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Eco-friendly family container home: Clareville, Wairarapa

Family in front of their eco-friendly container home Wairarapa

David and Mireille Hicks had a problem. Where to live whilst they build the home of their dreams in the Wairarapa?

David took inspiration from his shipping container workshop in the backyard and converted a single container into a portable home. That home of their dreams? A family home that is eco-friendly and cost effective made from six 40 foot shipping containers.

Family Home

David, Mireille, Angelique, Julien and dog River now enjoy the space of their 180msq, four bedroom home. It's made with high cube containers meaning the ceilings are taller than conventional homes, providing an even greater sense of space.

There is a beautiful flow from the front door, to the kitchen through the lounge and beyond. The centre of the home is the fireplace in the lounge. The pyroclassic wood burning fire retains heat like a kiln, heating the entire home for longer. It also uses less wood that traditional fires. It's super stylish too with changeable colourful side panels to suit the seasons!

Angelique is a talented artist who creates her popular drawings and paintings at the desk her dad made her. David's hand made native macrocarpa furniture is throughout the house with desks, wardrobes and wood storage featuring. Angelique's art of Huia and jellyfish graces the walls in the entrance hall and above the kitchen table.

Julien is an avid sportsman, enjoying anything on two wheels. There's ample room in the garage for his mountain bikes and trail bikes. He loves spending quality time with his dad exploring the Wairarapa many mountain bike paths and forests.


The house is designed and positioned on the land to reduce the amount of direct summer sun; and the most winter sun streaming in the floor to ceiling height lounge room windows. The shipping containers are recycled, with their worldly travels evident in the dents and scrapes on the outsides. An aesthetic David has preserved to tell the story of this special property.

This container home is 100% self-sufficient starting with solar power (David's profession in Australia, prior to moving back to Aotearoa New Zealand). Water is provided by two 22,000 litre tanks fitted with a first flush diverter to ensure clean drinking water.

The truly amazing Wormorator waste disposal system utilises natural processes and worms to clean and recycle wastewater. It is then safe to use in the garden as liquid fertiliser. The waste doesn't need to be removed from site like other septic systems.


The saving start during construction. There is less down time due to traditional houses taking quite a long time to become weather-tight. Shipping containers are weather-tight right from the start allowing more flexibility and ease with internal fixes of power and plumbing.

Containers are inherently earthquake proof, so there is no need to spend additional funds strengthening older houses; or incorporating strengthening in to a new build.

The real savings come from properly insulating the containers; double glazing the windows and utilising air flow for heating and cooling; saving on energy consumption long term.

One 20 foot container tiny home costs approximately $45,000+ GST fully kitted out.

You too can have your own eco-friendly home in the Wairarapa. David has distilled everything he's learnt into his business Container Conversions. They also specialise in spray foam insulation; and David has written an e-book Building a container house: Tiny living.

These photos originally taken for an article by Helen Cordery for the Wairarapa Lifestyle Magazine.

You may like to check out more of my Lucalia Photography Wairarapa family photography.

The Hicks family including pet dog sitting in front of their container home, Wairarapa
David Hicks of Container Conversions NZ relaxing in his kitchen, Wairarapa

Mireille Hicks of Container Conversions NZ relaxing with an ipad in her kitchen, Wairarapa

dog jumping in front of water tanks, eco-friendly house Wairarapa

front door of eco-friendly family container home, Wairarapa

planting around the container home to hide underneath, Wairarapa

cushion on bed could, would, should, did, Wairarapa

container home kitchen, Wairarapa

Wairarapa artist Angelique Hicks in her container home kitchen

open plan lounge, dining and kitchen area of eco-friendly family container home, Wairarapa

fire wood storage, container family home, Wairarapa

Wairarapa artist Angelique Hicks Huia drawing with plant

handmade desk in family container home, Wairarapa

Wairarapa artist Angelique Hicks jellyfish drawing with plant

pyroclassic wood burning fire, family home, Wairarapa

black and white framed wedding photo on the wall, Wairarapa

sunlight through windows onto blue chair, container home Wairarapa

sunlight through window onto boy's bed, Wairarapa

view through windows across grass to trees and Tararua mountains, Wairarapa

You may like to check out more of my Lucalia Photography Wairarapa family photography.

Lots of love, Sarah x


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