A bach at the beach

Kiwi lifestyle icon is alive and kick­ing – and kick­ing back

Real Estate Outlook - - Coastal Feature -

Bach is not a uniquely New Zealand word. In the United States, for in­stance, bach and batch was short for bach­e­lor. What is uniquely New Zealand is the use of bach – or in the South Is­land, crib – to mean a vacation house. Baches and cribs were once quite small struc­tures, where a man bached – fended for him­self with­out a wo­man to cook his meals. In the case of the cribs that clung to the rocks in ex­posed coastal places handy to fish­ing haunts, they could be ex­tremely small – some­times lack­ing full stand­ing head­room. Baches are an iconic part of New Zealand his­tory and cul­ture, es­pe­cially af­ter World War Two, when they be­came ac­ces­si­ble even to fam­i­lies of quite mod­est means. Given New Zealan­ders’ love af­fair with the sea, and our end­less coast­line, baches are syn­ony­mous with ‘coastal’. It could not be oth­er­wise. And while the tra­di­tional bach de­vel­op­ments of Orewa and Whanga­paraoa have long-since be­come per­ma­nent set­tle­ments, the sim­plic­ity of the much-loved bach oc­ca­sion­ally en­dures there, as an ar­chi­tec­tural in­flu­ence. Fur­ther north, not as far north in the case of the Kaipara, the more tra­di­tional bach is alive and well. Usu­ally ren­o­vated and of­ten per­ma­nently oc­cu­pied, the ‘bach at the beach’ is avail­able in num­bers that leave vis­i­tors from more pop­u­lous parts of the world in­cred­u­lous that such life­styles are ac­ces­si­ble here to other than the very rich. In­deed, as­pir­ing to own a bach, for many young work­ing cou­ples in Auck­land, is now con­sid­er­ably more re­al­is­tic than own­ing their own home. The down­side, of course, is the trav­el­ling – if es­cap­ing to the bach in the week­end or com­mut­ing from there to the city. With broad­band, liv­ing and work­ing on the coast and re­serv­ing trips to the of­fice for prin­ci­pal meet­ings is a way to avoid the daily grind of mo­tor­way traf­fic. If that op­tion is un­avail­able, a ra­tio­nal al­ter­na­tive is to get on the road ex­tremely early – ear­lier than 5am if trav­el­ling from Snells Beach. Much later than this and the mo­tor­way traf­fic, by Albany, will be re­duced to a crawl. If flee­ing the city for the week­end at the first op­por­tu­nity of a Fri­day af­ter­noon, reach­ing the east coast north of Mahu­rangi West is likely to re­main a test of pa­tience. Be­cause once the mo­tor­way to the Puhoi River opens, the de­lays and sense of frus­tra­tion is only set to in­ten­sify, with the first tail­backs form­ing from Schedewys Hill. Com­muters con­cerned to not add to global warm­ing face a quandary. In the west. The one-year trial of a rail ser­vice to He­lensville of­fers po­ten­tial for com­mut­ing from South Head, for ex­am­ple, with­out con­tribut­ing to cli­mate change. The pop­u­lous east coast of Rod­ney, north of Wai­w­era, has lit­tle pub­lic trans­port for com­muters. This seems un­likely to change any­time soon. Trans­port plan­ners are pos­si­bly loath to even ad­mit that sig­nif­i­cant com­mut­ing oc­curs, from such far-flung places. The re­al­ity is that the al­lure of liv­ing on the coast is all but ir­re­sistible and com­mut­ing is the price many are pre­pared to pay. Mean­time, for those for­tu­nate fam­i­lies that don’t need to reg­u­larly visit the city, coastal liv­ing must surely rep­re­sent life at is best. And what of sea level rise? The syn­the­sis re­port re­leased by the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change in Novem­ber 2007 warns that by 2050, on­go­ing coastal de­vel­op­ment and pop­u­la­tion growth in some ar­eas of Aus­tralia and New Zealand are pro­jected to ex­ac­er­bate risks from sea level rise and in­creases in the sever­ity and fre­quency of storms and coastal flood­ing. The own­er­ship of some low-ly­ing coastal prop­er­ties could be­come in­creas­ingly prob­lem­atic. Some will con­sider the risk ac­cept­able and some not. Oth­ers will sim­ply con­sider there is no proven risk.

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