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Found 6 results

  1. History Unlike the railways in Europe or northern America, New Zealand tracks were rudimentary. They were built cheaply and hastily using light iron rails that had a narrow 3ft 6in gauge. Even the tunnels and bridges were minimalistic and usually made as small as possible to get the railways up and running as quickly as possible. It was always the intention, though, that the lines would be improved in the future as traffic and available finances increased. The four-hundred and sixty-two metre long Chain Hills Railway Tunnel, also known as Wingatui Tunnel, was one of the tunnels built in the 1870s, during New Zealand’s brief period of industrialisation. The line itself was constructed to improve transportation of coal and other natural resources across the land to major ports, where the goods could then be shipped elsewhere. Like the Caversham Tunnel, the Chain Hills Tunnel was largely dug out by hand, but it is unique in the sense that it is a Victorian styled brick tunnel that would have taken longer to build than some of the others that were carved out. The Chain Hills Tunnel also sparked much excitement in Dunedin during its construction as workmen made an interesting discovery while making a cutting at the southern end of the tunnel. Thirty-five feet under the ground, which it is thought was once swampland, a large number of moa bones were found (a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand). The bones ranged in shape and size and were in a very good state of preservation owing to the high alkaline levels in the soil. The Chain Hills Tunnel was completed in 1875, and it was measured as being four hundred and sixty-two metres long. Progress was aided with the construction of brick kilns at either end of the tunnel, as this meant materials did not run short because bricks were constantly available throughout the project. However, finishing the tunnel proved to be a difficult and dangerous task. For years the project was plagued by regular flooding, which slowed progress, and workers were also encumbered by the hardness of the stone they were cutting through. Alongside these issues, six months before completion a rock fall occurred at the north end of the tunnel. The incident claimed the lives of two men, Patrick Dempsey and Thomas Kerr. A third man was severely injured as both of his legs were shattered, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life. In the end, the tunnel did not remain in service for very long either as it was abandoned in 1914. A new dual-lane tunnel was constructed further south which meant there was no longer any need for the Chain Hills Tunnel. In the short period of time the Chain Hills Tunnel was operational it claimed another life – that of Irishman George Thompson. Reports indicate that late one evening in 1895, George took a shortcut through the tunnel to get home. Although there are several niches in the tunnel it is likely George was unaware of them, or simply too far away to reach one, before he noticed the oncoming train. Since its closure, however, no more lives have been lost. For a while the tunnel was used as a popular way of passing between Abbotsford and Wingatui, and for moving sheep between the two locations. Nevertheless, since the 1980s the tunnel has been closed to the public due to the deterioration of the tunnel’s structural integrity and subsequent health and safety concerns. In recent years there have been plans to redevelop the tunnel into part of the proposed Otago Central Rail Trail (a cycle and pedestrian track). But, due to lack of funding and ongoing concerns surrounding the structural integrity of the tunnel, especially with the increased risk of it being damaged by an earthquake, the project has come to a standstill. The only recent work Dunedin City Council has carried out on the Chain Hills Tunnel has been to shift two vents from sewer gas reticulation pipes, to stop them from venting into the tunnel. Our Version of Events Having just returned from a South Island trip the previous night, we had no intentions of going exploring, until Nillskill rocked up that is. He was passing back through Dunedin so we decided while he was around to have a crack at the old Chain Hills Tunnel that’s been on the cards for quite a while. We understand there was a public open day a few months ago, but going to an event like that would take away one of the most interesting parts of exploring – figuring out how to slip into these places. We loaded up the car with the usual gear and raided the fridge for all the beers we had spare, then set off in the direction of Mosgiel, a town that is apparently well-known for its local legends and myths. The drive didn’t take too long, which is always good, but the next hour or so we spent trying to find the damn tunnel was a right challenge. To avoid a couple of nearby farms we headed into a patch of native woodland. This would most likely have been quite pleasant, if we’d been able to see where the fuck we were going. But, as we didn’t want to risk using the torches with the farms being so close, we ended up getting very lost among the trees and bushes. After following a few false trails, we did eventually stumbled across the entrance to the tunnel. Just the faint sight of it in the distance raised our disheartened spirits. The next challenge, though, was to get past a locked gate. Fortunately, this wasn’t as bad as it had first appeared, probably due to the fact that we’ve had plenty of practice in the art of contortion over the years we’ve been exploring. To keep it brief, despite some initial doubts about our ability to contort through the space available to us, we managed to worm our way inside. As expected, the inside of the tunnel was incredibly muddy. Even sticking close to the walls didn’t help very much. As for the tunnel itself, though, it