Larnach Castle: sleeping in New Zealand’s only castle

Sleeping in a castle, who wouldn’t want to have done that? Are you looking for a unique overnight stay in New Zealand? Then the Larnach Castle on the South Island is for you. Located on the Otago Peninsula, you can stay overnight in the only castle in the entire country. Whether you are interested in history, architecture or just looking for a unique experience, Larnach Castle has something for everyone.

What is Larnach Castle

New Zealand has no tradition or history of castles and accompanying knightly stories. Yet in the late 19th century, a Scottish businessman decided to change this. The wealthy banker and politician William Larnach decided to build a castle on New Zealand’s Otago Peninsula in 1871. The castle was built in the Scottish style, which means it includes a lot of marble, Venetian glass and detailed carvings. Thanks to its various turrets, Gothic facades and extensive gardens, it looks like a fairy-tale castle.

Following various tragedies, romances and misfortunes among the Larnach family, this estate fell into disrepair. In the late 1960s, the estate was taken over by the Barker family. Since then, they have been renovating and restoring the castle to its former glory. You can visit both the castle and gardens during the day, or stay overnight at the estate. The latter is a unique experience, because who can say they have ever stayed overnight at a castle estate?

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Staying overnight at the castle grounds

For the sake of renovation work and maintaining the splendor of Larnach Castle, there is no accommodation available inside the castle. Still, it remains a unique experience considering you do get to dine in the castle itself. As many as three unique accommodations are offered on the property:

  • Larnach Lodges: Located on the sea side of the castle, you not only have beautiful views, but these suites are also very comfortable for your stay at the estate.
  • Camp Estate: Located 500m from the entrance is a glamorous country house, where several suites are available.
  • Stable stay: More economical in price, the beautifully renovated stables are a third option to spend the night(s). These stables were still built by the Larnach family itself.

In addition to visiting the garden and castle, breakfast is also included. Optionally, you can still choose to book a traditional New Zealand-style four-course meal, which takes place in the castle’s ballroom accompanied by live piano music. In our opinion, this completed the experience and is highly recommended!

You can easily find the different accommodation options here.

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What to do

Larnach Castle is centrally located on the Otago Peninsula, an ideal base to spend a few days. As such, we recommend including the Otago Peninsula in your itinerary through New Zealand’s South Island.

Visit and experience Larnach Castle

Enjoy the beautiful gardens and discover the area’s rich history by spending a few hours at the castle grounds. Inside the castle you will find an exhibition that tells more about its history and you can admire its beautiful interior. During the visit, do not forget to climb the tower that offers a beautiful view of the surroundings.

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Otago Peninsula

Larnach Castle is on the Otago Peninsula, located on the southeast coast of New Zealand. This region offers an abundance of activities for nature lovers. The island has a length of about 24 km and is perfect for some relaxing days. If you like wildlife, you can visit the Royal Albatross Center or look for yellow-eyed penguins yourself on one of your hikes. On Sandfly Bay, you have the best chance of spotting this (endangered) species. In addition, you have several fun hikes on the island. Look out for the many seals and lions you may encounter on one of the walks along the beach. Pausing can be done in Portobello. This is the only village on the peninsula where you can go for something to eat and drink.

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Dunedin

Larnach Castle is located at the 15 km from Dunedin. It is the second largest city in the South Island where Scottish influences are still noticeable. Visit the famous Dunedin Railway Station and discover its rich history at local museums such as the Otago Museum. Be sure to also take a look off Baldwin Street. This is the steepest street in the world! The historic city center has plenty of great restaurants and bars for the culinary adventurers.

Dunedin New Zealand
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Best time to travel to Larnach Castle

The best travel time to visit the castle is during spring and summer. In New Zealand, it is from October through March. Not only will the days be longer and you are more likely to have warmer temperatures, but the gardens will be in full bloom. Consequently, the summer months are the high season for visiting the castle. Keep this in mind and book your overnight stay early.

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How to get there.

Larnach Castle is located on the Otago Peninsula. This peninsula is located off Dunedin, in the extreme southwest of the country. From Christchurch, the capital of the South Island, it takes about 5 hours to reach Larnach Castle. We recommend first making a stopover of several days in Mount Cook National Park. From Queenstown you’ll be there in about 4 hours, but fortunately there are plenty of great places to stop along the way.

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Want to explore more of New Zealand? Then find more info here for a round trip through the South Island! Do you still have questions about New Zealand or would you like to share your own travel experience? If so, feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email at snoezelsontheroad@gmail.com

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