In the past, Dunedin in New Zealand is known for the Scottish settlement and the gold rush during the 1899s as well as the Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the area. Today, it is dubbed as the center of learning in New Zealand.
There are a lot of free and cheap things to do at Dunedin. You can go for a walk at Signal Hill or at pineapple track. You can also go mountain biking, visit botanic gardens, discovered museums like Otago Museum and Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. If you want some fun in the water, you can go surfing at St. Clair Beach. Also, there are a lot of animals to see such as albatross, kiwis, parrots, penguins, seals, and sea lions.
A beach view in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Link: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/things-to-do-dunedin-new-zealand/index.html)
One of the most visited place in Dunedin by paranormal experts is the Larnach Castle. This is the only castle in Dunedin and it has a very rich history.
The facade of Larnach Castle. (Link: https://www.relaxingjourneys.co.nz/sightseeing_tours/clt/lt70scs.php)
The History Of Larnach Castle
Larnach Castle or Larnach’s Castle is a mock castle in Dunedin, New Zealand. The house was built by a known and wealthy businessman and politician named William Larnach sometime from 1871 to 1887. Then-prominent architect R. A. Lawson was selected by Larnach to design the castle and around 200 workman worked to complete it. Many of the materials came from different parts of the world and the intricate ceilings of the castle were carved for six years by the Godfrey family before it was complete.
An undated photo of the Larnach Family. (Link: https://www.larnachcastle.co.nz/Visitor-Information-for-Larnach-Castle/Visit-Larnach-Castle)
By 1875, more work had to be done because of the exposed verandas that made it unsuitable due to the winter in Dunedin. In 1887, a ballroom was added, which was 3000 square foot. The ballroom is said to be the gift of Larnach to his favorite daughter for her 21st birthday.
The ballroom at Larnach Castle. (Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bill_harrison/7664992138)
Once the castle was completed, it had a total of 43 rooms and needed 46 servants to maintain the home. Aside from that, it sat on 35 acres of land that had a vinery and a home farm for 300 cows and farm workers.
One of the rooms of Larnach Castle. (Link: https://www.larnachcastle.co.nz/Visitor-Information-for-Larnach-Castle/Visit-Larnach-Castle)
In 1967, the castle was owned by the Barker family who have since converted the Larnach castle into a tourist destination.
The Suicide Of William Larnach
Larnach later became financially challenged. In 1894, he became a director of the Colonial Bank of New Zealand but after a year of its operation, the Bank collapsed. Thus, he was on the brink of financial ruin.
William Larnach in an undated photo. (Link: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/87316960/william-larnach-and-the-unclaimed-dunedin-land)
By 1898, Larnach decided he was done with his problems so he locked himself in a committee room at the Parliament and shot himself. This came after the financial distress as well as the possibility of losing his seat in public office. Others claim, however, that he knew of the affair of his third wife and his youngest son that is why he took his own life.
Larnach is buried in the Dunedin Northern Cemetery and is in the mausoleum that has the most imposing structure in the said cemetery.
His family later had a battle over his will so they decided to just sell the Larnach Castle. Before the Larnach Castle was purchased by the Barker family, it reportedly became a mental hospital and a shelter for shell-shocked soldiers.
The Ghosts Of Larnach Castle
It is believed that William and other ghosts continue to haunt the Larnach Castle. Co-owner Margaret Barker has her own story to share about that one night that William might have been present at the Larnach Castle. It was in 1994 when a play called “Larnach – Castle of Lies” was performed by Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre. A hundred guests were at the castle’s ballroom when the play took place. According to Margaret, there was a terrible storm that evening and doors started to open by themselves. During the play, just as the person portraying Larnach shot himself, there was a blinding light. Later, while the guests talked about it, Margaret said it was just stage effects. However, when they asked the stage manager, he said, “It was none of our doing, it was lightning.” Margaret then thought to herself that William was present that night and the lightning was his way of saying he did not like the play.
Margaret and Norcombe Barker are the owners of the Larnach Castle. (Link: https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/travel-troubles/108748248/larnach-castle-owner-among-air-new-zealand-passengers-delayed-by-dunedin-weather)
There have been other reports pertaining to cranky spirits, touches, pushing, and unexplained occurrences by visitors at the Larnach Castle.
One of these occurrences pertain to when the crew of the series “Ghost Hunt” filmed at Larnach Castle in 2015. At one point, the camera zoomed in on a figure supposedly belonging to William at the ballroom of the castle.
Another visitor claimed that he and his wife were standing in the music room. Something then came in between them and pushed them. The man and his wife stayed there and it happened again for a second time. The wife already left that spot but the man did not budge. Again, the pushing took place. Later, the couple went to another room and they felt like something was suffocating them because they were having a hard time breathing.
The music room at Larnach Castle. (Link: https://fortheloveoftravel.net.nz/luxury-and-nature-at-larnach-castle/)
A family also went to the Larnach Castle to celebrate their daughter’s 13th birthday. When they were already in bed, they heard a ball being rolled up on their door. It went for quite a while. The guests did not bother to go outside and look at what was happening but the ball started to roll down the stairs so they had to check if a child was hurt. No one was there. In the morning, the family told them about their experience and they were told that there have been other guests who have experienced the presence of children playing. It is possible that during that time, the ghostly children wanted to play with the 13-year-old in the room.
The spiraling stairs at Larnach Castle. (Link: https://www.wallpaperflare.com/castle-larnach-castle-historic-house-dunedin-stairs-staircase-wallpaper-mezyd)
Larnach Castle As Seen In Different Shows, Movies
In 1985, the Larnach Castle was used as a location for filming “Hanlon.” It was also used in the introductory scenes of “Shaker Run.” It has also been featured on “Ghost Hunt,” “Spookers,” and “Ghost Hunters International.”