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Wendelton, the Guinea Pig Village at Eyebright, has stood the test of time.  Now approaching it’s twelfth birthday, it just gets more and more popular.  There are locals who visit many times a year, and we have out- of-towners for whom a visit to Wendelton is the highlight of their time in Nelson.


At dusk, sixteen years ago, I stood, in front of the lop eared rabbit enclosure at New Plymouth’s  Pukekura  park.  The bunnies were scurrying about, as they do at that that time of day. It was enchanting.  The seeds of an idea were sown. 


Soon after, Eyebright acquired two lop eared bunnies, also a handsome ‘Flemish Giant’ called ‘Wendel’.  They were great, but during the middle of the day, they were more inclined to rest, than interact with visitors.


Marcus Strzoda, from Germany, lived and worked at Eyebright during 2011 and 2012.  The guinea pig village was his idea. 


Less than a week after Adrienne and I gave the go ahead, two young adventurers from Quebec turned up.  They were working their way around New Zealand and sleeping in their car. 


We had a project and we had accommodation.  Jessie and Jeremy moved into the house-bus on site, and, with Marcus, started work on the Guinea Pig Village.


Twenty-two-year-old Jeremy had exceptional carpentry skills, having built a house with his father, and  Adrienne’s boyfriend (previously the owner of a joinery shop), was an excellent teacher who owned top-line wood working tools, which he was happy to lend. 


All the Wendelton buildings, from the ‘Happy Hog Backpackers’, to the ‘Plum Pudding Bakery’ to Swinestone Castle, (ten buildings in all) were designed by Marcus.

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Jessie and Jeremy

During the late summer and early autumn of 2012 everyone pitched in, creating the village.  

It was christened ‘Wendelton’ in honour of Wendel, the Flemish Giant.


Adrienne and Wendel

 I made-up a story about Wendel leading the guinea pigs to overthrow wicked overlords living in Swinestone castle.  (You can read my tale, and others on the plaques dotted around Wendelton’s perimeter). 


The weather was perfect for the official opening on April 1st 2012.  Dressed in traditional German lederhosen, Marcus and the guinea pigs entertained a steady stream of visitors.


After the opening day, an entry fee of $2.00 for adults, and $1.00 for kids was introduced, and has remained unchanged to this day.


When autumn turned to winter, Marcus returned to Germany, and I was left to tend the guinea pigs. 

At the end of each day, with the help of a neighbouring school-girl, I gathered up the guinea pigs and brought them to a covered pen.


We lost not a single guinea pig, but with potential predation weighed on my mind, the high perimeter fence, and towering superstructure were built.

It’s hard to credit, but in twelve years, apart from old age, we’ve hardly had a single health issue.  Twice a year we treat the guinea pigs, as a precaution, against mites.  I used to give them vitamin C, until I realised that all the grass, parsley, silver beet, and carrots that they get, delivers more than enough vitamin C.


Art teacher, Grant Winter, and I teamed up to produce a Wendelton book called ‘Too Many Guinea Pigs’.  It looks like kid stuff, and that is what I set out to write, but I couldn’t help myself, and it became a tongue-in-cheek romp, with an edgy punch line.  If you appreciated Monty Python, The Muppets, and Foot Rot Flats, then you and I are in tune, and you’ll probably enjoy my book.  (signings on request).


The day that stands out from all others, was the 2015 marriage of Hansel and Petal.  Everyone got into the spirit of the event.  Maureen Grage, (President of the Nelson Cake Decorators and Sugar Artists), made the multi-tier cake.  The bride and groom arrived in a gold Daimler, and the guests came in their finery. 


Apart from Petal piddling on the bride-mother (Sarah Churchman), everything went off without a hitch.  


The Bride &

Mother of the Bride Arrive


The Ceremony 


To relive the moment

Click on the heart

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