In Search of Castle Kiwi

Auckland, NZ

Mount Eden and the Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand

Us: “No, mom, really what do you want to do while we’re in New Zealand?”

Mom: “Oh I’ll just do whatever you’re doing”

We’ve been down this road before with Greg’s mom.  She doesn’t want to intrude.  But we didn’t really think that getting eaten by a Sharktopus (Sharktopi?), canoe drag racing, or crawling up volcanoes were much her thing.  As we’ve said before, this “normal tourist” routine is a bit difficult for us to grasp without the aid of a 20 sided die. So this time we insisted.

Mom: “Ok well then fine, I want to see the castle.”

(Greg gets his obsessions with dragons, along with his hair, from his mother’s side.)

Us: “Mom, New Zealand doesn’t have any castles.”

Mom: “Yes it does”

Us: “No it doesn’t Mom.  We’re standing here with a Kiwi, the person not the bird, (well, you have to be specific) and he’s giving us a weird look.  Trust us, colonial period came after feudal period.  No castles.”

Mom: “Yes there is!”

(It takes some doing but once you get her going, mother can be stubborn.  Another genetic trait.)

Us: “Fine mom, if you can find a real castle in New Zealand we’ll go to it.”

Mom: “Fine!  It’s in Dunedin”

Us: “…..son of a…..”

See now we’ll take an interlude for a geography lesson.  Mom was flying into, and more importantly also out of, Auckland, which is near the top of the North Island.

Dunedin, coincidentally the Scottish settlement in New Zealand (yet again with the genetics; Mom found out the family is part Scott a few years back.  Yes, Greg is a Scottish Puerto-Rican who hasn’t actually been to either of those places.  Only in America…  Well, at least she bought him a claymore as a Christmas present that year.  Oh the sword not the landmine.  Again, specifics are important.) …does in fact have a castle.  At least it’s called a castle.  It’s more like a mansion with castle-like flair.

Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand


But being as “Larnach Castle” brings in more tourists than “Larnach mansion-with-castle-like flair” the shortened version is what you’ll find on the Googles and who can argue with the Googles?  So we stand corrected and we’re off to Dunedin to show Mom the freaking New Zealand Castle.  Oh now where is Dunedin, home of Castle Kiwi, the castle that the Kiwis don’t even know they have, you might ask?

As far away from us as humanly possibly while remaining in country of course.

Yes, Google Maps tells us that:

There are two main islands in New Zealand, so obviously Greg’s mom would fly into and out the nethermost point of the Northern island and the one thing she wants to see is at the bottom of the Southern island.

Well, she decided she’d also like to see the penguins.  Yes, penguins but we’ll get to that.

This seems the correct moment to point out here that both Christchurch and Dunedin, both located on the southern island, both at least 600 miles closer to what she wanted to see, also both have perfectly serviceable international airports.

Or, ya know, we could road trip it.  See more cool stuff that way –


The last time wandered off in search of ancient buildings we found Morelia, one of the coolest cities in Mexico.  So that worked out well.


About the authors

Greg and Tiffany are traveling around the world on sailing yachts and keep a video blog of their (mis)adventures.  If sailing to Tahiti on a 44 ft sailboat, 3-day delays for wine tastings, getting pooped on by seagulls, opening coconuts with dull machetes, sailing past tornadoes and ukulele Christmas carols are for you, then check them out at!

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