the summer retreat for your inner nerd


Engage is the summer retreat for your inner nerd and our goal is simple – to inspire creativity and community. Leave the city for a weekend filled with workshops and activities from tabletop gaming, prop design (working with Worbla), world-building, costuming and cosplay to building your survival and archery skills and play live action augmented reality games.

Join us for an opportunity to learn new skills and inspire your creativity – all while developing a fellowship of new friends and old!


Engage 2018 will be located at Mount Hutt Retreat outside of Christchurch the weekend of February 9th to the 11th 2018.

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We are happy to announce our confirmed activities for Engage 2018 are as follows:


Have you ever had the urge to channel your inner Katniss, Green Arrow or Hawkeye? Our Archery sessions will allow you to pick up a bow and arrow, learn how to shoot, and practice your targeting skill.
Presented by Engage

   Bush-craft Basics

Do you feel that you could survive during an apocalyptic scenario? In this session you will learn the basics of surviving in the bush including skills such as fire-starting, bivvie building, what plants are edible and general survival skills.
Presented by Matt Fraser

   Design Your House Shield

Have you ever wanted to design a house shield? What colours, objects or animals represent you and your family? In this session, you will learn the basics of designing and creating your own house shield using string art - a simple, DIY crafting technique where you can turn a plain wooden board and some coloured string into an aesthetically pleasing piece of artwork.
Presented by Engage

   Develop your Inner Jedi with Shakti

A Jedi needs alertness in combat, wisdom to provide council and the ability to access a state of mind to commune directly with the Force. For a Jedi, this comes down to mental training and meditation. Have you ever tried meditation? Put on your Jedi robes and come give it a try with Perla Bucknell as she leads you through a session where you explore 'Shakti', the creative energy of the universe, and start down your path to raising your consciousness, developing your inner awareness and building a foundation to easily access the state of mind for creativity.
Presented by Perla Bucknell from Pure Activation Coaching (PAC)

   Getting Into Character

How do you get yourself into character? How do you stay in your character's brain? What techniques can you use to create a living, breathing, 17th century pirate, a 25th century starship captain or a modern day art critic, to react as those characters would react without falling into stereotypes? This is an interactive workshop where you will be given small, easily played roles and a situation in which to explore those roles.
Presented by Matt Swain, NZLARPS South Island Regional Director (and person who has pretended to be other people for way too long now).

   Introduction to Cosplay

Have you ever seen people in artfully crafted costumes and wondered how they learned to do it? Have you ever wished you had the skill and the guts to dress up for an event? In this session Emma Simo will explore what cosplay is, tips on motivation and how to get started, things to consider when choosing your first character or attending your first con as a cosplayer (as opposed to as an attendee) as well as share local resources for cosplayers to keep you going when the weekend is over.
Presented by Emma Simo from Aenthralled Cosplay (also representing the Canterbury Cosplay Craft Group)

   Introduction to Self-Defence and Krav Maga

Have you ever wanted to learn the basic building blocks of martial arts? How about self-defence techniques or Krav Maga? In this session, you'll learn reality based self-defence, learn how to assess an neutralise a threat, what it means to have a 'survival attitude' and even a bit of close quarter conflict. We'll work with you to build your own confidence and may even pit your new-found strength against a breaking board.
Presented by Nigel Stupples from Proactive Martial Arts

   LARP: The Black Hart of Camelot

Take on the role of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Merlin, Lancelot, Galahad, and other members of the Round Table and their families as they try to unravel the mystery of the ominous omen that has befallen Camelot. This is a Live Action Roleplaying Game (LARP); you will be given a character to play and all the information you need.
Facilitated by Matt Swain, NZLARPS South Island Regional Director

   LARP Swordfighting

An introductory lesson in hitting people with real, fake swords. It's every bit as awesome as it sounds, and not as dangerous as it seems. If you've ever looked at a medieval battle and thought, 'I can do that!', then this workshop is for you. We'll teach you how to strike safely, where to strike, and how to look cool doing it.
Presented by Matt Swain, NZLARPS South Island Regional Director

   Move with the Force Using Yoga

Have you started developing your inner Jedi with Shakti? Let's take it one step further and practice a moving meditation. Lower your stress levels, increase your flexibility, find your balance and focus your internal energy. With Perla Bucknell to guide you, learn how to become present in the moment and prepare yourself for the weekend of fun ahead.
Presented by Perla Bucknell from Pure Activation Coaching (PAC)

   Orienteering Circuit

Strengthen and challenge your basic navigation skills by participating in an orienteering circuit with only a map and a compass. The session will involve walking, not necessarily on tracks, so an average level of fitness is recommended.
Presented by Matt Fraser

   Recoil - Augmented Reality Laser Tag

Do you love video games and wish that you could play them in real life? Recoil (theworldisnowgame.com) combines a first-person shooter video game with laser tag and takes you outside to do it. Using your phone, Recoil weapons, wireless networking and body tracking, Recoil can mimic a battlefield anywhere within range of your wireless hub allowing you to take the video game to the real world.<
Presented by Engage

   Target Shooting with Air Rifles

Do you dream of being an expert marksman like [insert your favourite superhero sharpshooter here]? In this session you will learn the basics of how to use an air rifle and practice your target shooting.
Presented by Engage

   Weapons Used in Martial Arts

Have you ever wanted to learn the difference between various weapons used in marital arts? Do you want to learn the proper way to wield a sword or a nun-chuck and the decisions that go into using different weapons?
Presented by Nigel Stupples from Proactive Martial Arts

   Worbla Crafting

Worbla is a thermoplastic that tends to be a staple in many cosplayer and crafters’ workrooms because it is easy to use and allows endless creativity without sacrificing quality. In this session, Rebecca from Pink Star Cosplay will teach you how to make a Worbla bracer with Worbla's Finest Art. Learn basic techniques when using Worbla including armour base and detail techniques. Your bracer can be as basic or as creative as you like within the time frame.
Presented by Rebecca Davey from Pink Star Cosplay

   Worbla Painting

Worbla Painting is a follow-up workshop to Worbla Crafting. In this session, you will learn hands-on techniques to paint your previously-crafted Worbla bracer and take your crafting and cosplay to the next level. Painting techniques presented include building up from light-to-dark or dark-to-light, shading and highlights and how to get a 'weathered' look.
Presented by Emma Simo from Aenthralled Cosplay

   World Building: It’s more than magic and forests.

