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Mobile home: On its way to Greytown


Close your eyes and hope for the best

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For most people, moving to a new house means cardboard boxes and a truck or trailer.

But for Vicki Johns and Louise Dooley, moving house means transporting a character four-bedroom villa from Christchurch, across Cook Strait to Woodside in Greytown.

The couple bought the home sight-unseen on TradeMe about a year ago.

“We have not seen it and we have not been in it yet,” Johns said.

“It was damaged after the [2011] earthquake when the chimneys fell on to the roof and damaged the rafters.”

Built in 1906 by Ernest Charles Chegwin, a Cornwall carpenter, the home includes four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living areas, an open-plan kitchen and dining.

In 1927, the villa was bought at auction by Bishop Matthew Brodie and was later used as the presbytery for the Catholic priests from St Peter’s until the villa was sold in 1968.

It still has many of its character features, including moulded plaster ceilings, stained glass windows, matai floors, kauri doors, and a decorative turret.

“We bought it for about $30,000,” Johns said.

“You couldn’t build it for that today.”

Getting council consents and the cost of moving had certainly added to the cost though.

The house had to be removed from its site in Beckenham, Christchurch, three months after it was purchased, and it has been waiting in a house removal yard since August last year.

In preparation for the big move, the roof was removed, and the building cut in half and shrink wrapped.

Johns had previously moved a much smaller cottage on to the property from Normanby, Taranaki.

She said she hadn’t been half as nervous as she was for this move.

“Generally, when I say we are moving a house from Christchurch to Greytown, people ask if we’re mad,” she said with a laugh.

“We are just hoping it will arrive in two pieces and no more.

“You just have to close your eyes and hope for the best.”

Moving the house so far was not ideal but it meant it’s character and heritage would be retained, she said.

“We’re recycling a whole building basically.

“We are preparing to be amazed [when it arrives] and then to do a lot of work we didn’t expect to have to do.”

The house was scheduled to make its way across Remutaka Hill between last night and early this morning, though this was dependent on weather and other factors.

Johns was to post updates to the Wairarapa Commuters page on Facebook.


  1. Wishing you every success! If you need a border whose quiet with a loving heart Im there..all the very best ??????✌?

  2. You bloody BEAUTS!!!! I live in Greytown, happy to lend a hand if you need it!!!! (Old but good to go!!!) GOOD LUCK.

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