It’s been ages since I wrote a sightseeing blog – mainly because with a baby we haven’t strayed too far from the familiar for nearly 9 months.
But since there were no family visiting us for Christmas this year (and until I go back to work full-time in February, we couldn’t afford the trip home) we decided to be quintessential Kiwis for the season and “booked a bach” for three days over Christmas.
A bach (pronounced “batch”) can be anything from a converted shed in someone’s yard to a full-on holiday house with all the extras. In our case, it was a really quaint little one room (I don’t count the bathroom as it was more of a cupboard) cabin in the front yard of the owners’ section at Waihi Beach (pronounced “Why-hee”) on the East Coast about 1.5 hrs drive from Hamilton.
Although it sounds a little close to camping in a strangers’ yard, the block was around a quarter of an acre and there was ample room between our cabin and the main house. They’ve also set it up with lovely hedges all around so that it really felt quite private (even if, at the right angle and with enough dedication and a pair of binoculars, you would have had a great view of someone showering if you left the bathroom window open at night).
The cabin itself was set up with all the mod cons – a mini kitchen, BBQ, fridge, microwave, comfortable bed, lounge, armchair and random books in the bookshelf. We brought our food with us so it kinda felt like very fancy camping – all about 5 minutes’ walk from the shops or the beach. Perfect!
We dawdled on the way there, stopping in at Morrinsville for a coffee then at Karangahake Gorge to do one of the walks. This area was famous for gold back in the day and the walks follow old tram tracks through the mountains beside the gorge and beside the remnants of buildings from yesteryear.
We threw Little Miss into the sling and went tramping (another kiwi tradition) up hill, down dale and in the dark (until I finally found where my new phone upgrade had hidden my torch). I can see why tramping is a favoured NZ pasttime – gorgeous scenery, well-tended paths and no snakes to look out for make it a very enjoyable way to get some exercise.
Christmas Day was absolutely glorious and a delicious 24 degrees! My, I do like their idea of summer over here!) so we headed to the beach and decided to be brave (or crazy) and do the walk around the headland to Orokawa Bay … in thongs … with a baby in a sling and me carrying the gear! Actually it was not too hard a walk (considering Kiwis think any ground less than 45 degree angle to be flat) through gorgeous bush (once again no snakes! Yay!) with glimpses of the aquamarine waters below us.
The bay itself is very picturesque with big pohutukawas overhanging the beach, giving lots of shady spots to sit and admire the view. Not so great for swimming but we dug pools in the sand for Little Miss and managed to get wet and very very sandy in the process.
The next day was raining but we’d planned to go into Waihi itself (about 10 kms inland) to take a ride on the Goldfields Historic Rail so it was perfect timing, really. It stopped raining by the time we were due to return so we rode in the outside open carriage to really enjoy the scenery.
It was a really relaxed and laid back first Christmas for Little Miss but one we all enjoyed. We’re thinking of convincing family to join us in Wanaka on the South Island next Christmas, which means we actually need to start planning now as it’s quite a popular destination, even in the summer months. At least we have good feedback about us on the Book-a-Bach website to hopefully aid in securing one of the fancier bachs down there: “Awesome guests and they left the cabin spotless!”
I didn’t go too crazy as far as cleaning went but I may have squirted a little extra Spray ‘n’ Wipe around the room … just in case …