Monday, 7 January 2008

The Bach

Bach (pronounced Batch) is the name given in New Zealand to structures akin to small, often very modest holiday homes or beach houses. They are an iconic part of New Zealand history and culture, especially in the midst of the 20th century, where they symbolized the beach holiday lifestyle that was becoming more accessible to the middle class.

The true bach is almost always a small structure, often made of cheap or recycled material like fibrolite (asbestos sheets), wrinkly tin (corrugated iron) or used timber. In Hebridean terms the the bach is New Zealand's airidh or sheiling. They were influenced by the backwoods cabins and sheds of the early settlers and farmers. Many baches do not have modern amenities like connections to the water and electricity grid. Department of Conservation figures estimate that more that 50,000 bachs exist around New Zealand, a high number considering the country's population of barely more than 4 million people.

While older baches tend to be relatively poor structures, modern kit structures are becoming popular amongst bach owners. Nowadays, given their positions - usually on a shore or lakeside, they can be very valuable indeed. One on Lake Taupo is on the market for $1m. The grand structures that often replace them are often also referred to as 'my bach'.

Two of Lake Taupo's original baches
A more secluded bach
A bach - yeah right!

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