Destinations Magazine

Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’

By Jsbdsl @jonnyblair
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’

Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’

New Zealand’s ONLY Castle apparently is Larnach Castle, on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin. I was aware that it probably wouldn’t be that old, given the fact that New Zealand itself is a relatively new country, but on arrival in Dunedin I booked myself on a tour out to it.

Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
I booked the tour from the iSite near The Octagon in central Dunedin. The tour cost $65 which sounds a lot, but New Zealand dollars are higher than US.. The tour would include the bus ride there and back and a guided tour of the castle, but no free food or tea or coffee! (slightly angry face)
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
I board my bus – we are picked up outside the iSite and I am joined by a local New Zealand couple. It is October 2010. Dunedin doesn’t seem busy with tourists. Even my 10 bed dorm has about 6 empty beds, and I’m so far the only non-NZ person on the castle tour!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Driving through Dunedin – Edinburgh of the south. You can see the excellent Railway Station pictured from my bus above.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
We got given a full guide to the castle.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
A mock view of the harbor out of Dunedin along the Otago Peninsula.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The immense view of the Otago Peninsula on the climbing bus journey out of Dunedin.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Arrival at Larnach Castle.The bus driver was of course too fast for me to photograph the entrance sign.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Pretty flower beds and gardens lined the entrance walk up from the bus and it was here I met a fellow foreign traveler – Snow Zhu from China. Snow was meant to be on the tour bus in fact but had missed it, so naturaly we would tour the Castle together and catch the same bus back to the hostel.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The side part of the “Castle” is actually a tea room nowadays. This is where things began to fall into place, and I got an inkling into what Larnach Castle really is.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
An elaborate chandelier. One for Trotter’s Independent Trader’s to have a go at polishing. This is when things clicked into place. Larnach ‘Castle’ you see, New Zealand’s only ‘Castle’ isn’t really a ‘castle’. It’s just a posh mansion owned by a rich family.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Tea rooms again.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Me in the tea rooms. Though it was now obvious that there was no ‘castle’ to be seen here, it was time to enjoy the mansion!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Never seen a ‘castle’ with glass windows before. Gosh Dundrum, Dunluce and Carlisle must all have been fakes!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Elaborate ‘castle’ walls. These also housed a ballroom, a setting reminding us of the golden age of dance. I knew a girl who would have loved this place. An ex-girlfriend known as Noemi Linzenbold.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Tour groups arrive at the ‘castle’. Someone really ought to tell them there’s no ‘castle’ here!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
I met a Scottish bagpiper outside the ‘castle’. He knew what the flag was. Most Scottish people would. Not rare to see a Scot here of course – since the name of the nearby city of Dunedin is derived from Edinburgh.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The pretty gardens out the front of the ‘castle’ and there was me thinking ‘castles’ get attacked all the time. No need to keep out the enemy here – inivite them in for a cup of the Earl Grey and to admire the primroses.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Front door to the ‘castle’, drawbridges have been replaced by what are now known as ‘doors’.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Ready for my first ever  New Zealand ‘castle’ experience. If this is New Zealand’s only ‘castle’, then New Zealand doesn’t actually have a ‘castle’. It’s too modern, it’s not at risk of attack and never has been and worst of all it has windows and doors. To me, Larnach ‘Castle’ is simply not a castle.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
But in we went!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Guns and a prison cell? Oh maybe it was a ‘castle’ then. No these were family weapons. and nobody was put in prison here.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
A bit of information on the design of the castle.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
View out the front into the garden. No need for a cannon ball here.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Relaxing on the balcony at the top of the ‘castle’ ypu can tell by my grin I was a bit disappointed!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
