One of only two castles in New Zealand, Cargill’s Castle is a unique (and very rundown) piece of local history. It’s officially off limits, but you can sneak in or you can choose to view it from the street. The castle is derelict to say the least — it looks like the kind of place Jesse Pinkman would go to “do some crystal”. It’s a far different experience than a visit to Larnach Castle, Dunedin’s more upmarket castle.
How to Access Cargill’s Castle
Head down Isadore street (in the suburb of St Clair, just up from St Clair Beach) and you’ll eventually see the ruins of Cargill’s Castle. For some people that view is enough, but others will want a closer look. If you’re that way inclined you can sneak under the barbed wire fence and walk around the eerie remains. Obviously do this at your own risk as the structural integrity of the building is questionable to say the least.
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You’re probably wondering why Cargill’s Castle is so small, and that’s a valid question. To be honest it’s more of a big house than a castle, but it’s still an interesting piece of history. Cargill’s Castle was built in 1877 (using concrete) and passed through many hands after its original owner, local businessman and politician Edward Bowes Cargill, died. Its road to eventual ruin began in 1974 with a partial demolition.
My friend used to live right next door and I remember going over there one time — it was creepy then and it still is. A trust has taken control of the castle and is apparently trying to shore up the ruins and open it back up to the public, which can’t happen soon enough. I had a quick look around inside recently and it’s a mess — I kept thinking a disheveled meth head was going to stab me or a massive piece of castle would fall on my head and kill me.
As well as its historical significance, which is now hidden behind neglect and graffiti, Cargill’s Castle’s setting is the other main reason to visit. It looks out over the Pacific Ocean and it’s a great place to see down the rugged coastline heading towards Brighton and beyond.
READ MORE: 30 Stunning Viewpoints in Dunedin
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