Jingle all the way . . . with 300,000 lights

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2012
 Karl and Maureen Seaward
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ

MERRY OLD TIME: Karl and Maureen Seaward of Shands Rd, Prebbleton, with this year’s Christmas lights display.

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A Canterbury couple are lighting up Christmas in more ways than one.

Carl and Maureen Seaward have spent about $100,000 in the past four years developing the animated light show at their rural property near Prebbleton.

The display involved more than 300,000 lights and interactive decorations, all synchronised to music.

About 45,000 visitors dropped in last year.

"We used to decorate the inside of our house for personal use, but I couldn't stop buying animated Christmas ornaments. It was either we move out of the house or the Christmas stuff moves out," Maureen Seaward said. "It's just grown from there, and each year it's gotten bigger and bigger."

Carl Seaward built the displays, which changed each year. It usually took six months to construct and three months to put up.

This year, the Seawards rewired their entire property because most of the ornaments were imported from the United States, where electronics use a different voltage.

Power company Meridian covered their electricity costs during December, and other sponsors helped reduce costs.

The satisfaction on visitors' faces outweighed the time and money spent, Maureen said.

"We all know it's been a crap last couple of years and when we had that earthquake on December 23, so many people were disheartened and didn't want to celebrate Christmas, but they brought the kids out here and they were just so overwhelmed."

"It changed their attitude and they were going home to put up their own trees. It just brings a lot of satisfaction to people."

The display can be viewed from December 1 to 30, from 8.30pm to midnight, at 650 Shands Rd. A $5 cover charge for adults applies this year, for the first time, to help fund improvements. Children under 15 are not charged. Visit christmaswonderlandnz.co.nz.

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