Built in Dunedin in 1906 when the city was New Zealand’s leading commercial centre, this magnificent railway station remains, fully restored to its former glory.An excellent tourist excursion service is the only train now using the station. Much of its ground floor is used as a restaurant, and the upper floor houses an art gallery and a sports hall of fame.
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 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 surmounted by copper-domed cupolas. The southern end of the building is dominated by the 37-metre clocktower which is visible from much of central Dunedin. The sheer size, grandiose style and rich embellishments of the station earned architect George Troup the nickname of Gingerbread George.
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. 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. 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.
Created to be the jewel in the crown of New Zealand Railways, the Dunedin Railway Station has an atmosphere and character unique to any public building in the country, and is regarded as the most photographed building in New Zealand.