You walk up the rise, and there’s the sea

A Peka Peka bach turns its back on the ocean in favour of shel­ter and na­tive trees be­hind the dunes.

HOME Magazine NZ - - You Walk Up The Rise, And There’s The Sea - Text Greg Dixon Pho­tog­ra­phy Andy Spain

“The as­sump­tion is that if you’re go­ing to live out here, you want to see Kāpiti, you’ve got to get the sea view. That’s the cliché...”

If you’ve ever tramped the coun­try’s great walks, you’ll know this feel­ing well. Af­ter a long day spent in the drip­ping rain­for­est of the Mil­ford track or the rustling beech on the Route­burn, you be­gin long­ing for the sight of a hut, one that never seems to ap­pear. Then, just when you’ve al­most given up hope, at long last you’ll see it, hid­ing among the trees. It may be a shorter walk from the road to this beach home at Peka Peka on the Kāpiti Coast, but that thrill of last­minute dis­cov­ery is just the same. In thick coastal bush between the road and the sand dunes, the drive­way curves gen­tly through tall stands of kānuka, ngaio and pit­tospo­rum, be­fore you fi­nally catch a glimpse of the house hid­ing like a very flash hut among the trees. Not that sim­i­lar thoughts had oc­curred to the project’s ar­chi­tect John Mel­huish, of Welling­ton prac­tice Her­riot Mel­huish O’Neill. “Per­haps we should have painted it DoC green,” he dead­pans, be­fore con­fess­ing he’s more trail run­ner than tram­per. How­ever, it’s this sense of dis­cov­ery, pri­vacy and re­treat that first at­tracted Mel­huish’s clients to this patch of pro­tected bush. And it’s these things that see the cou­ple and their fam­ily trav­el­ling from their Welling­ton home most week­ends. It cer­tainly isn’t the prop­erty’s sea views. Rather un­usu­ally for those investing in a bach by the beach, they were not tempted (al­though they had the choice) by views of the cel­e­brated na­ture re­serve of Kāpiti Is­land. “The as­sump­tion is that if you’re go­ing to live out here, you want to see Kāpiti, you’ve got to get the sea view. That’s the cliché and you can see it has been done, of­ten badly, all along this coast,” says Mel­huish. “The own­ers are from the Welling­ton sea­side sub­urb of Seatoun. They are re­ally mar­itime peo­ple, they love the sea. But their at­ti­tude was that you walk up the rise and there it is – you don’t need to look at it all day. What the site does of­fer – apart from pri­vacy and the won­der­ful sights and smells and bird­song of the en­demic coastal bush – is shel­ter. “We came out to the site on quite a windy day,” says Mel­huish, “and I swear you could stand there read­ing a pa­per.” Apart from po­si­tion­ing the house to pro­tect as much bush as pos­si­ble, the only con­cern was the site’s flood lev­els. “We’ve put it up on poles, it’s not on a con­crete slab. Ev­ery­thing is raised up above the sand, and it’s all sand, and is tucked in among the mānuka,” says Mel­huish.

This page A view out to scrub-cov­ered dunes. Fac­ing page A deck cir­cles the home, fringes the sur­round­ing bush and wraps around to a court­yard.

Left A win­dow in the tower neatly frames a view to the bush. The en­try board­walk is be­low.

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