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PurePods

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Getting back to nature in a glass house in the bush | Stuff.co.nz

The view is everything when you spend a night in a glass house in the bush.

THE SETTING

There’s a kingsize bed, a bar fridge, a couple of gas hobs and a tiny ensuite inside a glass studio unit, perched high on the hills above Little River. Purepods sits in a patch of native bush, is eco to the max, solar powered and atmospheric in a stripped bare kind of way. The floor is glass, and raised, so you have ferns growing under your feet. At night you can glow like a huge light bulb (LED of course) on the hillside, or turn all the lights off.

THE SPACE

PurePods is all about space without getting too airy-fairy. There’s the gimmickry of living inside a glass house (where you shouldn’t throw stones… good to get that out of the way early), but mostly it’s about the outside space. The surroundings, the privacy and the isolation is the point. There are blinds that can be lowered, if you worry that carloads of youths have made their way along the bush track to watch you commune with nature. We didn’t spot any.

The walls of the PurePod are big, sliding glass doors which you open fully to let the smells of the farmland and the bush waft through. We did this in the warmth of the afternoon after we arrived, and again at daybreak when the thunderous noise of the dawn chorus woke us. We watched the sky slowly lighten and heard the birds call in a new day. It was wonderful lying in the best bed I’ve lain in for years, snuggled under a snowy white duvet, listening to the bush and fields come alive. The night had been busy too. I woke often,  taking ages to get back to sleep because so much was happening. After dark the clouds lifted and the stars filled the glass ceiling. We picked out the Orion dipper and the Southern Cross from a chart handily supplied. Later, the moon appeared from behind the large hill to the right and tracked across the sky. With the disappearing and reappearing sun and moon, it’s the strongest sense I’ve ever had of being on a moving planet.

THE KIT

You get two gas hobs, a small fridge, a toilet, a great shower, cutlery, plates, cooking utensils, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, torch, and a USB port for recharging devices, if you must. Outside you can run a gas barbecue that can be used as an oven if you need one. You also get cooking oil, tea, coffee, milk and sugar. There is a Bluetooth speaker. In a drawer we found cards, binoculars, dominoes and books. But there is no microwave and there are no three-pin plugs. Definitely no hairdryer – the instructions warn it would use more energy in 10 minutes from the solar-topped up batteries than the whole Pod uses in 24 hours. Our cellphones managed a weak connection but we left them off anyway. The water is filtered and apparently comes from a shearing shed roof 150 metres away.

COMFORT FACTOR

This is a minimal set-up but there is comfort where it really matters – the bed. This luxurious king-sized beauty is the star of the Pod and the all-white linen is top class.

The view from the bed is fields, grass, hillside, birds and the sky above.

FOOD

Breakfast is home-made toasted muesli, home-made yoghurt and berry compote. All are excellent. But we also had the evening platter for another $95 and this was perfect for a slow, meandering pick and try meal. It featured a wide range of almost all local products from the Little River Cafe, and came delightfully packaged in Indian style tiffin containers. Our platter included chorizo, a fresh basil and cashew pesto, red onion marmalade, Akaroa smoked salmon, local roasted hazelnuts, semi-dried tomatoes, olives, marinated feta, two Barrys’ Bay cheeses – the Peninsula Blue and the Onawe Mature Cheddar, potato crackers, a fresh ciabatta loaf and lovely chocolate truffles. We brought along an Akarua Pinot Noir (only one letter out) from Central Otago and the whole was so much more than the parts.

The optional evening platter includes many very local delicacies supplied by the Little River Cafe.

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

Those who have booked a multi-night stay might enjoy a wander around the gallery and shops at Little River, 15 minutes away in the valley below. There is good coffee and more of those platter treats at the Little River Cafe. Drive another 35 minutes over the hills and you’ll find yourself at Frenchified Akaroa with many more cafes, galleries and opportunities to lose the stillness you enjoyed at the PurePod. My tip is to take enough supplies to not need to leave the Pod and stay there the whole time. Doing nothing and dealing with that is all part of it. The bush area it sits in can be explored, or just find a nice spot and lie flat like a lizard soaking up the sun and watch the clouds.

THE VERDICT

Memorable in a way I didn’t expect. It’s grounding and feels special. It’s a strange mix of gadgetry and getting back to nature. Worth the money? It’s expensive and that might make you decide buying a tent makes more sense. But if you really want something different, then this is a pretty amazing less-is-more luxury experience.

You can make the PurePod glow in the dark – and it’s all solar powered.

GETTING THERE

I won’t say exactly where the PurePod is because this is no place for sightseeing gawpers to wander along and have a look. The final little bit of “how to get there” information is only handed out when you have booked and long may it stay that way. Book at purepods.com. The website shows which nights are booked and which are available. Plan well ahead because it’s popular, especially at the weekends. In general terms the PurePod is about 40 minutes from Christchurch along the Akaroa Rd, and sits in the hills above Little River. There’s a bit of an atmosphere-building gravel road drive and then a final up and down bush walk of about 10 mins to get to the site. If you are only computer workstation fit like me, you will arrive puffing a little.

ESSENTIALS

The tariff is $490 a night. The optional platter is an extra $95, but definitely the way to go. Take your own really good wine. No wheelchair access, no kids, no pets.

By Ewan Sargent, Stuff.co.nz

25/10/2015