Riverstone Castle on Prime

Dot and Neil Smith are dreamers, but not in the sleepy, never get anything done way.

They are people who work hard to make their dreams come true.

. . .It’s a bit like Grand Designs on steroids. Dot Smith and husband Smithy (aka Neil) start with a bare paddock. Smithy, who has been dragged around innumerable castles in Europe, said to her one day: “What if I dug you a hole in the ground there and we put a little island in the hole and put a castle on there?”

Well, it’s not so much of the little. This is a massive project. The completed Riverstone Castle, built from solid Oamaru stone quarried locally, literally sits on an island. There’s even a dungeon.

But as with every good home building show, this one is just as much about the people as the build.

Pink-haired, 60-something Dot is clearly a romantic, but not in any drippy way. This is a woman who, with her family, has worked hard to run a successful empire that includes six dairy farms, an award-winning restaurant, giftware shops and gardens to die for. But she loves a fairytale.

“You’ve got to make a bit of romance happen in your life, otherwise when you get to 65 or 70 you’re a bit past all the other romantic parts,” she says. “So we’ve got to make little fairy stories where we go.”

When told, “Most people your age would be scaling down”, Dot says, “No, I’m scaling up”. . . 

Dot: Queen of the Castle screens on Prime at 8:30 tonight.

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