was, aesthetically speaking, very pleasant. It reminded us of an old Victorian railway tunnel you’d find in the UK. The condition of some of the bricks in the Chain Hills Tunnel are quite poor too, which enhances its overall photogenicity. Other than that, however, there isn’t a lot else to see. That’s the nature of old railway tunnels unfortunately. We did find a couple of niches and a few pipes belonging to the sewer system, but they’re pretty standard finds in these places. Eventually, after what felt like a fair bit of walking, we found ourselves at the second gate. For some reason, the authorities had left this one open, probably due to the fact that the tunnel is inaccessible from this side. Whatever the reason, it gave us an easy exit from the tunnel, where we found ourselves on a narrow muddy trail surrounded by dense forest. Apparently, if you continue down the track for a while you eventually reach the present day railway line, but it’s quite difficult for anyone to access the tunnel from this side. We didn’t walk down the trail to find out if this is true mind, since we had a bottle of whisky to get started on back in Dunedin. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  2. History The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, originally known as the Otago Wool Stores, was built in stages between 1872 and 1885 by notable architects Mason and Wales and R.A. Lawson. The initial project was financed by an American merchant and businessman, Henry Driver, who settled in Dunedin in 1861 and established the Wool Stores company in 1871. The site was selected as the perfect location for a wool store because of its close proximity to the harbour. Although construction of the two-storey building was expected to be swift, progress was delayed due to concerns about the stability of the ground since the foundations would rest on part of the old sea bed. This problem was rectified by 1872 and by 1873 the first part of the building was completed. At the time, the tide would surround it at high water; however, over the years additional land has gradually been reclaimed, so the water’s edge now lies approximately forty metres away from the premises. By 1885 the premises comprised a main warehouse, several offices, a stable and engine house, and was described by many as being ‘the finest building of the kind in New Zealand’. As with other key structures in Dunedin, the main building itself is constructed of stone that was mined from quarries at the water of Leith and the Town Belt. Additional stone for the piers, windows and doors was excavated from quarries at Port Chalmers. As for the roof, it had thirty-nine skylights of rolled plate glass originally, and the remainder of the roof was lined with Bangor slates. Inside, at some point in its early history, a railway gauge was laid through the centre of the building to improve the efficiency of the service area. The tracks allowed goods to be moved to the main railway lines that ran parallel to the main building. A number of trapdoors and hoists were also installed, to move bales of wool between floors. Towards the end of the 1800s, the Otago Wool Stores were taken over by the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, with Henry Driver appointed as the manager of the Dunedin branch. It is reported that the company was ‘a prominent London-based pastoral finance concern’ with links to the Bank of New Zealand and the Colonial Bank of New Zealand. At the time, it was one of the largest companies in New Zealand and one of the key sellers and distributors of wool, grain, animal produce and other stock. Being a London based company also meant that money could be borrowed and distributed more easily. After purchasing the building, the Loan and Mercantile Agency Company altered the design of the premises so that a number of ‘handsome, classically-styled’ offices could be housed inside. During this time the roof was also altered, and a raised saw-tooth design was selected to replace the original skylights and slate tiles. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company owned the building up until 1961. Following a financial crisis throughout the country, and the fact that there were too many stock and station agents (which were warranted because railways and roads were still being built across New Zealand, and such companies were vital in managing the transportation of goods to and from farms) the company merged with Dalgety, becoming Dalgety & New Zealand Loan Ltd. From the 1960s onwards, Stewart’s Transport purchased and occupied the building. Various alterations were made inside at a cost of $31,000, to create 6,000ft of office space and a board room. The original 100,000 square feet of warehouse space was retained. In later years, the upper storey was let to a clothing manufacturer, Sew Hoy and Sons Ltd., and the ceiling space to an indoor go-karting company who also set up a small arcade in parts of the ground floor of the premises. The go-karting business was the last to vacate the building at some point between 2008 and 2010. Since the early 2000s, though, the building as a whole has fallen into a dilapidated state. One by one its windows were gradually boarded up, and the masonry has started to crumble in several places. Currently, the future of the building remains uncertain; although, there is evidence that some restoration work has been carried out in the last few years. Our Version of Events Dunedin’s a place that’s often described as still being a bit ‘Wild West’. The main shopping precinct, for instance, is found down the main road of the city where there are old-fashioned shop fronts with canopied pedestrian walkways on either side. The chances of catching a train are so slim you’d find it easier to find a horse to ride to the next town or city. And beneath the surface and overall façade, much of the architecture is wooden and