Larnach Castle, Dunedin
Larnach Castle is promoted as New Zealand’s only castle. While it definitely has castle-like features, I think it is more of a castle-styled mansion. It was the family home and commissioned by William Larnach, a New Zealand Minister, banker and merchant for his first wife, Eliza Jane Guise. Construction started in 1871, and was built by 200 workmen over 3 years. After that for another 12 years, European craftsmen worked on the interior.
For some time the building became abandoned and in poor condition until it was bought and restored in 1967 by the Bakers family, and has since been their family residence. Now it is open to the public for an entry fee. Reservations is not needed.
From the outside, the building looks quite grand for a family home. It is constructed of stone with a turret, and the interior is fitted with carpentry.
There are some small ‘forests’ on the property and the driveways and carpark are lined with trees. This is the driveway that goes right up to the front of the building, used by tourist coaches.
The stone building with glass facade looks quite unique and interesting.
View from the turret
This is the view from the top of the turrets. The climb is a steep yet not-that-hard-to-manage spiral steps in a small confined space. Maybe for some the view is worth it. For me it wasn’t anything special and it was quite cold outside. Because of the limited staircase space, you will need to give way to people going in the opposite direction to you.
Inside the castle, there are a few small exhibits to see, and a room with a short documentary about the site.
There is a tea room/cafe onsite that is open every day, high tea is available but must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.
Unfortunately I do not have too many photos of the grounds. There are some small woodlands/forests on the grounds including a tree-lined avenue directly opposite the castle. There is also a very small garden outside the building.
There are no onsite accommodation options but there are ones nearby, and day tours that include this in the itinerary are available.
The gardens and grounds are wheelchair accessible and wheelchairs are available for use on the site. The castle itself is not wheels accessible and has a set of steep stone stairs to access and more inside.
Public toilets onsite available in the building on the ground floor near the ballroom/cafe. These are wheels accessible.
There are audio guides for hire (with a fee) or you can pick up a free pamphlet and do a self guided tour with that. The pamphlets are available in a variety of languages, including English, Chinese, German and French. I found the self guided tour to be totally sufficient, after watching the documentary (less than 10 minutes).
Free parking on site several metres away from the actual building.
Recommended stay time:
All up (gardens but not the rest of the grounds) and the castle tour and short climb to the top of the turret, took 2 hours.
If you have been to any castles in Europe, then this would be a let down. It basically is a castle themed mansion. However as a recommended New Zealand attraction I suppose it is worthwhile if you have not seen any other castles in Europe, or if you were interested in New Zealand history. I do not believe it is worth staying overnight nearby for this although the official website does have accommodation information.
At the end of the day, this is the private residence of the current owners, and in reality it is just a slightly small mansion (depending on your definition of ‘mansion’). It is basically the size of a typical wealthy family home/estate that would have different ‘quarters’ with servants back in the day. To be honest I felt ‘castle’ was pushing the title a bit, however the experience was not bad as such, for it’s size and what it offered, just a bit expensive and disappointing.
There is a fee to enter the building and is payable at the entry to the building, which is at the top of the stone steps at the center of the front of the building (see the first picture). It is not wheels friendly. The prices depend on what you would like to see, there are packages that include the gardens and building, as well as just the gardens and the grounds. Visit their official website for the full price list or click here to go there directly. We visited on January 21, the prices may update over time.
The official website has driving directions (we drove), however this location can be visited as part of day tours.
Address: 145 Camp Road, Otago Peninsula, Dunedin 9077, New Zealand
Official website: larnachcastle.co.nz
Next week: My review of the night’s accommodation: Alpine View, Te Anau. Subscribe so you get notified!
Ready to go to New Zealand?
Check out my affiliate links below for travel and accommodation options: (what are affiliate links?)
Flights to and car rental in New Zealand:
To see what else I did in New Zealand, click here.
Whether it is a flight or a hotel, international or domestic, if you travel a lot, or like my blog, or both, please bookmark this page and support my blog by using my affiliate links to make your next booking!
©All rights reserved for all content and photographs, usage on 3rd party sites are forbidden without permission. Photos are taken by author unless otherwise stated.