Abandoned colonial homestead will become home to a family of eight

COLLEEN HAWKES
Last updated 09:39 08/08/2017
HARCOURTS-TWISS KEIR REALTY

It was six years empty, but now this stunning colonial homestead in Swannanoa, North Canterbury will be home to a family of eight.

HARCOURTS-TWISS KEIR REALTY
The owners say they knew as soon as they walked up the circular driveway that they would buy the property.
HARCOURTS-TWISS KEIR REALTY
With six bedrooms and several reception rooms, there will be more than enough space for the family of eight.
HARCOURTS-TWISS KEIR REALTY
While it is still early days for the owners, who have yet to move in, they say they are investigating the possibility of hosting weddings on the grounds.

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The beautiful colonial homestead in North Canterbury that was abandoned by its UK owners when their dream plans fell through, is set to become a family home once more.

A Tauranga couple, with six children between them, have bought the Swannanoa house, but have yet to set a moving date.

The new owners, who wish to remain anonymous, beat 10 other buyers to secure the historic 1880s property, which has seen hundreds of people turn out for open homes.

"We had 11 offers on the table," says Mitchell Roberts of Harcourts Twiss-Keir Realty in Christchurch, who listed the property with colleague Mana Tai. "Without giving an exact figure, the house sold for around the RV, which was $1.8 million."

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The new owners say while there must be "10 disappointed parties out there", there's "one very happy family".

One of the owners says the family wanted to move closer to his wife's family in Canterbury and had been looking for properties outside Christchurch – the family currently live on a kiwifruit orchard near Tauranga.

"We saw this home advertised on TradeMe, but were unaware it had featured on Stuff. Fortunately, though, we had already planned to come and visit the house on the very same weekend that everyone else turned up – we couldn't have left it a week later. We just thought we had better bite the bullet and get down there that weekend, with our 10-week-old baby in tow."

"After we had decided to go down, my partner saw it on Facebook and we already felt a sense of ownership – like no-one else was allowed to look at it.

FOLLOW-THE-LEADER

"We knew as were walking up the driveway that we were going to buy the house. More than three hundred people turned up that day and we played follow-the-leader, going into each room and along the corridors and up and down the stairs."

The owners say they love the old-school charm of the house and its setting. "We love the detailing, all the fretwork and the finishing – the big skirting boards and architraves."

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They plan to do a lot of landscaping work on the grounds and some repainting. "We will put our own twist on it." The couple are also looking at using the grounds as a wedding venue and have investigated setting up a marquee.

"It is going to be a big shift for the family, but it will help that we will be close to the extended family."

The owner, who is an electrician, says the couple's six children range in age from 17 down to three-and-a-half months.

There will be plenty of room for the whole family. The 540 square-metre mansion, which features huge return verandas on two levels, has six bedrooms, magnificent formal living areas, a grand staircase, high ceilings and large sash windows.

It sits on 4.7ha – there are even stables and a dressage area, as well as barns, storage areas and paddocks.

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