Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

A castle fantasy: Artist seeks financial backing to buy her dream

Artist Elizabeth Kyle is trying to raise $2 million so she can buy the Fantail Lodge Country Estate at Katikati. Source: http://www.realestate.co.nz/2883373
Artist Elizabeth Kyle is trying to raise $2 million so she can buy the Fantail Lodge Country Estate at Katikati. Source: http://www.realestate.co.nz/2883373

Kiwi artist Elizabeth Grainger Kyle is on a mission to turn a sprawling $2 million Waikato lodge into a castle - and she wants you to help fund the bill.

She hopes to raise $1.5m to go towards purchasing her family's former land on Rea Rd near Katikati, an ex-luxury lodge-turned-backpackers, called Fantail Lodge.

Kyle, who's started a Givealittle campaign to help fulfil her dream, envisions the property being transformed into a "creative sanctuary" for people to reconnect with their creative side.

"It will be a place of learning ... there will be a library of inspiring books, medieval, Celtic and Maori history and arts."

Her lofty ambitions included an art gallery, a grand hall for splendid balls and ballroom dancing, a stage space and a field where medieval events could happen.

Kyle said tender for the property, which was currently listed by Eves Realty Ltd Katikati, closes on September 29.

If successful with her bid, Kyle wanted to transform the cluster of Tudor-style buildings on the 6.9ha piece of rural land into a sort of medieval castle - a dream she's harboured ever since her father gifted her the piece of the larger farming block her family once owned.

In 1979, Kyle managed to get her dream under way, turning it into a more picturesque rural space, complete with a pond, river rocks in the creek, and strategically placed native trees and shrubbery.

However, when her marriage ended in divorce she was forced to sell her dream property and moved to Australia.

Twenty five years later, she's back in her homeland and was surprised to see the property she'd sold once again on the market.

"Imagine my surprise and delight, when I discovered that my one-time home at Rea Rd was for sale," she said. "I've been to see it. It is in such disrepair, so used and unloved."

She said it was perfect - if with the help of others - she could transform it into a work of art.

Eves real estate agent who's listed the property, Ross Collins, said the property, both the lands and the buildings were a bit tired - but had huge potential for anyone prepared to give it a little TLC.

"It's useable, but just needs modernising more than anything," he said. "It's quite a special place, it's quiet, there are tuis flying around the bush, it's really quite nice."

He said in the three weeks since it was listed there had been quite a lot of inquiries about the property - with about a dozen or so expressing interest.

Kyle said if she failed on her bid for the property, with the donors' permission she hoped to buy a similar plot of land to make her dream a reality.

So far, almost $2000 has been donated to her Givealittle page.

- NZ Herald

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