Celebrate and honour Creativity People

Grandad’s boat launches a garden to treasure

Mike, Vicki and Rubie Attrill outside their home, and what has become a very popular garden in their community

Mike and Vicki Attrill wanted to honour the history behind the old boat they purchased.   Their beach-tropical themed garden has become a popular feature within their town, proving that even an unseaworthy boat can find its place as a treasure in the community.

In October 2018, Mike, like many blokes before him, set off to Nelson to buy his first boat.

A boat that sadly, rather quickly and affectionately, got the nickname Wheels, after he realised that it would not likely be seaworthy again.

The question of what to do with Wheels, would set in motion a heart-warming project that has gone on to affect many people within their North Canterbury community.

At the time, Wheels was purchased, Mike and Vicki were undertaking a landscaping project on their new home in Pegasus.

They had decided they wanted a low maintenance section, that felt “tranquil and relaxing”.

Ultimately, it was the question of what to do with Wheels that inspired Mike to embark on a ‘beach-tropical’ themed garden.

A garden that would end up becoming host to many photo shoots, gatherings, smiles, comments and even inspired a kind stranger to leave them a handwritten thank you card.

The history of Wheels

Mike purchased the old boat off a man who said it had been sitting idle and lonely in his yard for six to seven years.

He was reluctant to sell it because his Grandad had passed it down to him after owning the boat from age 17 until he passed away at age 85.

Wheels before her makeover

Mike talks about learning how this man’s Grandad used to spend hours catching snapper off  Nelson Bays and says, “It’s not just a boat in a garden.”

Had Mike not known the story behind his broken-down old boat he says he would likely have gotten rid of it.

I felt I couldn’t get rid of a boat with such history,” says Mike.


Instead, he took out the motor and gave her a fresh coat of paint.

He then craned her into his front yard and over the course of a year created a themed garden with Wheels front and centre.

Wheels continues to spread joy

A couple of years on and Mike and Vicki are blown away by the response they have received.

“I definitely didn’t expect the response we have gotten,” says Mike.

People stop Mike and Vicki in the street to tell them that they walk past their house every night now just so they can see it.

Mike and Vicki’s completed front garden

The local dog walker takes photos of her client’s dogs inside the boat and sends it to their owners.

People gather out the front of their house taking photos and friends have messaged jokingly saying, “You win!”.

In January of this year, they even received a beautiful thank you card in their letterbox from a stranger.

“What a wonderful person to go out of their way to deliver this card!” says Vicki.

The thank you card Mike and Vicki Attrill received in their letterbox

When I asked Mike and Vicki why they believe they have received such a positive response they said they thought it was because “it was different”.

Originally, from England, Mike then goes on to say that he believes “kiwis are connected to the sea and so maybe they are just drawn to it”.

Whatever the reasons for this garden spreading so much happiness, it is obvious that this family truly enjoys sharing it with everybody around them. And that, in itself, is the real treasure here.

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