Larnach Castle Stables

Camp Road, Otago Peninsula

  • Larnach Castle Stables.
    Copyright: Larnach Castle Ltd.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2191 Date Entered 27th July 1988 Date of Effect 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Lots 18,19,DP 1453 Sec 92R & Pt Secs 53,54,55,56,60,71,

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

William J M Larnach was born in New South Wales of a banking and merchant family. He came to Dunedin in 1869 as manager of the Bank of Otago, and started a milling, building and hardware form with Walter Guthrie, which did well during the 1870s boom but went into receivership in 1882 during the 1880s depression. Larnach was a Dunedin leading businessman with shares in many companies and was a director of several. He was a member of parliament between 1875-8, 1883-90, and 1894-98. He was involved in various ministries from 1877 onwards and pulled the Department of Mines into the modern age of large scale mining and proper reporting procedures.

During the 1880s and 1890s Larnach ran a small kingdom on the Peninsula centred on the castle. As well as his family the castle had 46 servants. There were 35 acres of grounds, including a vinery, and a home farm of 300 acres. The great stables housed the carriages and horses which provided Larnach with essential transport to Dunedin. He was very proud of his animals which were meticulously cared for and housed in style.


Larnach's Castle is the most grandiose private home in the southern part of the South Island and unique in its combination of styles. The outbuildings such as the stables are simpler structures and not quite such architectural failures as the main castle. The entrance to the great stables is pleasing in its proportions and the design well fitted to function.


The stables as such have no landmark qualities, being west downhill from the castle. They do however form part of the castle complex which has important landmark value on the Peninsula.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lawson, Robert Arthur

Born in Scotland, Lawson (1833-1902) began his professional career in Perth. At the age of 25 he moved to Melbourne and was engaged in goldmining and journalism before resuming architectural practice. In 1862 Lawson sailed for Dunedin, where his sketch plans had won the competition for the design of First Church. This was built 1867-73. Lawson went on to become one of the most important architects in New Zealand. First Church is regarded as his masterpiece and one of the finest nineteenth century churches in New Zealand.

He was also responsible for the design of the Trinity Church (now Fortune Theatre), Dunedin (1869-70), the East Taieri Presbyterian Church (1870), and Knox Church, Dunedin (1874). He designed Park's School (1864) and the ANZ Bank (originally Union Bank, 1874). In Oamaru he designed the Bank of Otago (later National Bank building, 1870) and the adjoining Bank of New South Wales (now Forrester Gallery, 1881).

See also: Ledgerwood, Norman, 2013. 'R.A. Lawson: Victorian Architect of Dunedin'. Historic Cemeteries Conservation NZ.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The great stables are built in the same grandiose crenellated style as the castle, with arched windows and crenellated roofs.


The interior was allowed to fall into disrepair but has been recently remodelled to include motel units in the loft. Simple wooden stairs lead up to the living area and one downstairs fireplace has been renovated for visitors' use.

Notable Features

The quality of the materials used, the size of the building and the decorative features such as the roof crenellations

Construction Dates

1871 -
Foundation stone of the castle was laid (August)

Original Construction
1873 -
Building proper began

1874 -
The family moved in late in 1874

Original Construction
1874 -
The great stables were built, since good stabling for the horses was essential to provide reliable transport for Larnach to get to his business in town.

Original Construction
1875 -
The lower apartments were finished

Original Construction
1876 -
The main shell was completed

Construction Details

The walls are stone and the floor in Marseilles cobbles with cast iron columns to support the loft. The roof is slate and lead with a central lantern. The iron grills between the stalls have acorn finials.

Information Sources

Knight, 1981

H. Knight, The Ordeal of William Larnach, Allied Press, Dunedin, 1981

Stacpoole, 1976

John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.