Blenheim-made tubs to be exported to Scandinavia
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.
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.