If You Find Yourself Stranded on a New Zealand Island, Look for One of These

Lawrie M, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Lawrie M, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

If Chuck Noland had found one of these little depots, the movie Cast Away (2000) would have been much less interesting.

From the late 19th century through the mid-20th century, shipwrecks were almost commonplace in the southern oceans near New Zealand. Despite dangerous waters and unpredictable weather, more and more traders were using the Great Circle shipping route between Australia and South Africa. The seas were violent, the water was cold, and the coastline was rocky—anyone who found themselves dumped unceremoniously into the ocean faced an almost certain death sentence.

One of the last straws was when a ship called the General Grant wrecked near New Zealand in 1866, killing nearly 70 people, including children. There were just 15 survivors, and five of them died on the desert island where they'd found shelter before rescuers arrived 17 months later.

In an attempt to stop similar tragedies, toward the end of the 19th century the New Zealand government installed depots on islands that shipwreck survivors were likely to come across, including the Auckland Islands, Campbell Island, the Snares Islands, and the Antipodes Islands. Some of the tiny sheds were just big enough to hold supplies, from food and water to wool "survivor suits" meant to provide warmth to drenched sailors. But others, like the one on Antipodes Island (pictured), were large enough for survivors to actually live in.

Sadly, it wasn't entirely uncommon for looters to stop by the islands to pick up a stash of free food and clothes, but woe to the unscrupulous sailors who did so—each shed was accompanied by a curse that read, "The curse of the widow and fatherless light upon the man that breaks open this box, whilst he has a ship at his back."

The supplies weren't limited to non-perishables stacked in a shed; the government actually released livestock to roam free on several islands, giving shipwreck survivors a source of fresh meat. For about 60 years, the depots were maintained by government steamer ships, which replenished supplies, released new livestock, cut firewood to leave in the huts, and checked for survivors. Plenty of castaways benefited from the depots, including 22 members of the Anjou, who survived for months after their shipwreck in 1905.

The steamers stopped maintaining the depots sometime in the late 1920s, after radio technology had advanced and that particular trade route fell out of popularity. Though they're no longer replenished, many of the castaway depots still stand today, including the one on Antipodes Island. (One of the oldest, built in 1880, is on Enderby Island.) Should you find yourself stranded in the area, shelter will be covered—but like Chuck, you'll still want to bring your volleyball for company.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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13 Inventors Killed By Their Own Inventions

Would you fly in this?
Would you fly in this?

As it turns out, being destroyed by the very thing you create is not only applicable to the sentient machines and laboratory monsters of science fiction.

In this episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy takes us on a sometimes tragic, always fascinating journey through the history of invention, highlighting 13 unfortunate innovators whose brilliant schemes brought about their own demise. Along the way, you’ll meet Henry Winstanley, who constructed a lighthouse in the English Channel that was swept out to sea during a storm … with its maker inside. You’ll also hear about stuntman Karel Soucek, who was pushed from the roof of the Houston Astrodome in a custom-designed barrel that landed off-target, fatally injuring its occupant.

And by the end of the episode, you just might be second-guessing your secret plan to quit your day job and become the world’s most daredevilish inventor.

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