Queen of the Bon Accord Harbour


An elegant twist on the kiwi holiday home now perches unobtrusively above the Bon Accord Harbour on Kawau Island.

Designed by Dorrington Atcheson Architects, the home is made up of two pavilions clad in cedar shiplap and black ply blending artfully into the surrounding native bush.

“We ended up with two sections – one with the kitchen, living, dining and the second with three bedrooms and a bathroom,” says architect Tim Dorrington. “It’s quite a playful space. And it was a fun project because of the challenges with the site and the willingness of the client to push the envelope a little bit in terms of what a standard building would be.”

Tim says that access to the site was one of the main challenges when designing.

“It was tough trying to design something that was actually buildable,” he says. “It’s pretty steep, and every last thing you take there has to come over by boat or helicopter. All the piles were helicoptered over, so that was quite an organisational challenge. A lot of stuff was loaded up on barges on the Sandspit side and then sailed over – we must have got at least six to eight barges full. Then once it’s here you have to bring it all up from the jetty to the house by cable car.”


Inside the house, use of raw materials such as solid-oak floorings, concrete benchtops and steel splashbacks contrast well with bold bursts of colour in the bedrooms. Tim says a lot of thought was put into how the house would blend in with the surroundings.

“It’s only been built to be as big as it needs to be. The cedar was left natural so eventually, it will weather off. From a sustainability perspective, it's built to stand the test of time. It doesn't have a lot of toxicity in the materials and doesn't need a lot of maintenance. And it has a passive design, so you've got windows in the right place for getting solar gain and letting the sun in, and good ventilation.”

Tim says he is proud of how much functionality he fit into a small footprint.

“It functions almost as a large holiday resort for two or three families – or for a group of 20 friends – even though it's only 120 square metres. It works like a house twice that size. The design allows for maximum flexibility – it can function as a family bach, or as an event centre, or even as a campground.”

“The back courtyard has a fireplace for hanging out at the end of the day. The main lounge area opens up to the covered deck immediately outside, which is more of your daytime spot – it’s a very natural extension sticking out into the treetops and looking out over the view,” says Tim. “So the main living happens outside, as there are several outdoor spaces where the family congregate, eat and play.”

This is the second house Tim Dorrington has designed on Kawau, the other for the brother of the same family as this home. DAA are also designing several houses around Matakana, and have just finished one on Whitmore Road heading out to Tawharanui.

Tim says he enjoys coming up to the area.

“I love getting up here – jumping on a bike and going fishing from Omaha bridge. Matakana has changed a lot over the years. When I used to visit my grandparents in Point Wells as a child, Matakana was only a petrol station, so it's really been growing, but still has a relaxed feel which is great for holidays.”



Susannah Marshall