The Giant’s House in Akaroa


Akaroa is a charming small town of only 567 residents and the harbour is small. So small the cruise liner has to anchor in the bay and we are ferried ashore in the life boats.

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Can you see our ship?

In 1838 a French whaler, Captain Langlois, decided that Akaroa was an ideal location for a town that could service the whaling ships. He subsequently acquired the peninsula in a dubious land deal with the local Maori. He then returned to France and arranged for a group of French and German families to sail to New Zealand, with the intention of forming a French colony.

After constantly refusing to recognise New Zealand as a British colony the Crown issued an Imperial Proclamation on 15 June 1839, which cited New Zealand as part of the British Realm.

After being informed of the French intent to colonise Akaroa and use further as a whaling port, the English ship the “Britomart” was despatched in order to proclaim sovereignty for the Crown. The “Britomart” arrived in Akaroa on 16 August (although the captain’s log shows this arrival date as 11 August 1840[5]), Captain Stanley raised the British flag and held a court at each of the occupied settlements.

The French arrived on  11 July 1840, where they discovered that the Banks Peninsula had been claimed by the British. But they still established a settlement and many street names still bare reference to these French beginnings.

This is the closest port to Christchurch and many of the passengers took a bus tour there. We stayed to explore this fascinating town, and what a gem we found.


Look what Jack found in a garden and couldn't resist taking a photo

Look what Jack found in a garden and couldn’t resist taking a photo

Benches where every where…

(These are for you Jude)

What a delightful place, I was entranced with its historic buildings and appealing, photogenic homes and gardens.

After wandering around the village we walked up a rather steep street to find the “Giant’s House”

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What we discovered up this drive is the most amazing garden I have ever seen.

Created by Josie Martin an artist, painter and sculptor. When she began 15 years ago there was no garden so she had a blank canvas to work with. Digging the garden she found shards of pottery and lovely old china from the days when there was no rubbish collection. Saving them all, she felt it belonged to the history of the old house. That was the beginning of this magnificent, glorious garden – mosaic steps, an extraordinary sculptural wall mosaic, welded steel sculptures and other creations. Colourful gardens of roses vegetables, citrus, flowers. Very unique. 

I took hundreds of photos of those captivating, quirky, mosaic sculptures. The flower beds where a riot of colour, they demanded my attention. I had a silly grin on my face all the way round and came away hoping that some day I will go back to revisit this very special place.

As we entered the tour bus from the cruise ship also pulled in. “How long will you be here” I asked. “Only 20 minutes” I was told. So we sat in the garden café with a cuppa waiting for the 40+ tourists to move on, then we could savour this amazing place in relative peace.

I hope you enjoy this walk around. I am putting more photos in this post than I have ever done before. I just found them all so fascinating…


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The house was given the name of “Giant’s House” by a girl looking up at it from the valley below who said it is so big it must be the house of a giant. It was built-in 1880. It took 5 years to build using hardwoods of the local Totara and Kauri trees.

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The first thing you see on the front lawn are these larger than life mosaic musicians and the grand piano. Drifting through the air and setting the scene is the soft sound of French accordion music mixing with the singing of birds and trickling of water from a fountain.

Jack gets into the act

Jack gets into the act

Notice the succulents growing in the piano and the mirror under the lid…

The perennial border is a riot of colour

The perennial border is a riot of colour

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The King and Queen

On the top of the hill the King and Queen survey their kingdom, but watch for that suspicious cat-like character lurking behind them in the bushes…

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What are those yellow things above these acrobats?

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Did you see they are waving arms?

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Do you recognise this character?

Do you recognise this character?

Another path, let's see where this one goes

Another path, let’s see where this one goes

Watch out for the wild animals

Watch out for the wild animals

Phew, time for a sit down

Phew, time for a sit down

There's even a very healthy and flourishing veggie garden

There’s even a very healthy and flourishing veggie garden

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These are just a few of the beautiful flowers in the garden.

This is an amazingly life-like sculpture that Josie has done of herself.

We spent over 2 hours wandering around and could’ve stayed longer. Every where I looked I kept seeing another fascinating sculpture or more beautiful garden beds. It is a tribute to one woman’s energy and imagination.

If you are in New Zealand this is a place you must not miss. I would like to come again and next time stay in the Giant’s House as a guest and totally immerse myself in the magic.

