Larnach Castle Cupola

Camp Road, Otago Peninsula

  • Larnach Castle Cupola, Otago Peninsula. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 27/03/2017.
  • Larnach Castle Cupola, Otago Peninsula.
    Copyright: Larnach Castle Ltd. Date: 9/10/2005.
  • Larnach Castle Cupola, Otago Peninsula. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 27/03/2017.
  • Larnach Castle Cupola, Otago Peninsula. Detail CC BY 2.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: itravelNZ® - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: itravelNZ®. Date: 1/06/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 4770 Date Entered 27th July 1988 Date of Effect 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Much of the castle was constructed between 1873 and 1876 and the Larnach family lived in the castle until 1906 when it was sold to the government. The Purdies owned it between 1927 and 1940 and were responsible for the construction of the cupola. The grounds fell into disrepair in the first half of this century and are being restored by the present owners.

Architectural Significance:

The dome is typical of the ornate fittings of a quality passenger ship at the beginning of the century. The cupola is a major garden ornament close to the front of the castle.

Townscape/landscape Significance:

The dome was probably the skylight of the ship's saloon and the cupola is now a place to sit in the garden and an ornament to look at.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The Purdies owned Larnach Castle between 1927-1940. John J Purdie was a Dunedin businessman and owner of the General Coal Merchants and Carriers, Castle Street. He bought Larnach's Castle from the government in 1927 and opened it to the public.

The Purdies had the structure built with a concrete base and ready-made iron veranda posts and they probably designed it. The glass is probably Austrian or Italian.

Architectural Description (Style):

The style is Victorian and reminiscent of some of the work of R H Fraser (Phillips and Maclean 1983).


The cupola is not in good repair. Some of the glass panes are missing and the central figure under the dome has gone. The Barkers intend restoring it.

Notable Features

?possibly in 'In the Light of the Past' Phillips & Mclean, pp.43-44?

The ornately painted glass dome.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1928 -

Construction Details

The cupola stands on a seven-sided concrete base, three metres across, with seven ornate cast iron pillars about two metres high carrying a dome of wooden ribs. The ribs carry coloured glass panes of green, yellow, red and brown designs on opaque white glass, the designs including urns, contorted poppies, swags, spirals and acanthus leaves. The total height is about four metres. There was originally a ship's figurehead in the middle of the concrete base, but it has vanished. The glass dome came from a ship called the Paloona which was broken up at Port Chalmers about 1927. There was once a ship's figure head on a pedestal under the dome but it has vanished.

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.