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Found 35 results

  1. History The Wallaceville Animal Research Centre, located in Wellington, New Zealand, was a Government-owned veterinary and animal research centre. Following the establishment of the New Zealand Department of Agriculture in 1892, a new facility was commissioned to undertake research on livestock, which could then be applied to help farming communities across the country. The laboratory was eventually constructed in 1905. Before this time, research had simply been carried out in temporary makeshift laboratories in Wellington. New Zealand’s only Government Veterinary Surgeon, John Gilruth, was appointed as Wallaceville Laboratory’s founder and officer-in-charge. Gilruth had spent many years investigating stock diseases in New Zealand and France, so he was already a chief veterinarian, government bacteriologist and fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. According to historical records, Scottish-born Gilruth went on to become the Administrator of the Northern Territory in Darwin, Australia. However, his blunt, dynamic style of leadership, which was often viewed as being arrogant and insensitive, resulted in the Darwin Rebellion in 1918. Subsequently, Gilruth was forced to resign from his position and evacuate the Northern Territory under the protection of HMAS Encounter, a military cruiser. As for the research facility in Wallaceville, it continued to expand over the years as more land surrounding the original building was drained and cleared. In the end, over two hundred people worked for the veterinary facility and one hundred acres of land were developed into laboratory buildings and pastures for farm stock and growing oats and other crops for animal feed. However, following plans to relocate the site at the beginning of the millennium, the facility closed in 2007. After the move, the site remained abandoned until 2014, when part of the site was redeveloped into a business park. The remaining farmland and pastures were later sold to a private owner for property development. Our Version of Events And so, we come to our final explore in New Zealand, before we made the incredibly long journey back to England. We were in Wellington, ready to catch our flight but decided there was still time for one last dirty derp. In the end, there’s always time for a quickie. After quick head’s up from Urbex Central NZ, then, we found ourselves stood outside the oldest veterinary facility in the southern hemisphere. Gaining access wasn’t particularly difficult, despite it being situated on a relatively active business park. We simply strutted in with ninja-like skills and managed to squeeze through an inhumanly-sized hole in the roof, right at the tippy top. Once inside, it was immediately obvious that touching anything would be a very bad idea, as it would probably result in us contracting a form of AIDs. The contents of various cardboard boxes we found happened to have chicken varieties, cow ones and a couple of strains belonging to pigs. There were plenty of other vials of diseases scattered throughout the site too, which made our initial paranoia about cutting a finger or grazing an arm even more pronounced. Fortunately, though, we seem to have made it out unscathed. All in all, then, the explore was really good. There was plenty of stuff left over, and we had to sneak around a bit to avoid being seen by anyone wandering around outside which is always fun. The entire building still had a 1905 feeling to it too, since everything looked dated compared to a modern-day laboratory such as GSK. We spent roughly forty-five minutes inside, and then called it a day because we’d managed to take snaps of every room. Getting back out, however, was a mighty task since it suddenly became extremely busy outside with cars and people passing by. Somehow, though, and we’re really not quite sure how, we still managed to avoid getting caught by anyone as we retraced the steps we’d initially taken to get inside. Farewells and Some Acknowledgements On and off since 2014, we’ve been travelling back and forth between the UK and New Zealand. This explore stands as the last explore we’re likely to do in New Zealand for a good while because the coffers are now almost entirely depleted. At this point in time then, we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone we’ve met, explored and gotten caught by the police with, particularly Urbex Central New Zealand. In particular, we would like to thank our friend, Nillskill, for sharing locations and taking the time to travel around most of the country with us. In total, we managed to explore over one-hundred and eleven sites together. You will be missed, but we look forward to your proposed visit to the UK at some point in the near future. We would also like to mention a few more names of those we’ve met along the way: Bane, Gunner, Zort, Nadita, Harley, René, The Mexican Bandit and Dylan. It was a real pleasure to have met you all, and we’re happy that we managed to spend some time exploring together, even if one of you does insist on being called Zort in everyday life. Stay safe, ladies and gents. Cheerio. WildBoyz. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: [/url] 12: 13: 14: [/url] 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25:
