Juggler’s Rest Workshops


So what are Poi ?


Poi are a traditional dance prop used by Maori from New Zealand and can be seen today mainly used by women in their singing, dancing and kapahaka groups. Poi are also seen in other pacific cultures.

Poi twirling has now developed into a new and popular style of spinning, rapidly spreading to all corners of the globe. It can be learned by anyone and it’s extremely good exercise for both mind and body.

The staff (spear or Taiaha) was also used extensively by Maori in warfare and Nikki can also give instruction on basic staff spinning showing the links between staff and poi moves.

To find out more about Poi take a visit to Home of Poi and playpoi.com

About Nikki


Nikki first arrived in New Zealand in 2001. It was her dream to live in an old villa with a lemon tree in the garden, travel for a few months of the year and generally avoid England’s dreary winters. Always a bit of a show-off and dancer, she started learning how to fire spin on a three year travelling trip and quickly fell in love with the magical feeling of dancing with fire. It also worked out to be a great way of getting free drinks and accommodation on the road!

In Christmas 2004, Nikki stumbled across Jugglers Rest.After persuading the owner that he needed a manager she then managed to persuade him to sell up to her three years later – and so a dream came true…aaw!

She’s travelled widely across New Zealand and South East Asia & generally tries to escape for the winter – either fire spinning in some other part of the globe or playing in the snow on NZ’s awesome skifields.


Nikki’s been dancing and performing with poi for ten years now and as this is an infinite art there are always new moves to be developed and learned… so yes she is quite good, but definitely still learning!

In 2009 she was lucky enough to travel to Bali and learn from Nick Woolsley and Alien Jon, two of the world’s best poi artistes. Check out their websites and videos through our links page.

She also helps to organize the Juggle Toy Poi Zone each year at Luminate Festival.




Nikki will be delighted to teach guests the art of poi and hoop spinning.Over the past few years she’s taught poi to children as young as three and her oldest pupil has been in their seventies.
In the evenings you can take the opportunity to have a go with glow toys or (if you have the experience and nerve) fire toys. Most nights (weather permitting) there is some kind of entertainment – although be aware the entertainment might be you!

If you decide that fire’s not for you there are plenty of non fire toys: Poi, juggling clubs, balls, diabolo, devilsticks and more to have a go with. Tips and advice are given freely – just have a go and someone usually appears to help or join in. Early mornings (pre check out) and afternoons are generally the best times to learn as this is when staff are available. Formal workshops (one on one & specific work) need to be pre-booked and there is a fee.


As with most skills the best way to improve is with dedicated practise. Jugglers Rest aims to provide you with an environment that helps you do this.

The rooms in the house have very high ceilings (perfect for jugglers and spinners) and there is plenty of space in the garden. Mirrors help you to see where moves can be developed and improved and tips/advice are freely given. We have a wide range of toys available for practise and a shop and workshop on site so you can buy what you need/make it and take it with you on your travels.


The fuel we use for fire spinning is a high grade odourless, clean burning form of kerosene and we are fully equipped with safety gear to protect performers, the environment and other guests.Weekly rates for longer stay guests are available and workshop programmes in poi can be developed to meet your specific needs.

Each year we are privileged to have some very skilled guests staying with us. (Check out the video and photo gallery!) Members from Circus Aotearoa, performers from The World Buskers Festival, passing musicians and students from New Zealand’s Circo-Arts course often stop on their way to and from festivals when travelling between islands.
Some travellers offer workshops or performances in exchange for reduced rate accommodation – please contact us in advance, with evidence of your skills, if this sounds like you. Please note – you have to have a high skill level for a reduced rate. Simply being able to juggle doesn’t get you a cheap night!

Most jugglers/spinners like to trick swap. If you find that you’re one of the best here then you’ll be lucky enough to inspire others. We have a rapidly increasing DVD library where you can watch instructional videos on poi & staff spinning to get further tips and inspiration.

