Dot's building a dream castle
Every young child dreams of owning a castle one day - Dot Smith has made it a reality.
She is an eccentric entrepreneur who believes in the power of dreams. As she says, "what else is there to do".
As "Grand Dame" of Riverstone, Smith started her Riverstone empire, situated just north of Oamaru, from humble beginnings. "I grew up in Northland and me and my husband Neil moved to the South Island in 1983 to explore better opportunities.
"We are dairy farmers and we are used to hard work and when we came down south and saw the beautiful land for irrigation, we decided to work on it," Smith said.
After all the hard work, they now own six dairy farms, the Riverstone Kitchen restaurant, and three shops housing her curios. The first shop started 25 years ago. "The kitchen, which is run by my son Bevan is self sufficient - we grow our own vegetables and fruits and everything can be traced back to its origins."
Having successfully built her business and farms, Smith decided to take the next step in conquering her dreams - by building her own castle inclusive of drawbridge, dungeons and secret tunnels.
"The castle is just a house to me - some people build a bach, I decided to build a castle. I love interior design and art and the castle will provide me a with a large scale canvas to work on," she explained in a matter of fact tone.
The castle is actively coming to life and with it, her dreams.
"The ground level is already built and we are working on the top two levels right now. The castle does not have a roof, so the recent rain did not help," Smith said.
Not content with just building a castle, when approached by Random House to write a book about her life, she agreed.
"In Dot - Queen of Riverstone Castle, I talk about my life, my inspirations."
What keeps her going every day to do what she does with aplomb?
"A huge mortgage! It is up to us to prove ourselves and keep ourselves viable. A continuation of life really."
Smith regaled an audience of 150 about her book at the Timaru District Library yesterday.