On Holiday

Jacquie came home from a 12-hour shift one day, completely fatigued.

“Man, I’m knackered,” she said. “I could sure use a holiday.”

“I know what you mean,” I said. “Updating a blog every six weeks makes you forget how important it is to stop and smell the roses once in a while.”

We decided then to take up Jacquie’s sister and brother in-law’s offer to let us stay at their holiday home, or “bach.” The word is pronounced “batch” and comes from “bachelor’s pad” because a bach is typically small and modest, just like a bachelor. Indeed, a bach can be nothing more than a mobile home with a deck built around it, but as with houses in general, baches can range from ramshackle lean-to to palatial extravagance. A lot of New Zealanders, in any event, grow up aspiring to one day own a lean-to.

Nothing says "holiday" quite the way a bach does. This one in Tairua would have a great view of the Pacific Ocean if its windows weren't made of plywood.

My in-laws’ bach is in a town called Tairua (a Maori word meaning “two tides”) on the Coromandel Peninsula, a two hour drive from Auckland. Any trip longer than 30 minutes is a challenge to our car, to say nothing of my attention span.

I took the car to be inspected by the Automobile Association, similar to AAA in the States, but with its own chain of full-service garages. I parked in a corner of the lot not in direct view of the main office and I went inside. The cashier/manager recited the list of things the mechanics would do to the car.

“We will check the oil and then add as much oil as it needs,” she said. “Afterwards, we can turn the engine over for five minutes to prevent sedimentation for an extra $12.”

I thought, “Won’t I turn over the engine as soon as they finish anyway? What nerve. Any reason to squeeze extra money from you.”

“That sounds great,” I said.

I went for a coffee but then I realized that I hadn’t told the manager where I’d parked the car. I had visions of her trying to contact me to no avail because I hadn’t left her my cell phone number. I went back to the office to make sure she knew where I’d parked.

“We know where your car is,” the manager said.

I thought, “How condescending and rude.”

“Thank you,” I said.

New Zealand is famous for its breathtaking landscape.

As it turned out, our car failed its semi-annual Warrant of Fitness inspection. It needed a whole new brake system. But Jacquie and I didn’t think we would use brakes on our drive so we decided not to get them fixed ever. With due-diligence out of the way, it was time to go home, pack up and say goodbye to our house.

Wait, that's not our house.

We drove down on the Monday after Easter, against the holiday crowd. In New Zealand, Easter is the final adieu to summer, sort of like Labor Day weekend in the US. Many businesses close from Good Friday to the following Tuesday. Some shops take advantage of this temporary monopoly by adding a surcharge to their prices. Jacquie drove and I sat in the passenger side and drove too. Chester came with us.  Here are some photo highlight of our four days away.

Chester enjoyed the trip.

Tairua as seen from the nearby Paku Mountain.

Lynch Stream near Whenuakite (Wh in Maori words is pronounced like Ph in English). We had to traverse this stream several times as it meandered across our path.

Cathedral Cove is a secluded but popular destination. There were a lot of British people sunbathing here, forcing us to squint.

A sunset.

A sunset, five minutes later.

Part of my in-laws' kitchen and lounge.

At night, we drank wine, watched television and played Scrabble.


  1. New Zealand is as to the United States as a Rhombus is to a Rectangle.
    What’s with the last picture? Were ya watching TV outside?

    When I was there I sat in a park one day in Rotorua. I felt so small, so meaningless. This must make me a batchelor. It occured to me that people came into the park everyday and no one anywhere ever thought about them, or the park. I got the same feeling in New York. It’s not a sad thought really, it was liberty, freedom. Why am I telling you this? Cause I drank too much coffee.

    Cool blog, more pics please.

  2. GREAT blog entry. Guess your aunt and I are lucky enough to have a bach. And here I thought we only had one child!

  3. All I want to know is how long will it be before New Zealand wakes up to the fact that they have a hidden treasure right there in Mt Eden just waiting to be discovered. Think of what you could do for NZ tourism…..well maybe not….in fact maybe it’s best that they not discover you…we wouldn’t want you deported before you got to experience a full season of NZ winter…I can’t wait for those blogs.

    I am enjoying your blogging. It keeps me from feeling completely cut off from my only son.

    Love ya,

  4. Great blog, seems we are living mirror image lives, I’m Kiwi married to an American, living in NYC. All of my family is from the Tairua/Whenukite/Mercury Bay area so it’s pretty great to see someone traded lives (I lived in Mt Eden too!)
    A friend of yours, Heidi pointed yr blog out to my wife. Thanks for reminding me of tuatuas and pipis off the beach, I’ll go back to foot long subs and iced coffee now.

    1. Mac, thanks for the comment. If you live in Greenpoint, I’ll be really freaked out. I was missing iced coffee in the summer. I couldn’t believe the sugary confection I got when I ordered one once. We were also missing pizza until we found Eppolita’s in Onehunga. We’re headed back to Tairua next week for a visit. I’ll give them your regards.

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