Simple Piha pleasures enjoyed

By Graham Hepburn

23 North Piha Rd, Piha. Photo / Supplied
23 North Piha Rd, Piha. Photo / Supplied

From the outside, this seaside bach has remained virtually unchanged since it was built - and that's the way Mark Seabrook and his siblings like it.

Built around 1947, the elevated bach harks back to simpler times and encourages its occupants to enjoy the simple pleasures of its setting - the beach, the sea views, the bush and its birdsong.

Mark says the peace and privacy of the setting also appealed to his father, Scott, when he bought the bach in 1965 from the original owner. He also bought the adjoining property and removed the house on it to create a secluded family retreat. Utilities had been run to this property with the intention of building a discreet "treehouse" one day - a plan that was never realised.

Mark thinks the house was built by a man who was a friend of Les Waygood, who oversaw the subdivision of North Piha. "From what I understand, the house was built after the war by Bert Eyes, a master builder who built his dream home out of the best materials he could find."

Native timber was used in the construction of the home, which has modernist touches such as its flat roof and horizontal glazing bars on the picture windows facing the sea view.

"It's beautifully proportioned this house," says Mark. "The spacing of the bars on the windows and the railing on the front deck are exactly the same, and there are other nice touches such as the angled soffit."

Scott passed the house on to Mark, his sister and two brothers 32 years ago and in that time they have been careful to keep the home as original as possible while adding some creature comforts such as underfloor heating, a dishwasher and a new oven range that sits in the space that used to be occupied by the coal range.

A deck was added to the rear of the house, outside the kitchen and a bifold window put into the kitchen so food could be served out on to the deck.

But apart from these improvements the house remains proudly original, right down to its blue-and-white colour scheme.

Inside, the kitchen has a built-in dining booth, and there is a bunkroom near the back door. The lounge has picture windows that maximise wide views of the beach and its renowned surf break. The next-door bedroom has the same view out to sea and also one looking up the coast.

Even during the foulest winter weather Mark says it's a pleasure to come out to the bach.

"This house is so solid that it's neat to be tucked up inside with the open fire going while there is a raging storm going on outside," he says.

But it's in summer that the property really comes into its own, with friends and family using the sleepout at the back of the property or parking campervans or pitching tents on the large lawn.

"My sister and brother-in law used to bring a campervan out here and park it up by the house and hook it up to the power outlet we put in outside," says Mark. "And there's plenty of lawn and sheltered spots for pitching a tent, which has made this a great place for bringing the family together. When friends come out for a barbecue, I tell them to bring a tent out.

"At Christmas time you sit out here having a barbecue and the pohutukawas are on fire so you are surrounded by colour."

The sleepout has been set up with beds, bunks and couches, and has bifold windows at the rear opening to the view of the Waitakere Ranges. Outside is a hot-water shower for rinsing off after a day at the beach, which has a surf patrol.

The rear of the property has another driveway and this goes past a pristine stream that is tapped into for the North Piha Water Supply, which feeds this property and about 60 other subscribers with unlimited water for $400 a year.

"The stream never runs dry and I've followed it up to its source where it comes out of the ground as a spring up in the hills - and there are some beautiful swimming holes and waterfalls along the way."

It's this combination of bush and beach that Mark loves about the property. However, he and his siblings all have different interests they now want to pursue and feel it's time to sell "even though it will be a real wrench".

- NZ Herald

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