So I returned from my European travels to some wonderful family news: the wisest and most sensible of us Rodgers, in conjunction with his equally wise and sensible wife, had bitten the bullet and bought a bach (for overseas people, and those from Southland, a ‘bach’ is a holiday home in kiwi parlance). Now, this was no overnight decision, it was something they had been seriously considering for several years. They have been spending increasing amounts of time in Whangamata – with their kids getting involved in junior surf lifesaving (if someone can tell me why it’s called Nippers that would be good…) and generally loving going somewhere by the sea with lots of mates around. So it made sense for them to stick a stake in the ground and buy themselves an abode of their own down there.
Now, the subject of ‘to bach or not to bach’ has been one that has come up on every single family holiday we have had for as long as I can remember. As a child, we used to spend summers at Whangaumu Bay, near Tutukaka. Family friends had a bach there, and we would regularly decamp there with random and numerous extended family. There was fun, there was snoring, there were arguments over board games, there were incidents with boats. And underpinning it all was the constant and relaxing crash of the waves on the beach just metres from the house. That place will always be a talisman of awesomeness for me. Now eventually our family friends decided to sell, and offered my parents first dibs on the place. They discussed it, at length, and decided not to. So, every time we have been on holiday since – whether it be to a rented bach or to another friend’s bach – we would discuss whether or not they made the right call, and whether or not investing in a bach is something we should do as a family.
The arguments were always the same. Pros of owning your own place – you can go whenever you want, have a place where friends and family can get as much enjoyment as you do, have somewhere to store the boat which hardly gets used otherwise, and have somewhere that we can call our own. Cons? You feel obligated to go there every holiday, therefore cutting down on your experiences of other cool places around New Zealand, you have to maintain a second property, which from a time and money perspective can be quite the commitment, and you need the money to do it in the first place. We usually debated this at length, without reaching a decision, then veered off onto the equally complex ‘but where would we buy one?’ debate. With a family like mine where opinions are held firmly and expressed vehemently, there was never agreement.
We have been extremely fortunate to have had an array of friends with wonderful baches in unique places, which we may never have heard of otherwise. The main one for us has been our friends’ place in Kakahi – just south of Taumaranui. It is difficult to find more ‘middle of nowhere’ than that, and we have had amazing times there. Nothing but the sound of the river, the birds and the occasional train passing by on the main trunk line (oh, and that one time a P lab burnt down over the road, but let’s not dwell on that…). Glorious. Equally, we have had many summer holidays at rented baches in various locales – even going back to Whangaumu Bay a few times. Again, glorious.
But now, thanks to my sibling and sibling in law being awesome, we have a bach in the family. I probably wouldn’t have chosen Whangamata – it being way too built up and busy for my liking – but I shan’t be complaining. My nieces will love it, and it will become their Whangaumu Bay, their talismanic awesome place. And I know I will enjoy my trips down there with them, and maybe, if I’m lucky, with some of my friends, or just on my own to write. This Christmas will be there, and it will no doubt be the first of many. Is Whangamata ready for the Rodgers? Not likely. But at least we have one less thing to argue about this time 😉