Home features

Living the summer dream in the Bay of Plenty

An old bach and a new home live in harmony, all set up for family gatherings and a laid-back lifestyle


The dining area in the new house.

Nestled in a rural outpost on the Tauranga Harbour, Rae and John Buchanan’s Ongare Point home is flanked by a pohutukawa-lined reserve and a row of modest baches, with grandstand views of Matakana Island.

In a place where two tractors equate to a traffic jam, and local kids are truly free range, the focus for the future of the property was to remain in keeping with the settlement’s modest and sleepy nature.
“When we saw the property, we instantly knew it was a place we could gather our family and watch our grandchildren grow up,” remembers Rae. “Our hometown of Mt Maunganui had become such a busy hub, and we saw an opportunity to live in a community with a slower pace of life. We commissioned our daughter, Tina, to design a new home with all the mod-cons, but the old bach at the rear of the property remains for visiting family and friends to enjoy.”


The original 1950s bach sits at the rear of the new home.

The new home is built with modern aesthetics and future proofing in mind, with a dark-blue façade that belies the interior – a light-filled living area that’s open to the views, with soaring ceilings and a central hub for family gatherings.

Faced with strict council constraints due to the waterfront location, the new home was designed within the footprint of the existing home – a small 10 x 10 prefab dwelling, originally designed as a prototype for emergency housing after the Darwin Cyclone in 1974. The original 1950s bach nestled at the back of the property has been preserved in its original retro style.


The living room in the new home.

“Having the luxury of two houses means we have a constant stream of visitors, and our granddaughter Mathilde happily considers ‘The Bach’ her second home,” says Rae. Patterned wallpaper and turquoise carpet emphasise the more-is-more aesthetic of The Bach, which is filled with second-hand finds and beach-foraged treasures.


The original wallpaper and kitchen remain in the 1950s bach.

The design brief for the main home was for it to be modern, but without pretence. The result is a small, functional home with a proportionally large living space, flanked by decks that make use of the northern aspect.

Although the use of interior colour is minimal, it is done with texture and contrast: the clean white aesthetic of the living area is offset with a central Scandinavian-style plywood kitchen and dark timber floors. Pops of colour echo the region’s blossoming pohutukawa flower and the motif is evident throughout the home. The south side houses the master bedroom, tucked away behind mature flaxes, it makes the perfect retreat with picturesque harbour views and streaming morning sun.


The new kitchen has a Scandi-style aesthetic.

The retro vibe is evident as much for practicality as aesthetics. Furniture was sourced from local second-hand stores and given a new lease of life by a local upholsterer who worked in his shed between kiwifruit seasons. The mantra of the home’s aesthetic is laid-back, functional and unfussy, where friends can relax and enjoy the luxury of a good-old fashioned Kiwi beach-side lifestyle.


The gardens have been planted with flowering perennials and native trees, while the vege patch sits in a sheltered corner and boasts a healthy year-round supply of goodness.


Tina and Mathilde relax on the new deck.

“We love how the property changes with the seasons, and the neighbouring reserve means that in summer there is always a local game of cricket or pétanque on the go,” says Rae.

Words by: Tina Stephen. Photography by: Larnie Nicolson.