A salute to the ‘castle’, funny enough in Australia almost exactly a year earlier,  Daniel Evans and I had also been searching for “The Ruined Castle” in the Blue Mountains, only to find it was “just a load of bricks at the top of a hill”. I’d been duped twice now, and both in Oceania!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Peak of the ‘castle’.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The views were sadly ruined by the winter mist, though I think October is Spring for New Zealand.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Spiral staircase.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Veranda and patio. A place to read a book or do some knitting rather than fire cannonballs at the enemy!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Veranda and patio. Might as well turn it into a wine bar. New Zealand’s only ‘wine bar in a fake castle’.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Front gardens.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The front of the ‘castle’.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
It’s even advertised as a ‘castle’ on the mini bus!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The gardens and the nature were much nicer than the ‘castle’ itself. Snow and I enjoyed a chat as we dandered down the paths.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
A wishing well rather than a place to hang the enemy.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The back view of this ‘castle’ wannabe.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Not sure what the flamingo style statue represents.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
You can actually stay overnight here!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Garage to park your car. Again, how many ‘castles’ have you seen like this?
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The place you can stay overnight. Nice and cosy and probably the highlight of the ‘castle’ tour.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Cabinet and mirror – spend your night here. Incidentally Snow and I are randomly both taking a photo here at the same time.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
A smaller ‘castle’ out the back.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Snow by a massive hedge.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Me by a massive hedge.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
The view out to sea here is great – Larnach ‘Castle’ is on the Otago Peninsula.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
More pretty gardens, flowers and plants.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Larnach ‘Castle’ – a lovely building in a tremendous setting. I’ll give it that. BUT it’s not a ‘castle’.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
In front of Larnach ‘Castle’! I was listening to the Foo Fighters on my iPod on this trip and I was seriously just imagining Dave Grohl and co coming out and belting out a crazy gig here in front of posh people in this swanky garden. Or Oasis. It would have been a rocking venue! I would love to see if bands like Metallica, Foo Fighters or Noel Gallagher would actually come here and do a random gig in this crazy castle. It would be epic!
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Larnach ‘Castle’.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
More lovely gardens.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Posing with Snow Zhu, a nice Chinese girl. I had a habit of hanging out with Asians on this New Zealand trip (my second time in NZ), as I also hung out with a Korean girl called Haney and a Hong Kong couple called Hei and Angie. It was probably a sign that sooner or later I was going to move to Asian.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Again posing with Snow Zhu.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Last photo before saying a farewell to the ‘castle’. The entire post might sound a bit negative. But it wasn’t. I enjoyed it! It was something different to see. If New Zealand want to claim it as a ‘castle’ then that is their business. But to me ‘castles’ should be hundreds of years old and with a history of protection, invasion, destruction and even war. Like a lot of the castles we see in parts of Europe. This one, Larnach ‘Castle’ in all honesty is just a posh mansion in a pretty, elevated setting.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
We caught the bus back and I agreed to meet Snow after dinner for a drink and a quick night time walk round the city.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Again the drive was stunning. New Zealand is a lovely country in general.
Backpacking in New Zealand: Larnach Castle New Zealand’s Only ‘Castle’
Arrival back in Dunedin. It had been an ‘interesting’ trip to a ‘castle’! Where – Larnach ‘Castle’, Otago Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand What – An elaborate mansion in an area of beautiful gardens, mistakenly referred to as a ‘castle’ Wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larnach_Castle Who Went – Jonny Blair, Snow Zhu, 2 New Zealanders Nationalities Met – Chinese, Scottish, Kiwi Transport Used – Minibus Cost of Tour – $65 NZ Dollars A Better Definition of A Castle – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle Key Song - IAN VAN DAHL – CASTLES IN THE SKY: I might as well thrown ALANIS MORISETTE’S IRONIC into the mix too: My Videos - OUTSIDE LARNACH ‘CASTLE': AT THE TOP OF LARNACH ‘CASTLE': BUS TRIP THROUGH DUNEDIN ON ROUTE TO LARNACH: BUS DRIVE UP OTAGO PENINSULA TO LARNACH: BUS DRIVE BACK FROM LARNACH TO DUNEDIN: Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free)
;-)
Jonny


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