When creating the worlds for our stories, so many fixate on the aspects that are vastly different to our normal everyday lives. However, world building is about more than creating the fantastical and futuristic worlds. It’s the politics, the religion, and the legends. It’s the topography, the medicines, and social structures. It even includes the simple customs of shaking hands. From the ancient cultures through to the modern information era and beyond, get some insights into the depths of the worlds that you forgot you already knew.
Presented by Judy L Mohr from Black Wolf Editorial Services

Kiwi Judy L Mohr is a writer of fantasy and science fiction filled with adventure and dark monsters. She is also a freelance editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services (blackwolfeditorial.com), working on projects from writers around the world. When she isn’t writing, editing, or doing something for writing within the local community, she is hosting her own radio show about science on KLRNRadio (klrnradio.com). You can follow her crazy adventures on her blog (judylmohr.com) or on Twitter (@JudyLMohr).

   Escape the Castle

The Castle is under attack and villains have managed to lock you in a room in the castle with your noble companions. If you want to get out of the castle and to some semblance of safety, you will need to put your minds together and find clues that may help (or hurt) your chances of escape.
This is an "Escape the Room" (adventure and puzzle game) scenario written and prepared by Engage.

   Surviving the Apocalypse

The castle has just been overrun by villains and monsters (dare I say, zombie-like creatures?). Can you navigate away from the castle, find some resources, move to a safe location, and build a defensible, survival campsite? This session will be a survival competition utilising skills you will have honed in the bush-craft basics and orienteering circuit.

If you would like to sponsor or run an activity or workshop session, please send us a message at


Register Here

Basic Ticket: $225 (no lunch or dinner provided)

Catered Ticket: $300 (all meals provided)

All ticket types include a bed, activities throughout the weekend, showers and light breakfast and snacks.


   Am I ‘nerdy’ enough to attend Engage?

Absolutely! If you have an interest in any of the activities – even if you have no previous experience – we encourage you to attend. Trying new things is one of the best parts of the retreat, and as long as you have an interest, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people.

   How old will attendees be?

Attendees can be anywhere from 18 upwards. There’s no age limit when it comes to having fun with like-minded people! Passion for similar interests and fandoms are more important and will help forge lasting friendships.

   What if I have no experience? Can I still participate?

Absolutely! The only requirement we have for participation is a good attitude and the desire to have fun! Everything else will come with instruction and a supportive environment for learning.

   Is alcohol allowed?

Mount Hutt Retreat is an alcohol-free venue so there will be no alcohol on premises. We ask that attendees respect this rule and if you should wish to go out at night, the retreat is less than a 20 minute drive from Methven.

   What do I need to bring with me?

The base requirements are to bring a pillow, towel, toiletries and a sleeping bag. If you have not opted into the catering option for the weekend then you will also need to bring your own lunches and dinners. A full suggested packing list will be made available prior to the retreat.

   What does the ticket price cover?

Basic Ticket ($225) includes a bunk bed in a shared room, breakfast (cereals, coffee/tea, toast), light snacks, and all activities that you register for.
Catered Ticket ($300) includes everything in the Basic Ticket as well as lunches and dinners.
*All attendees must bring their own sleeping bag and pillow
** If you choose the Basic ticket option you must plan to bring food with you for lunch and dinner. There are facilities for cooking and a reasonable amount of fridge space.

   What activities are included in the ticket price?

All activities are included, however, keep in mind that there are maximum numbers that can be accommodated during each time slot. Each time slot has at least 2 activity options, so the earlier you register, the more likely it is that you will be able to participate in all the activities that you want to participate in. A full activity list will be available when tickets go on sale.

   Will the rooms be mixed gender?

Much the same as with hostels, we will have options for boys, girls and co-ed rooms. You will have the opportunity to let us know your preference.

   How many people are in a room?

The shared rooms have 10 bunk beds each.

   What if I want to bunk with my friends?

Let us know if you would like to bunk with friends and we will do our best to accommodate you.

   What are the requirement for costume and what if I don’t have one?

We highly recommend and encourage costumes because it helps people to get into the spirit of the weekend, however, it is by no means a requirement for attending. We know that many of you might be new to cosplay and costuming and that’s okay!
If you would like to participate in the Live Action Roleplaying session, you will be asked to bring a costume – but costumes don’t have to be expensive or complex. Here’s a quick video on how you can create your very own medieval costume easily using old clothes from your closet

   What is LARP?

LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing. I’ve found my favourite explanation for ‘what is LARP’ can be found in linked video below with Mo Mo O’Brien where she reminds us to recall what it felt like as kids to play ‘make believe’ and come up with stories and adventures with your friends. LARP is more or less the same thing, but as adults, with more costumes and more in-character roleplaying, but just as much fun! If you have a few minutes, I’d recommend watching Mo Mo O’Brien’s video ‘The Basics of LARP’ to prepare for your first LARP!

   How do I become a sponsor?

Reach out to us at and tell us how you would like to get involved. We are happy to work with you and your company/brand to build the right sponsorship package.


We would love to hear from you!

Christchurch, NZ

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