Once upon a time, a little girl looked up at a house on a hill. It was a big-boned house, built of imposing pieces of timber.
“It must be a giant’s house,” she said.
And so the grandest colonial villa in Akaroa got its name.
Not far from Christchurch, Akaroa is different to other New Zealand towns in that it used to be a French colony. Its street names are French, it has an obsession with French food and wine, and there’s a French flag flying over its tranquil harbour. Its main draw is that it’s the only place in the world in which you can swim with the world’s smallest, and rarest, species of dolphin. Hector’s dolphins are incredibly cute, but while you’re in Akaroa, make sure you also check out the Giant’s House.
Built in 1880 by Akaroa’s first bank manager, the Giant’s House has, for the last few decades, been owned by an artist called Josie Martin. She’s transformed the terraced garden into a psychedelic wonderland of mosaic sculptures.
Don’t make our mistake of showing up half an hour before closing. We really had to rush around the garden in order to see everything. Give yourself at least an hour to appreciate it.
Be warned, though: it’s far from wheelchair-friendly!
It costs $20 to get in. From May to September, it’s only open from 11am until 2pm, but from October to April, it’s open until 4pm. From October to April, it also functions as a cafe.
It’s quite exciting to explore. I, for one, felt like a little kid again.
Well, it does call itself the happiest garden on earth.
It has also achieved the official status of a Garden of International Significance.
Further adding to its awesomeness, the Giant’s House commands amazing views of the Akaroa Harbour.