raise our kids.

Emma Walters - The Falls Retreat Layla the dog

What’s important to you when it comes to giving guests a great experience when they visit your retreat?

One of our tag lines is “home from home not show home” because our focus is all about a warm welcome with awesome hospitality. We want to take care of people whether that’s guests staying overnight, or coming for a special meal, having a wedding or taking part in one of our cooking or gardening workshops - it’s all about attention to detail!.

As a business we’ve been on a journey of reinvention with a focus on people and planet, what are your thoughts around sustainability?

We are a family run business and we also try to live and do business ethically. Sustainability has always been one of our values since we opened 10 years ago - we have always focused on growing our own produce and made food from scratch, engaging with our community and composting and recycling all we can. We are certainly not perfect, but I think COVID19 has just reinforced our focus on the
importance of being self-sustainable. We have the ability to make our bread, grow our food, harvest rainwater, and upcycle, something we are now sharing with our customers through our range of workshops. Lockdown also enabled us to diversify a little and we are also now in a period of re-invention, our values will remain exactly the same but we are looking at the next 10 years and how do we can sustain ourselves and retain our passion for what we do.

Emma Walters - The Falls Retreat Glass House

Could you tell us a bit about your personal style and how it’s influenced by your lifestyle?

Being a short “5 ft nothing”, I have always been a heels girl and working in the city for years meant it was about having some great classic wardrobe staples to wear at the office. My lifestyle now means heels aren’t so practical (they come out once or twice a year for that city visit), but those wardrobe staples are still part of my style. A classic pair of jeans that feel great paired with an in season top and great quality leather boots that last for years are my go-to’s. I am also a closet op shopper so I love teaming new pieces with vintage finds.

Lastly, what words of wisdom do you follow in business and in life?

This business totally fills my cup and burns me out all at the same time, so I am working hard on myself to create that balance we all strive for. 2020 has been especially challenging so my mantra has been “one day at a time” and remembering that nothing in life is permanent! Seasons change, new life grows, and we evolve.
Enjoy the moment.


Photography by

Brijana Cato

Words by

Courtenay Lewis

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