Blen­heim-made tubs to be ex­ported to Scan­di­navia

Marlborough Express - - Front Page - by Dave Wil­liams

Hot tubs made in Blen­heim will soon be warm­ing Swedish flesh as a New Zealand in­ven­tion finds favour in the home of the hot tub.

The ‘‘coals to New­cas­tle’’ hot tubs are the brain­child of Dunedin phys­io­ther­a­pist Steve Au­gust, who said the idea came about be­cause he was too mean to buy a spa pool.

He wanted some­thing other than the cast-iron bath on the lawn with a fire un­der it and the por­ta­ble tub was in­vented, which he has called Ki­witub.

Ki­witub went on the mar­ket un­der three years ago and al­most 200 tubs have been sold in New Zealand.

‘‘About half the sales have been for home use to peo­ple who sim­ply don’t want the chem­i­cals. Also they cost noth­ing to run on fire­wood, and very lit­tle on gas if you’re just heat­ing them up when wanted,’’ Mr Au­gust said.

‘‘We’ve just had a re­quest for a 40-foot con­tainer load to go to Swe­den, so are look­ing at ex­port­ing to Scan­di­navia and Canada. It turns out there’s noth­ing like the Ki­witub any­where in the world. This seems pretty crazy – I just built it for the bach.’’

Tub maker In­dac owner Michael Hitchins, who has one of the tubs at home, said he was able to pro­vide sketches that fit­ted the bill from Mr Au­gust’s de­scrip­tion.

The Blen­heim com­pany was able to come up with a hot tub weigh­ing about 60kg that was ro­bust enough to do ‘‘all the crazy things he wants it to do’’.

Mr Au­gust said the tub was made of ex­tremely tough poly­eth­yl­ene – the same sort of plas­tic used in kayaks, wa­ter tanks and mus­sel buoys.

‘‘We’ve had them up moun­tains and rolled them up river val­leys and towed them be­hind ca­noes. They’ve even been crash tested – one fell off the ve­hi­cle in Ti­maru and just bounced.’’

Mr Au­gust said Mr Hitchins had the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing a bof­fin and there was def­i­nitely an art in mak­ing the dou­ble-skinned in­su­lated tubs.

The com­plete hot tub unit with burner costs about $5500. It needs no chem­i­cals or elec­tric­ity. There are no pumps or plumb­ing and the cop­per and cast-brass main burner runs on LPG gas or fire­wood. It heats the tough plas­tic tub through two hoses mak­ing a con­vec­tion loop.

This cir­cu­la­tion heats the tub wa­ter in just an hour or so on gas com­pared with 10 to 20 hours to heat up a spa pool.

Photo Scott Ham­mond 145617

In­dac’s Matt Gri­d­ley, left, and Mar­garet Hay raise glasses of orange juice to toast the Blen­heim built Ki­witub, which are now be­ing sent to Swe­den.

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