As a child, I spent many happy hours with my Grandmother, listening to stories of her extended family, who settled in Dunedin after arriving from Denmark. Many of the stories revolved around time spent with cousins at 'The Cliffs' or as it's known locally, 'Cargill's Castle'. Her uncle - Harry Lyders - built the 'castle' for Edward Cargill, subsequently purchasing the property early in the 20th century for his own family.
One story in particular has stuck to this day - how as children, she and her cousins were allowed to use the ballroom as an indoor rollerskating rink! The ballroom was added some years after the castle's original construction, which Uncle Harry considered a "folly", and consequently had no desire to preserve. A holt was put on indoor cricket matches however, after windows were smashed and needed replacing to keep the weather out.
Earlier this year, the combination of cheap flights and Wellington anniversary weekend provided the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Dunedin and visit the castle. (Interestingly, I drove unaided directly to the property, even though never having been to Dunedin before). Now surrounded by a new subdivision, it's inaccessible to the public, but by telling my story to a neighbour watering his garden, he allowed me to pass through his property to reach it.
The passage of time has not been kind, with the castle now so structually unsafe it's ringed by a barbwire topped fence. Well past the point of restoration, I believe there are plans to sure it up enough to allow it to open as a ruin? (Please correct me if I'm wrong).
It was quite a strange experience walking in my forebearers footsteps. As the future of the castle hangs in the balance, I'm glad I made the effort to visit this once.