Loco Miniature Railway & Gardens – Strawbale HomeLoco Miniature Railway & Gardens – Strawbale Homes

At Energise Ōtaki’s June 2019 meeting, the group was lucky to get a tour of Simone and David’s Straw-bale Home. There were 18 people in attendance (3 children plus a dog) and the experience was breathtaking. Folks, what you thought a straw-bale house is and the reality of seeing this construction – it was mind blowing and thought-shifting for me at least.



Maybe you have a different concept of what a straw-bale home is, but my own preconception begins with the story of the Three Little Pigs. The first (and worst) constructed house was the straw house. Flimsy and unreliable, the wolf was able to blow it in with an easy huff and puff. Gone.


I’ve seen a few Earth houses. And so I also imagined that we would see a rounded mud and straw house. Perhaps like a yurt but without the canvas. I imagined our own little Hobbiton right here in Ōtaki. This was not it.

This is like the Taj Mahal of construction. High beams, high ceilings. Thick, white walls that brought a flavour of the Mediterranean. Large windows with breathtaking views of the land / whenua and Tongaroa / sea. The house was warm and cosy.

Exterior of the house and window.

The interesting korero was enlightening. Simone and David did much of the work themselves and took classes around the country about straw-bale construction. They also worked with local builders and the Council and provided learning opportunities to people keen to get involved and learn more.

Amazingly, the house was built with minimal waste. Everything was reused or repurposed, or is still to be used and integrated. The sand, the mud, the lime are all from Aotearoa. By the end, David said that they had a small bit of waste.

It was a really wonderful experience to visit Simone and David. We are so grateful for their time, energy, and consideration building their house, and also the time that they spent showing our group around. You won’t be able to see their home, but if you are in the area, do visit Loco Miniature Railway & Gardens from October 1, 2019 – April 30, 2020.

Recycled and reused beams inside the whare.

Window into the interior of the straw-bale house