Tokerau Beach holiday house owners Tony and Bridget Bauer's philosophy is people's pet dogs are usually a real part of the family.

The couple's house at Tokerau Beach has just won Gold in the Bach of the Year's Pet-Friendly category.

It was the only Northland entry to win in the annual Bookabach competition's categories - Design, Family-Friendly, Indulgence, Eco-Friendly, Pet Friendly, Unique, Urban and Hospitality.

The Bauers' is a nicely appointed house, purpose-built as their holiday and one-day retirement home, being let as a rental for the second season when the Auckland-based couple are not using it.

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''Why not let other people enjoy this beautiful location when we're not using the house!'' says Tony Bauer.

Among its best features is being right across the road from one of the Far North's beautiful, long sandy beaches in gorgeous Doubtless Bay.

But its winning feature, at least for the Bach of the Year, is being as pet friendly as it is inviting in other ways.

The dogs are allowed inside if that's their place in their own home, and there's a decent sized fenced area outside.

''We look at it like this, a dog is part of the family,'' Bauer said.

''You go on holiday to get away from the stress of your work, to have a great relaxing time with the family. If having a dog is part of the life and relaxation you have at home, why not when you're on holiday, too?''

He said he knows people who sometimes go without a holiday if unable to have their pooch with them.

Pet-friendly and perfectly placed. Cammo the dog relaxes in front of the fire at her owners' prize-winning rental holiday house.
Pet-friendly and perfectly placed. Cammo the dog relaxes in front of the fire at her owners' prize-winning rental holiday house.

As for renting out their lovely house to unknown dogs: ''It's all based on trust. People who are allowed to take their dog somewhere generally, not always but mostly, are very grateful for that opportunity and take extra care.''

There's even a mat in front in front of the fire inside for the four-legged holidaymakers.

''We just ask the owners to pick up and dispose of the doggie-doos and don't let the dogs climb up on the beds or couches.''

The Bauers designed the house from scratch and builder Tony Bauer built it himself.

With ''semi retirement'' in the Far North beckoning, he's already picking up building work which keeps him at Tokerau Beach for longer periods than weekends. Tough, but someone's gotta do it.

We're reluctant to make this article sound like an ad, but being ''tough'' at this holiday place includes:
• Guests just walk across the road to Tokerau Beach, catch some fish, dig for tuatua, bring them back to the fish filleting bench.
• Rinse themselves off in the hot outdoor shower.
• The fully fenced section means peace of mind leaving pets and boat behind while exploring / relaxing.
• Hot tub for a relaxing evening.
• Close to local shops for the basics and the local fish and chips.
• Five minute drive to Carrington Golf Course, Carrington Vineyard, Winery and Restaurant, Rangiputa / Perehipe / Karikari / Tokerau beaches and Maitai / Waikato Bays
• Five seater reclining suite, two armchairs, gas fireplace, up to date home theatre and Sky TV.

Bach of the Year judge, TV personality Laura McGoldrick, said she was amazed at how many options Bookabach offered for the many families wanting their beloved pets on holiday with them.

As for the Tokerau Beach house: ''It's a big plus for me to be next to a beach or beautiful natural park so the phrase 'Through the park to the beach' sounds like a win/win.''