Frequently Asked Questions




What is a bach?

The word is short for “bachelor” and it started out in early New Zealand slang as the name for a hut or cabin, built by a single man and used by him to live in. However for maybe the last hundred years it has referred to a place that a New Zealand family owns and goes to for holidays. They are usually humble, often self-built, and almost always in places of spectacular natural beauty. They range from one room huts, 3m by 3m, without electricity, phone or water, to increasingly elaborate and comfortable houses. However most New Zealanders would distinguish carefully between a bach and a modern holiday home, built professionally like any other house and with – for example – an ensuite bathroom. That might be a pleasant place to go for a holiday but it is not a bach.

Chalfont Cottage is a bach – at the comfortable end of the spectrum.

We have more than 6 people. Are there any options for accommodating larger groups?

Yes, it may be possible to arrange rental of the neighbouring house in Honeymoon Bay at the same time as Chalfont Cottage. Accommodation and facilities in the neighbouring house are essentially the same as Chalfont Cottage.

Are the other houses in Honeymoon Bay occupied most of the time?

Generally you can expect there to be people around in the other houses in the Bay between about mid-December and the end of January and also at Easter. From time to time there may be occupants during other periods but for the most part renters in November, early December, February, March and April are likely to have the whole Bay to themselves. Even with all the houses fully occupied, there are no more than three families in the Bay at any one time.

Why isn't the cottage available in the winter months?

Honeymoon Bay is a wonderful summer holiday place but not really great in winter. The lack of road access which is brilliant in summer can be confining in winter if the weather isn't flash. Also the amount of sunshine the Bay gets in winter is much lower than in summer. We'd like you to have a wonderful time so we can't really recommend it.

Is there a shop nearby?

There is a shop with very limited selection at Bay of Many Coves Resort which can be reached if necessary by dinghy or kayak. The Resort also has a café and very good (expensive) restaurant. By kayak the Resort is probably about 20-30 minutes away. Rowing the dinghy is likely to take a little longer – approx 45 minutes each way. We recommend that you do not rely on the shop for your food requirements. Picton has a supermarket in Mariners Mall, one block from the waterfront. We suggest you allow time to shop there before getting a launch to the Bay. The supermarket has a van and will transport your shopping to the wharf if you ask them at the checkout. Because all your gear needs to be carried from the jetty to Chalfont Cottage (a few steps along the beach and then about 30m up a path with steps) it is a good idea to have your groceries packed into boxes that will be easy to carry. The supermarket will also help with this (and wrapping frozen food) if you ask them. Please remember to include toilet paper on your shopping list.

Where is the nearest place to buy fuel for my boat?

 Bay of Many Coves Resort (2 minutes away by powerboat) sells both petrol and diesel on a fuel wharf. The price for petrol is usually about 20c per litre more than in Picton.

Are there any restrictions on fishing?

Yes, there are size/quantity restrictions for some fish and also fishing method restrictions (mostly relating to net mesh size). Currently the fishing quotas in operation in the Sound specify that only 3 blue cod per fisherperson may be taken each day and that each fish must be at least 30 cm in length, measured from the tip of the mouth to the middle of the tailfin. Vaiorus other fish are also subject to limits. Two fish that are commonly caught near Honeymoon Bay are sea perch and herrings which have no restrictions on either number or size. For your information and convenience, we have a poster showing common fish species on the wall of the cottage to help you identify different fish you catch. More, and updated, quota information is usually available from the wharf when you depart from Picton. We’ve seen fish numbers dwindle noticeably in the 50 years we have been coming to the Bay. It’s important that we help to preserve the fish stocks into the future so please abide by the restrictions.

Can you swim at Honeymoon Bay?

Yes. We generally swim almost every day when we are on holiday. The water is fairly bracing (i.e. cold) but on warm days it is pleasant to cool off in the ocean. The beach is safe for swimming and usually has almost no waves. The water gets deep reasonably quickly but steadily (there is no sudden drop). However the beach is quite long so there is a lot of relatively shallow water for younger children to paddle or swim in.

