Housesitting in New Zealand, Life at No.22

The Iconic Kiwi Bach

By the seashore is where we were for a month ending just last week.

And we were also bachsitting.

Housesitting is what we have been occupying ourselves for the last few years, and we thought why not carry it on in New Zealand.  And we did.  Well, our last assignment just happened to be very different from previous ones, even though it’s not readily recognisable as a bach, it’s still a bach at heart, and home to those that own it.  So there we were bachsitting.  Not forgetting the unforgettable felines whose home it is, Mumbo and her daughter Pippy whom we cared for while their human family were on holiday.

On the verge of Extinction?

Coromandel Bach
Living in a train carriage
Railway Carriage recycled

What I am referring to when I write “bach”?  It’s the much loved mid-20th-century batten and fibrolite holiday home.  Nowadays, it can be anything from a converted railway carriage to a mansion.

A bach was once symbolic of a Kiwi way of life.

The late New Zealand novelist Nigel Cox, writing in New Zealand Geographic more than two decades ago, said that the classic form was rough as guts: an outdoor dunny, galvanised iron water tank, fibrolite exterior, unlined interior, exposed rafters and wiring, bare timber floors, paua shells on shelves, little piles of playing cards, a shelf of well-thumbed paperbacks. But most of all, the good old Kiwi bach was built on the cheap and was utilitarian to its fibro soul.

Days of summer past

Drenched in ladlefuls of nostalgia.

No luxury in the bedroom with the usual lumpy mattresses, the magazines and books of years ago, most out of date, but what these modest properties lacked in sophistication, they made up for in character.

Hot waterside days, balmy, barbecue-scented evenings, sunscreen when we remembered to slop it on.

Food served between BBQ meals was homemade biscuits, and lemonade drinks to wash down those biscuits. Ice-creams to fuel the collecting of natural resources, which were shattered from our beds to the living areas. This meant sandy sheets and the sound of shells hitting the wooden floor throughout the night.

During the long summer days wet towels, togs and sand on the floor, discarded board games, piles of jandals at the door and us kids, lots and lots of kids.

Beach memories are usually collected during summer though we had collected a few winter ones by the time we left the Coromandel.

A few snippets of our Coromandel beach memories:

Exploring the Coast



Watching the ever-changing sea

Rainbow lasted 40 minutes

Dramatic sunsets


Reading on the deck

Enjoying zillions of beach walks

Les on the beach

Dusk heading back to base.jpg

Being impressed by staunch dog walkers out in all weathers [secretly thankful that this bachsit had only 2 felines], shell collecting and really all sorts of beach activities.  Most requiring movement at a brisker pace.  Not forgetting to add the need for more clothing.  No thoughts of a mid-winter swim entering our minds at all.

In the middle of my romantic reverie lies our time bachsitting in an Iconic Kiwi Bach.


35 thoughts on “The Iconic Kiwi Bach”

  1. Again, stunning photo’s Suzanne, I love the rainbow and the reflection on the beach. We have a few restored railway carriages here in the UK used as cafes, I think it’s a brilliant idea 🙂 Weather apart, looks like you had a lovely time there

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hiya Sam, we had a cuppa in a railway carriage in Wales and yes they are a brilliant idea. I have always thought it was a great recycling concept and I am into minimalist living in small spaces 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Suzanne, Coromandel Beach has a special place in our heart. I had never heard the word “Bach” until now. The quote by Nigel Cox speaks volumes. I likes the words “utilitarian” and “character.” A wonderful post that captures the days and evenings of past and present. The photos are spectacular!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are back in Tauranga now and the beach here is a lovely large flattish area to walk along, and one of the top beaches in NZ.

      We are very fortunate and you two need to come down here for a visit, the camera won’t be put away for long 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautifully evocative piece of writing. I was right there, a child again, with sand and seashells in my sandals and clothes (and bed clothes), waking early for another daylong adventure. Wonderful, and how brilliant to go back, and bach-sit, and re-experience it all. And your photos are something else. You’ve set me up for the day with a big smile. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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