very colonial. In many ways then, the former New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company building fits the general theme that’s going on rather well, as it too has a certain Wild West feel about it. So, bearing that in mind, we can continue with the story. It was just before midnight, when two silhouetted riders appeared on the horizon. Their horses whined and reared; they were tired after a hard night of urbexing and in desperate need of rest. Their riders, however, were keen for one last explore, so they spurred their animals forward, towards the remains of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company. Outside the building, the pair quickly dismounted and tied up their faithful steeds: Passing Wind and Mary Hinge. Their boots clanked loudly against the ground as they walked towards a nearby window. Pulling out his six-shooter, Nillskill blasted it three times. Access isn’t a problem when you carry around Smith and Weston Schofields and Winchesters. At this point, though, we should warn new ‘urbexers’ that carrying around such equipment counts as being equipped if caught by the police, so it’s likely you’ll get arrested for breaking and entering. Or worse, you’ll be done for being caught in an enclosed space with ‘tools’. Anyway, back to the story. With the window pane successfully shattered, the pair of dusty desperados climbed through the wooden frame with relative ease. Inside, the building was still. Only the curtain by the window stirred the silence as it flapped in the breeze. Undeterred, however, the pair moved on into the corridor. Their boots resounded on the hard wooden floorboards. But otherwise, the eerie silence prevailed. However, turning the next corner revealed something unexpected. The pair found themselves inside some sort of make-shift saloon, called Rosie O’Greedy’s Bad Time Bar. Without further ado they demanded whisky, and using a deep husky tone advised the bar tender to leave the bottle. Ignoring the no-smoking sign displayed prominently over the bar, Nillskill pulled a small packet of matches from his saddle bag. He withdrew a single match and in one swift motion brushed it against the hard stubble on his face. The match erupted, baring a bright orange flame. Each of the bandits leaned in over the match in turn, using it to light their partagas (strong Cuban cigars, for all those English pipe smoking folk reading this report. I say, what ho! Pip pip). A cloud of thick smoke filled the room. For a while the pair laid down their Nikon D3100s, and other gadgetry, choosing instead to revel in the moment. After several undisturbed moments of smoking, bucket spitting and drinking, a spicy little thing dressed in a black corset and matching suspenders wandered over. Her auburn hair was long and wavy. She walked over to Nillskill and, resting her foot on the base of his stool, started to adjust her stocking. Extending her other arm over the bar, she reached for the ashtray. For a brief moment, she held her cigarette holder above it, until finally she gave it two firm taps causing the ash to fall. She leaned over to Nillskill and whispered into his ear, seductively. The other desperado couldn’t quite hear what she was saying, so had to piece together the information he could hear: ‘upstairs… $18 dollars… whips and chains… handcuffs… bad boy…’. In the end he got the gist of the conversation. All of a sudden, however, before this report could become anymore raunchy, the Wild Bunch burst through the doors of the saloon. Captain Bill, Black Jack, Big Jim, Emmett Tibbs and Indian Joe entered the room. New on the block they were trendy kids who prefer to post video reports. Each of them were wearing ‘proper’ urbex attire: clown masks covered their faces, and they each wore dark hoodies – with their hoods up. Captain Bill spoke first, he seemed to be their leader, while the others hastily updated their Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds. “This urbex ain’t big enough for the both of us, WildBoyz”, he growled. Nillskill spat into the bucket one last time, and pushed the scantily clad whore to one side. She would have to wait until later. As he moved he withdrew his tripod and lobbed it in their general direction. It caught Emmett Tibbs on the side of the head, smashing into his GoPro which, in turn, caused him to stumble. It did no damage unfortunately, and merely served to piss the Wild Bunch off even further. Each of them withdrew their pistols and a shootout ensued. WildBoyz leapt behind the bar, taking cover to avoid the onslaught. Bullets shattered the bottles above them, and liquor splashed and erupted everywhere. A mirror suddenly exploded, covering the sheltering pair in jagged shards of glass. Defending themselves, they returned fire, releasing a volley of rounds toward the Wild Bunch. Emmett Tibbs, the unlucky bastard, caught another blow, this time to his chest. Blood and other essential inside bits of him exploded from his chest. He collapsed knees first, before finally crumpling to the ground in a growing pool of crimson blood. Using Tibbs as a distraction, as Black Jack and Indian Joe were desperately trying to send a Snapchat of the chaotic scene, WildBoyz decided to move. The pair raced towards a nearby trapdoor and hurled themselves inside. Everything around them turned dark as they fell for what felt like an eternity. They hit the ground with a loud crash, but with little time to check for injury continued on towards an empty mine cart. They’d landed in the cellar of the building, and decided that their best means of escape was the old railway network. Above them, as they leapt inside the cart, Captain Bill and his gang fired their pistols and rifles like frenzied wild men. They too were starting to jump into the cellar though, so the two bandits didn’t have long. Nillskill fired a round at a nearby lever and the cart they were in slowly started