Kicking back at a good old Kiwi 'bach'

Trip Start Jun 04, 2005
Trip End Apr 05, 2006

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

On Friday evening 21 October, at about 10pm, we met up with Mike, Katie, Mike's sister Nicky and golden retriever Thomas at Picton. They'd just driven up from Christchurch after work, and the two of us had spent a couple of hours after our wine touring in a pub, watching rugby and having a bite.

The road out of Picton to Port Underwood, the sound where the Perry family 'bach' is located, was narrow and windy - we were heading well away from civilisation! There were certainly no shops nearby, so Rich and I had done all the grocery shopping for the weekend. The bach (pronounced 'batch') - short for bachelor pad and meaning a small holiday home - is pretty much an institution here, as quintessentially Kiwi as the haka, Canterbury Draught beer and hating Aussies.

After about 40 minutes drive we pulled up outside a lovely cottage - not the humble cabin we were expecting, but a cozy place with all the mod-cons. After a sedate few drinks together, we all turned in for a relatively early night.

On the Saturday morning, we woke up to the full splendour of the location: from the house, vast lawns sweep down to the beach; the bay is hemmed in by steep hills clad in pine plantations and native forest. This large tract of land at the head of Port Underwood, owned by the extended Perry family, is a lucrative timber plantation, and the setting is nothing short of spectacular!

We took a long walk along the gravel road and up a hill, from where we got some good views of the property. In the afternoon, the ski boat was launched; we took fishing rods and a few beers, and cruised down the sound, popping into little coves here and there. On the way out, the boys laid two nets in the bay for catching flounders. We spent the afternoon fishing with limited success: Katie hooked a small blue cod, and that was it. Poor Mike is not the keenest fisherman, but, needless to say, Rich was in heaven! At least the net fishing was a little more productive - apart from a few pesky sharks, the nets yielded a couple of flounders.

With the summer evenings being so long in NZ - even now in spring, the sun sets at 8.30pm - we returned to the house quite late. After dinner, the Trivial Pursuit came out, and before long the four of us (minus Nicky) were locked in a vicious boys vs. girls trivia battle. Many bottles of wine were sunk as the girls finally clawed their way to a solid victory at about 3.30am in the morning!

Needless to say, there were slow starts and a few sore heads on Sunday morning. We emerged quite late to a marvellously sunny day. After a fry-up breakfast on the BBQ, we all piled into the boat with a large 'chillie bin' (cooler box) of beers and a few toys, and headed around the corner to a small, sheltered beach. The sea was immensely calm and blue - we had a glimpse of the paradise this place would be in high summer. The five of us, plus Thomas the dog, whiled away the afternoon with lazy beer-drinking, boules-playing and a spot of water-skiing.

Rich took to the water first, much to the consternation of Thomas, who thought he was drowning as he sat in the water pulling on the skis. The dog insisted on swimming up to him, whining and pawing him anxiously. We eventually managed to distract Thomas and tie him up on shore. Rich managed a couple of laps of slalom before tiring... boy, it's been a good few years since our last outing on water-skis!

I initially insisted on skiing with only my bikini, as the two wetsuits available were both large. But after wading in, I quickly changed my mind - the water was freezing! So it was on with the oversized wetsuit for my first water-ski in years... I managed to stay upright for three laps before the wake of another boat tripped me up.

As the afternoon grew cooler, we returned to the flounder nets we'd laid earlier, and brought in a good haul of decent-sized fish. That evening, the girls scored another Trivial Pursuit win, this time with the addition of Nicky to the team. The game was somewhat calmer than the previous evening, but just as tightly contested! The guys ended up staying awake until 4am or so, watching the SA vs. All Blacks cricket in the company of a bottle of Baileys, but nevertheless they had the energy to get up early on Monday morning for some more fishing! (well, actually Mike came and woke Rich). Rich returned a happy man with a nice little blue cod.

Katie, Thomas and I went for a good long walk up the hill, and after that it was all hands on deck to get the house and the boat cleaned up (though it has to be said, the lovely Nicky did most of the work indoors). We left the bach at about 2.30pm. After a few scenic stops along the road - it was another glorious, sunny day - we said goodbye in Picton: the others headed back to Christchurch while Rich and I headed west to Abel Tasman National Park on the north-western tip of the South Island.

It had been a wonderfully relaxing long weekend - we had a taste of a traditional Kiwi bach holiday in beautiful surroundings and jovial company! Thanks a stack to Mike, Katie, Nicky and the Perry family.
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