The Redwood Sauna Experience

With the Sauna experience being so hot right now it felt right to catch up with local Sam Jameson from Sustainable Saunas to learn about Redwood sauna at Solscape and the expansion of their business. 

When did you build and create the Redwood Sauna? What was the process like? 

After finishing a Masters in Medicinal Chemistry in Denmark and deciding not to pursue a career in the laboratory, I returned to an old hobby of woodwork. Using my newly polished grant writing skills, I received funding from the EU to learn how to build sustainably. My first project was to build a sauna.

Several years later, upon returning to New Zealand and realising the lack of this wonderful addition to life Scandinavians took for granted, I decided to build a sauna for the public and myself. Materials were different in NZ and it took me a few months of research to find good quality, local alternatives. The Redwood sauna was a stepping stone in the direction of what later became Sustainable Saunas.

Why did you believe it was a good idea and a good fit with the community?

Saunas are at the heart of the family in Scandinavia and the rest of the world is just discovering why this is. The massive improvements to life quality are just one reason. I had mentioned on the Raglan Notice Board about my plan to build a sauna in Raglan and the huge response was pretty affirming. Less than a year later the sauna received 100 to 150 bookings per week.

Tell us about how construction developed into other locations?

Within a few weeks of finishing the sauna I started receiving calls from around the country. People wanted the same thing. No one else was building saunas like this at the time. I had also introduced ‘Aufguss’ in Raglan, which I called ‘Guided Sessions’. This is a way of putting water and essential oils on the rocks and waving around a towel with music playing. It sounds a little silly and I was unsure how it would be received in NZ, but people loved it. Sessions started to book out a week in advance and others wanted to run saunas in a similar way in their hometown. There are saunas now running for the public in Wellington, Wanaka and one in Christchurch on the way.

What are the different sizes available and how are they used commercially?

I only built mobile 15 person public saunas in the beginning. Then I started getting requests for small private saunas. I had suspected this was where the majority of the market was so I set up several prototypes ranging from 2-8 person saunas. These are now available and are purchased as private additions to existing homes and incorporated into new builds. Having established a consistent building methodology with sustainably sourced, non-toxic materials, I started selling the saunas under the brand name ‘Sustainable Saunas’, reminding myself and customers of the central focus.

What is the vision for the business moving forward?

Having established the different models for offer and creating meticulous building manuals, the saunas are now contractually built by Health Based Building in Christchurch, with manufacture starting early next year in Australia.

How do people get in touch to experience the Redwood Sauna and where are you located?

The Redwood Sauna runs from Solscape, four days a week. To join one of our public sessions or to book out the sauna to yourself, go to the website at

If you are interested in buying a sauna check out

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