Continuing south on our road trip in New Zealand, the next stop on our itinerary is Dunedin, a city known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand because of its Scottish heritage, and the country’s centre for learning, heritage, arts, and culture. I’ve never been to Scotland, so I couldn’t make the comparison, but as we drove into the city, we were charmed by fine, old, but unspoiled European architecture.
Dunedin is home to the only castle in New Zealand, the Larnach Castle. Built in 1871 by a banker and politician William Larnach, the castle was his dream home, featuring the finest materials from around the world and the best view in the region. In 1967, the Barker family purchased it as their home and spent decades restoring it and the surrounding garden. Now the castle and the garden are still privately owned and cared for by the Barker family, but they are open to the public throughout the year, the admission fees continuously funding the conservation project.
I’ve visited European castles/palaces before (Versailles in France, Schönbrunn in Austria), and Larnach is clearly much smaller and unassuming, but what all of them have in common is the scandalous and tragic stories of their occupants, like the price of living among such beauty and luxury is to suffer terrible fates. In visiting these castles, roaming the rooms, breathing in their spaces, we get to absorb and walk through these stories. It’s such an evocative experience which always leaves me a little maudlin.
On a happier note, we spent a great deal of time exploring the garden, which was delightful! How else would you describe a garden peppered with Alice in Wonderland references?
Photos by Arnold Hozana