Buying guide

A design-savvy bach in Lake Rotoiti with a back story

A design-savvy bach in Lake Rotoiti with a back story

The Hawkes Bay architect Guy Natusch built this small but stylish bach on the shores of Tumoana Bay, Lake Rotoiti for his family in 1961 after coming to the holiday spot for years and staying with friends.  

Called Rotoiti Lake House, it’s been updated over the years, and now represents an attractive template for others building a compact and practical but stylish bach. This holiday home has a lakefront setting and is just 8 metres from the water. The property’s owners have a third share in a private jetty with the two other lakefront properties in Tumoana Bay which is off the main thoroughfare of Lake Rotoiti. The three owners also share a boat shed, and onsite boat launching.

Lake House is thought to be one of Aotearoa’s first prefabricated houses, according to the Natusch family. The late Guy Natusch worked on a prefabricated housing project in the early 1950s and liked the clean design. Lake House was built with matai wood, tongue and grooved, the timber rough sawn on the outside and dressed on the inside to achieve a smooth timber interior, the architect has explained. 

The home or cabin was originally one room, with a back verandah for extra sleeping and an outside toilet. Guy wanted his family to experience a simpler life on holiday, he said..  

Friends would come and camp on the generous 1179 sq m lawn to join the Natusch family, some visiting by boat and sleeping on board.

In the updates made to the bach over the years its Kiwiana character has been kept intact, says Bayleys agent, Beth Millard. In 1976 the first extension was added, which involved the verandah being closed in to become a bedroom and a bathroom being added.

In 2023, the 131 sq m home, which was once used as a set for a German movie, has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, including an en-suite, and two living areas. There’s a substantial bunkroom/rumpus room which can accommodate a group of guests. The living space is open plan and extends out onto a deck and the primary bedroom has stunning views, says the Bayleys agent. 

Since its humble beginnings, Lake House has been perched up on the site on concrete piles sitting four to five feet up, allowing room for boat storage under the house. The view down the lake to the sunsets is a sight to see, says Beth.

As for Tumoana Bay, it’s an “exclusive settlement of like-minded lakefront property owners,” says the agent. It’s sought after because it has a geothermal stream warming the water, she adds. 

A number of houses in the area have become permanent homes for some residents who work in Rotorua or work remotely from larger cities.   

The bach is about 15 or 20 minutes to the Manupirua Hot Pools and if a few things for the cupboards and some treats are needed, (and you have a boat), it’s 15 minutes across the lake to the popular Okere Falls store, or a 15 minute drive.

What strikes people most about this property is its super quiet location, says the Bayleys agent.

“Because it’s 2.2 km from the main road, there’s no road noise, just bird song and the lake,” she says. And some days you can see fish jumping out of the water. 

The home provides one of the features that people hunt for in a holiday house, and that is that you can sit on the deck and watch the kids swimming. You’re not having to drag a whole pile of stuff for 20 steps, says Beth. 

This extraordinary house and land is looking for a new owner happy to pay north of $3 million. A 1930s home on Lake Rotoiti sold earlier in the year for $3.4 million.

The new owner could be in by Christmas if they wanted, says the agent.


Gill South
Gill South