Short for ‘bachelor pad’, the word bach is deeply embedded in the Kiwi psyche - unless you’re from the south of the South Island, where they use the word ‘crib’ when referring to a holiday house.
After World War II, as better roads made remote places more accessible, New Zealanders began building haphazard holiday houses in gorgeous places up and down the country.
In those days, a bach was "something you built yourself, on land you don't own, out of materials you borrowed or stole." You’ll still see some of these original baches, steadfastly refusing to fall down, in New Zealand beach towns. Made of corrugated iron, fibrolite and used timber, they’re often painted crazy colours. The most authentic will still have a ‘long drop’ toilet out the back.
Thank goodness for evolution
Over the years, the majority of New Zealand’s baches have evolved into comfortable holiday houses on legitimately-acquired land. Some have even gone on to become mansions with four-car garages, a private beach and a mooring for the superyacht.
At the basic end of the scale, baches are furnished with hand-me-downs from the ‘real house’. They’re like family museums - full of odd furniture, kitsch art works and hilarious knick-knacks from previous decades.
Others have become interior decorating projects, complete with top-to-toe colour coordination and designer accessories. If you browse around any of New Zealand’s ‘book a bach’ websites, you’ll see the full spectrum of bachology - from livid 70s orange and brown to super-stylish minimalism.
Sometimes baches acquire nicknames, which get hung on a plaque by the front door. Classic names include Duck-Away Cottage, Works End, Lazy Dayz and Thiseldome (this will do me).