  2. History Lower Hutt Central Fire Station is a Category I Historic Place located in a large suburban area of Wellington, New Zealand. It was constructed in 1955 using concrete, and its design, which is indicative of a post-war utopian vision, was heavily influenced by the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Wright’s belief that structures should be in harmony with humanity and the wider environment. Once completed, the building was thought to have been one of the most contemporary fire stations in the southern hemisphere. Certain features helped to reinforce this image, such as the temporary accommodation inside the station that was said to create a sense of community and camaraderie, the control room that allowed fire engines to be started and stopped remotely, the main doors which could be opened automatically and new technology that could be used to record phone calls. The post-war modernist style of architecture, with its aesthetic smooth surfaces and curves, became very popular throughout Wellington in the 1950s because it represented progress and modernity for a newly emerging city. Following a review of the New Zealand Fire Service in the mid-2000s, and some restructuring due to population dispersal of the city’s growing number of residents, it was decided that three stations in Wellington City would be shut down – those in Lower Hutt, Petone and Point Howard. Lower Hutt Central Station was subsequently closed in 2007. All of its crews and engines were split between three new strategically placed stations at Alicetown, Avalon and Seaview. Since its closure, Lower Hutt Fire Station has remained unoccupied and neglected and this has resulted in it being heavily vandalised. Our Version of Events There’s not a great deal to say about this one.Urbex Central happened to mention they knew the whereabouts of an abandoned fire station, so, in their company, we decided to go take a look. We were immediately sold on the idea after they brought up it still had poles. That’s about the only thing it had going for it mind you. Since being abandoned in 2007, the station has been well and truly stripped of anything of value so it’s largely just a shell these days. However, as noted above, the poles do still exist, and they were easy to find across the site because they sit behind ‘Pole Drop’ doors on the upstairs floors. So, if you happen to be passing by, make sure you pop in and have a quick session on the poles. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: [/url] 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20:
  3. History Holcim, originally named Aargauische Portlandcementfabrik Holderbank-Wildegg, is a Swiss-based building materials and aggregates company that was founded in 1912. The company expanded across Europe in the 1920s, then the Middle East and Americas between the 1930s and 50s. By the 1970s, the company had begun to expand into the Latin Americas and Asian countries. Today, the company employs over seventy-one thousand people and it holds interests in over seventy countries. Following a series of significant mergers with other companies, Holcim has become one of the largest cement manufacturers in the world. The company’s name was changed to Holcim in 2001 – it is short for Holderbank and cement. Holcim’s Cape Foulwind cement works opened in 1958. However, as it has reportedly become cheaper to import cement from Japan, the plant was closed in 2016. The power was turned off on the 29th June, after the remaining eighty workers went home at midday, and the Holcim Cement Carrier left Westport harbour for the last time carrying the remaining 2,500 tonnes of cement from the wharf silos. To help support its staff, Holcim started a Tools for the Future programme to equip workers for after the plant closed. The scheme offered courses that would give their staff skills in other forms of employment, such as barista and chainsaw training, and guaranteed each worker a toolbox. All workers received tools for their toolboxes when they met targets, up to the final closure date of the plant. As a result of the closure, one hundred and five staff and contractors lost their jobs. Their final gift from Holcim was an umbrella and a ratchet set, to add to their toolboxes. Immediately after the plans to close the site were made public, The Buller District Council began looking for new businesses to occupy the land to ensure the survival of Westport and nearby villages; the town’s port grew because of the cement works and it was the area's main source of income. However, a year on and still no redevelopment work has taken place. Although there are plans to turn the site into an eco-park that could make energy from rubbish incineration or turn waste timber into bio-diesel, farms or an industrial park, the council have been unable to find new companies or buyers willing to establish a base in such a rural area of New Zealand. Today, only seven security guards, who were all members of staff at the plant, remain to protect the site until it is sold. As for the town of Westport, a number of houses are now up for sale as many local residents have been unable to find work in the area. Unfortunately, it seems likely that Westport will suffer heavily in the long term as a result of Holcim’s closure. Our Version of Events Holcim’s old cement works has been on the radar for a little while now. However, because it’s located on the desolate West Coast, we’d never had much reason to head in that general direction. Fortunately, though (for us), a major storm hit New Zealand the week we decided to go off and do some exploring, so, to flee the bad weather, we ended up in Westport. As we arrived, the rain had eased into a light drizzle for the first time in days. Yet, despite the change in weather, we still weren’t very optimistic that we’d get onto the site