Interior of the station, showing the
booking hall's mosaic floor.
The clocktower at the south end of the
the best-known building in the southern half of New Zealand's South
Island, Dunedin Railway Station is a
jewel in the country's architectural crown. Designed by George Troup, the station is the
fourth building to have served as Dunedin's railway
The station's clocktower is visible
across much of central Dunedin.
It earned its architect the nickname of "Gingerbread
Early rail in Dunedin
was linked to Christchurch by rail in 1878, with a link south to
Invercargill completed the following year, and the first railway
workshops were opened at Hillside in South Dunedin as early as 1875.
plans were for a grand main station on Cumberland Street, but these
never got any further than the laying of a foundation. Instead, a
was built next to the site in 1884, though this was only ever
intended to be a temporary structure. It took close to 20 years for
government funding to be allocated to the new structure, and
planning for the new station only really commenced as the 19th
century was drawing to a close.
The logistics of constructing what would be (for a time) New
Zealand's busiest railway station took three years before
construction finally began in 1903. Dunedin, at the time a major
commercial hub, required a station suitable to a wide range of
activities: it was a commercial and industrial centre, close to
still-active gold and coalfields, and was surrounded by a
hinterland that was dependent on both livestock and forestry for
eclectic, revived Flemish renaissance style
the station is constructed from dark basalt
from Kokonga in the Strath-Taieri with
lighter Oamaru stone facings, giving it
the distinctive light and dark pattern common to many of the
grander buildings of Dunedin and Christchurch.
used for a series of supporting pillars which line a colonnade
at the front of the building.
was tiled in terracotta shingles from
Marseilles surmounted by copper-domed cupolas.
southern end of the building is dominated by the 37-metre
clocktower which is visible from much of central Dunedin.
The booking hall features a mosaic
almost 750,000 Minton
tiles. A frieze of
Royal Doulton porcelain
runs around the balcony above it from
which the floor's design (featuring a locomotive and related
symbols) can be clearly seen. The station's main platform is the
country's longest, extending one kilometre.
The building's foundation stone was laid by the Minister of Railways
. The Prime Minister Richard Seddon
was also present. The station
was opened by Ward, by then Prime Minister, in 1906. The
construction of the building was kept within budget, and cost
early days, the station was the country's busiest, handling up to
100 trains a day, including suburban services to Mosgiel and Port Chalmers, Railcars to Palmerston and the Otago
Central Branch and other trains to Christchurch and Invercargill.
The city's economic decline and the
reduction in the prominence of rail transport mean that only a
handful of trains use the station today.
The station used to have dock platforms at both the north and south
ends and a crossover midway along the main platform. Large shunting
yards, most of which have now gone, occupied land to the south of
the station. Much of this land has now been subdivided into
wholesale and light industrial properties.
With the decrease in passenger rail traffic, the station now serves
more functions that the one for which it was originally designed.
the Dunedin City
Council in 1994, the station's uses have greatly
diversified, though it is still the city's railway station,
catering for the Otago
Excursion Train Trust's Taieri
Gorge Railway tourist train.
Much of its ground floor is
now used as a restaurant, and the upper floor is home to both the
New Zealand Sports Hall
and the Otago Art
. A produce market is held in the station's grounds to
the north of the building every Saturday morning. Every year in
March, the station takes centre stage in the South Island's main
fashion show, with the main platform becoming reputedly the world's
A thorough refurbishment of the exterior took place in the late
1990s, accompanied by the landscaping of the gardens outside the
entrance, in Anzac Square .
In October 2006, the centenary of the station was celebrated with a
festival of railway events, including the operation of eight steam
railway locomotives from all over New Zealand. In 2006 the Dunedin
Railway Station was recognised by DK Eyewitness Travel as one of
"The World's 200 Must-See Places".
On February 12 2008
a freak accident occurred when a container wagon struck and
partially destroyed a historic footbridge which stands at the
southern end of the station. Four pedestrians were on the bridge at
the time, with one suffering minor injuries when she fell 4.5
metres from the wreckage. Reconstruction of a footbridge of similar
design on the same site joining Anzac Square with the industrial
zone close to Dunedin's wharves is due to begin in September
Anzac Square and Anzac Avenue
Anzac "Square" is the triangular green
area marked (6).
The black line is the railway.
Immediately outside the station lies Anzac Square, which, despite
its name, is roughly triangular in shape, and was extensively
remodelled and extended in the 1990s to create a formal knot garden
lies at the southern end of Anzac Avenue, a kilometre-long
tree-lined street running roughly parallel to the railway, which
leads to Logan
Park, the northern end of which is part of State Highway 88, which links
Dunedin with Port
Logan Park was the site of the 1925 New Zealand and
South Seas Exhibition
, and the avenue and square were named to
commemorate the Australian and New Zealand
, the "ANZACs", who were New Zealand's main military
force during the then recently concluded First World War
. After the refurbishment of
the square, a large plaque dedicated to New Zealand's Victoria Cross
recipients was relocated to
the north end of the square, close to the start of Anzac Avenue.
This has since been relocated again, and now stands close to the
city's main war memorial
Gardens, 400 metres to the south.
northern end of Anzac Avenue is likely to be severely affected by
the construction of a new city
stadium to replace Carisbrook close to Logan Park, and it is likely that the
course of State Highway 88 will be diverted away from the northern
end of Anzac Avenue. Directly across the square from the station
is Lower Stuart Street, which
leads to the city's centre, The Octagon.
Railway Station is served by daily sightseeing trains to Middlemarch or Pukerangi via the
Taieri Gorge, and to Palmerston. Although lacking any facilities specific to
bus travel, the station is Dunedin's terminal for shuttle
vans to Dunedin International Airport and for most long-distance bus companies, other
than Intercity, which has
its own terminal nearby.
- Johnson, D. (1993) Dunedin: A pictorial history.
Christchurch: Canterbury University Press.
- Knight, H. and Wales, N. (1988)
Buildings of Dunedin. Dunedin: John McIndoe.
- McGill, D. and Sheehan, G. (1997) Landmarks: Notable
historic buildings of New Zealand. Auckland: Godwit
- Knight and Wales, p. 234.
- Note that, while most sources (e.g., Johnson, p.34, Knight and
Wales, p.235) claim the granite was from Bluff in
Southland, New Zealand, stone
deliberately chosen to imitate that for which Aberdeen in Scotland is famous, some, such as McGill and
Sheehan (p.224), claim the stone was imported from Aberdeen. There
is no pink granite in Bluff. The station's pillars are Peterhead
granite from Aberdeen.
- McGill and Sheehan, p.224
- Knight and Wales, p.236
- McGill and Sheehan, p.226
- Johnson, p.26
- McLean and Sheehan, p.144
- "Dunedin Fashion Show Celebrates Ten Years"
(TVNZ website, retrieved 18 March 2009)
- DCC station restoration page
- Railway Station Recognised
- Dunedin railway station up there with the Taj Mahal
as a 'must see'
- Otago Daily Times (14 February 2008)
"Council considers replacement footbridge."
- Otago Daily Times (13 August 2008) "New
railway footbridge 'by early September'"
- The Dunedin Railway Station