Larnach Castle, Dunedin
Billed as New Zealand’s only castle (although there is another one in Dunedin which is currently in ruins), Larnach Castle is a nice place to visit if you want to add some history into your Dunedin explorations. It’s one of the country’s nicest old buildings and is fun to explore – plus you’ll get some great views of the Otago Harbour from the gardens surrounding the castle.
Larnach Castle, named (obviously) after its original owner, is located on the Otago Peninsula and holds commanding views over the peninsula and harbour. It was built between 1871 and 1874 (with more interior work added in the proceeding years) and was pretty lavish for this remote outpost. If you’ve visited castles in Europe, you might be slightly disappointed by Larnach Castle – it’s small and young by European standards – but for people who love history and interesting architecture it’s worth a visit.
READ MORE: Cargill’s Castle, Dunedin
The interior of Larnach Castle features heaps of rooms dressed up in the furnishing and decorations of the time. It doesn’t take too long to explore and there is always something interesting to look at, from the art on the walls to the many historic bits and pieces scattered throughout the place. The lower floor features a museum-like room where you can learn all about the castle and its eccentric former owner, William Larnach. There’s also a ballroom, which now doubles as a café, and, obviously, a gift shop.
One of the highlights of a trip to Larnach Castle is climbing the winding set of steps up to the tower, where you’ll get a good look at the surrounding scenery.
One of the best things about a visit to Larnach Castle is exploring the grounds around the castle. There are some old ruined buildings to explore and a few different sections of garden. You can get some awesome views from several points and there are also some forested tracks to navigate. Make sure to seek out the small pavilion thing down the hill – it’s a popular photo spot for a reason!
Getting to Larnach Castle
Larnach Castle is located on Camp Road – drive up Highcliff Road and you’ll eventually see the sign pointing to the castle. The drive to Larnach Castle is scenic and there are a few places to pull over and see the views. You could also do the short walk up to the Soldier’s Memorial for panoramic views of the peninsula and harbour. You can also walk to Larnach Castle. The Camp Track, which starts in Broad Bay, takes you up the hill to the castle and features yet more stunning views.
Larnach Castle Tickets
A visit to Larnach Castle (both the gardens and interior of the castle) will set you back $34. If you’re on a strict budget it’s probably best to skip it and focus on all the free things to do in Dunedin (there are heaps!). We had a two for one voucher which made it pretty good value. You can also get an early bird special ($25) if you buy your ticket at the castle between 8am and 9.30 am (1st October – 31st March).
Other Things to Do on the Otago Peninsula
Nature lovers visiting Dunedin will want to head straight for the Otago Peninsula. There are heaps of great beaches, some impressive viewpoints, splashes of history and plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities. My favourite things to do on the Otago Peninsula include Sandfly Bay, the Sandymount Track, the Harbour Cone Track, the small harbourside towns of MacAndrew Bay and Portobello and Tairoa Head (where you may see albatross and penguins). For great views of the Peninsula from the other side of the harbour drive (or walk) up Mount Cargill or walk the first part of the Heyward Point Track. Check out this “Things to Do in Dunedin” post for more information!
Are you planning to visit Dunedin? What is the most impressive castle you’ve been to? Let us know in the comments below!