It took the owners of PurePods eight years to develop and build the first 20-square-metre tiny house. The part that took the longest? Determining how the technology would run inconspicuously through the home.
Because PurePods aren’t your typical tiny houses. Instead, they’re cabins made entirely of glass. Glass walls, a glass ceiling and even clear, glass-like furniture.
“The concept came about from us seeing the 100% Pure New Zealand ads and all these amazing views, and then going ‘Well, how can tourists and New Zealanders experience that without having to go hiking and staying in some backcountry hut with lots of other smelly people?’” says PurePods CEO Stephanie Hassall.
“How can we give them luxury? How can we make it so that it’s their own experience and they’re not surrounded by others? And how can we do that in a way that doesn’t ruin the landscape they’ve come to see?’”
Initially marketed to those wanting to experience luxury in nature, PurePods has now evolved to accommodate those wanting to stargaze, honeymooners and pairs simply wanting a fully immersive getaway.
Because immersive it is. Every detail has been carefully planned and implemented to make it so.
“I suppose you could call it minimalist luxury,” says Hassall. “There’s not a lot of clutter. The cabinetry is a light colour wood. The colour of the steel beams were chosen so that they disappear. And the table and chairs are see-through, as is the bed. It’s also all about looking out and not focusing on what’s inside.”
Each of the six PurePods has a different outside to the next. Some sit above valleys; others near water bodies; and one, the Greystone, on an award-winning organic winery. The view was the most important factor Hassall and her team considered when choosing sites. Next was privacy. “We need to make sure you feel completely safe in that glass without there being people wandering around,” she says.
Lastly, with all pods on farmland, Hassall needed to ensure she was working with farmers that were as passionate as she was about providing an amazing experience. A water source and the direction of the sunrise and sunset also came into play when choosing sites – the latter being crucial as the house relies on solar power.
“I probably see 20 to 30 sites and there will be one or two out of that that I go ‘This could be a good building site’,” says Hassall.
Once the site is picked and the house delivered, it’s then in the hands of the farmers. Hassall ensures they’re fully briefed and trained on how to clean and maintain the house, as well as the dinner and breakfast ingredients to provide. In keeping with the sustainability theme, most of it comes from their own garden or from a local café.
The experience was designed to begin even entering the cabin, says Hassall. It starts as soon as you leave the real world behind. “Part of the experience is parking your car, leaving all your big luggage there and just taking an overnight bag and a short walk through nature.”
Walks vary in length, with the shortest being just 400 metres and the longest 1.2km. “That can take 25 to 30 minutes depending on fitness levels because there is a little bit of a gradient to get up.
“But the view is totally worth it. It’s just so worth it. We make it clear on our website the location and view you like, and also how challenging or not challenging the walk is to get there.”
Each pod is equipped with solar-powered LED lighting, a fridge and water system. Bio-fuel heaters heat the floor and the hot water. And the bed is one of the comfiest you’ll find.
And among the six pods, which is Hassall’s favourite? “It’s a bit like asking ‘Which is your favourite child?’” she says. “But I’m really passionate about water views so I love Atatu because I love watching the sun come out of the sea in the morning. It’s just amazing.
“And I also really like Kahutara. You’ve got the mountain view. You’ve got the river view. You’ve got the sound of the wind in the long grasses in the summertime. Actually, I could give you a reason why I love them all, to be fair.”
And visitors are realising this too – Hassall says she’s noticed guests starting to pod hop, booking multiple locations as they work their way from Christchurch up or the other way. Extending the experience should prove even more beneficial than just one night of disconnect. Hassall describes a stay at PurePods as a timeout.
“It’s that digital detox. It’s time to sit back and just enjoy the time with your special someone,” she says.
“How many times do you go out for coffee and you sit there in silence both looking at your phones? Here’s the chance to reconnect with that person and just sit there and listen to the sound of the birds.
“In fact, I got some feedback the other day from a guest who said for the first time on their three month holiday in New Zealand, they didn’t turn on any music all day. They just sat there and enjoyed the sounds of nature.”