to move. It creaked and rumbled loudly as it gradually picked up speed along the rusted tracks. Several moments later and WildBoyz were being pursued by the Wild Bunch, who had found a second cart. Bullets and camera lenses whizzed past heads, and sparks sprang from the tracks as the carts flew around tight bends in the depths of the cellar. Aiming his pistol carefully, Nillskill’s trusty partner fired a shot. It caught Big Jim right smack in the face. Jim’s clown mask exploded into hundreds of tiny pieces, along with his face. Despite Jim’s unfortunate end, the Wild Bunch continued their pursuit. With the end of the line in sight, the two desperados needed a distraction to shake the remaining Wild Bunch boys. With some quick thinking, Nillskill, using the flash on his camera to temporarily stun the pursuers, allowed his partner to fire several more rounds and throw a stick of ACME TNT. Unfortunately, all of the rounds missed, but, unexpectedly, Indian Joe caught the TNT. Unsure what the strange sparkling stick was, because he was born and raised out in the desolate plains of Sunderland, where the way of life is more culturally deprived, he mistook the stick for a candle. Captain Bill tried desperately to wrestle the stick from Joe, but he wasn’t having any of it. He smashed Bill squarely on the jaw with the butt of his Winchester lever-action repeating rifle, and sent him tumbling over the side of the cart. Bill screamed, but quickly disappeared from sight as the carts rocketed towards the very end of the track. Only his clown mask hovered in the air for a second, before it too tumbled into the abyss below. Suddenly, an eruption of flame and smoke appeared from the Wild Bunch’s cart. It exploded and sent shards of metal and debris towards WildBoyz. The pair ducked, as a large chunk of railway sleeper sailed across their heads. Behind them, where the second cart had been, lay splinters of metal and wood and the crumpled remains of Indian Joe and Black Jack. Right now, Jack really was was living up to his name. Before they could stare in awe any longer, however, the first cart smashed into a solid wooden barrier – they had reached the end of the line. Both explorers were flung into the air as their cart broke apart. They landed with a crash into a small building at the far end of the cellar. The pair laid on the floor, surrounded by debris and a cloud of dust, until the silhouette of a small man appeared before them. It was Deputy Sheriff Kum Hia Nao. As acting security for the site, he demanded to know what the pair were doing. After explaining that they were there only to take photos, Kum Hia Nao decided to escort them off the premises, making it clear to them both that they were lucky the police hadn’t been called for their wily act of trespass. He did, however, thank them profusely for ridding him of the five clowns that had been taking bondage photos of each other while tied to chairs for the past few nights. Explored with Nillskill. *There may be several slight exaggerations in this version of events. The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28:
  3. History The construction of Caversham Tunnel, now a disused railway tunnel that was cut through a solid sandstone embankment, began in September 1871 in the Kaikorai Valley. Cutting work began on the Caversham side around the same time, but construction of that side of the tunnel did not begin until March 1872. Both sides were joined in almost perfect alignment on 26th September 1872. The 865-metre-long tunnel was fully completed by late February 1873, and a celebratory dinner was held to commemorate the occasion. The tunnel was officially opened for service by Sir Julius Vogel, the eighth premier of New Zealand (prime minister), in December 1873. A party made the first excursion of the line from Dunedin to the Green Island terminus which was located near the coal pits of Messrs Sampson and Brown. A celebratory luncheon was held in a nearby field on the same day. The first passenger service was run on the line in July 1874, from Dunedin to Green Island terminus. A one-way ticket cost fourpence, while a return-journey cost sixpence. Additional links, such as one to Balclutha via the Chain Hills, were later opened at the end of the 1870s. For the time it was operational, however, the tunnel is said to have claimed a total of three lives. In 1876, a Green Island police constable named Henry Vernon was hit by a train while walking through the tunnel. Later, in 1897, a farmer named Kenneth Kennedy fell from a train while it was passing through. And finally, in 1900 an assistant guard named Robert Burns slipped from the train while moving between carriages in complete darkness inside the tunnel. In spite of the seemingly high mortality rate, the service was used up until 1910, when a larger replacement dual line took over all rail traffic. The replacement line sits a few hundred metres away from the original Caversham Tunnel. Over the next few years the tunnel remained closed to the public and was almost forgotten, until there was a flood in 1923. Unfortunately, the deep cutting and tunnel provided a drainage conduit for the Kaikorai Stream which had burst its banks. As a result, the water was guided straight into the large flat areas of South Dunedin. