Submarines might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to New Zealand’s Rangitīkei district, but that’s all changed thanks to Keith and Jen Lovelock. Hidden away in a redwood forest on their Rangitīkei property, you’ll find a striking yellow submarine. And for those looking for a one-of-a-kind place to stay, you can book this very submarine on Airbnb.
Keith, once a radio technician, impulsively announced to his family his plan to build a yellow submarine. His kids were mortified, urging him to stop talking about it. What they didn’t realize was that Keith wasn’t the only one committed to this project—Jen was too. Together, they spent a year and $20,000 to craft and decorate this submarine into their own playful retreat. It wasn’t long before it turned into a popular accommodation choice in their area.
The idea for the submarine took shape six months after Keith’s kids dismissed his initial proposal. Jen, on her way home from work, noticed a silo and its resemblance to a submarine. She wondered aloud to Keith if they could use a silo as the base for the submarine, and he thought it was a great idea.
They found a silo for just $1 on Trade Me, the local online auction and classifieds site, and it felt like fate. They brought it to their property, where it stayed in a paddock as they figured out what to do next. A year later, that humble $1 silo had been transformed into the iconic Yellow Submarine.
The Yellow Submarine is an innovative form of accommodation, available for rent on AirBnb, that sits suspended among redwood trees on Keith and Jen Lovelock’s property in the Rangitīkei district. It’s made from an old grain silo purchased on Trade Me for $1, parts of a milking shed, and a spa bath. The entire submarine was made using recycled materials.
While it looks compact from the outside (and is on the inside!), it has enough space for four people. Guests enter through a slow-rising front hatch for that full submarine effect.
Entry to the Yellow Submarine is probably quite similar to an actual submarine – minus the water, of course. You enter via the ramp/jetty to the front bulkhead door. This guides you to the Victorian steampunk lounge and galley. Like a real submarine, mobile devices and the internet don’t work once you’re inside. As a result, Yellow Submarine is the perfect getaway for those looking to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
When you step into the submarine, you’ll be greeted by a cool John Lennon mannequin right at the door. This nod to Lennon, a key member of the iconic English rock band The Beatles, ties in perfectly with their renowned song “Yellow Submarine.”
The kitchenette has everything you need for tea and coffee-making but is certainly not what you’d expect in an average kitchen. It’s an old dresser from a second-hand shop with a hole cut into it for the sink and a few new catches to match the nautical theme. The kitchenette backsplash is made of the bold copper materials that would be used on telecommunication poles to stop possums from climbing up. Keith and Jen say the entire submarine was done ’on the cheap’, with recycled materials.
Adjacent to the kitchenette is the comfortable and very much on-theme living area where guests can relax. It features a gorgeous Chesterfield couch that matches the steampunk Victorian submarine vibes. A US Navy diver’s Mark V antique helmet takes pride of place in this area. While it looks authentic, Keith and Jen say it’s a ’brilliant’ knockoff from India.
What good is a yellow submarine without a parrot? Tucked away in the corner of the lounge behind the couch is a fake parrot in a cage. It’s a tribute to the Monthy Python skit, ’Dead Parrot’.
Desk Made From an Old Oak Bedhead
Tucked away behind the staircase leading to the loft is a desk made from an old oak bedhead. Keith and Jen fashioned it into a table for convenience. Keith also used many different ’bits and bobs’ to decorate the submarine for its authenticity, including an old switchboard box from pumps and Sky satellite dish mounts. As eclectic as Keith’s collections are, they all add realism to the submarine.
The sleeping quarters are in the middle of the ship. They’re accessible through small cutout doors, similar to those in a real submarine. This area also has interesting submarine blueprints from World War II plastered all over the walls. You can certainly be educated during your stay!
You might have wondered how a compact yellow submarine would fit four people, but it does. While not authentic to a real submarine, Keith and Jen managed to fit two double beds in the bedroom area of the submarine.
Just as a real submarine would have bathrooms, so does the Yellow Submarine on Keith and Jen’s land. The bathroom is well-equipped for every guest’s needs.
The bathroom is actually quite sophisticated. It’s set up with externally-fed mains power plus a 12-volt backup supply. This supply powers the marine toilet, auxiliary lights, and front opening hatch. There is also a small high-pressure hot water cylinder for luxurious five-minute showers.
There’s a staircase in the central area, which is what you would find in most tiny homes. However, this submarine is a little different. Instead of leading you to a bedroom, it guides you to the well-researched control tower.
The second-floor control tower is where guests can set ’set sail’. There’s even a ship steering wheel, so guests can be at the helm and feel like they’re in charge of the submarine.
The control tower features an old captain’s chair, port holes, and high-tech-looking equipment. The roof is made of an old spa tub, and Keith and Jen installed portholes where the jets were.