Showering nude in a glass cabin, totally exposed to the outside world, is a confronting experience.
No matter how many times you’ve been reassured nobody will disturb you, it’s undeniably odd. The glass cabin in question was the Atatū PurePod, located about 90 minutes north-east of Christchurch and perched high above the coastline on an historic Greta Valley sheep farm.
The pod, the newest in a line of seven glass eco-cabins dotted in secluded spots around Canterbury, opened in August 2018. A portion of a $475k Government tourism grant helped fund upgrades to the technology in the pods, chief executive Stephanie Hassall said.
On a Thursday afternoon, we left the city behind and drove out to the farm following a detailed set of directions emailed days before our arrival to keep the exact location of each pod secret.
After leaving the car behind and hiking the final 750 metres through native bush we arrived to find a glass box on top of a ridge.
The roof, walls and floor were all crystal-clear. At 20 square metres, no larger than a tiny house, the solar-powered and wi-fi free pods include everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Books, USB ports, a BBQ, deck chairs and a portable speaker were included. Hair tools and power outlets were not.
At $590 a night, the luxury of a PurePod experience is in the extreme privacy, the true off-the-grid experience and the chance to indulge in entertainment that doesn’t require charging.
Hassall said since the cabins were raised off the ground, they had less environmental impact than camping by allowing plants to grow underneath. The sustainability focus, and having the smallest possible impact on the landscape, was at the core of the business, she said.
Using local produce for the optional meals and providing an income stream for the farmers whose land they used, also helped pump money into the remote areas, she said.
Around 65 per cent of guests were overseas visitors, mostly from Singapore, Australia and the Scandinavia. High demand for the pods meant they were opening around two a year and Hassall hoped to eventually move to the North Island but had plans to continue growing in Canterbury first.
The glass eliminated any possibility of privacy but we had been guaranteed no-one would disturb us for the duration of our stay and, given we were 20 minutes from the farm turn-off on State Highway 1, there was no chance of anyone stumbling upon us.
The novelty of the glass, surprisingly, didn’t wear thin but it would be untrue to say shower time wasn’t an eye-opening experience. A thin curtain is provided for optional use, but if you can get past the risque element of it all, it’s worth giving it a miss and really getting back to nature.