Olveston Historic House, Dunedin © DunedinNZ

Olveston House: how the other half lived

Olveston House
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Designed by a London architect and built in 1904 – Dunedin's Olveston House is really something special. 

From the outside, it's a fine example of period architecture. Inside, it's a lavishly-decorated setting to indulge your aristocratic fantasies. 

But the most remarkable thing about Olveston is that the rooms are all exactly as they were left decades ago, and the level of detail is stunning. Olveston was originally built for the Theomin family, who's last remaining heir gifted the house and all its contents to the city of Dunedin in 1966. 

The formal dining room is really something to behold, if only to marvel that people actually lived like that – you can almost smell the roast pheasant and hear the tinkle of sterling silver.

And you could host an entire rugby team in the billiard room, although you’d feel savagely underdressed in your boardies and t-shirt.

If it all gets a bit overwhelming indoors, take some air in the acre of gardens that surround this splendid piece of architecture. There is a conservatory/greenhouse with plants the like of which you’d never expect to see in Dunedin. It’s a gorgeous spot; a more startling side trip than you might have first imagined.

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