I have recently finished reading a book called Unusual Hotels of the World. Published in 2013, it featured some crazy accommodations from ice hotels to one built from salt. There is an underwater bedroom where you need diving equipment to reach it. There is a rather dangerous ‘hotel’ which consists of hammocks strung 30 metres off the ground between giant trees in a forest. More conventional accommodation is found in a converted lighthouse on a windswept rock off the coast. There are quite a number of tree huts of various shapes and sizes. How about a floating aquarium to sleep in or a hotel on stilts in Switzerland or a bedroom located in a concrete pipe? However, there is a unique Kiwi accommodation that was not in the book. So far, the glass cabins known as ‘Purepods’, are only available in New Zealand.


With a population of just 5.2 million in an area the size of Britain with a population of 67 million, it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of open spaces in New Zealand. In fact, the country’s wilderness regions are a great tourist drawcard. There are a number of spectacular luxury hotel and lodges scattered around these wilderness areas which I have written about in previous blogs. These world class accommodations are located in dramatic locations and attract the rich and famous from around the planet.  


As a new approach to glamping, the sustainable tourism model called ‘PurePod’ takes the traditional Kiwi ‘bach’ (called ‘crib’ in the South Island) and turns it into a state-of-the-art living space that cleverly exploits the open space without disturbing it. It provides a totally immersive experience in selected New Zealand rural landscapes. The privacy and isolation of a luxurious glass cabin with the sky, hills, sea, birds and bush as the setting has to be, in my opinion, one of the most unique accommodation experiences in the world offering pure bliss to all who stay in them.


The roof, walls and floor of the PurePod are all made of double glazed, heavy- duty glass so you can see everything from the starry night sky overhead to the native plants growing beneath your feet. Even the chairs, table top and bed headboard are transparent. Sliding doors on all three sides open to allow guests to experience nature in its natural state. Imagine watching a winter storm approaching. The scent of wet grass, the rustling of nearby trees, the light and shade created by clouds as they gather overhead must be a unique experience from the warmth, comfort and safety of the Purepod.  I would think summer to be the best time to experience the solitude and stillness of the open space while basking in the sunshine on the deck and admiring the pleasant New Zealand rural landscape. It’s a great opportunity to be nude as there are no neighbours and little chance of anybody passing by.


Taking six years to develop, the half dozen off-grid, solar powered eco cabins are all located (so far) on the east coast of the South Island in areas of gentle natural beauty. They each have hotel standard showers, flush toilet, clean linen, cooking and eating equipment including a gas hob and barbeque. There is an assortment of games and local reference books, even a telescope to observe the brightly twinkling stars in a night sky that is not affected by the light pollution found in all urban areas. Being billed as five-star accommodation, dinner and breakfast can be provided so there is no need for any domestic type chores while vacationing in these glass sanctuaries. I’m not sure who does the cooking or drops the meals off, but this is advertised on the Purepod website, so I guess they have something organized to make this happen. Comments from previous guests speak highly of the food’s quality so there must be some competent cooks involved in preparing the meals.


Located in the middle of nowhere, Purepod stays offer no activities. WHAT!! NOTHING TO DO? WOW! That’s their unique selling point! The idea is for all guests to chill out and experience the solitude and magic of nature – a totally new experience for city folk who are used to constant noise and bustle.

All Purepods are at least 1km (.62 mile) from the nearest road and carpark. Some locations require walking through native bush, others involve a hike across fields. This imaginative kiwi accommodation concept surely has a bright future. I’m sure when the country re-opens its border to international tourists, there will be a demand for people wanting to not only experience the New Zealand great outdoors, but to also do it in safe, private five-star luxury. As farmers become interested in hosting Purepods on their properties as a source of income, more of these glass cabins are bound to spread beyond the Canterbury region.

If Unusual Hotels of the World publishes a new edition, I hope they include Purepods as they certainly deserve to be mentioned for their uniqueness and their environmentally friendly and innovative approach to accommodation.

Ceidrik Heward

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