Living in a Yurt in the Forest in New Zealand

We have lived in a yurt two years now. I heard last night that the mind is a ‘discounting muscle’ – it’s a survival technique; we minimalise big, important things over time in order to cope. For example, when humankind used to live a treacherous hunter-gather life, if we spent our whole time being blown away by the incredible fragrance of the blossom, we would be less aware of the lions stalking us.

So in theory, we should have spent about a week going, “Ooohh! Wow! We live in a beautiful yurt!” Then another week going, “Ahh, yeah, the yurt is pretty cool. I am concerned about the insect life in here, however.” And then, by the third week, it should be, “Blablala, yurt shmurt. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THESE BUGS?”



But do you know what? Every morning that I wake up in our big family bed, see the sun oozing in through the canvas, and feel the fresh air on my cheeks I think, “Oooohh! Wow, we live in a beautiful yurt!”

Here are some things we like about it:

Our yurt is plonked in the middle of a some of New Zealand’s most beautiful forest and it really feels like we’re living in the midst of nature. This comes with a good dollop of nature being in places we are not that keen on – I woke up with a praying mantis on my nose last summer. But it also means we spend a lot of time high on nature’s endorphins.

The roundness of the yurt makes it feel kind of sacred. Living in the round must connect with some deep, intuitive part of our minds. Sounds weird, I know. But it’s how I feel. DON’T DENY ME MY FEELINGS, GODAMMIT.

I read about this idea of ‘democratic architecture’ the other day. Inner city, three-bedroom, brick houses (why yes, we did used to own one just like that!) are out of reach for so many people. A simple wood and canvas structure like the yurt is the opposite – a very affordable option. This means we now have to work far less, meaning more time with our children and more adventures to be had.



We are off the grid. We do have solar but it isn’t the same as having an overabundance of electricity. This means we are quite attuned to the seasons. Winter is slow and days close down earlier with card games by the fire. (Winter living in a yurt is possible! Summer is wild with picnics by the river at 9pm and solar powered dance parties.

People often think of living in a yurt being a really simple or minimalist sort of life. And yes, in some ways it is. It would be more so if I wasn’t still completely addicted to second hand shopping. Ah, more porcelain birds? Sure, we have room for them! Another set of dominos? Why, certainly! A massive Victorian typewriter? HAUL IT IN, BABY! Our yurt has space for all these extras. (See our eclectic yurt interior here.



So yes, it is a pretty magical, cheap and simple way of life. We love it. Insects on our faces is the small price we pay for a life under canvas.

Lucy Bio: Lucy recently moved from London, UK, to an off grid life in the middle of a forest in New Zealand. Her most recent book, 30 Days of Rewilding, is a collection of daily readings for families who want to feel at home in nature. It is an Amazon bestseller. Come and say hi on Facebook or Instagram

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Dawn Rae - July 31, 2016 Reply

Love this article! I love tent camping but for whatever reason I am afraid of considering a yurt for living quarters. This was a wonderful article to read.

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