Bach Living: A Waiheke Island beachfront retreat.

Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher Jane Ussher

At Bob and Kerry McMillan's Onetangi, Waiheke Island beach house, timber from an old Tauranga wharf forms terraces on the front lawn, providing a seamless connection between house, land and sea.

Kerry has added her signature colours - turquoise, orange and lime green - in the furnishings; the Morroccan lanterns hanging between the trusses were discovered by Kerry in Dubai.

The grand armchair is one of many treasured pieces that once belonged to Kerry's mum, Val.

A slab of recycled teak forms the island benchtop.

The day bed in the study is the perfect place for tuckered-out grandkids to nap; the painting, 6th Feb 1840, is by Piera McArthur.

The beds in the bunk room were built by the multi-talented John Dunleavy, winemaker at Te Motu in the Onetangi Valley.

Wood washed up in Indonesia's 2004 Boxing Day tsunami was used in the bedside table.

Wide eaves and the palm canopy provide shade and shelter.

The McMillans spend summer evenings in their backyard oasis, which includes an outdoor dining area, fireplace and enough lawn for a small cricket match.

Auckland cabinetmaker Mike Laustsen built all of the cabinetry, including the master en suite vanity.

Painter and designer Andrea Ventling lived in the house while she finished the tounge-and-groove interior walls with crackle paint; the artwork of bathers is by Israeli artist David Gerstein.

The north-facing view from the front deck takes in the Great and Little Barrier islands and the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula.

A "lawn jetty" against the front of the house raises the landscape above a flood plain.

The green mass of Australian grass Lomandra 'Tanika' frames the beach view.

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For years, Bob Mcmillan resisted the pull of Waiheke Island. It was his wife of 50 years, Kerry, who urged him to take the fateful trip to the island in 2009, which resulted in them purchasing their beachfront home. 

It certainly wasn't the mundane cedar house that had won them over. It was the location: a patch of mostly flat land at the secluded end of the beach, sheltered by the headland, and only a stone's skip from seas and views across the Hauraki Gulf.

By the end of their first summer in the house, the couple had decided to start afresh, designing a beachy, art filled home using mostly recycled wood. 

Bob and Kerry McMillan in the kitchen/dining area.
Jane Ussher

Bob and Kerry McMillan in the kitchen/dining area.

"When we arrive, we just open the doors and windows, put the cushions out and we're ready to relax," Kerry says.

READ MORE:
Waiheke Island has been voted among the world's best islands
Let's live on... Waiheke Island
House of the week: Waiheke Island


What do you love about the spot that you're in?  

It's the best beach in Auckland with safe swimming conditions and no through traffic. 

What's the first thing you do when you get to the bach?

When we arrive, we just open the doors and windows, put the cushions out, turn music on and we're ready to relax.

What are your bach traditions?

In a house filled with art, a circle of patinated bronze fish - From Above by Waiheke artist Sally Smith - takes pride ...
Jane Ussher

In a house filled with art, a circle of patinated bronze fish - From Above by Waiheke artist Sally Smith - takes pride of place above the fireplace.

Putting up a different flag daily, by children if they're in residence.

What is the best walk in the neighbourhood?

The walk along Onetangi beach at low tide. There are always treasures to find, like the driftwood in the en suite - the house's first piece of art.

What is one thing you must see when you visit?

The excellent art galleries. We visit at least one every time we're over.

What's your best BBQ meal?

You can't go past steak with a bottle of Waiheke red. 

What do you do on the evenings or on a wet day?

We like to play cards, read or watch old movies. 

What do the kids do?

The kids love to climb rocks, swim or play on the beach.

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What are you favourite activities at the bach?

Taking the sea legs to an isolated beach for a picnic or golf. 

Do you have a favourite local restaurant or café?

Poderi Crisci's vineyard restaurant in Awaawaroa Bay. You have to indulge in the long lunch where the owner Antonio selects the food for you.

What's the best party you've ever held there?

Our son's engagement party was one to remember.

What's New Year's Eve like at your bach?

Getting together with friends with a pot luck meal. 

 - NZ House & Garden

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