Heading South – Day Two

Along with checking out the University of Otago, there were a couple of other must-sees on the itinerary for our Southern Safari.

Number one on the list sells itself as New Zealand’s Only Castle (with a great many exclamation marks), Larnach Castle.

Just quietly, it would save itself a lot of negative social media feedback (particularly from folk hailing from parts of the world awash with the real deal) if it qualified this claim. You see, Larnach Castle has never seen battle, been subject to siege, or had to defend its inhabitants honour; it was built as solely as a residence, in the 1870s, for William Larnach, an Australian born gent of Scottish descent who was sent to manage The Bank of Otago at the height of the goldrush. There’s a heap of family history collected, collated and displayed inside the castle which I felt showed Larnach to be primarily driven by the desire to look like he had massive wealth. I guess the Venetian glass, Welsh slate and Italian marble, along with sending five of his six children to be educated in England and hosting massive upper-crust shin-digs, ate through his money pretty quickly as in 1898 William, by now a cabinet minister in the New Zealand Government, took his own life in Parliament Buildings. He died intestate and the ensuing squabbling lead to the castle being sold.

In my opinion, the real heroes of Larnach Castle are the Barker family. Barry and Margaret Barker went to check on the rumoured castle-on-Otago-peninsula while on their Road-tripping-in-a-VWKombi honeymoon in 1967 and ended up buying it despite the ballroom being used as a sheep pen and most of the fittings and fixtures being water-damaged or looted. Inside, restoration work is still being undertaken and artifacts are still being returned

and outside the gardens are amazing; even The Bean Counter enjoyed our amble through them.

Next on the list was a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre. The drive there was beautiful and it was wonderful standing on the cliff top watching the albatross and spoonbills sailing overhead and a couple of seals playing at the base of the cliffs.

This is an amazing facility but it wasn’t the greatest fun for Farm Girl (visual impairment and tiny dots in the distance don’t mix well), so we decided to forgo a tour and head into the city

where it’s Scottish heritage is to the fore, but student life is still in evidence – even during summer holidays. It’s a really lovely city.

We finished off the day with fish and chips and an early night.

There’s a lot of hills to scale in Dunedin; we folk from the Canterbury Plains needed to rest our calves and hamstrings!

7 thoughts on “Heading South – Day Two

  1. Great story about the castle. Sad, though, how it ended with suicide and sheep in the ballroom. But you are so right about the Barkers being the heroes of the story. Sounds as though it was a wonderful trip.

  2. Hi, I visited Dunedin decades ago. My clearest memory of the visit is of a peacock in full display on a gravel area outside a grand house – probably Larnach Castle. It’s funny what sticks in the memory.

    • That’s so funny as for years I have bored the family with my story of visiting Larnach Castle during a National Guide Camp in 1979 and my first glimpse being of a peacock strutting his stuff in front of the castle.

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