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Off the beaten track: Motion Sickness’ owners explore New Zealand’s hidden holiday escapes in their new book, Hideaways

Two of the owners of Auckland creative agency Motion Sickness have been dabbling outside of their usual day-to-day activities to photograph and write the book Hideaways, a guide to a variety of beautiful and remote huts, baches and caravans to escape to around the country.  

Motion Sickness founder and creative director Sam Stuchbury and partner and co-owner Hilary Ngan Kee have been on an epic quest to document some of New Zealand’s best spots to escape to for their new book, Hideaways.

The book, which was photographed by Stuchbury and written by Ngan Kee, pays homage to different enchanting escapes all over New Zealand that the creative duo tracked down and tried out while researching the book (it’s a hard life).

The places featured throughout the book are far-flung, ranging from the romantic to the adventurous: there’s beachside baches, luxury tents and vintage caravans featured alongside mountain and fishing huts, all of which are available to the public to stay in.

Stuchbury says the pair was approached by Penguin Random House and asked if they’d be keen to work on a concept for a book after they saw his photography for a past project. As life has been hectic with all things Motion Sickness for the past four years, he was eager to take on a creative side project.

“It was pretty organic to come up with an idea,” he says. “Myself and Hilary both have a passion for the outdoors and make an effort not to let our jobs running Motion Sickness take over our life, although it’s not always possible… Getting out of the city and surrounding ourselves with nature is something that resets me and definitely refreshes me creatively so the idea of ‘Hideaways’ really felt natural. The basic premise is that we wanted to go on a journey to find the best hideaways around New Zealand and see what these special places mean to different people.” 

He says another important message they wanted to get across in the book was that while running a business, it’s important to go offline, leave the city and do something different in order to stay healthy.

“There is a lot of this ‘hustling’ ‘work until you drop’ entrepreneurial mentality around at the moment, it’s great to work really hard and achieve great things but I feel it is important to not lose sight of that stuff outside of work,” Stuchbury says.

“[It’s about] having balance and knowing that ‘out of work’ stuff also contributes hugely to your success and inevitably your happiness. Sharing these hideaways and what they mean we hope will help people escape, go on an adventure and get away from it all now and again.”

Stuchbury and Ngan Kee spent the better part of a year escaping the hustle and bustle of Auckland (and occasionally escaping work early on a Friday) to discover some of New Zealand’s most charming, remote getaways.

Stuchbury says finding the hideaways they were going to feature in the book was the hardest part of the process, as by nature, they were often hard to track down.

The pair ended up doing a lot more research than they first anticipated, while other places they found through word of mouth and a bit of luck.

They also didn’t face too much trouble in convincing people to share their little slice of paradise with the public, he says.

“Most people, once they heard about the plan for the book, were super open to it all. A few were a little unsure of us, when owners initially heard about two Jafas are coming to shoot ‘some book’ I think some made a few assumptions, but once we had a cup of tea and a yarn we got on with everyone,” he says.

“The owners were just happy to share what they have created. It was really nice to see this shared mentality for owners that they have found and made something special and now they want other people to experience it for themselves. Kiwi hospitality at its best.”

Creating an actual physical body of work to touch and feel was also rewarding after doing so much work in the digital realm with Motion Sickness, he says.

“A lot of the photography and videos I shoot and direct are all for digital placement at Motion Sickness, so it is so nice to see the images and text in a tangible book form,” he says.

“Something about being to hold and share your work feels good.”


Hilary and Sam

And of course, while the book was a separate venture from the agency itself, the skills Stuchbury and Ngan Kee have developed there came in handy.

He says the pair have ‘good taste’ in what works and what doesn’t, as a lot of their day-to-day work is visual. This helped them narrow down the choices on which hideaways were the most aesthetically pleasing to feature.

As well as this, their line of work also involves storytelling, and he says the book itself is a collection of stories about people and places around New Zealand. Ngan Kee spoke to many of the owners about why they choose the life they live in such far-flung, tucked away places and what they love about it to create an intimate portrait of each location.

Stuchbury says the highlight of the experience was meeting the owners along the way.

“Seeing their way of life, to be honest, really opened my eyes. It’s easy to sometimes get caught in the ‘Auckland bubble’ so to see all these other ways to live your life was refreshing. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak,” he says.

The other highlight was sharing such a unique experience with his partner, Ngan Kee, as he says they’ve now seen the best and worst of each other.

But the pair haven’t been put off, either – they’re in talks for a second concept for a book, so keep your eyes peeled for more adventures.

Hideaways is available now online and in selected bookstores.

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