Red Rocks Baches

Wellington South Coast, Wellington

  • Red Rocks Baches.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7509 Date Entered 31st May 2002

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Extent of List Entry

The four baches at Red Rocks occupy an area of land between the legal road and the base of the hill to the rear, as indicated in the registration report and on accompanying aerial map. The four baches are: Smith/Bell Penfold Bach (c.1940s); Insull/Karsten bach (also named Toha) (c. 1927); Taylor Bach (c.1900-1907); Perkins Bach (c.1924)

City/District Council

Wellington City

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

The four baches at Red Rocks are part of Lot I DP 28821 65.5085.

Summaryopen/close

This Historic Area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the 3 May 2002 Board Minutes, Proposal for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The Red Rocks baches were built on private land that was originally part of the Owhiro Station, a sheep run which operated from the late nineteenth century through to the late 1960s. Four baches survive today. The earliest - Taylor's, formerly known as Bartlett's - was built between 1900 and 1907. The others were built after WWI. The Trust's registration report argues that baches are one of the few indigenous forms of New Zealand architecture, and those at Red Rocks were particularly important to Wellington in the early and mid twentieth century as a retreat for Wellingtonians to enjoy leisure time and solitude.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This Historic Area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE:

Unlike a number of baches around coastlines in other parts of New Zealand, those at Red Rocks have retained their originality. They have an early history associated with coastal defence and land use on the rugged south Wellington coast. The area on which they are located was originally part of Owhiro Station and many bach owners refer to it by this name. However, it was also known as Happy Valley Station, taken from the Maori name "Hape" as in Hape Stream.

Owhiro Station operated between the latter part of the 19th century through to the 1960s and ran approximately 1500 sheep. Dog attacks, salt burn, severe winds and freezing temperatures at times took a heavy toll on the stock. The Station never made a profit. Portions of the Station were sold off over the last century, firstly to quarry owners on the coast, the shoreline was sold for roading and the Red Rocks area for a reserve.

As the population of Seatoun, Lyall Bay, Island Bay and Owhiro Bay in Wellington grew, urban development pushed its way to the remote bays along the coastline. Subdivision turned these communities into suburbs and the simple bach was either extended for use as a family home, or

demolished to build a modern villa.

However, this has not happened at Red Rocks or Mestanes Bay (where there are 5 baches), thus preserving the unique and original character of the area. Paul Thompson, Southern Region General Manager for New Zealand Historic Places Trust, in his book "The Bach" says: "The humble nature of the (Wellington) region's baches suggests that the owners, when building or buying, made a deliberate decision to accept simplicity, to have a place, free of pretensions, which they could escape to. "

The history of the Smith/Bell/Penfold bach is unclear. John Taylor, a bach owner suggests it started out as a shelter or outpost for quarry workers on the coast. Toha (1927), part owned by Barry and Beverley Insull was built by Frank and Cliff Thomas. Cliff Thomas died close to the

bach in the 1970s, and his ashes and those of Frank and his wife Daphne Thomas, were spread close to the front of the bach. It is said that the Thomas family played a role in the saving of life from a biplane crash in the valley behind the bach in 1934.

The Taylor bach, was the first built in Red Rocks Bay. Constructed by the Bartlett family and friends from Island Bay and Newtown between 1900 and 1910, it was occupied from around 1907. This bach was referred to by a number of names. Historically, it was known as Bartlett's

Bach, after the original builders. However, it was used as emergency accommodation for hunters from Owhiro Station and was also known as "Rabbiters Hut". In the 1930s, it was sold to the Bell family who owned it until 1959 when they sold it for 60 pounds to a syndicate of four men. In 1960, John F. Taylor, now the sole owner, renamed the bach "Toka Whero" meaning "rocks red". He painted this on the door.

The Perkins' bach (1924), at Red Rocks, was commandeered during WWII to store provisions for a fortified observation post above Sinclair Point. A cableway anchored to the shoreline nearby carried the provisions to the ridge above. By the end of the war, this bach had acquired a number of army chattels which are still retained. It is presently owned by Ross and Adele Perkins.

