The team from Smokelis: The Smokeless Firepit Co. Photo by Ruth Gilmour.

Meet the maker: Smokelis Braziers


Is there anything cosier on a winter evening than gathering around an open fire? Luke Powell, owner and founder of Smokelis: The Smokeless Fire Pit Co., doesn’t think so.

Waikato-based Luke discovered a gap in the market when investigating braziers and fire pits for his own home.

“I’ve always been annoyed with traditional outdoor fires – how you light this huge fire and burn through a wheelbarrow of firewood in one evening, yet you’re basically only warming the four people that stand directly in front.”

Luke also faced limited space in his backyard and didn’t want anything “too gargantuan”.

Smokelis portrait INP

Smokelis Braziers owner, Luke Powell. Photo by Ruth Gilmour.

“I thought – how can I make it look great so that it’s something I’m proud of? Something that’s an equal substitute for a big outdoor fireplace?”

A brazier or a firepit was the obvious solution, but ash and embers falling out the side of a brazier and the fact that they're smoky and inefficient were problems, too.

Then Luke spotted the smokeless concept on Pinterest in 2020 and the concept of Smokelis began to form.

“I liked the idea of secondary combustion.  It's simple technology that's used in traditional enclosed indoor fires to increase efficiency and reduce smoke emissions. The air gets heated as it’s brought through the double wall design, and the oxygen comes through the ring of holes at the top, mixing with the excess gases coming off the firewood and increasing their chances of getting burnt up.”

Smokelis braziers INP

Smokelis Braziers are made in New Zealand from quality materials. Photo by Ruth Gilmour.

This airflow system is built into all Smokelis firepits, allowing for gathering around and cooking over an open flame, but without the sooty ash and smoke of a traditional fire.

“It burns clean. You can turn it into an awesome entertainment centrepiece with all the live fire grilling and accessories.”

In addition to reducing excess gases, Smokelis’ ethos of environmental stewardship is apparent in the structural craftsmanship and use of quality materials. Each element is designed and built in New Zealand with the intention of lasting a lifetime.

“It's an investment product. You could buy one of the cheap imported ones, but they're not going to be something that lasts generations.

“If you're a discerning homeowner who really cares about the look of your home, and you want something that you’re actually proud to show your mates, then you want something built in New Zealand.”

To further back up his point, Luke highlights that the Smokelis firepits are about 56kg heavier than their comparatively sized imported counterparts.

“We use 18 gauge steel – New Zealand steel when it’s available – and everything is designed and made in our factory in Hamilton.”

Smokelis label INP

Owner Luke Powell puts the finishing touches on a Smokelis brazier. Photo by Ruth Gilmour.

Smokelis’ success has meant that Luke has stepped away from general engineering and fabrication of other brands to focus entirely on Smokelis.

The fire pits are now stocked in 27 retail spaces in New Zealand, in Sydney and, soon, in Melbourne. Luke is also investigating products that will complement the fire pits, such as outdoor furniture and outdoor modular kitchens.

“At the end of the day, I was literally just solving a problem. And I knew a lot of other people that were facing the same problem.”


Story by Emily Draper for the Winter 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Emily Draper is the Deputy Editor of AA Directions magazine.

AA Directions has a Smokelis Kindle fire pit to give away, valued at $1,199.

To be in to win, enter here!

Explore more from AA Directions magazine:

More from AA Directions

Find out more

Ziplining in Kaikōura

Soar high above the beautiful landscapes of Kaikōura on an EcoZip Adventure. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Dealing with the dreaded deadlock

Everything you need to know about how to avoid deadlocking yourself out of your car. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Moehau Man: is there a bigfoot in the Coromandel?

Marc Coppell investigates mysterious sightings in the depths of the Coromandel. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Behind the scenes: Auckland Wintergardens

Visit the recently-renovated Wintergardens in the Auckland Domain to experience the year-round beauty of blooms. Read the story . . .