Two more Rangitoto Island baches could be restored and opened to the public giving access to unique excursions on the predator-free volcanic island.
After an "incredibly successful" pilot renting out two previously-restored baches on the island, Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust (RIHCT) has applied to restore two more for public rental.
RIHCT chair Elizabeth Andrew said the restored baches had been booked out nearly every weekend this year.
"People are saying it is absolutely magical. Once the last ferry leaves you have the island all to yourself, you can walk up to the peak to watch the sunset, or the sunrise. The bird life is simply amazing.
"Just 35 minutes from the city, and it is just you there."
There were 37 historic baches on the island, with the first one built in 1911 and the last in 1937.
In 1997 some of the baches were falling into disrepair, so the trust formed to save them.
"We presented to the Department of Conservation and the minister our alternative solutions to demolishing them."
With volunteers and a range of grants and donations they restored three of the baches.
Two - baches 78 and 114 in Islington Bay, have been available for the public to rent since December 2017, and another has been used as a museum at Rangitoto Wharf, which also won a Unesco award for community involvement.
The trust has now applied to the Department of Conservation for a five-year concession to restore historic baches 52 and 65, while maintaining three others. The application is open to public submissions until February 12.
The group is also seeking to utilise the restored community hall/tennis pavilion for social events, including wedding functions.
The baches on Rangitoto have historically been available to only a few lucky families,
something the trust has wanted to change.
"The baches have been incredibly popular, booked out almost every weekend this year - even through winter," Andrews said.
"People kayak over, catch the ferry, or get a water taxi. We even had someone from Australia come over and stay. It is a pretty unique experience."
Bach 78 sleeps six, bach 114 seven and both cost $132 a night. Tight biosecurity rules also applied, to ensure the island's pest-free status was maintained.
The baches are basic, with the restoration keeping with their age and "unique bach style" of 1930s living.
The only modern concessions are to bedding, cooking, heating and toilet facilities, and lighting and a cigarette-lighter for phone charging, powered by solar panels.
But with limited reception the island acts as a bit of a "social media retreat".
"We have filled the place with jigsaw puzzles and books to read. Kids love it here too."
Some of the baches are still under the original leasees, some are under custodial care, and some passed on to DoC, two of which the trust is hoping to restore.
Restoring each bach - with volunteer labour - took about five years, Andrews said.
They also quite costly with access issues, and biosecurity concerns on the predator-free island.
"We were quoted about $60,000 to $80,000 to restore the previous baches, including labour," Andrews said.
"With volunteer labour it is a lot cheaper, but then we have to pay ferry costs and it is pricey."
They were hoping to have one of the two baches fully restored and ready to rent in five years.
Through consultation with tāngata whenua the trust had reduced their concession application from 10 to five years, given current treaty claim issues.
"We have been liasing with them and they are supportive of our work," Andrews said.
"We tell bach stories, that is what we do."
Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Tribal Trust chair James Brown said they were regularly in contact with the trust and supported their plans.
"They are a great group doing good things for all our communities, the 'right way'.
"The restored baches are made immediately available for all Aucklanders to access and rent, which aids and advances Ngāi Tai manaakitanga, or duty of care."
While the islands are administered by DoC, Ngāi Tai has claims there based on historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi both as an iwi and as part of Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau.
• Bach 114 and 78 are available to rent.
• The Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust has applied for a concessionfrom the Department of Conservation to restore two more baches to make available for renting.
• Rangitoto has 37 baches built from 1911 to 1937.
• Many are still leased to families who holiday there.