Castle of dreams takes shape at seaside town

An Aramoana woman has turned her home into a castle after an epiphany led her to build turrets, which she has done with the help of her friend building an ark next door.

Margaret Ellis said she was living in Invercargill seven years ago when she decided to return to Aramoana to build a castle So she asked Just Doi, a man with knowledge on mortise and tenon joints, to help.

The plan was described to architect Merrall MacNeille, who agreed the dream was possible.

Mr Doi said it took about three days to raise the four initial main frames but many of the castle rooms were added later. The most recent addition, ''the captain's cavern'', was an old University of Otago house.

Miss Ellis said the castle housed many prized possessions, including an oversized ''wishing chair'' that made an adult feel momentarily childlike.

Up the spiral staircase, in the master bedroom, soared a large model albatross, once-broken pieces salvaged from the Dunedin transfer station, where Miss Ellis works.

The golden clay plaster cast on the castle was finished by three men with a combined age of 233, she said.

But Miss Ellis and Mr Doi plastered the 1960 caravan in the garden, after building crenellations on to the caravan.

On the other side of the castle is the ark, a building project five years in, Mr Doi said.

The two-level ark was designed with enough room for Mr Doi to walk about comfortably but his son, Marco Seifert-Simpson (15), had outgrown the lower level, Mr Doi said.

In the downstairs ''pointy end'' of the ark was the toolshed and bathroom. In the stern is the living area. Upstairs in the ''deckhouse'' were the bedrooms, where Mr Seifert-Simpson's bed could be retracted into the ark wall to save space.

When the ark was finished, it would be seaworthy but would be moved to land nearer the water, Mr Doi said.

Why build an ark?
''To inspire people to do their thing,'' Mr Doi said.

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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