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.

The Leader (Nelson) - - WHAT’S ON -

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.

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