Written by Louisa Steyl. Published on Stuff.co.nz
With its sweeping views of Port Levy Bay and native bush, the Barnett family know there’s something special about their Banks Peninsula property.
By partnering with PurePod, they have been able to not only share a secluded slice of their paradise with others, but also generate a second income, without huge capital or workforce investments.
And it wasn’t just the family who were getting something out of the partnership, patriarch Richard Barnett said; the surrounding community benefit from the visitors by providing services and meals.
”We’re pretty pleased with how it works for our property,” he said.
PurePod is the brainchild of Southland-born serial inventor Grant Ryan who wanted tourists to be able to experience what they saw in the “100% Pure New Zealand” adverts without having to venture to a back country hut.
His solution was a glass box with little impact on the landscape, but it would take a couple of years of research and development before creating the current five-star, off-grid units dotted around New Zealand.
The Barnett family’s Pōhue PurePod was the fifth to be set up.
They had already been running a cottage on their 1800 hectare beef and sheep farm, named Kaihope Farm, and a visitor suggested it would be a good location for a pod.
Barnett liked the idea of an additional income stream that wasn’t dependent on the weather.
But it was a “slow burn”, he said, as being just one hour outside Christchurch the property fell under the Canterbury Regional Council who had their hands full with consents after the earthquakes.
PurePod handled the consenting process and the pod arrived pre-fabricated.
The family welcomed their first guests in December 2017, and besides a lull during Covid-19 lockdowns, “it’s been a bit hectic”, Barnett said, adding that they’re fully booked this summer.
“The occupation rates have always surprised us.”
PurePod handles bookings, marketing and maintenance, which is ideal for the Barnetts who run a busy family business with 8500 stock units over high country terrain.
For the most part, they were able to go about their business normally, but they tried to keep lambing and calving away from the Pods, Barnett said.
“Apart from that, they’re totally immersed in the farm.”
The family are, however, responsible for cleaning and maintaining a walking track to the pod and Barnett stressed that farmers involved in the project needed to understand that it was about putting people and experience ahead of money.
Barnett and his wife Clare are second generation farmers on this land, and their children and grandchildren are also involved in the business.