Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former)

18 Neville Street, Caversham, DUNEDIN

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Carisbrook, Dunedin’s iconic sports ground, started life as a cricket ground for the Carisbrook Cricket Club in 1874 and, for over 130 years was the major rugby and cricket venue for Otago and one of the most significant rugby venues in New Zealand. In 2012-2013 the stands and the pitch were lost to demolition, but the history of the ground was commemorated in the protection of the Turnstile Building and a ‘Pocket Park’ (yet to be developed) which was to celebrate and interpret the history of this special place. In 1874 the Carisbrook Cricket Club became the first user of the grounds that would become known as ‘Carisbrook’. Rugby historian Sean O’Hagan records that grounds, located on the western edge of South Dunedin and occupying almost a whole city block, were then owned by the Presbyterian Church and was leased out ‘to anyone who had need of a patch of swamp with a creek running through it.’ The Carisbrook Ground Company, formed in 1880, built a small pavilion and a ‘grandstand’ (a timber framed, corrugated iron shelter) on the site. The first major sporting event at Carisbrook was a cricket match between Otago and Tasmania in 1884 (Otago won by eight wickets in heavy conditions). Cricket, however, did not have the ground to itself; Carisbrook was first used as a major rugby venue in 1886, when the visiting New South Wales team played Otago. In 1906 the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) purchased the Carisbrook lease. The ORFU’s takeover of the ground roughly coincided with elevation of rugby to a ‘national ethos’, taking an ‘imported game’ and synthesising it into ‘an important component of New Zealand’s national identity’ in the wake of The Originals’ successful tour of Great Britain in 1905. Like other significant grounds, Carisbrook was reshaped over time, reflecting the changing nature of sport in New Zealand. By 1914, the ORFU had replaced the original grandstand at Carisbrook. In the 1920s and the 1930s there were further developments, including the construction of the Turnstile Building in 1926, and the extension of the grandstand facilities. In the mid-1950s the ORFU built new stands and extended the Terraces, giving the ground a capacity of 45,000. Around this period Carisbrook was being used for a range of community activities such as rugby, cricket, hockey, athletics, lawn tennis, baseball, soccer, marching, and band displays of championship standard. On Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s visit to Dunedin in January 1954 displays were held at Carisbrook, including long jumper Yvette Williams’ attempt on the world long jump record. In the late 1970s, when Carisbrook’s facilities were developed further, there was debate about the future of both rugby and cricket and concern about dropping attendances and the ‘depressing’ conditions at the grounds. The debates about Carisbrook’s future drew on the symbolic importance of such an important venue to its local and national community. During the 1990s, the new professionalism of rugby saw branding and commercialisation, where players and grounds took on a new image (with the associated ‘Highlanders’) and Carisbrook, as ‘The House of Pain’, became synonymous with rugby in Otago. During this period the majority of the stands were replaced and the Terraces were redeveloped to provide the facilities required for international test cricket and first class matches. Maintained over time, the pitch was the focus of epic sporting battles. The small single-storey brick Turnstile Building is a remnant of earlier structures and is located on the Neville Street boundary of Carisbrook. In the 2000s, Carisbrook remained a significant venue, with the State Championship game between Otago and Canterbury being played there in 2008.The last official test against a ‘Tier 1’ nation was played at Carisbrook when the All Blacks beat Wales 42-9 on 19 June 2010. The last major game was the All Blacks defeat of Fiji 60-14 on 22 July 2011, a game which also served as a fundraiser for the Canterbury earthquakes. In January 2012, work began dismantling the stadium, with demolition carrying on into 2013. With the opening of Forsyth Barr Stadium on 5 August 2011, Carisbrook’s reign as Otago’s premier sporting venue ended. Carisbrook’s history as a venue for provincial, national and international sporting fixtures is of special significance. It was an iconic sports ground which saw countless high level games since 1880. The ground served as a base for cricket from 1874 and rugby from 1886. Carisbrook was recognised as having its own social character and atmosphere and that history showed the ground’s outstanding social significance as the focus of countless thousands of fans and spectators, and both local and international visitors and sports teams. The former sporting venue of Carisbrook and its associated mythology have outstanding significance in the public imagination and contribute to New Zealand’s national identity. Carisbrook is a place where the provincial identity of Otago was expressed (including the tough reputation of the ground and the often inclement conditions) and it had an important history as one of New Zealand’s most significant provincial sporting venues.

Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former), Dunedin. Neville Street elevation | Heather Bauchop | 20/06/2017 | Heritage New Zealand
Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former), Dunedin. Image courtesy of | PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite | 21/01/2016 | Phil Braithwaite
Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former), Dunedin. Turnstile building under the Neville Street Stand | Jonathan Howard | 26/09/2008 | Heritage New Zealand



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

9th September 2008

Date of Effect

7th July 2017

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 468725 (RT 629677), Otago Land District and Carisbrook Turnstile Building (Former) thereon. Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information.

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 468725 (RT 629677), Otago Land District

Location Description

The former Carisbrook site is located in the suburb of Caversham in South Dunedin. The Turnstile Building is located on the Council-owned ‘Pocket Park’, adjacent to 50 Burns Street, the former Carisbrook grounds.

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