You Won't Want to Leave This Cozy Cabin in New Zealand

You Won't Want to Leave This Cozy Cabin in New Zealand

By Melissa Dalton / Published by Dwell
An Australian couple build a small cabin retreat in New Zealand for their family—then decide to make it available to rent for the rest of us.

Not too long ago, Kenny and Heidi Smith started talking about investing their money. The outdoor-loving, Queensland–based couple thought they might like to buy a property with some of their savings. 

The couple wanted their cabin to mesh with its beautiful natural surroundings. "To us, this meant small," says Kenny. "We wanted the design to put you right into the landscape, and by making it small we feel drawn to the night sky and mountains that surround us."

"But we couldn’t get inspired with the idea of buying something we didn’t care about, renting it out, then flipping it for profit," says Kenny. 

"We have two children who were coming into early adulthood, and as it became apparent that they would start becoming more independent and move out of the family home, I felt drawn to the idea of having a sort of temple that would call all of us to this place to reconnect with the outdoors."

"With this cabin I wanted something that was robust, so you could enter after an outdoor activity, kick your boots off, start the fire, and put some food on," explains Kenny. "But at the same time, have a feeling of space with the high ceilings, and some luxury and comforts of modern living, like a nice shower and great water pressure."

That "temple" would end up being a charming 535-square-foot cabin on 10 acres in New Zealand, just fifteen minutes from the town of Twizel. 

For the cabin's design, the Smiths were inspired by the back-country huts and hiking shelters found in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, as well as Jens Risom's prefab vacation cabin on Block Island. 

The handmade coffee table was crafted from Larch wood and bought off Facebook.

"I tried to study what I liked about [Risom's] design and I identified that I was drawn to the feature windows on one of the gable ends, as well as the scale of the pitch of the roof in relation to the size of the structure," he continues. 

"I drew from the layout of Jens Risom’s cabin and laid the room out around the light that comes in through the main windows," explains Kenny.

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The built-in sofa was designed to be very functional. The base has storage capacity, and the mattress is the size of a single bed for an extra guest. Plus, industrial-grade foam and fabric ensure the cushions will hold up to wear and tear.

The interior walls are Ecoline V groove ply. "I chose to use a dark-colored stain inside, so that the walls almost disappear and you’re drawn through the windows to the outdoors," says Kenny.

A queen-size bed in the bedroom features cozy, simple linens.

The exterior siding is in a traditional board and batten style, then accented with a steel roof.

Interested in staying at the High Country Cabin? Book your getaway here.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Jess Paterson

Builder: Templeton Construction

Structural Engineer: Batchelar McDougall Consulting

Cabinetry: Jayden Moore Construction

Sofa Cushions: Karen Ward

Interior Staining: Ace Painters

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