Do you have problems with mosquitoes/sandflies/wasps/bees?

There are no mosquitoes at the Bay but there are some sandflies. You will need suncream and insect repellant for the beach, though there is no problem with sandflies in the house or on the terrace.

As in many parts of the New Zealand bush there are some wasps around but we have not found them to be a major problem. If you know you are allergic please bring appropriate medication with you since the nearest professional help is some distance away. 

Are there any dangerous or poisonous creatures in the bush?

Not really. New Zealand has no snakes, the only poisonous spider is endangered (and the bush around Honeymoon Bay is not its natural habitat anyway) and there were so few indigenous predators that many New Zealand birds are flightless. The only larger animals in the bush are wild pigs. We saw one a couple of years ago a long way up the hill (first sighting for us in many years) but this would be extremely rare and the pig we saw beat a hasty retreat from us. All in all the New Zealand bush must be one of the safer natural environments in the world.

Can I use my mobile phone at Honeymoon Bay?

Mobile phone reception is poor/nil in the house but there is usually some reception on the beach and jetty and it is generally excellent if you row a short distance from shore in the dinghy.

How can I make a long distance call from Chalfont Cottage?

Mobile phone calls are possible with the caveats above. The landline in the house is not able to make direct dial long distance phone calls, however we suggest using a phone card – either directly attached to your home phone account or else a prepaid card that uses a 0800 (toll free) number to connect.

Is there a toilet indoors or do you need to use an outdoor longdrop?

We have a septic tank and so the toilet is indoors and works the same as any other toilet – you won’t notice any difference from your toilet at home.

What is the weather like in the Marlborough Sounds?

Generally the Marlborough Sounds has similar weather to Wellington, however it is usually more sunny and settled. The following charts show average weather conditions for Wellington. A rainy day is defined as any day when more than 1mm of rain falls. On many of these days at least part of the day may be fine.

What is there to do when it is raining?

Because of the isolation of Chalfont Cottage and relative difficulty of getting from place to place, wet weather usually means that you will want to stay indoors. There are over two hundred books in the cottage (we think you'll find one that interests you!), plus we have jigsaw puzzles, children’s games, family games, quizzes, word games etc. We have also found that bringing some activities, such as a set of paints and a watercolour pad, can help in case of wet weather.

What should I pack for a holiday at Chalfont Cottage?

  • First aid kit (we have a small kit but you should bring supplies especially if you have particular needs)

  • Food. Plan carefully to bring all your supplies with you.

  • Toilet paper

  • Togs (swimsuit)

  • Activities in case of rain

  • Walking shoes

  • Bait (available in freezer case of supermarket). If you are not planning a lot of fishing then you may be able to make do with shellfish from the rocks around the coast.

  • Layers of clothing

  • Sunscreen. NZ has a very harsh sun. You will need good sunscreen

  • Linen and towels

  • Phone card for long distance calls

  • Toiletries

Is there room for a tent?

Yes. The grassy area near the beach has a few possible camping sites that are relatively flat.

What will I have to do before I leave?

  • Please sign our logbook (underneath the phone in the main room). Feel free to write a description of your stay.
  • Put away the kayak and dinghy where you found them. Chain and padlock the dinghy.
  • Vacuum carpeted areas, sweep/vacuum and mop hard floors, clean toilet and bathroom (use disinfectant/cleaners on exterior of toilet only).
  • Shut all windows tightly and close curtains.
  • Turn off taps securely and remove plugs from sinks.
  • Lock all doors. Leave every key except sliding door key in internal keybox outside bathroom. Leave sliding door key in exterior lockbox and ensure lockbox is securely locked as you found it.
  • Remember to take all your rubbish in rubbish bags back to Picton with you (the launch will help you with this).

What are some internet directories that cover the Marlborough area?

New Zealand tourism online