As 2020 draws to a close, the world is tentatively preparing to travel again, but perhaps not as we once knew it. In fact, the next trend emerging is going to be much like New Zealand itself: small and perfectly formed.
Travel is going small – think micro stays and minimising footprints – and so is accommodation, with tiny homes the perfect option for travellers with a conscience.
In New Zealand, tiny homes mean big experiences. Because of their small footprint and portability, tiny homes are found in some of the country’s most prime locations – nestled in rugged valleys, overlooking sparkling beaches, in the shadow of stunning mountain ranges or tucked away in secluded spots so remote you can only get to them by foot.
For self-described ‘tiny house nerd’ Shaye Boddington, they encapsulate what New Zealand has to offer.
“Tiny homes really work in New Zealand because they are so perfectly suited to the Kiwi way of life,” says Boddington, who lives in a tiny home with her six-year-old daughter in West Auckland, where she runs a business building tiny homes for others.
“Kiwis are so aware of their environmental footprint, and they love how tiny homes have a minimal impact on the natural environment. We have all these amazing landscapes right on our doorsteps – beaches and mountains and rivers and forests – and outdoor pursuits are a quintessential part of the Kiwi life. Tiny homes allow us to embrace those locations without being permanently tied to a building.
The tiny home movement embraces the New Zealand passion for outdoors and gives unique access to some of the country’s most beautiful locations, says Boddington.
It’s an ethos that has universal appeal, so New Zealanders are building tiny homes to welcome weary global travellers tired of soulless hotel rooms and big city stays and opening their (small) doors to people who want to self-isolate in New Zealand and take time to reconnect with nature and not their cell phone.
“Even though these remote locations might not have Wi-Fi or cell-phone coverage, it doesn’t matter, because that’s what people want these days,” says Boddington.
In places owned by friendly locals who love a good yarn and to share their love of their private patch of paradise, a tiny home experience in New Zealand is anything but small.
Here are a few tiny homes you can check out for your next trip!
The Lindis Pods, Ahuriri Valley, Canterbury
Nestled in the South Island’s remote Ahuriri Valley, The Lindis Pods are all about staying in splendid isolation, but without sacrificing luxury. The eco-friendly tiny pods are made with special mirrored glass, making them blend into the landscape and almost invisible to the naked eye.
Inside each 18-square-metre pod is a king-sized bed, ensuite, outdoor gas-heated tub and a private deck. All offer 180-degree uninterrupted views of the mountains and night sky. The pods also boast impressive eco-friendly credentials like geothermal heat pumps, rainwater-harvesting systems and state-of-the-art insulation.
SiloStay, Little River, Banks Peninsula
At SiloStay on Bank’s Peninsula, the nine humble grain silos converted to fully serviced apartments are testimony to the famous Kiwi ingenuity. They sit in prime position adjacent to the popular Little River Trail, a cycleway and walkway between Christchurch and Little River.
The silos’ designs are full of special touches. When it gets hot, a glass ceiling hatch lifts off to cool the room down, doubling as a perfect way to look at the stars or, if you’re lucky with the weather, to watch snowflakes settle on the glass above.
For those seeking a retreat with impeccable environmental credentials, engineer Edward Lawley’s EcoEscape has it all.
In 2017, Lawley realised he needed two things: a place with a view to enjoy with his morning coffee and a way to pay off his student loan. The solution? He designed and built a self-contained, off-grid cabin in just 40 days. The two-bedroom cabin is powered by solar panels and hydro turbines. Guests can enjoy their own morning coffee with million-dollar views of Mt Taranaki.
The Treehouse in the Woods, Raglan, Waikato
At the Treehouse in the Woods on the North Island’s west coast, there’s a chance to connect with your inner eight-year-old.
Hosts Tara Wrigley and Guillaume Gignoux always dreamed about living high up in their property’s pine trees. When a visiting English builder turned up on a volunteer holiday, he made them a deal: free accommodation in exchange for a treehouse all of their own.
The result is an off-grid treehouse with sweeping views of the ocean, just a short drive from the bohemian North Island surfing mecca of Raglan.
But it isn’t your standard backyard treehouse. Inside the two-storey building there’s a queen-size loft bed, and on the outside deck there is a clawfoot bathtub surrounded by hundreds of twinkling fairy lights that come to life at night.