Hollywood star Lucy Lawless is converting a large part of her posh Auckland estate into a multimillion-dollar eco-friendly garden of Eden.
The Xena actress and Greenpeace climate change ambassador is converting two of her four consolidated properties - with a total worth of more than $7 million into a 1600sq m garden.
The cost of the garden design alone would probably exceed $10,000, and the final bill could run into the hundreds of thousands, an award-winning landscape designer says.
The design will include a large raised stone vegetable garden, poultry house, rainwater tank and rolling lawns, according to architectural and landscape plans lodged with Auckland City Council.
The gardens will also feature a glass conservatory and courtyards from which she, husband Robert Tapert and their two sons can enjoy their tranquil green surroundings.
The Herald on Sunday understands landscapers Total Landscape Creations Ltd will carry out the ambitious work, which involves ripping up a tennis court of almost 700sq m on one of the rear Mission Bay lots. The company's director Nevan Millar would only say, "We're doing some work on that property."
Lawless' home, complete with swimming pool, spans two front lots, which the couple have owned since the late 90s, according to council records.
Real estate agent Graham Wall, who specialises in high-end properties, said the improvements could bump the property's value to around the $10m mark.
He said the addition of a large garden would probably add more value than if the family had built up.
"There are so few big sites out there these days."
He was not aware of other wealthy Aucklanders and celebrities converting large sections into garden but said it was a good idea.
"I think once you've bought a nice house and you have a nice spot, you want to make it better."
Robyn Laurenson of Laurenson Landscape Design said a project of this size would required extremely detailed drawings, particularly to satisfy consent applications.
Those applications were approved last year, according to council records.
She said it was difficult to tell how much the whole project would cost - "how long is a piece of string" - because it depended largely on the materials used.
But the several retaining walls, large areas of pavers and stone would push the price up.
"I would say a project like that, you could be looking at hundreds of thousands."