Location: Kaikōura Price: From $590 per night Visit: Purepods.com
The idea of going "backcountry" typically evokes images of hiking boots, long socks and shorts, a giant backpack and a night in a tent or DOC hut. But going backcountry with PurePods is an image of luxury, isolation and endless views of nature, while retaining that off-grid simplicity so many intrepid travellers seek.
You might still need decent boots for a short hike to the hut but PurePods are remote five-star backcountry huts made mostly out of glass, to make you feel as if there’s nothing standing in the way of you and the farmland, mountains or ocean surrounding you.
There are several PurePods scattered in locations across the South Island, but a particularly spectacular example is the Manakau hut in Kaikōura. To get there, you’ll need to drive about 20 minutes out of the Kaikōura township, followed by a 10-minute hike through a grove of kānuka trees to get to the pod.
The escape provides a total digital detox as there is no WiFi and it is completely off-grid, using solar energy for heating. That means there is no air conditioning, but there are blinds and ceiling shades if it becomes too hot in the sun.
It’s not unlike living in a mini self-contained glass box, away from shops, noisy vehicles and other people, as well as a total immersion in nature with views everywhere you look. The night sky is unpolluted, which makes it perfect for stargazing, so a telescope and star map are provided, as well as some books and games.
You’ll also have views out to the Kaikōura ranges including the mighty Mt Fyffe, towering more than 2600m over the region. The pod is fully self-catered but meal kits can be provided, with a Weber barbecue outside. Ideally, you want to stay on a clear night, so you can gaze up through the glass panels, knowing it’s just you and the galaxy in that very moment.
Although this kind of isolation might feel daunting, just think of the satisfaction that'll come with surviving a digital-free experience. The PurePod would make a romantic escape for a couple but it is also perfect for a solo retreat for a traveller with an appreciation for isolation and a desire to disconnect from the world.