As a country that was only colonised 170 years ago New Zealand has few very large stately homes. But if it had to claim one then Larnach Castle would win the race.
The original owner, William Larnach, came to New Zealand from Australia in 1867 to take on the role of manager of a bank servicing the Otago goldfields. Work was started on his castle in 1871 and it took 16 years to complete. It was an imposing home, built of local stone and timbers, and embellished with imported finishings. Built in the Scottish baronial style (Larnach was of Scottish descent) it was then surrounded by open verandahs in typical New Zealand style. The result is very pleasing. The castle has 43 rooms and is now furnished with New Zealand antiques.
Larnach was a member of the New Zealand government and a very prominent figure. His business dealings were also highly successful. But his personal life was torn by tragedy with his first two wives and one daughter all dying at an early age. Sadly, in 1898 he took his own life at Parliament Buildings in Wellington. The family sold the castle in 1906 and it passed through many hands over the next 60 years. Over time it was used to house war veterans and asylum patients, was a retreat for nuns, then sat empty for many years, was restored, then resold. One owner in 1939 considered its demolition, and the 3000 square foot ballroom had been used as a sheep pen.
The Barker family, who are still current owners, bought the 35 acre property and castle in 1967 and have fully restored it. It is once again beautifully furnished and is available as a boutique accommodation and dining venue as well. The garden has also been restored and is now recognised as a Garden of International Significance.
Larnach Castle perches high on the Otago Peninsula, overlooking the surrounding countryside, harbour and the distant city. It is open all year to visit but there is an entry fee. Tours are available of the castle and the gardens, and there is High Tea available in the ballroom, but must be booked ahead. It takes around 20 minutes to drive from central Dunedin, the last 8 kilometres through open country. Why not consider a Hertz Dunedin Airport Car Rental to take you out and about around beautiful Dunedin?