Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Historic bach ready to rent

Restored cottage on Rangitoto will soon take paying holidaymakers back to 1930s.

Bach  114, about 100m from the wharf at Islington Bay, is the first of three Rangitoto baches to be restored for public use.
Bach 114, about 100m from the wharf at Islington Bay, is the first of three Rangitoto baches to be restored for public use.

A historic Rangitoto Island bach could be available for the public to rent by Christmas as the first of three giving Kiwis a taste of how holiday life was nearly a century ago.

Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust chairwoman Elizabeth Andrew said discussions were being held with the Department of Conservation to make the first bach available but no agreement had yet been reached.

"These places need to have people living and staying in them," she said, adding that the trust needed money to continue its restoration work.

Bach 114 at Islington Bay, only about 100m from the wharf, is restored and ready for occupation and Elizabeth Andrew said it might be open by Christmas.

About six people could potentially stay there for two to three days maximum and advice on prices would be sought from website Book A Bach.

Work is being done on nearby Bach 78 and it might be finished within 18 months.

Another bach needed to be restored and rented out, too.

"Bach 103 is on the list and awaiting renovation," she said.

Guests could live like holidaymakers in the 1930s.

"There's no piped water and no power. You'll have to boil the water, which is from a tank. There's a long-drop still, but it's been converted into a composting toilet. There's no smoking in the bach and technically no smoking on the island. You won't be able to light any fires or leave any rubbish behind," she said. Guests would pay a bond to get the key and have to abide by strict conditions.

Tight biosecurity rules would apply, to ensure the island's pest-free status was maintained.

Elizabeth Andrew said the baches were still revealing the island's past because the trust was recording oral histories, collecting photos and interpreting history. Volunteers had pulled a skirting board off Bach 78 when they were working on a wall and were surprised to find the words Trotter's Track written on the inside, she said.

"That was an original track on the island, between the hall at Islington Bay and out towards the Gardiner's Gap baches and it was the short cut. Mr Trotter died on that track and it was named after him." The Trotter family held an 80-year reunion and commemorated the track with a new sign and plaque explaining its history.

It was those types of stories the trust wanted to promote to show the importance of its work, Elizabeth Andrew said.

DoC spokesman Nick Hirst said the trust had done a fantastic job restoring Bach 114 and getting it ready to rent.

Rangitoto baches

• Bach 114 could be available by Christmas.
• Bach 78 and Bach 103 might be opened later.
• Rangitoto has 37 baches built in the 1920s and 1930s.
• Many are still leased to families who holiday there.
• The public cannot rent any baches but demand is high.

- NZ Herald

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