05.03.2017 - 07.03.2017 19 °C
Today we discovered New Zealand’s only Castle, built 1871 by William Larnach, merchant baron and politician, for his first wife Eliza. It took more than 200 workmen three years to build the Castle shell and master European craftsmen spent a further 12 years embellishing the interior. Larnach spared no expense on his dream home, which features the finest materials from around the world.
The Castle is still privately owned and cared for by the Barker family who purchased it as their home in 1967. Decades have been spent on the Castle's restoration, with the family having restored empty buildings from ruin and assembled a large collection of original New Zealand period furniture and antiques. This living collection showcases the craftsmanship and spirt of New Zealand.
Open to the public throughout, this conservation project has been funded through admission fees. The family has always been committed to opening their home and sharing this significant period of Dunedin and New Zealand's history.
The story of the Larnach Family however is both scandalous and tragic ......
William Lanach's first wife Eliza Guise, had six children - Donald, Douglas, Kate, Colleen, Alice and Gladys. Eliza died at the age of 38 when Gladys was still a baby. Larnach then married Eliza's half sister Mary Alleyne. They were married for 5 years when sadly Mary also died at the age of 38. Larnach then married a much younger lady, Constance de Bathe Brandon.
Larnach was struck by tragedy when his favourite daughter Kate died in her 20s. Five of the children were sent to England for their education. This meant long sea voyages and a lot of time away from the Castle and family.
After Larnach's suicide in 1898 the family was further torn apart by legal battles over Larnach's property as he died intestate. The family then sold the Castle in 1906. It fell into dereliction until the Barker family bought in 1967 and lovingly restored the castle and its historic gardens which has been a life's work for the Barker family. We also enjoyed a delicious tea in the Ballroom and a walk in the beautiful gardens with incredible views
The afternoon we took one of the world's great train trips from Dunedin Railway Station on the Taieri Gorge Railway. Travelling west of Dunedin this spectacular train journey gave us views over Dunedin city , Taieri Plain and the Taieri River gorge you can only see by train.
The river gorge is dramatic with dark peaty pools, white water rapids, sheer cliffs, towering viaducts and ten tunnels. I hope you enjoy the many photos taken from the train?
The four hour return journey from Dunedin to Pukerangi certain gave us some spectacular scenery to enjoy on the penultimate day of out tour and another memorable experience to take home with us........