Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the beginning...

The Flying Tortoise was a 1977 KD Bedford bus built in New Zealand by the well respected Hawke Coach Builders in Papakura. Originally owned by Forest Products, it was used in the Tokaroa and Kinleith forestry areas.

A few owners later and with only 57,000 k's on the clock, Keith Levy, whoever he is, bought the bus in August 07 and set about creating more than just a permanent home on wheels.

Long inspired and having lived by the philosophies of Henry David Thoreau, Zen and the Japanese Wabi-Sabi, The Flying Tortoise was always going to be different.

By October 2007 it was a simple and cosy home with a style combining Scandinavian and Japanese design. Scandenese design perhaps... A small solid fuel fireplace warms the 5.3m x 2.35m, 12.5sq metre (17.6ft x 7.6ft, 131sq ft) home in a few minutes and is also a delight to cook on. Comfortable chairs and table are to relax, work or eat at. A unique PVC shower for use inside, with it's own floor is designed to fold-up and disappear when not required. There's another unique inside/outside shower attached to the main door which gives privacy and is naturally draining. The Flying Tortoise's interior feels spacious and inviting. A specially designed aluminium and black PVC bathtub for two can be used inside by the fire or outside under the stars. Hot water comes from a large specially designed and made 5mm thick aluminium unit that sits on the top of the fireplace. Just turn the tap for constant hot water. A portable toilet slides and stores under the bed and is easily accessible. Cooking is mostly performed on a single highly efficient gas burner. A Tajine is often used as well as a cast iron camp oven for roasting or baking. Flat bread happens either on the fireplace top or on a frying pan. A top-loading amazingly efficient Engel fridge/freezer runs 24 hours a day using a maximum 2.5amp hours.
Two 125watt BP Solar panels are fitted to the roof and supply the energy for the two 12v, 255amp hour AGM storage batteries. An additional 85watt BP 'tracking panel' is used sometimes during winter.
A wetback water heating system was considered but the fireplace is too efficient for the amount of water that's carried on board.
Flowers and vegetables grow on the back deck and a double ocean kayak sits ready for launching from the roof.
Aluminium in the style of the famous Airstreams, she turns heads and minds.

The whimsical logo for The Flying Tortoise was designed by the wonderful and talented Michael Mchalick of Wellington, New Zealand.

The Flying Tortoise uses Solar energy from the Sun to power its lights and appliances.
The same electricity is used to transmit this Blog to you.
It contains very high levels of Vitamin D.
If you notice any changes to your health and well being as a result of being exposed to this blog, you should consult a medical practitioner or even a doctor.


  1. It is recommended to switch to solar energy in order to save the electricity bills and to have electricity 24/7 without any interruption.

    solar hot water

  2. So tonight, Kieth, the question is: How are we (you) going to call the attention of your adoring audience to these entertaining and informative first posts? It would be nice to turn the blog on it's head and have the first posts at the top so people can read it all from the top down, as it were.

    Oh, and apparently, solar power isn't immune to spam promotions, it seems. Mr Robbins attempted to post a spam link to an Aussie solar hot water site, but botched it. The link leads to a FT "Not Found" page. Too bad.

    1. The question or rather the answer is one I know not but perhaps you will come up with the solution as you make your earnest Mr Hemming way through the 2,221 posts you have promised to comment on. We will all watch your progress and urge you on...