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes, and many lost valuable possessions. It is reported that drainage issues with the tunnel were addressed at the outset of World War Two, when the tunnel was fitted out as an air raid shelter that could be used by the public in the event of an attack. After the war, ownership of the tunnel passed to the council. It was used during the sixties to lay electrical cables and sewage lines; however, the structure itself has since been left to slowly deteriorate. Lacking any means of proper drainage has resulted in the tunnel filling with thick mud and water, and it is now deemed a dangerous structure. To keep people out, the council erected a barbed wire fence around the Kaikorai Valley side, and a large gate on the Caversham portal. Although there have been talks to convert the tunnel into a pedestrian walk/cycleway, with locals offering to pay for the lighting, all formal proposal have been rejected due to ‘theoretical cost estimates’ and ‘drainage problems’. Our Version of Events After a long night of drinking ale and whisky, we were hungover as fuck as we made our way over to Caversham to seek out the legendary ‘secret tunnel of Dunedin’. According to local legend, the tunnel was said to be nestled among trees and concealed by the motorway. It took a fair bit of faffing around to find the exact location of the tunnel, and a little bit of running along the motorway (thankfully the motorways here are a lot different to European ones). With no footpath and a sharp drop to our right, we had to carefully choose a quiet moment and hit legs. With our vision slightly blurred, and everything swaying ever so slightly, we tried to keep our focus on the white painted line on the road as we jogged. With the taste of ale steadily returning to our mouths, jogging is all we could manage. By the time we reached the entrance to the tunnel, sweat was dripping from us. The post-alcohol effect was in full swing, but we were keen to get the tunnel under our belts. I stood in front of the wire fence and gazed up at the barbed wire fixed across the top for a while. I was waiting for it to stop moving so I could perhaps think about climbing over. The fence was spinning a little bit too, and no matter how hard we held it, it just wouldn’t stop moving. Eventually, though, we managed to get onto the other side. We headed down a set of old decayed wooden steps. They were covered in foliage and, consequently, we stumbled our way down them as some of them had completely disappeared altogether. At the bottom we reached a large number of pipes poking up from the floor, and a small hut just to the left of us. These, as we quickly discovered seemed to be part of Dunedin’s sewage system. Unfortunately, it was at that precise moment we became sober enough to notice the bubble-guts syndrome had begun. We were going to have to make this a quick explore, before nine pints of arse soup demanded to be set free from the trap doors. Stumbling over sewage pipes seemed to bring the sensation on ever more, so it was time to squeeze the cheeks together, tightly. One slight stagger over a pipe or tree root and that would be it. Disaster. Entering the tunnel itself wasn’t difficult from here. But, the reports about the mud certainly don’t exaggerate. The sludge was incredibly sticky and we very nearly lost our boots to it. The floor in the first sections resembled a swamp, and in parts was almost at welly breaching point. It’s was almost as if the sewage pipes were leaking… Things got a little easier further on though, for some of us. With the help of a very handy handrail on the right hand wall, The Mexican Bandit was able to climb onto a ledge of raised mud that seemed to have solidified. Using the slightly rubbery feeling ‘handrail’, which was caked in years of slimy grime, he made quicker progress. He continued like this for quite a few metres, leaving us swamp dwellers far behind, until something caught his eye. Squinting, to properly focus his vision in the dark conditions, he could make out a sign plastered onto the ‘handrail’. It read either ‘DANGER 600 VOLTS’, or ‘6000’. In the heat of the moment, his vision was playing tricks on him, adding zeros to the situation, but he swiftly let go in any case. Apparently wellies are excellent at preventing electrocution, but I guess he didn’t want to test that theory out. For the most part, Caversham Tunnel is a bit samey throughout. It’s a very different style to the railway tunnels we have in England though, so it felt quite unique being all natural rock rather than Victorian brick. There was a small brick section around 400 metres into the tunnel though, and for a very brief moment excitement made the hangover subside. Upon discovering that the brick section was more like an underground bridge, however, disappointment set in and the battle to hold the ale inside ensued once more. There were other interesting features of course, such as the millions of seashells which littered the floor (the swamp ends halfway through, and the remainder of the tunnel is relatively dry). They were all different shapes and sizes, but I have no idea why they were there. The final interesting feature to add to the growing list would be the sewer we found that runs beneath the main passageway. We’d managed to stumble across a semi-broken lid, so decided to have a peek inside to see if there was anything interesting. And behold, there was: Dunedin’s shit floating about right beneath our feet. And to be perfectly honest, whatever you’ve been eating Dunedin, you need to stop… Explored with Nillskill and The Mexican Bandit. South Dunedin Flood (1923) 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  4. History In spite of Dunedin’s falling population throughout the twentieth century, Kenmure Intermediate School was built in 1974. Like most other architecture constructed in that era, the school’s buildings are distinctly modernist; this means the structures adhere to design principles that are open to structural innovation, yet they make rational use of modern-day materials and limit the amount of ornamentation in any project. The school survived for less than twenty-five years, as it was later merged with Kaikorai Valley High on a nearby site in 1997. Presently, the site neighbours a former landscaping and nursery business, and some sort of truck depot which itself looks as though it is slowly turning into a graveyard. As for the school, it is rumoured that the local police armed offenders squad