Seacliff, New Zealand

Seacliff, New Zealand

villagePopulationabout 100, exact data unavailable
NameDunedin City Council
Population 118 683 (2006 census [] )
ExtentDunedin City includes the towns of
Waikouaiti, Karitane
Warrington, Waitati
NameOtago Regional Council

Seacliff is a small village in the northern rural area of the City of Dunedin in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. It lies roughly half way between the estuary of Blueskin Bay and the river mouth of the Waikouaiti River at Karitane, on the eastern slopes of the Kilmog hill. Coast Road, an old route north from Dunedin, and the South Island Main Trunk Railway pass through the village.


Seacliff is the site of the former Seacliff Lunatic Asylum a mental institution originally erected in built in the late 19th century. The hospital was designed by the architect Robert Lawson and managed for many years by Sir Frederic Truby King, who also founded New Zealand's Plunket post-natal health charity. New Zealand writer Janet Frame was notable among the hospital's patients, barely escapaing lobotomy. The hospital was also the site of one of New Zealand's major disasters when a fire in 1942 resulted in the death of 37 of 39 female residents, still locked in their cells in ward 5.

The hospital was long affected by structural issues as a result of land instability, which ultimately contributed to its closure, partial demolition and relocation to a new site at Cherry Farm. The remaining buildings were proposed for a museum of transport and technology, but after several years of acquiring relics for display the project never realised. Several exhibits planned for the museum were subsequently relocated to the Otago Settlers' Museum in Dunedin, but some cars from the old Dunedin cable cars and trams still remain on the hospital site. The area is now a recreation reserve.The streets in Seacliff include Kilgour Street, which is the main street that runs through the village, Palmer Street, the Coast Rd and Russell Rd that leads to the Truby King Reserve.

One of Seacliff's claims to fame is as inaugural champion of New Zealand's annual knockout football competition, the 1923 Chatham Cup. Seacliff beat Wellington's YMCA in the final by four goals to nil.

eacliff now

Seacliff is settled by several families of workers who commute to Dunedin and has a couple of local artists with studios in the village. The ruins of the mental hospital and its extensive grounds form the Truby King Reserve. The remainder of the hospital buildings form a privately owned accommodation business.

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