This Historic Area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL (PHYSICAL) SIGNIFICANCE:

The baches at Red Rocks Bay have no outstanding architectural merit. However, they reflect a style of construction for the period they were built in. "Many of the owners have personalised their basic box with ornamentations, like name plates, weather vanes, painted rocks and garden figures."

Taylor's bach (1907) is a simple crib, 5 metres by 4 metres, built in concrete. Concrete floors and a framed iron wood shed were added in the 1930s. The toilet door on the outbuilding is said to have come from the wreck of the "Wahine". The Smith/Bell and Penfold bach (1920-30), appears from the road to be smaller than it really is and with its wrought iron window grates and unusual concrete chimney, presents a rustic image. It is built in framed iron and has a flat sloping roof with two outbuildings. Toha, the Insull/Karsten bach is constructed mostly with cedar weatherboards. It has an iron roof and one outbuilding. The timber was brought to the area by the Island Bay fishing fleet and floated ashore. Cedar construction is certainly unique amongst baches in the Wellington area. The bach is of sturdy construction and is well maintained. Its style is similar to a large weatherboard site shed with a sloping back roof. It has a tongue and groove floor, kitchen/living room and bunkroom. Wall lining is rough sawn planks, probably pallet timber.

Midway between the Taylor and Perkins baches is an elevated abandoned site, circa 1920s. The site contains the concrete remnants of a fireplace, foundations and paths. The bach built at this site, about the mid 1920s, was destroyed by a rock and mud slide in a severe storm in the 1930s and was then abandoned. Salvageable material is said to have been used for the construction of the Smith/Bell/Penfold bach on the eastern side of the Waipapa Stream, or Red Rocks Creek. Little remains, though some of the rock still present may contain historic artefacts.

The Perkins bach, built by the Berhampore Football Club in 1924, is also constructed from concrete using local aggregates and scree with cement and timber shipped in. It has a concrete floor, chimney and a sloping concrete roof supported by two steel beams. This structure suffered severe vandalism in the 1970s, but was restored by the current owner, Ross Perkins and his family. A doorway has been cut through the east wall to access an old framed iron addition that has been converted for sleeping. Another addition on the west side houses a plumbed septic toilet and shower cubicle. This bach is well maintained and has a strong local history. Its logbook has reference to other baches in the bay.

This Historic Area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

The baches at Red Rocks form an important part of Wellington's south coast history with a number of occupiers regularly at their baches. The bach owners, in the main, have a pride in their buildings. There are strong social links between the bach owners at Red Rocks with those in the neighbouring Mestanes Bay. There is also a close association with local fishermen, and divers operating in the area and with other people who enjoy the South Coast for recreation reasons. The age of the baches, their style and close proximity to the urban area of Wellington adds to their character.

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Physical Description

This Historic Area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Area Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Description:

The four baches at Red Rocks are part of Lot 1 DP 28821 65.5085 and occupy an area of land between the legal road and the base of the hill to the rear, being approximately 3 metres to the north of each bach, and, extending from approximately 5 metres west of the Perkins Bach to approximately 2 metres east of the Smith/Bell/Penfold bach. The baches were formerly built on what was private land originally part of the Happy Valley Station. The earliest bach, Bartlett's bach, (now Taylor's bach), was built between 1900- 1907 with three more built after the First World War. The remains of a fifth bach, can be seen between the Taylor and Perkins baches in the form of a concrete fireplace.

The baches are as follows:

1. Smith/Bell/Penfold bach - It is understood that the original owner (King) built the bach

following a mud slide in the 1940s which destroyed his earlier structure on an abandoned site

200m to the west. The bach was sold to its current owners - Merv Smith, John Bell and Tony

Penfold in the 1950s.

2. Insull/Karsten bach, named Toha. Built in 1927 by Frank and Cliff Thomas. Now jointly

owned by Barry Insull and his wife and Earl Karsten.

3. The Taylor bach owned by John Taylor was built between 1900 and 1907.

4. Perkins' bach built in 1924 by the Berhampore Football Club. Owned by Ross and Adele

Perkins of Wellington.

Construction Dates

Completion Date

20th February 2003

Report Written By

Helen McCracken

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Central region office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

Historic Area Place Name

Insull/ Karsten bach
Perkins' bach
Smith/Bell/Penfold bach
Taylor bach