occasionally use it as a training site. Our Version of Events Realising that it’s been a while since we posted anything from New Zealand, we decided to quickly pop back over the water and see what’s going on in Middle Earth. As it turns out, very little has changed since we were last there, except for the few odd abandoned sites that have a habit of popping up from time to time. One of these is Kenmure Intermediate School, which we’d actually seen once before, but dismissed as being a collection of dilapidated sheds. You will see why when you get to the photographs. Access to the site wasn’t particularly difficult, although it did involve a fair bit of waiting around. Dunedin is one of those cities that seems virtually silent, until students decide to have a party in their veritable ‘ghetto’, or when it’s time to explore. Two guys in chequered truckers-style shirts gazed in our direction for a long while, until someone inside their house diverted their attention. Our patience paid off; with their backs turned we were soon inside the school which, bizarrely, looks nothing like a school. For the most part, the school itself is pretty trashed, and most of the rooms seem stripped. As you wander around the buildings, however, an increasing number of clues begin to emerge, which suggest that this site was in fact an educational establishment. Quite a few of the old classrooms still have blackboards (which are actually green) in them and, for reasons unbeknownst to us, there were rather a lot of seats left over, all scattered chaotically around the site. Unfortunately, there were few tables, so we weren’t able to get any lifelike classroom shots. All was going very well for the first hour (the site is surprisingly large), until the sound of a pneumatic drill began to ring throughout the buildings. The single pane windows rattled violently in their frames, as the juddering steadily became more intense. The door of a nearby fridge even swung opened. Wondering what the fuck was happening, we decided to have a quick look outside. Outside, we edged forwards, creeping up a steep hill made up of rubble and other random shit, to take a sneaky peak at what was on the other side. Sure enough, there was a guy on the other side with a large tool of some description, laying into the floor like Tigger on LSD. Surrounding him was some sort of large truck depot; although, many of the trailers and cabs looked as though they’d been there for a while. A long row of silver trailers sat parked to the left of us. Several moments later, a we noticed a second guy walk over to one of the trucks in the distance. We watched him climb inside and start the engine. A moment later it roared past us, heading towards what looked like an exit. Neither the pneumatic drill guy, nor the truck driver seemed to notice us, though, so we headed back inside the school to finish taking photographs. The sound of the drill thing began very intermittent after a while, and it seemed to get very close at one point, but we came across no one else inside the school. By the end of the explore we’d decided that the truck depot must still be active in some sense; perhaps used for long-term storage, or something of this nature. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29: 30:
  5. History Dunedin, formerly the largest city in New Zealand by territory, derives its name from the Scottish Gaelic designation for Edinburgh, Dun Eideann. Although archaeological evidence indicates that Maori occupied the area from the mid-1200s, Lieutenant James Cook landed on what is now the coast of Dunedin sometime in February 1770. A high number of sightings of penguins and seals were documented, and this led to the arrival of sealers at the beginning of the 19th century. Feuds between the sealers and Maori settlers escalated rapidly; this epoch was known as the ‘Sealers’ War’. The first Europeans to settle permanently in Dunedin, however, were led by William Tucker in 1815. Whaling stations were set up, alongside Johnny Jones’s mission station and farming settlement. By 1848, The Lay Association of the Free Church of Scotland, founded Dunedin as the principal town; in time the town was to emulate Edinburgh and, regardless of the difficult steep terrain, streets began to follow a grand and quirky ‘romantic design’. As the settlers established a new life, though, disease quickly killed off most of the native Maori population, as their immune systems were not used to European illnesses. The discovery of gold in 1861, at Gabriel’s Gully, led to a large influx of new arrivals to Dunedin, from Scotland and England, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany and China. With the flood of people into the area, industrialisation across Dunedin was set in motion. The old dreams of a new, more grand, Edinburgh began to fade as the focus was now set on extracting New Zealand’s natural resources, and consolidating the region by building a railway line to Christchurch. Dunedin became New Zealand’s first city by population growth in 1865. After this time the city’s landscape changed dramatically, as The University of Otago was founded, a town hall was built, public trams were installed and various business and institutions were created. Other notable buildings emerged in the early 1900s, such as the train station and Olveston. Much of the newly developing city followed a Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture, including the new drainage and sewage channels that were suddenly required. Construction of Dunedin’s first large public combined sewer and drain began sometime in the late 1800s. The increasing number of people arriving into Dunedin meant that more space was needed for the construction of new buildings; this meant that various streams had to be culverted and sanitary issues had to be addressed sooner rather than later. Like most Victorian drains, Din Eidyn began