since there were several security cars parked outside of the buildings at the front of the site. Since we’d driven all the way, though, effectively into the middle of nowhere, we decided to have a crack anyway. In the end, access was a lot easier than we imagined, although it did entail a fair bit of walking. And once we were in, we managed, somehow, to completely avoid secca. There was the feeling that one of them could suddenly appear the entire time, since the site had many nooks, crannies and entranceways; however, we got lucky and didn’t encounter anyone until we were on our way back to the cars, back on the right side of the fence. As for the site itself, it was absolutely massive. Most of the interior was quite cramped and full of strange looking machinery, and some areas were flooded. The exterior was perhaps the best part of the explore as it had a very imposing feel to it. It kind of felt like we were extras on a Star Wars set at times. There were some sections to the front of the site that were difficult to access due to secca, and because the entire plant was coated in a thick slimy layer of cement we were unable to climb up some of the high-rise sections. There’s definitely scope to revisit the site then, to have a look at the couple of parts we didn’t manage to visit. Explored with Nillskill. 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: [/url] 28: 29: 30: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36:
  4. History St. James Hall, which is Presbyterian (reformed Protestantism), was built in 1885.The church next door was built five years later, in 1900. Both are good examples of early roughcast church building, but the hall is a Gothic style structure while the church is said to be neoclassical Edwardian. Both the structures were designed by Robert Watt and John Mitchell, two notable architects in the early 1900s, and they are currently Category B listed heritage buildings. The church closed sometime between 2012 and 2013, after Auckland Council deemed it too dangerous to enter. After also being inspected in 2016, the hall has now been forced to close its doors. One of the roof trusses has shown signs of movement and several significant pieces of timber around the unreinforced concrete/masonry walls are reportedly rotten. According to the heritage architect that conducted the assessment on the building, this raises the potential of ‘catastrophic failure of the walls’. It has been reported that the congregation wish to remain at St. James Hall; however, the cost of the repairs and additional strengthening work are way beyond what they can afford. They say the parish is too small to raise the necessary funds. Our Version of Events After driving around half of Auckland looking for a place to pull over and sleep, we eventually found ourselves outside St. James Church and Hall. At the time, bearing in mind it was dark, we were pretty sure the church was abandoned, but we couldn’t tell if the hall next door was. So, before hitting the hay, we had a quick poke around both sites to do a spot of investigating. As it turned out, both buildings were in fact abandoned, with boards covering all the essential areas. Following that discovery, then, we decided to sleep in the car right outside, so we could wake up to a spot of exploring right away before breakfast. Inside the car, it was as uncomfortable, as it always is. There were three of us, so that made putting the seats back slightly awkward – especially with someone who was baked sprawled across the back seats – and we hadn’t washed for days. The smell was interesting, as was the shit that’d accumulated in the car. All we could do, to put all of that out of our minds, was dream about how epic the explore we were about to do in the morning was going to be. We woke early, eager to get out of the car and enter a building that would, by comparison, be much cleaner and airier than our current environment. So, we grabbed the gear and headed back over to the church hall. We did that building first as it looked as though it was going to be the more interesting of the two. Thanks to our recce the previous evening, we had a good idea about how we might access the place. Once inside, we quickly realised that the old hall had been redeveloped into a church. At first, we weren’t sure if it was actually abandoned either, since there were still instruments set up and various pieces of paperwork with recent dates on them. We did a bit of on the spot digging, though, and discovered that the hall had been deemed too dangerous to enter, by order of the council. It appeared, then, that the local parish were still using the premises right up until the last minute. Their last activity in the place, by our assessment, seemed to have been January 2017. Anyway, even in the knowledge that the hall was now abandoned, we still felt as though the vicar was about to walk in at any moment to begin Sunday service. After having a good look around the former hall, we made our way over to the church. Unfortunately, this building was much more fucked. The local goons have ensured it no longer has any windows left. As we stepped inside, the heavy stench of damp and decay made it clear that the elements have settled in nicely, along with hundreds of pigeons. Everywhere we looked there was a bird carcass. Nevertheless, we squelched on, across the waterlogged carpets and took a quick look around the place. All in all, there wasn’t a lot to see, but it was good to have seen the whole site as opposed to only half of it. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24:
