Feature article

Explore New Zealand’s best baches

Here are four of Aotearoa’s best lakeside and beachfront baches.

Last updated: 8 February 2024

We’re a country of people drawn to the beach, to the bush and to remote escapes – from glacial lakes to alpine backcountry – and our contemporary baches, cribs and holiday homes are designed to embrace and respond to these stunningly beautiful landscapes. Here’s four of New Zealand’s best.

The Dart by Studio John Iriving Architects

Located on Mangawhai’s Bream Tail Farm just north of Auckland, The Dart is set on a dramatic and windswept cliff top site high above the sea. Pointing due north, the triangular form acts as a compass from above and anchors the building to the land while capturing expansive views to the east to the sea, and rolling farmland to the west. At ground level, the building reads more simply, its long gabled form reminiscent in part of a typical farm shed. Wrapped in western red cedar oiled with Dryden WoodOil Platinum, it echoes the hues of driftwood on the beaches below. Inside, a collection of simple but arrestingly beautiful spaces allow this little bach to draw in the striking coastal and rural environs between which it sits.

Cover image: The Dart, designed by Studio John Irving Architects. Image: Paul Brandon

Lake Rotoiti House, designed by Evelyn McNamara Architecture with interiors by Source and Style. Image: Paul Brandon

Lake Rotoiti House by Evelyn McNamara Architecture (with interiors by Source and Style; built by Insight Carpentry)

This Lake Rotoiti holiday home presents as a concrete bunker of sorts – designed as a winter and summer getaway, it unfolds across two visually distinct levels. The site slopes down from the road to the lake, so one of the first design decisions made was to place the main living areas on the lower level to maximise interaction with the lake. Here, there’s no fencing or visual delineation between properties and a large grassed area extending along the lakefront invites casual interactions with passersby. A sunken conversation pit has a fire bowl at its centre, while inside the kitchen and living area are defined by concrete – a move that reinforces the idea of the home being bunker-like and moody in winter and a cool sanctuary in the summer months.

Hill to Horizon House at Otama Beach, Coromandel, the 2021 Rural Home of the Year. Image: Paul Brandon

Hill to Horizon House by Studio Brick Architects and Lloyd Hartley Architects

In a setting of champagne golds and pastel purples, this Otama Beach house unfolds between a lazy hillside and a pristine white sand beach. Designed by Jeremy Brick of Studio Brick Architects and Ben Lloyd and Mike Hartley of Lloyd Hartley Architects, its face is turned to the sun and the sea while at the rear of the site, a sheltered courtyard offers reprieve from the elements – delivering a holiday home where privacy and openness are perfectly balanced. The interiors offer moments of luxury within a series of versatile spaces that flow across two levels. Hill to Horizon House was named the 2021 Rural Home of the Year in HOME magazine’s annual awards programme, which celebrates the best New Zealand homes.

This U-shaped bach on a beachfront site in Whangamatā has a north-facing courtyard at its centre, with sightlines through the living area to the coast beyond. Image: Paul Brandon

Shift House by Studio2 Architects

In Whangamata, this bach with a humble profile makes the most of a stunning, beachfront location. The owners wanted the building to pay homage to the classic baches still dotted around the area, and architect Paul Clarke from Studio2 Architects took the brief and designed a holiday home based on the simple gabled form, which in this case is sculptured and cut away to pique interest in the beachfront elevation. Facing east, the house wraps around a central north-facing courtyard which sits between the main bedroom and living area, creating a sheltered space for al-fresco dining and relaxing. Inside, there’s luxury and refinement in a pared back material palette and the ever-changing interplay of light cleverly created by Clarke’s design.


Clare Chapman
Clare Chapman
Editor in Chief, HOME - homemagazine.nz

Clare has spent the last 16 years working across Australasia as a journalist, editor and writer. Her work has appeared in books and publications around the world. Clare has led editorial teams for numerous architecture and design publications. In 2020, she was appointed Editor in Chief of HOME magazine, before taking the helm as publisher in 2023.