Marriage Retreat

Marriage Retreat 2024 image 560px


Our next events are this Winter...

9th - 11th of August 2024

16th - 18th August 2024

Invest in the most important relationship you will ever have with another person.

Refresh the love and intimacy that is vital to the success of your relationship.


Strengthen the unique bond you have with each other, as you explore what does and doesn’t work well for you as a couple.


Enrich your relationship as you enjoy one on one time together in a fun, relaxed environment.


With an open mind, your marriage can be renewed and transformed to a level you never thought possible.


What to Expect...

You can expect a fun, relaxed environment.

To get the most out of the retreat we offer main sessions with a mix of informative teaching by Matt and Belinda Stott, a stunning time of worship and a bit of fun with our MCs, Bruce and Sarah O'Brien.

A range of optional workshops are available led by our team, who are passionate about healthy relationships. You choose what works for you!

Our desire is for you to walk away feeling absolutely looked after, so we provide top-notch meals, including a candle-lit dinner where you will be served by our hosting team, enjoy live music and have the opportunity for a dance afterwards.  

To make sure you can maximise your time away together, we offer several fun dating opportunities; dancing, movies, our very own escape room, archery, rock climbing and of course there is plenty of opportunity to explore the beauty of Waikanae!

There are local reserves, gorgeous beaches, great cafés and local museums, check out further options here.

Throughout the retreat we also run our own café with free barista-made coffee!

Our team is made up of caring individuals who have a passion for enriching marriages. Their aim is to both nurture and support couples, as well as be available for couples to meet with.

There will also be an experienced team available to pray with you and support you where you're at in your journey.

MAIN PRESENTERS - Matt & Belinda Stott

Matt and Belinda run life and relationship workshops in Australasia in a variety of contexts. They have been married for over 25 years and have two children, Jasper and Scarlett. Every time they speak there is an overwhelming response from attendees as to how personable, insightful, fun and captivating they both are. Matt and Belinda offer a wealth of knowledge and very practical tools for building a healthy marriage. They have a very unique and needed ministry in Aotearoa and are leaving a legacy of countless strengthened, rebuilt and renewed marriages in their wake. It is a deep privilege to have them with us again.

Over 300,000 teenagers and young adults throughout New Zealand and Australia have been encouraged and equipped by Matt’s inspirational speaking. His style is entertaining, educational and personable.

Once part of the Attitude team and The Parenting Place, he now works alongside Belinda running life and relationship workshops all over the country and Australia.

With more than a decade of experience as a counsellor, Belinda brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with couples.

As a counsellor, novelist and public speaker she has helped couples work through a wide range of areas effecting their relationship, including: trust and forgiveness issues; struggles around rejection, jealousy, infidelity and shame; depression, anxiety and addictions; past trauma; sexual struggles and more.


Untitled design (5) Bruce & Sarah O'Brien

Bruce and Sarah have been the directors of El Rancho since 2016. Previously they directed Camp Columba in Gore for six years and before that were involved in Hume Lake Christian Camp in America.

They both have a heart for seeing marriages and families strengthened. They are gifted at discerning needs in others and minister with grace and love to usher in healing and strength.

Bruce and Sarah are both dedicated to seeing El Rancho offer programmes that serve Aotearoa and empower our communities. They have been married for 28 years and have four children. 

Workshop Leaders
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Gordon & Jo Rosewall

Gordon & Jo first met as teenagers in their church youth group. Gordon confesses to being totally surprised when Jo said yes to going on their first date. They never looked back and were married while still at university and have been married now for 48 years. Their three adult children and seven grandchildren are scattered between Timaru, London (UK) and Phoenix (Arizona).

They both come from a background as High School teachers and together have served as Youth Pastors, planted churches, assisted and advised churches while living in The Netherlands. Until recently they were the Lead Pastors at Life Church Timaru, which they led and served for 25 years.

As local church pastors and Prepare Enrich Marriage Assessment facilitators they love the involvement in couples lives and the opportunity to support couples in building resilient and loving marriages that can go the distance.

Damon Rachel circle Damon & Rachel Fitzpatrick

Damon and Rachel have been married for twenty one years and they still like being married to each other!

Much of their married life has been dedicated to their three children and to youth pastoring. For them, one of the biggest privileges in ministry has been counselling and marrying couples that were once their young people.

They think marriage is an essential building block to family and society. They are passionate about seeing love bind and last so they are Prepare and Enrich trained and are at this Retreat to help you invest in your marriage. Both Rachel and Damon are very good listeners, offer thoughtful insights and offer a safe, gentle and effective approach to helping others.

imgonline-com-ua-shape-A9OUrfunWslgDIj Phillip & Margaret Witehira

Phil and Margaret have been together for thirty nine years and married for twenty five. They lived a colourful, drug-centred life in the far north before radically coming to faith in 2003. Since then, Margaret and Phil have been very active in sharing their healing journey with others. In 2019 they started the first of three missions to take the gospel back to their marae in Ngatiwai territory, Te Wairahi, Whananaki. They also founded and run Property Mini-Makeovers in Porirua and both volunteer their time to Prison Fellowship and El Rancho camps. They have a wealth of experience in mental health; Phil works for Pathways Health Limited. They have six children and eight grandchildren.

Margaret and Phil have a powerful testimony about how God has transformed their lives and their marriage. They come with a depth of both practical and spiritual tools for marriages.

Brendon Alison circle Brendon & Alison Harrex

Brendon & Alison aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed so within 6 months of a long distance relationship as their foundation, became engaged; 6 months later they were married; then 6 months later became pregnant. That confused them, giving rise to them having 3 children 3 and under. They added a 4th of their own genetics 3 years later, and enlisted the help of a teenager who became like a daughter to them. Five years on they welcomed a 3 year old boy and his 1 year old sister in to their whānau and just recently have begun caring for a 4 year old boy.

