Home for sale in Dunedin comes with frogs and butterflies

This imposing house in Maori Hill, Dunedin is not only the home of Rosa and Walter Rutherford, it is also home to the many frogs and butterflies raised by Rosa.

Wildlife lived in the lush, planted glass-walled atrium, though every monarch butterfly chrysalis is now brought inside to hatch, since the whitefly took away its favorite plants.

Rosa Rutherford swears butterflies know her. “If you hatch them inside, they know you. They hang for a day when they first hatch and pump their wings to dry out. Then they fly on my hair, face or shoulder for a short time. Other people have seen it and can’t believe it. But I don’t keep them – I head to the window and make sure they fly away.

“The frogs, which arrived as part of a ‘rescue operation’, come and go on their own: “Years ago someone filed a noise complaint with the council about the sound that frogs were making somewhere in a pond. So I decided to take some of the frogs to save them from being killed.

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“They all left because they were quite big, but they knew where the water was and they started coming back. They are hard to see, but I can find them. They are free to go where they want, but they always come back.

The garden was used as a wedding venue - the owners used to keep doves as well as frogs and butterflies.

STEDMAN REAL ESTATE

The garden was used as a wedding venue – the owners used to keep doves as well as frogs and butterflies.

Rosa Rutherford sits in the atrium with one of her two cats.

PROVIDED

Rosa Rutherford sits in the atrium with one of her two cats.

“There are maybe 500 to 600 tadpoles here now. It happens every year. Sometimes I’ll take them and put them in a pond that’s safe – it can’t be a place where the weed is sterilized with toxins.

The couple registered their 290 sq. meter four bedroom home with Robert Shepherd of Stedman Real Estate because they are downsizing to a retirement village.

Rutherford says if a buyer doesn’t want the wildlife, she’ll take them when they leave, but she can’t promise the frogs won’t return.

The formal gardens extend from the exterior into the atrium.

STEDMAN REAL ESTATE

The formal gardens extend from the exterior into the atrium.

The frogs have found a happy home at Maori Hill, but can be relocated if a new owner wishes.

PROVIDED

The frogs have found a happy home at Maori Hill, but can be relocated if a new owner wishes.

“We went on vacation, and because I knew we would sell, I only left an inch of water where the frogs were breeding. The tadpoles were all gone by then and a frog can easily find water elsewhere. But we came back from vacation and there were all these eggs laid.

Rutherford, who is celebrating a wedding, has held weddings in the lush, formal white garden surrounding the house. She once kept white doves, which enhanced the decor.

Birds still flock to the garden, thanks to a sculptural artwork with long, wavy “wands.” These are strewn with small stones to which Rutherford attaches pieces of overripe pears that she obtains free from the local farmers’ market.

There are views of many rooms, including the kitchen, with its floor-to-ceiling glazed wall.

STEDMAN REAL ESTATE

There are views of many rooms, including the kitchen, with its floor-to-ceiling glazed wall.

It is one of two living rooms in the 290 square meter house.

STEDMAN REAL ESTATE

It is one of two living rooms in the 290 square meter house.

Native birds fly up and down on the sticks as they nibble on the pears, creating a fascinating kinetic sculpture.

“It’s a beautiful spring garden – I grow lilies and white pavlova azaleas,” says Rutherford. “It’s a wonderful garden for a visually impaired person, because there’s a whiff of fragrance from the flowers.”

And then there is the house. Built in the 1990s, the all-white house is architecturally interesting. The fully glazed, double-height atrium is matched by a gable across the entrance, with an equally steep roof.

The house has a sweet romance.

STEDMAN REAL ESTATE

The house has a sweet romanticism.

And there is a close association with nature at every turn.

STEDMAN REAL ESTATE

And there is a close association with nature at every turn.

There are balconies opening the rooms to the view and overlooking the atrium.

Two living rooms offer plenty of space for a separate media room, and there is also an office.

Shepherd says he has rarely listed such a unique home. And, of course, he met the frogs: “They followed me on the way,” he says. “As soon as you approach, they stop chirping.”

The property, at 32 Claremont Street, is for sale by negotiation. Shepherd says owners will consider offers between $2.5 million and $3 million.

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