“The house has many extraordinary features – a grand entrance hall with mahogany staircase imported from France, original open fireplaces, beautifully proportioned rooms, a conservatory with mosaic floor, a large sunny sheltered verandah, quirky bathrooms, bright yellow farmhouse kitchen, comfortable large bedrooms with unique artistic features and artwork throughout.

At The Giant’s House you will be pampered, and stimulated, in surroundings that will uplift your soul!- a very special experience, quite ‘out of this world’.” (to book a room and find out more click here)


I’d also like to join in with Restless Jo’s walking group this week…

Categories: Akaroa, bench series, cruise, Giant's House garden, Jo's Monday walks, New Zealand, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 77 Comments

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77 thoughts on “The Giant’s House in Akaroa

  1. Jack looks right at home here 😀 I wish I had a village like this at my reach. Great share, Pauline. Thank you.


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  3. That place is amazing! That piano! Oh my goodness, what a feast for the eyes. Thank you for sharing 🙂


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  5. Lemonpath

    Lovely photos I should try and visit this summer. Havent been to the South Island for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lemonpath

    Looks amazing I must try and visit this summer, last time I was in the South Island was about 20 years ago


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  8. As usual I love your posts. New Zealand has a special place in my heart because my father stayed there on the way to and from two trips to Antarctica in the early sixties. He said that New Zealand was his idea of heaven. He died peacefully in his sleep of a heart attack in Christ Church on his second return trip. Everything you’ve posted about New Zealand makes me think he was right about it and blessed to have gotten to enjoy it.

    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NZ is a very special place Eileen. Thank you for the lovely comment. Have you ever been to NZ?


      • No. Vascular problems make a flight that long problematic. But I really wish we could have. All the more reason that I enjoy your posts about NZ. Thanks for letting me travel vicariously with you!


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  10. Oh you got some great shots of the garden and its inhabitants! We were there a few weeks ago and I’ve just written a post about it! Jo directed me over to your post. Isn’t it a most wonderful and magical place?! I too walked around with a silly grin on my face 🙂


    • Just popped over to visit your post. Loved your description of the Giants House, it made me smile again as I walked through and saw it with your eyes and camera.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What an interesting place. I enjoy mosaics and used to do some for my gardens but they do not hold up well in the freeze/thaw cycles of the northern winter. Thanks for sharing!


    • I believe they are quite time consuming too. Imagine all the hours it took to create all those mosaic sculptures.


  12. Lovely photo journey. I was able to visit Akaroa during my circumnavigation (by car) of the South Island but totally missed The Giant’s House so delighted that I got to enjoy it here!


  13. What an absolute treat this post is, Pauline. The Giant’s House is fantabulous, and every shot a gem. You’ve brightened me up on the grey, drizzly English day 🙂


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  16. Wow, Pauline! You must have had a fabulous time walking around photographing this garden. It’s so fascinating, cute and quirky. I know I would have loved it. Your pictures are fabulous. What a wonderful trip you had. 🙂


  17. So glad I saved this to come home to, Pauline! What an extraordinary place! You’d have to peel me away from that piano- it’s quite magical 🙂 Thank you so much for this fabulous walk. What a treat! 🙂 🙂


  18. this is wonderful stuff here – coming back to soak up another view – and love the garden figurine jack happened to find, I would not be able to resist taking a photo too 🙂


    • The nude was in a private garden and I was a bit concerned when Jack went through the gate for a photo!!!


      • ha! and I read in the other comment that this post is the tip of the iceberg – whew – this is a lot of nice “stuff” = hate to say stuff – but muy bueno


        • I’m a bit compulsive when it comes to photography. Thank goodness we live in the digital age…

          Liked by 1 person

          • I hear ya – the digital options are awesome. In fact, I have been going through some photos and vids again this week – just cleaning up ya know. and well i find that I hang on to more photos just because they are digital – but that starts adding up – and so I was just talking to my husband about that – how going through some folders on the computer feels like a closet that was overstuffed – and I do not like to do that with clothes – or folders ha!