While it may appear Brendon & Alison didn’t take enough time to build the foundation of their marriage, they continue to be deeply in love 21 years later. Their strength lies in their dedication to becoming intimate allies. When you’re both standing for a common purpose and fighting together with one heart, there is much less chance (let alone time or energy) to take each other out. Brendon and Alison’s story is one of a love built by finding and honouring Jesus in the trenches amongst children’s allergies and traumas, business challenges and much opposition.

Mike Amber round


Mike & Amber Moore

When you believe that all marriages take a lot of hard work, so you need to make a wise and prayerful decision then stick to it and keep working on it, but you don’t meet your partner until your 30s, there’s no time to muck around! After a whirlwind romance, Mike & Amber were engaged at 4 months and married by 10 months. Their next big achievement took a bit more time as they journeyed through infertility. But by the grace of God they have been blessed with a beautiful little girl, Laney, who is now 4.

Amber has been married before, so together they started marriage with a passion to ensure their own relationship had strong foundations and good habits in place. Their philosophy is to never stop learning and growing as individuals and as a couple, and they have been coming as learners to the El Rancho Retreat since it started. They have read many marriage books, been through and now lead marriage courses, and love doing Pre-Marriage Counselling. They are keen to encourage others in their journey to strive for a marriage that is well above average, and share some of the tools they are learning as they keep working on becoming “one”. Amber is also a Gallups Strengths Coach and marriage blogger.

Who is this Retreat for?

This retreat is for everyone - for strong healthy couples and any that might be struggling their way through their relationship. Wherever your relationship is at, there's something for you at this retreat.

It is our hope that all those coming will benefit from the seminars, time alone and fun activities, as a means of enriching their relationship.

What's included and how much does it cost?

  • Two nights accommodation in your own room. Linen, bedding and towels are provided.
  • Five catered meals – kicking off the first morning after your overnight stay...including a cooked/continental breakfast and lunch, then a candle lit meal in the evening (feel free to dress up) and then breakfast the last morning, followed by lunch to take with you after the final session.
  • A great line up of seminars and workshops.
  • An onsite café with baristas (making complimentary coffees!).
  • An exciting range of onsite activities.

(Please note you may be sharing bathroom facilities with at least one other couple).

As a not for profit organisation with passion for being generous, 
we do not make any profit from our Marriage Retreats....
our hope is that the retreats remain accessible to as many people as possible.

With this in mind, we have two levels of pricing for tickets available this year...

'True Cost' tickets for $330.00 per person / $660.00 per couple.

'El Rancho Sponsored' tickets for $230.00 per person / $460.00 per couple.

If your financial position means you are able to cover the True Cost tickets, we would greatly appreciate you choosing that option, as this supports our ability to offer the sponsored tickets.

If you are struggling financially, you are welcome to select the El Rancho Sponsored tickets (no questions asked).

If finances stand in the way of you attending Marriage Retreat at all, please do not hesitate to contact the team at to discuss scholarship options.

**If you would like to make a donation to assist other couples to attend, then please email us on**

Is this a Christian event?

The foundations of our Marriage Retreats are based on Christian principles and we feature Christian worship music throughout the weekend.

However, the topics we cover are accessible and suitable for anyone and everyone.

Can we bring our children?

We understand that for some couples it can be difficult to arrange childcare for the weekend but unfortunately we don't allow children of any age, including babies at our retreats.  

Our retreats are designed for couples to get away together, just the two of them, to fully focus on each other. Past guests have mentioned that having no children has been a real highlight for them.


Are we expected to discuss our marriage with others?

Only if you want to!

There will be ample opportunity across the weekend to chat with our team, if there are particular areas of your marriage you would like help with.

However there is no expectation around this at all. If you prefer to keep discussions between you and your spouse then that is absolutely fine.

Here's what some of our Marriage Retreat guests are saying... 

quote We have been to many events for married couples and this was by far our favorite event. The weekend was the best time we have ever had as a married couple.closequote

quote Thank you for the most incredible weekend. This is the most fun we have ever had and we have had so many revelations together.closequote

quote This has saved our marriage.closequote

quote Incredibly well organised! Blown away by the hospitality, kindness, attention to detail, care, thought and prayer. Such a blessing to us as a couple.closequote

quote We felt respected and welcome. We were just hanging on to our marriage after ten years of struggling. It has been both challenging and hopeful to see what we can do to start building intimacy, trust and friendship again. Nice to be with people on varying stages of their journeys. Our marriage would not have survived until Christmas - now we have some ideas on what to do. Thank you so much.closequote

quote A truly amazing weekend. We loved every bit of it. The whole team went well above and beyond what we bargained for! You are amazing people!"

quote A very well run weekend. Strengthened our relationship with each other and God.closequote

quote What a wonderful, romantic and comfortable atmosphere you have created. I almost felt undeserving of all this love and attention.closequote

quote I really enjoyed the realness and authenticity of the speakers. Marriages are hard work and coming to a marriage retreat can make you believe your marriage is not up to scratch...this was very non-threatening, husband-friendly and most enjoyable, I would definitely recommend. closequote

Check out Marriage Retreat Promo Clip...

Both of our Marriage Retreats on offer this year are our traditional standard Retreats, all couples are welcome.

Register here for our Marriage Retreat on from
6:30pm Friday 9th - 12:30pm Sunday 11th August.

here for our Marriage Retreat on from
6:30pm Friday 16th - 12:30pm Sunday 18th August.

**If you are keen to come with other couples that you know...please ensure you are booking the same weekend as them! It will be difficult to move your registration once you've booked.

Also, if you're coming with friends please email to let us know if you're keen to be allocated accommodation in the same area**


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