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Dunedin Railway Station
Dunedin Railway Station Full Exterior.jpg
Anzac Square and Dunedin Railway Station
Station statistics
Address Anzac Square, Dunedin
Lines Main South Line
Connections Taieri Gorge Railway
Platforms 2
Parking Yes
Baggage check No
Other information
Opened 1906
Owned by Dunedin City Council
Dunedin Railway Station clocktower (centre). The building on the right is the city's Law Courts
Interior of the station, showing the booking hall's mosaic floor.
The clocktower at the south end of the station building.

Possibly 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 station. It earned its architect the nickname of "Gingerbread George".


Early rail in Dunedin

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. Early plans were for a grand main station on Cumberland Street, but these never got any further than the laying of a foundation[1]. Instead, a simple weatherboard-constructed station 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[2]. 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 its economy.


In an eclectic, revived Flemish renaissance style, (Renaissance Revival architecture), 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. Pink granite[3] was used for a series of supporting pillars which line a colonnade at the front of the building. The roof was tiled in terracotta shingles from Marseilles[4] surmounted by copper-domed cupolas[5]. The 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 floor of 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[6]. 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 Joseph Ward on June 3, 1904[1]. 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 £40,000 [7].


In its 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 than the one for which it was originally designed. Bought by 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 of Fame and the Otago Art Society. 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 longest catwalk[8].

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 [9].

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"[10][11].

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[12]. 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 2008[13].

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[9].

The square 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 Chalmers. 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 Army Corps, 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 in Queen's Gardens, 400 metres to the south.

The 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.

Transport services

A service, also carrying passengers for Southern Link, operated by Passenger Transport about to depart for Christchurch from Dunedin Railway Station.

Dunedin 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.

Further reading

  • 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 Publishing.
  • McLean, G., and Sheehan, G. (2002) 100 historic places in New Zealand. Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett. ISBN 1-86958-920-3.
The rear of the station.


  1. ^ a b Johnson, p.26
  2. ^ Knight and Wales, p. 234.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ McGill and Sheehan, p.224
  5. ^ Knight and Wales, p.236
  6. ^ McGill and Sheehan, p.226
  7. ^ McLean and Sheehan, p.144
  8. ^ "Dunedin Fashion Show Celebrates Ten Years" (TVNZ website, retrieved 18 March 2009)
  9. ^ a b DCC station restoration page
  10. ^ Railway Station Recognised
  11. ^ Dunedin railway station up there with the Taj Mahal as a 'must see'
  12. ^ Otago Daily Times (14 February 2008) "Council considers replacement footbridge."
  13. ^ Otago Daily Times (13 August 2008) "New railway footbridge 'by early September'"

External links

Coordinates: 45°52′31″S 170°30′32″E / 45.87528°S 170.50889°E / -45.87528; 170.50889



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