Larnach Castle, Otago Peninsula. © Tourism NZ

Larnach Castle: a vision of past and present

Otago Peninsula
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If you missed Larnach Castle on your trip out to wing it with the albatrosses, you must have been glued to your phone. It stands proud and bold on the highest point of the entire Otago Peninsula.

If you think about it, if you were going to build a castle, where else would you put it? And William Larnach, merchant baron, politician and general wheeler-dealer wasn’t the sort to hide his light under a bushel. Clearly. (Rest his soul, he came to an unfortunate end in Parliament House in 1898, which lends a poignancy to the profligacy and exquisite bone china on display here.)

This is a landmark of no small significance, and makes for a fantastic visit, even as a break from all those feathery guys down the end of the road.

Bill’s wife was French so he tried to show off – why buy a nice bouquet when you can build a monumental behemoth? Right on.

Build he did. Two hundred men spent three years building...  just the outside! Twelve further years saw the interiors completed, with one of the carved ceilings alone taking six years to complete. Apart from the masses of local and regional stone, 20 tonnes of glass came from Venice to keep the cold Dunedin winters outside where they belonged. Yikes! Nothing succeeds like excess.

The Barker family bought and restored all this in the late 1960s, and we are the benefactors. Functions and weddings are held often, the amazing 14 hectares of gardens and stupendous views a drawcard as much as the, admittedly impressive, bricks and mortar themselves. Did we mention the 280sq m ballroom? It takes 200 to tango, after all.

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