Passion behind Rotorua Christmas Lights Trail success

By, Sonya Bateson

Covering their house and garden in fairy lights has become a bit of a ritual for Debi and Neil Barnes - but they love doing it for the kids.

The couple were among the winners of this year's McDowell Professionals Rotorua Christmas Lights Trail and are known for their amazing displays on Blomfield St.

Each year they come up with a new plan of attack and spend days testing the lights before they can even begin the decorating.

Mrs Barnes said although getting the lights ready could be frustrating, it was worth it.

"We do it for the kids and just to see the reactions from people. The kids really enjoy it, when you hear the oohs and aahs from them, it's just payment. It's good to get money for the school as well, it's a great bonus - schools are always screaming out for money."

Putting the lights up wasn't the hard part. As well as testing them, bundles of bubble wrap were used to mold the lights into the desired shape.

Mrs Barnes said her husband had become good at pulling the strings of lights to pieces, ready for reinvention.

McDowell Professionals Rotorua operations manager Kylee Douglas said Mr and Mrs Barnes had entered the competition year after year. Her 8-year-old daughter loved the couple's house, there was "something magical" about it for the kids.

The other houses in the competition had also done a great job. Ms Douglas said all of the entrants had put in a lot of work.

"It's just too hard to judge, too hard to compare one house to another. In the past we have used different methods of judging - people's choice, judges choosing the top or the top three - but at the end of the day, what do we judge on? So we changed it."

Ms Douglas said there had been 20 winners chosen this year, each of whom received $250 prize money to be donated to a school or kindergarten of their choice.

The prize money was donated by The Daily Post, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and More FM.

Ms Douglas said as well as the money, the winners of the first-time entrants' prize were given a four-burner barbecue, which went to 11 Emerald St. See Monday's The Daily Post and below for more pictures.



Christmas Lights Trail

Holdens Bay

76 Robinson Ave


41 Basley Rd

45 Thelma Pl

19 Devoy Dr

Central City

1290 Eruera St (McDowell's)


51a Holland St


10 Corlett St


19 McCahon Dr

11 Emerald St

58 Blomfield St

75 Pegasus Dr

3 Campbell Pl

Western/Selwyn Heights

10 Park Rd

3 Tui Rd

54 Kea St


41 Joanne Cres

Fairy Springs/Kawaha Pt/Koutu

10 Aquarius Dr

3 Barnard Rd

20 Darroch St

152 Fairy Springs Rd (Mini Golf NZ)


15 Ranginui St

13 Kokiri St

9 Kinder Pl


- Rotorua Daily Post

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