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Back to the Baches

For generations, New Zealand families have loved nothing better than heading to their waterside retreats for weekends and holidays, says Rob Abrahams.

The quintessential New Zealand holiday: lots of sun, sea (or lake) and sand, with some beach cricket, fishing, sailing or swimming thrown in, before finishing the day with a good old Kiwi barbeque, and the whole family is happy.

For generations of Kiwis, this idyllic sounding holiday has revolved around the family ‘bach’ or holiday home. Indeed, a survey found baches were the preferred accommodation choice for 53 per cent of Kiwis.

These Kiwi holiday ‘retreats’ have never conformed to any particular style or architectural design. If anything, non-conformity was the order of the day, often due to the fact that they were built over several decades, with each generation adding their mark, with additional rooms or storeys tacked onto the sides, on top, or underneath, the original building. These ‘additions’ were often made with whatever building materials were readily available at the time, creating a warren of rooms and hallways.

Our family bach was at Kouatuna, on the rugged east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula on North Island, and only a stone’s throw from the beach

The excitement of the first night listening to the waves would keep my cousins and I awake to the early hours, chatting about who would catch the biggest fish or stay up the longest on the water skis. With most of my extended family living in the cities, the summer holidays at ‘the bach’ were an annual reunion.

Originally a two bedroom Kauri timbered house bought by my grandfather, it eventually included a caravan for the kids and a two storey building at the back, built by my father and uncle, with four more bedrooms to accommodate our ever increasing family.

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