life as a shallow gutter, using the flow of natural water to waste away waste products. It was culverted shortly after its initial assembly. Nevertheless, by the end of the first decade, Dunedin’s drive for progress ended abruptly as influence and activity moved further north, to other prosperous cities such as Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. Only the university continued to expand, so largescale projects, like the construction of Victorian drainage/sewage systems, were halted as they were no longer warranted. The abundance of concrete in New Zealand at the time meant that smaller, more cost effective, channels and pipes were installed instead as an alternative. As far as records show, Din Eidyn was the first and last Victorian styled subterranean system to be built in Dunedin. While the original plan had been to develop a grand city, comparable to the likes of Edinburgh and Glasgow, it was never to be; various remnants of Victorian and Edwardian architecture can still be found across Dunedin’s cityscape of course, but the cobbled streets, large stone storm drains and awe-inspiring architectural wonders are conspicuously missing. Our Version of Events Soon after arriving in New Zealand, back in 2014, I began to hear rumours about an old redundant Victorian styled sewer system that was still said to exist beneath the city of Dunedin. A lot of time went into researching this mythical system, and I had images in my head of some incredible storm drain analogous to Megatron in Sheffield. The thought of finding something like that would make any keen exploring type pretty enthusiastic. Well over a year later, after much digging around and following false leads, we eventually found the rough location of what we thought might be the old conduit. Immediately we got excited. Following up our lead late one night, we found ourselves scrambling around in the bushes for traces of something that looked tunnel-like. Since we were still in a fairly public area, as people kept walking past us while we flashed our torches around erratically; more so as our frustration gradually escalated, we tried our best to blend in and look inconspicuous when we actually noticed them. However, three hours or so later, following a lot of faffing about, we finally managed to uncover the entrance to the old sewer/drain we’d been searching for. Feeling like intrepid explorers, we ventured into the darkness with eager spirits. Alas, and much to my disappointment, it turned out that Din Eidyn didn’t quite match what my imagination had spent more than a year visualising; not at all. For a start, the passage we were walking through was stoopy as fuck; the proper backbreaking sort of thing that most drainers despise. Second, it was filled with rather large spiders and weta, which can be exceptionally large by insect standards. They give a good bite too, apparently. Thankfully, though, all New Zealand’s species of weta are flightless, so we didn’t have to worry about aerial attacks. Before this drain I was under the assumption that no weta inhabited Dunedin, but I guess my knowledge was in need of some refinement. As we progressed further into the drain, the stoopiness eased off a little, but the dial would still be pointing at the backbreaking level on the pain-o-meter (which is pretty high up on the overall scale), if we’d had one with us. On a more positive note, although the drain didn’t quite met my expectations, it was constructed out of a satisfying mix of stone, brick and concrete, rather than just lacklustre concrete, so it was still pretty interesting and diverse as we ventured deeper inside. Also, as we continued on, following the rough cobbled surface of the drain, I noticed we were descending quite noticeably; this meant we were heading down the hill that surrounds Dunedin into the city centre itself, so that was yet another positive aspect of this particular explore. All in all then, I think it was well worth the effort to find, given that Dunedin lacks history as it is – compared to larger European cities at least – and I couldn’t help but feel as though I’d tasted some of that early 1900s ambition which sought to construct something spectacular. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25:
  6. History Coastal fortifications were constructed across New Zealand between 1873 and 1944, initially in response to the fear of an attack by the Russians. Prior to this, New Zealanders had been too engrossed in the Maori wars to pay very much attention to threats from larger foreign powers. Further defences were built in the 1940s, during World War II, in anticipation of a Japanese invasion. British designs were used, and adapted to suit New Zealand’s natural environment. Typically, the fortifications included a number of gun emplacements (pill boxes), observation posts and underground bunkers which would have connecting tunnels and supply, command and engine (to power searchlights and guns) rooms. During the 1870s, New Zealand was home to a self-governing colony from Britain and Scotland. Since colonialists had focused on generating new towns, mining villages, logging sites, farms, harbours and battling the natives, no coastal defences had yet been constructed. Following a newspaper report in an edition of the Southern Cross in 1873, which claimed Britain had declared war on Russia, and that a Russian warship – the Kaskowiski – had entered Auckland harbour and captured a British vessel, along with the city’s entire arms and ammunition supply and a number of citizens, widespread panic occurred. The invading ship was apparently a modern 945-man vessel, with over a dozen 30-ton guns and a deadly gas launcher that could destroy British ships from a great distance away. In response to the mass panic caused by the article, the government commissioned its first reports on the colony’s defences. It was understood that Britain would