There’s no place like Hoam
For Garry Smith home isn’t bricks and mortar, its an eyecatching and carefully crafted housetruck. And as found out it’s a lifestyle he revels in.
New Zealand’s mountain parrot, the kea, would be in heaven if Garry Smith’s mobile home parked in their harsh, alpine environment. It’s a kea’s dream — shiny with lots of novel, metal bits. And just like Garry, this home on wheels is unique and full of character.
‘‘That’s Garry. Spelt with two ‘r’s, like Larry, Barry and Harry – not one ‘r’ like Mary.’’ Which was how Garry introduced himself to me. It was the first of many interesting snippets of information he shared during our conversation.
I first saw Garry’s house-truck parked at Mapua Leisure Park over Labour Weekend. Like many people, I couldn’t help but be drawn to this extraordinary home on wheels. Although not huge, its quirkiness attracts people.
An assortment of hand tools hangs on one side of the truck. The other side has an exterior kitchen. Two old fashioned metal radiators hang on the outer walls attracting heat to warm water. Even the roof is intriguing with what looks to be a garden springing into life. Garry has added a charming addition to the outside table and chairs, using children’s gumboots as footings.
Garry was born and raised in Motueka. His secondary education was at Nelson College and after graduating he started an auto electrical apprenticeship. In his 20s he married, bought a house and became the proud father of three children.
After his marriage ended, Garry wanted to be mortgage-free. ‘‘ The Latin meaning of ‘mort’ is ‘death’’’ Garry informed me. ‘‘I didn’t want to spend my life being tied to a mortgage’’.
During a trip to Australia, Garry happened to come across an elderly couple travelling across the Northern Territory in a six-wheeled motorhome.
This sparked a longing in Garry to sell his home, move to Australia and buy an off-road motorhome equipped to roam the Northern Territory. As eager as Garry was to pursue this new adventure he was torn between moving countries and being away from his children.
After many discussions with his mother, Garry realised he couldn’t leave his family. Instead he focused his energy on creating a home to roam around New Zealand. Being a ‘Jack of all trades’, Garry put his skills to use. Using several Internationals he created his new home.
Garry’s 300 horsepower, Ford V8, International Harvester house-truck has a 1967 chassis as the base and a 1964 chassis to support the second level. The bonnet of the truck comes from a 1967 International.
It’s been a labour of love. During the past 10 years Garry has imagined, designed, wielded and created this home on wheels he proudly calls ‘‘Hoam’’.
Hoam is lined with sheep’s wool for insulation. A modest woodburner assists with warmth during cooler months. It’s also used for cooking if the weather rules out the al fresco kitchen.
Some fresh produce for meals comes from a potted garden that sits on Hoam’s roof. Chives, mint, lettuce, spinach, silverbeet and broccoli are a few vegetables that Garry has grown.
To access the garden, Garry opens a hatch on the ceiling above his bed. During warm, summer nights Garry often leaves the hatch open and drifts to sleep with a view of the stars above.
And speaking of views – when I was given the grand tour of Hoam, the view from the lounge/ kitchen, framed by stable-like shutters, opened out to a panoramic view over Ruby Bay. With a slight stretch of my arm I’m sure I could have touched the jewel-blue waves rolling in to shore.
With a million dollar view, an accompaniment of native bird song and the murmuring of waves, it is little wonder Garry adores his lifestyle.
‘‘The only thing to beat it would be to explore the outback of Australia and be amongst the wildlife.’’
It’s a dream that Garry hopes one day will come true.
Garry Smith’s house truck Hoam parked up in Mapua. A desire to live without a mortgage inspired Garry to build Hoam.