An Off-Grid Tiny Cabin Nestled In Nature

An Off-Grid Tiny Cabin Nestled In Nature


by Christina Karras

Kererū Retreat was designed by the architect-owner, Ben Comber.

The corrugated iron exterior also features douglas fir as a ‘rain screen’ on the gable faces.

The unique getaway operates off-grid, thanks to water tanks and solar power.

The elevated queen bed is focused towards the morning sun.

Built-in storage and furniture makes the most of the 18-square-metre footprint.

A mix of light timber line the interiors.

The gable roof also finds space for a loft area.

A look into the kitchenette and bathroom.

Stainless steel surfaces and handcrafted copper tapware feature throughout.

The restrained material palette allows the building to blend into the natural environment.

The serene getaway lights up beautifully at night.

This tiny home in New Zealand was born out of the owners’ desire to ‘find balance’ from their desk jobs in the city.

Architect Ben Comber (director of Studio Well and Tiny Retreats NZ) and his partner were looking for a place where they could relax and reconnect with nature, but with a ‘very modest budget’, they knew purchasing land and constructing a getaway on a traditional scale was ‘simply not attainable’.

Instead, he came up with the idea for Kererū Retreat. It’s a compact, transportable, and off-grid alpine cabin that’s currently positioned amongst ancient trees on a stretch of land in Pudding Hill, which Ben leases from a local farmer.

‘The antithesis of “bigger is better”, the retreat focuses on achieving quality finishes within a small but seemingly spacious footprint of less than 18 square metres,’ Ben says.

The cabin quickly became a passion project that Ben ‘lived and breathed for months on end’. And despite having no building experience, he closely worked with builder Myles Stanaway of Erskine Bay Builders to bring this vision to life. ‘Progress was made only during evenings and weekends so did take over a year to finish,’ he explains.

He sought to reflect the natural environment in the strategically pared-back design, using natural locally sourced materials wherever possible.

The zincalume corrugated iron roof and exterior walls draw inspiration from the ‘simple and robust local rural barns’, while the cabin’s gable structure maximises space inside the small floorplan to feature a kitchenette, bathroom, and queen-sized bed by a window — taking in morning sun and leafy views. It’s made even more serene by the warm mix of pine, lawson cypress, poplar and macrocarpa timbers that line the interiors.

Sustainability was also a key part of the project. With an off-grid solar system, composting toilet and rainwater tank, Kererū Retreat has a light environmental impact, and can be moved anywhere as needed. Ben hopes his adaptable holiday home might also challenge others to think outside the box, and is open to expressions of interest for anyone who’d like their own ‘built-to-order’ version of the micro-cabin.

‘We can make buildings as energy efficient as possible but the most meaningful way to reduce our negative impacts on the environment is to reduce the footprint,’ Ben adds.

He’s even opened the cosy getaway for short stay bookings on Airbnb, encouraging guests to experience the joy of tiny living first-hand!

Book a stay at Kererū Retreat here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.