protect the main territories and shipping lanes, but the ports would be the responsibility of each individual colony. By 1877, Russia had declared war on Turkey, and this served to raise fears even further. The government made the decision to construct coastal fortifications and purchase naval ships capable of protecting their harbours in Wellington, Auckland, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers. A large amount of heavy artillery and ammunition was delivered from Britain, and by 1885 work on constructing seventeen forts began. In total, the New Zealand government purchased ten Armstrong BL 8-inch guns, and thirteen BL 6-inch guns, both on disappearing carriages; the total cost of all the machinery was approximately £160,000. Disappearing guns were latest in military technology, however; they bore the name based on the fact that the guns would disappear under cover while reloading. Following another Russian scare, an additional eleven RML 7 inch guns and nine RML 64-pr Mk3 guns were installed – just for good measure. By 1886, a Russian warship did indeed enter the port of Wellington, although it turned out to be a ‘goodwill visit’. The second wave of coastal fortification construction occurred between 1942 and 1944, following the massive attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. Once again, British designs were used and adapted to suit New Zealand conditions. An advanced radar system was installed in most of the coastal defences, allowing long range shooting at night. This replaced the old, traditional, fortress system of range finding. All of the fortifications were equipped with, mostly British, new and old ordnance; some WWI pieces were also requisitioned from museums and recommissioned. Most of the coastal defences were decommissioned by the 1950s, owing to advancements in air warfare and the advent of powerful missile technology. Throughout their years of operation, not a single one of the defences fired a gun as an act of war, and only one single boat was ever sunk, accidentally; a fishing boat named ‘Dolphin’. Our Version of Events It was a sunny afternoon, but we were waiting for nightfall to hit a few other locations we had in mind, so we had a bit of time to kill. The old coastal defence fortifications at Harington Point seemed like a good time killer and they have a bit of an interesting history attached to them. From the road, after parking up near some suspicious looking tourists, we followed a small track into the bushes that led down onto the cliffs. The path took us directly to a concrete archway that leads into the side of the sea cliff. Unfortunately, the place is heavily graffitied and, like Australia, most of it isn’t art. Interestingly, though, parts of this sea defence at Harington Point date from the late 1800s, since cement imported from Britain was in abundance between 1840 and the early 1900s. According to a government document, New Zealanders went mad for the stuff around this time, and even private citizens and farmers built many experimental buildings out of it; unlike Britain, New Zealand hadn’t yet adopted strict building regulations. Most of the Harington Point structures were built using convict labour, though, not experimental builders, as this was ‘the done thing’ back in those days. A military barracks in the nearby area was used as a temporary jail while the prisoners constructed the fortress and additional roads. There was, apparently only one escape attempt over the course of the construction period: In October 1898, two of the prisoners working on the interior of the Harington Point fort made a break for freedom, slipping away from the warders by pretending to be busy on errands. Once they were discovered missing, a black flag was raised above the fortress to indicate that there had been an escape. All available hands were enlisted to search, including four warders, nine artillery men, two members of the Artillery Corps, and the crew of a boat that had just landed. Eventually two gunmen came across the escapees, who threatened them with rocks: “Drop that and come along! We’ll have no humbug!” Gunman Lynch cried, and the escapees surrendered (Kiwi Adventures). As expected, most of the rooms and tunnels were completely bare, except for beers cans, bottles and exercise machines; the usual sort of stuff you find in these places. After exploring the first bunker and tunnels, we followed another path; a little more overgrown this time, to reach more structures further down the cliff, all positioned in a shallow trench. As with the others, these too were covered in a lot of graffiti, but some better stuff (a great deal better) started to appear down here. After a quick wander around the trench which is fitted with bunkers and various other buildings, we decided to traverse our way along the cliff, walking just above the old rusting barbed wire coils that, amazingly, still remain in situ. We entered the next bunker through the window. From this one, the only way out is via a long 100 metre long tunnel, so we made our way through that to reach the surface once again. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: Entrance to Coastal Defence 2: Inside the Tunnels 3: Ammunition Store 4: Towards the End of the Tunnels 5: The Trench 6: Some Better Graff in one of the Buildings 7: Street Art by Pixel Pancho 8: Street Art by Pixel Pancho 9: To the Beach 10: More Gun Emplacements 11: Built to Repel the Japanese 12: Looking out of a Gun Emplacement 13: Inside an Observation Post 14: Looking Out of the Observation Post 15: Trents Tuna Fektory 16: The 100 Metre Long Tunnel 17: Concrete From the Late 1800s 18: More of the Good Stuff 19: The Exit 20: Tunnel Exit 21: Engine Room 22: One of the Original Entrances from the Late 1800s 23: Looking Towards Port Chalmers 24: The Wire From the War that Never Happened

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