            • Good comparison with the folders as overstuffed closets. I’ve just decluttered my summer clothes, any thing that I didn’t wear this summer I gritted my teeth and sent to the op shop. Now I must carry through with the photos, must admit that will be veery hard

              Liked by 1 person

              • well good luck when you go through all of yours – I almost feel like clothing is easier to go through – well for me at least! and funny how as you wind away from summer – we are gearing up for it over here – 🙂


                • It is like summer over here. Temps in top 20’sC sunny and warm, lovely… Every time we go on a trip and come back with thousands of photos we say ” this time we will sort and label etc…” It never happens…

                  Liked by 1 person

                • ha! sort and label – well for me – I have to stop putting folders within folders within folders. However, I am careful of one major thing – I take less video footage – for me those were the hardest to go through and I ended up with hundreds of 20 second shots that were crazy time consuming. and so while I like some video footage – I find that 6 photos of the same thing is sometimes good for the essence and easier to see and sort. I dunno…. and glad things are warm and sunny – we have the AC on here and I was just out stretching with the dogs….. still feel so thirsty for sun. xxoo


                • I enjoyed looking at your short videos, Jack used to make them of our trips and put them onto cd’s but it is very time consuming. He was going to do our trip round Aus in short videos but only got about 3 months into the trip and gave up…

                  Liked by 1 person

                • I can see why he gave up – it can be a lot of work – but wow would that have been cool to see a vid with so much travel highlighted.

                  Liked by 1 person

  19. There are such delightful homes in that town and the garden tour is amazing! I can easily see why you want to return and spend more time there.Really enjoyed all the photos.


  20. What an amazing place… Just lovely…


  21. What a healthy young lady (the sculpture). I know there are more interesting photos but that is the one I saw 🙂


    • She was in the garden when we were there and she is very vibrant, clothes and personality, that shows in her garden too.


  22. Toni

    Looked a very interesting place. TFS,


  23. poppytump

    What a fabulous place for a call in on as part of your cruise Pauline ! Stunning mosaic creations … what an imagination this artist must have … and patience . Nipping and nibbling shards of pottery is not a five minute job ! Really lovely photos of your day … all those flowers too jostling for your attention . Quite a little paradise all round 🙂


    • I wish we could’ve stayed there longer, but we had to get back as the boat has a schedule to keep. But I’m so pleased we hadn’t gone on the bus tour, 20 minutes to see it all would be impossible. It certainly was a paradise


  24. This is a great post of surprising Akaroa.
    The gardens are an amazing.
    Thanks for doing your home work on things to see in Akaroa.
    I may have missed The Giant’s Garden, as many people from the ship did.
    They either took a rushed trip to Christchurch or the walk up the hill put them off,
    then there were some like me did not know they existed.


  25. Jodie

    Very beautiful and inspirational.


  26. Lyn n David @ Meow-landa

    The fantasy images of childhood brought to life amongst a most magnificent garden. I was grinning just looking at the I pad. Thanks for sharing Pauline. Poor DAVID now I have some more ideas for our garden. Loved Jack at the succulent piano. Enjoy your holiday


  27. Irresistible! No wonder you couldn’t stop grinning! I shall bookmark this one in case I ever get to the south island. And I love the very different benches that Jack managed to find – the piano bench and the one at the ‘Bonbon Palace’. Brilliant and most colourful post PP – thank you 😀


  28. Ahh thanks for all the hard work creating this post. What a magical place, I love mosaics and these are so colourful, I think the acrobats are my favourite, but the piano is brilliant too.
    And then the pretty little town, well the houses are charming, you couldn’t be miserable living there 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It did take me quite a while to put this post together Gilly. I had so many photos to chose from. There was so much more I could’ve shown you. Maybe they will pop up in future challenges. But it was an enjoyable process for me revisiting this amazing place via my photos

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually visiting other peoples blogs is amazing, but looking back on our own is really cool as well!


        • The reason I started blogging in 2009 was to keep track of our travels and to let family and friends know where we where, but it has become something of an obsession and I’m totally hooked, especially love the community and following other blogs.

          Liked by 1 person

  29. What an irresistible place. Your photos are amazing. A bus trip instead? No way!


    • That’s what I thought, 20 minutes!!! Not nearly enough time to absorb the happy atmosphere and find all the marvellous art forms. If I get back that way I would like to do B&B in the house.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. What a fun place to visit, Pauline. Love the photos, especially the one of Jack at the grand piano. 🙂


  31. lbequeen317

    Your photos are beautiful.


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