About the project

An archaeological investigation was carried out on the abandoned vessels and baches (holiday homes) located on Rangitoto Island, New Zealand between the 8th and 23rd July 2014. There are 13 known vessels that were abandoned between 1890 and 1947 in Boulder Bay (also known as Wreck Bay), located on the northern side of Rangitoto. The types of vessels range from wooden barques and schooners to an iron hulled coastal steamer. Methods of abandonment include being beached along the shoreline, burnt or dismantled.

The baches on the island were first constructed c.1910. Leases and construction was halted in 1937 following introduction of new building laws. In the same year leases were renewed for a further 20 years. In 1957, 99 leases for existing baches were renewed, but with restrictions. The baches could not be altered, sold, exchanged or rented. During the 1970s and 1980s many baches were subsequently demolished as many owners passed away. In 1990, 34 leases were renewed for a further 33 years and demolition was temporarily halted while the Department of Conservation carried out an architectural and historical study. In 1997 the New Zealand Historic Places Trust registered the baches as historic areas. The baches are of historical significance that reflects a period of personal freedom in New Zealand’s history.

This archaeological investigation forms the data collection component for Kurt Bennett’s master of maritime archaeology thesis. The investigation aims to survey all beached vessel remains and all 140 bach sites. Specifically, this research will look at the reuse of abandoned vessel material and how it has been incorporated into the construction of the baches and how it has shaped the baches identity. The surveys will be non-disturbance and non-intrusive. A team of three volunteers will also be helping with the fieldwork.

This blog has been created to share our experiences and findings in the field. Please feel free to comment and ask questions.

This research is supported by the Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, South Australia.

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