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Larnach Castle gardens

  • 3 minutes

Otago, South Island

New Zealand does have a castle, complete with stories of ghosts, love-struck owners and tragic death. Larnach Castle was built in 1871. Larnach Castle is a place that should interest all ages, from armour in the front room, plenty of space to jump and run in the gardens and the ghost stories of the occupants. Larnach Castle gift shop offers inspiration for the hard to please family and friends with a focus on New Zealand made giftware and garden ware.

  • Open every day
  • Admission fee for Castle and gardens
  • Cafe on site
  • Excellent gift shop

The 14 hectare property is a beautifully resorted homage to Victorian gardens. The garden is a cool climate garden at an altitude of 300 metres. Due to its location the garden is exposed to Otago Peninsula wind and has low rainfall.

Original plantings that have survived include Cupressus macrocarpa, planted extensively for shelter and Cedars and a Northern Rata to one side of the castle. The mature trees provide a sense of continuity with the original owners.

Behind the ballroom is are temperate rain forest plants with an avenue of mountain cabbage trees (Cordyline indivisa). From the accommodation stables and adjacent to the gift shop entrance is a formal rock garden features many rare and difficult New Zealand alpines as well as the Chatham Island olearias, both colour forms of Myosotidium hortensia,  grass trees (Dracophyllum) and other genera not usually found in private gardens.

The wedding avenue of topiaried trees forms a leafy canopy for brides and festival events. The  laburnum (small European tree which has hanging clusters of yellow flowers in spring) tunnel opens out into manicured lawn, a small pool and shaped hedged plants offer visitors a stunning view of the castle as well as magnificent views of the Otago Peninsula.

Look closely for Larnach Castle owners have inserted whimsical references to Alice in Wonderland with an enormous red chair and other objects. The garden’s history is documented with signage indicating historic garden features such as a former fernery and original rock walls.

Larnach Castle in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Larnach Castle in Dunedin, Otago
Larnach Castle cafe restaurant, Otago Peninsula, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Larnach Castle restaurant


Dinner is offered in a Castle Dining Room. Larnach Castle does not operate a conventional restaurant menu (a la carte)  but in keeping with the historic setting, we offer a four course ‘Trust the chef’ carte blanche menu served house party style to all guests at one sitting.

Cosy, fun ambiance with a chance to enjoy the company of visitors intent on enjoying the historic ambiance of dining in a castle.

Yes, you can stay at Larnach Castle, Dunedin, options range from a converted Stables to luxury rooms in the castle. There is six star accommodation is a dedicated luxury retreat.


  • The well stocked gift shop is a favourite for visitors with its emphasis on New Zealand made
  • The licensed cafe is licensed
  • ACCOMMODATION. Visitors can also enjoy viewing the castle and extend their stay booking accommodation at the Lodge in the Castle Garden or luxurious ‘Camp Estate’
  • Larnach Castle is open daily, Check Larnach Castle website for up to date opening hours
  • Parking is available for all vehicles on site
  • Admission fees apply

Between November to early April when the flowering beds are at their best and the warmer weather encourages visitors to explore the glorious interior and exterior.

Larnach Castle, Dunedin is approximately 30 minutes from the city centre on the Otago Peninsula. Nearby is the Royal Albatross Colony a definite must-do for Dunedin visitors.

The drive up to the castle is picturesque with stunning harbour views.

Inside Larnach Castle, Dunedin visitors are offered the option of a self-guided audio tour with the strong recommendation you commence exploring the castle from the basement upwards. In the basement is the story of the castle architecture, building, owners and its eventual restoration.

Larnach Castle step narrow winding staircase to roof, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Larnach Castle step narrow winding staircase to roof

Typical of many historical homes and castles there are steep staircases, narrow passageways and areas roped off


One of the highlights is climbing up a very steep staircase to the roof. The view is spectacular however access to and from the roof can be an issue with the crowded staircase going capable of one person at a time.

The gardens are a definite highlight especially if you are not keen on crowded staircases and narrow corridors. The grounds are large enough to provide a sense of space without feeling hurried or watched.

Short on time check out, A day in Dunedin visiting gardens, a place for kids to play and a fabulous cafe.

Larnach Castle entrance night views, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Larnach Castle entrance night views, Dunedin, Otago

For more gardens to visit in Dunedin check out Dunedin Botanic GardenLan Yuan GardenOlveston HouseGlenfalloch Garden and RestaurantPort Chalmers Rhododendron Deli in a former quarry. And remember to check out the botanical bedding displays in front of the glorious Victorian architecture of the Dunedin Railway Station.



Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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