After many years I finally returned to Rangitoto Island. Started off by walking up to the summit and then went for a walk to find a bach that I used to visit when I was a youngster and yes there it was called Hartatease? The same as I remember it except the kitchen? had been added, the sleepout my father built was still there, the square concrete tank was still in place, I well remember aquiring the sand etc for that job, don't know if it still had water in it though. The open fire we used to cook on is still there. I well remember watching the men catch piper at night with a tilly lamp, a hand net after rowing backwards from the rear of the boat. I also seem to remember a shark being caught in Eric Hart's set line what a mess it had made of the line.
I can't say if it is the same one pictured on your web site (no dates)
My wife and I were at the bach on the Wed 2nd of March, 2005. There were some clothes on the line but no one around.
We left a note written in lip stick on a card board box. We were going away the next week We have not heard from anyone. I seem to remember a story about why people were stopped from going to Rangi. Down by the lighthouse sheets of corrigated iron were stood up painted white and the army at Narrow Neck & Mt Victoria used these for target practice sooooooooooo one day a shell-bullet or something landed in one of the bach's back yard, the occupant complained soooooooooo everyone was banned.We went around to Islington Bay a couple of times.
Hope this is of some interest to some. I enclose an attachment
This would be dated about 1942. Eric of course is standing
in the water, my father is on the left, that is me sitting
in the boat. The girl would be one of Eric's daughter's,
there were 2 I think, the boy holding the boat I am not
sure Eric had a brother in a bach next door I think? The
boat ramp in the foreground is from the still existing boat
shed. It would seem a second boat shed has been added that
If the original photo is of any use to anyone they are welcome to it.
After noticing that Eric died in 2002 (On the notice board in the information shelter) I really wish I had taken the trouble to go back sooner My father passed away in 1982
All the best
Rangitoto and its baches are the heritage of all Aucklanders, but I've always felt like they were my personal, private heritage too. Four generations of my family have enjoyed bach life on Rangitoto Island. I have listened for years to the charming, romantic, and nostalgic stories of my forebears. I would like to share my own here.
One of my earliest memories is set at Islington Bay ... walking around the shoreline one summer afternoon, the scoria hot beneath my feet, old ladies with parasols, my grandmother pointing out the snapdragon flowers, eating iceblocks from the store. I must have been only two or three years old. As I grew older, there were weekends down at the bach (which my great-grandfather built), sitting hunched up in raincoats in the front room as the roof leaked ... playing card games as we waited for the ferry to arrive (and the ferries deserve whole pages of stories all of their own), our parents harvesting oysters from the rocks.
The wallpaper in the house breathed as the pohutukawa wind wafted through the rooms. One bedroom door had a lock on the outside (oh, the scandals we imagined!). The hallway to the kitchen had an old, damp smell that I can still sense now, thirty years later ... I can hear the floorboards creak as I run down towards the stone kitchen and the door leading outside to where my mother once saw a deer. I can see the ancient magazines we children read when we were bored, and the Enid Blyton books I loved, and the music on the ancient gramophone that my father played at top volume.
There were summer holidays as we clambered barefoot over the piles of scoria, and encountered wallabies while out for a late-night stroll, and met the very old lady who lived alone on the other side of the bay. She fed the wallabies late at night on the road that linked Rangitoto with Motutapu, then somehow found her way home, a long confusing way through bushes and darkness, to her house next to the naval base. We visited that base long before it was dismantled, climbed on the rusty equipment and ran, our voices echoing, through the hollow warehouses. We watched the baches being smashed down, one by one, and the gradual creep of vines and trees over their ruins until only a memory was left. The store closed, was moved into one room of a bach, and eventually disappeared altogether. The tennis court disintegrated. We saw blackness spread through the trees, a disease that was going to ruin the trees and the idyllic human summers as DOC began their plan to saving the natural habitat. The new wharf was built at Islington Bay. When knew it even then - we could see the inevitable end of the wonderful old life in all these new things.
As teenagers, we relished our freedom to wander and play in a paradise where no one watched over us. Skinny-dipping in the night, lazing away the hot days, eating cold sardines and baked beans, playing drinking games, climbing down the chimney to get into the bach because some idiot forgot the key ... The songs of the eighties are forever illustrated with those memories.
As a young adult, I spent months living there on my own. Just me and one black cat. I lived on cold pizza and canned food because I never could work out how to light a fire in the stone hearth. I'd walk barefoot and in long dresses up to the summit, passing tourists who must have thought I was mad. Those were real Kiwi feet I developed, able to withstand the ragged rocks! Other tourists would tramp past the bach and do a double-take at my washing hung over the trees, my weird music coming from the battery-operated record player ... more than once I opened the front door to find a few Americans eating their morning tea on my porch. I read Wuthering Heights there, and imagined Cathy's ghost running over the moonlit hills of Motutapu. I said goodbye to the old lady from the far side of the bay who was now too frail to stay there alone. Her bach light went out forever and I knew then the very special magical summerlife of Rangitoto was closer to going out forever for all of us.
I last visited my bach during a university geology field trip. I didn't have a key; I couldn't get in. I ate sandwhiches on the front porch. I knew there was no stopping DOC's plan, and that a very amazing part of my history, Auckland's history, was going to be dead soon. My daughter has never visited the bach, although it still stands. You can't catch a Blue Boat to Issy Bay on one afternoon anymore and come back the next day, surrounded by people with animals in cages, music playing, the ferry driver kissing his girlfriend in the cab, the spray coming up over the old wooden edges, the secret worry that the ferry won't quite last the distance of the trip.
I had always been warned, when my grandmother died, that the bach would come down. We planned to be there that day, to pull it apart ourselves. But our bach was saved. Its a bittersweet victory for me, though. The house is still there, but that idyll is long gone.