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The alternative tiny way of living


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You don’t have to be a builder to build a tiny home, you just need passion, tiny home enthusiasts were told at a living expo on Saturday.

From converted school buses and shipping containers, to yurts and pods, more than 200 people were given valuable tips from 15 speakers, to equip them to take on their own project, at the annual NZ Tiny House and Alternative Living Conference in Carterton.

NZ Tiny House and Alternative Living Conference organiser Sharla May’s school bus turned new home. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON

NZ Tiny House and Alternative Living Conference organiser Sharla May travelled down to Carterton in her newly-converted school bus.

May only started the bus renovation on July 1 – but was driven by the feeling of “not wanting to be stuck in one place”.

In 2016, May found her interest in tiny homes and alternative living but soon realised no matter how much research she did, setting foot in a tiny home was crucial.

That was when she saw the “need” for the conference.

More and more people were thinking outside the box of traditional living and wanting to know more about the tiny homes and alternative living, she said.

She self-built a tiny home out of a 40-foot refrigerated trailer unit over three months last year, and found that 70 per cent of her expenses dropped.

“I didn’t have to work so much for my living costs”, she said.

May will be travelling the country filming a series of alternative living in the coming months.

NZ Tiny House and Alternative Living Conference organiser Sharla May’s school bus turned new home. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON

Marton-based Keith Lovelock’s creative tiny home BnB’s are loved by travellers.

Lovelock renovated a shed on his lifestyle block into a colonial tiny house which triggered his latest creation, a yellow submarine-themed accommodation.

Lovelock said almost every one of the 300-travellers leave wanting to build one of their own.

“If you don’t have building skills, that doesn’t matter, you just need the passion,” he said.

Lucy AitkenRead and her husband, Tim, live off the land in a forest in the Coromandel.

The couple, with their two daughters, live off-the-grid in a yurt.

AitkenRead said “we never set out to live in a yurt” but after four months, they fell in love it, she said.

The AitkenRead’s chose the yurt lifestyle because they didn’t want to get “tied-up” with a building project with young children.

“I step outside and look at what we have, and I really do feel like we are living the dream,” she said.

Sonny Bai built his 5m by 2.4m home for living and travel, named Lady Jade.

On arrival to New Zealand he sought the simple life with the freedom to travel.

His tiny home is fully self-contained and off the grid with solar panels and water tanks.

His key piece of advice during the design phase was to create a large living space, “you spend a lot of time in the living room, more than the bedroom,” he said.

Carterton-local Fiona Christie shared her journey of building a single-level tiny home which is almost complete.

Wairarapa locals Mireille and David Hicks, Jill Greathead and Pete and Pip Whitlock also spoke about their alternative living journeys.

The next NZ Tiny House and Alternative Living Conference is at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato in February next year.

Fiona Christ with her partner David Field. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON


Sonny Bai and his tiny home. PHOTO/SUPPLIED




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