Modern History

1967 - Current  "The Barker Family's Restoration Project"

Margaret Barker
Margaret Barker, Founding Director.
The Barker Family
Norcombe Barker and Family. Norcombe has been Executive Director at Larnach Castle since 1990.
When Larnach Castle was purchased by Barry and Margaret Barker in 1967 the Castle was in a state of near ruin. The ballroom was being used to pen sheep and the ill-repair of the roof meant a significant amount of water damage had occurred to the once-stately interior. At the time, friends and family of the Barkers thought them quite mad to undertake such an enormous restoration project!

Devoid of furniture and with many of the beautiful architectural features missing; the Barkers thoroughly researched the original décor, furniture and artwork in order to restore the castle to its original glory. This vision for Larnach Castle has been carried on; with Norcombe Barker as Executive Director since 1990. Today, almost every room has been lovingly returned to the exacting standards of Larnach’s times. 

Such a magnificent home was of course set in equally magnificent grounds, all of which were overgrown and neglected when the Barkers arrived. Over time, the 35 acres of grounds were cleared and felled, allowing for the creation of wonderful gardens with vistas, paths, flower beds, hedge rows and trees.  So much so, that they are now listed as a “Garden of International Significance” by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.
Today, Larnach Castle is again Dunedin's premier landmark, hosting guests from all over New Zealand and the world.
The family have diversified their business by investing in accommodation located in the castle gardens is Larnach Lodge, providing boutique accommodation with every room offering a harbour view and private facilities.
The recent purchase of a grand home adjacent to Larnach Castle provides elegant country accommodation. All rooms are impressively decorated in a neo-classic style featuring designer fittings and furnishings. This boutique lodge has five bedrooms with spectacular views of the surrounding lush countryside.

The Barkers have rescued a major part of Dunedin's heritage whilst making a significant contribution to the local tourism industry. Today, over 80 staff are employed at Larnach Castle and this, together with the ongoing restoration of the castle is testament to the commitment and dedication the Barker family have to Larnach Castle, Otago Peninsula and Dunedin.

"I continue with restoration. I intend improving interpretation and understanding of the castle for visitors; it’s a window into our history. It is my vision to conserve and develop the property in the innovative spirit of William Larnach." - Norcombe Barker, Executive Director.

Norcombe and Margaret Barker are frequently asked to speak about their experiences at Larnach Castle, the challenges of owning a conservation project and idea’s behind a designing a Garden of International significance.

Their availability is subject to any other prior comments. Please email and your enquiry will be forwarded to the appropriate person.

Qualmark Endorsed Visitor Activity
New Zealand Gardens Trust
Landmarks New Zealand
Tiaki - Care for New Zealand

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