Guest Tutors

These are a few of New Zealand’s wandering performers and instructors who often pass through Juggler’s Rest.


frenchyMiss Claire French – originally from Manchester, UK, is an international Fire and LED Performer, Director and Producer, Choreographer, Event Organiser, Youth Worker, Workshop Leader, Hoop Dance Teacher, Hoop Maker, Community Artist, Street Performer, Interactive Stilt Walker and Arts Practitioner with over 15 years experience of performing and running events and working with hard to reach young people in social services and 10 years experience of Circus, Fire Arts and Manipulation.

Frenchy has travelled the world for her work including the UK, Europe, the USA, New Zealand and Australia. Contracts have included Festa del Fuoco (international fire festival in Italy), Circulation (New Zealand circus festival), Glastonbury Festival (biggest UK arts and culture festival), The Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland – largest arts festival in the world), and Burning Man (USA temporary community festival).

Frenchy is based in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the director of ‘NZ Hoopfest’ – www.nzhoopfest.co.nz and Under The Spinfluence – a circus festival in Wellington. She does Artistic Direction for ‘Circulation’ – http://circulation.co.nz/ – an NZ based circus festival.

As well as current production, choreography and organisational roles Frenchy is a contemporary hoop and fire dancer whose style uses mixed pace manipulation. It’s a unique, positive, characterised blend of energy, flow and tech and smiles!

For more information or for bookings contact Frenchy on: frenchy@hoop.co.nz

Rewi Elffyre

elffyreRewi Elffyre has travelled far and wide sharing his performance art with audiences in New Zealand and internationally. For the rest of his time, Elffyre lives in Golden Bay – a beautiful region of the South Island, New Zealand. Following a life-long calling towards performance arts, Rewi created Elffyre in 2011 to characterise his favourite aspects of performance. Play, self-expression, creativity and humour! Elffyre is a well-known face on the New Zealand festival circuit, and has been hired independently for festivals and productions internationally, including; Eclipse 2012, Objectify Australia, Under the Spinfluence, Luminate Festival (2010, 2011, 2012). Contact Juggling, Fire-Torches, Juggling and Poi are Rewi’s (current) favourite performance props. Quickly realising that a spectacular show involves more than just technical skill, Elffyre combines his love of theatre and character with a high level of skill, to achieve mesmerizing results.


Geoph Gypsywizard aka Avian Quill

jeffGeoph Gypsywizard is a visual performance artist/circus performer, specializing in object manipulation and play. He has toured all around New Zealand and eastern Australia performing at festivals including; Eclipse 2012, Objectify, Luminate, Taranaki Festival of Light,The Dunedin Fringe Festival, Rhythm and Vines festival,  he has also toured with Circus Aotearoa.
He runs workshops, does roving performance, stage performance, corporate events, fire dancing and outdoor events.
Geoph specializes in Crystal balls, native American hoop dance, hat juggling, the fire arts and also an acrobatic apparatus called a Cyr wheel. He creates a magical atmosphere and dazzles audiences with every glance.

Stephen Benge

stephenStephen has been involved in the fire arts for the last ten years both performing and running workshops at numerous festivals both in Australia and New Zealand including Circulation, Under the Spinfluence, Kiwiburn, Voyage, Dragon Dreaming, Regrowth, Canberra Fringe Festival. His favoured toys are pretty much anything that can be set on fire and his specialities are poi, contact staff, fire eating, and novelty fire toys including parasol, mop and flails.

Stephen has been lucky enough to play around with a few great performers throughout New Zealand and Australia and loves nothing more than a good day of teaching and learning and swapping of skills.
Feel free to contact him at stephenmbenge@gmail.com


Toys provided for guests use 

toy makingNon fire Slackline to aid balance, poi, staff, flower sticks, juggling balls, contact ball, diabolo, juggling clubs, unicycle, flow wand, stilts, hula hoops

Fire: Palm torches, fire eating wand, fire poi, fire staff, fire clubs, devil stick, double staff, diabolo,hula hoop, fire fans.
Glow: Poi, diabolo, staff, juggling balls

All glow toys are available for sale at Jugglers Rest or can be purchased direct from the supplier, Home of Poi, at a reduced rate.

Please see our online shop page for more information on products available to buy and make.

(Pictured above: Making fire toys)