  5. History The old Chrome Platers Ltd. building in Timaru, which is a Category II historic place, was constructed in 1883. It is not known who owned the site originally, but the company, Chrome Platers Ltd., which now trades as Concours Electroplating Ltd., purchased the site in 1961 and continued to use the premises up until 2014. The company specialised in electroplating chromium onto metal objects for decoration and/or protection against corrosion. Concerns about the safety of the site were first raised in 2015, when a vat of acid caught fire inside the building. Some sources, however, suggest that it was a gas leak that raised initial concerns. Either way, hundreds of people were forced to evacuate the site and those surrounding it. An investigation was subsequently launched and this resulted in the owner being issued a warning to identify and store chemicals more safely. Following a second assessment in 2016, it was found that the owner had failed to comply with health and safety stands for hazardous substances. According to the agencies involved in monitoring the safety of the site, “[the owner] failed to meet his obligations under both sets of legislation and does not have the financial resources to bring the property into compliance.” In total, between 90,000 and 133,500 litres of chemicals with high levels of toxicity and insufficient labelling were still found unsafety stored at the site. A clean-up of the site took place in 2016, at an estimated cost of $750,000. Following the successful clear-out of hazardous chemicals, the agencies negotiated with the owner (threatened him with jail time) and it was decided he would ‘quit the property’ and allow it to be added to the government’s Contaminated Sites register. However, despite being thoroughly cleaned the council has now deemed the structural integrity of the site as being unstable and, on the whole, in a poor condition. There are concerns about the contamination levels of the soil beneath the structure, and the condition of the concrete and key supporting beams. According to Davina McNickel, an ECan scientist, the site still poses a serious hazard to individuals entering the premises and “under no circumstances should the public make any attempt to access the building.” It other words, its future appears to be very bleak, especially as no party has indicated that it would be financially viable to save the building. Therefore, demolition could well take place very soon, once the council has negotiated with Heritage NZ to remove its listing as a Category Two historic place. Our Version of Events We’d checked out this place a few months ago, but a little pushed for time we only had time to explore the building next door which turned out to be an old nightclub.However, as we had to travel up through Timaru once again, this time to escape a storm that led to a state of crisis being declared across the South Island, we decided we’ve have another crack at the old chrome platers building. At first things, didn’t look too hopeful mind. All the obvious entrances were well sealed, and even the nightclub next door had been re-secured. In the end, though, our perseverance paid off and we managed to get inside. As soon as we entered the main workshop it was instantly obvious that most of the good stuff had been cleaned out during the great purge of 2017 which had taken place a few months earlier. Nevertheless, there was still a heavy chemical smell in the air, and a few bits and bobs to see, so there was a good feel to the place. In addition, with all the old tools lying around, you could almost imagine several well-chromed Harleys or Chevrolet pick-ups sitting on the main shop floor, ready to be polished one last time. We spent around half an hour wandering around the old site, making sure in that time that we checked out the ‘poison room’, on the off chance the council and agencies had left something interesting behind. Sadly, in our warped opinion anyway, it seemed they’ve done a very thorough job of removing the 100,000 litres of chemicals because not a single drop remains. After the poison room, we decided it was time to crack on and get outta town. We left via the main door this time, for a snappy exit onto the main street, rather than faff around trying to get out the hard way. We relocked it as we departed though, so apologies to those fellow Kiwi explorers out there. We’d heard many bad tales about the local youths in Timaru, so we thought it was best to make it more difficult for the cans of spray paint to get inside. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23:
  6. History This report is based on a ‘Californian’ bungalow – a style that is popular in New Zealand – that was built in the 1930s. It lies in the heart of the city of Wellington and as an ‘untouched’, ‘fully furnished property’ has been valued as being worth half a million dollars ($540,000). However, in its current condition the roof is no longer attached to the walls and it has been deemed earthquake prone. A brick wall was also removed for safety reasons following a recent earthquake as it was adjacent to a pedestrian walkway. What this means is that potential buyers cannot view the interior, by order of the City Council. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that the premises will still be sold and most likely demolished to make way for a new build. It is reported that an elderly woman has owned and lived in the property since 1966, but she vacated the premises at the end of 2016. Little is known about the woman; although one report suggests she was once a nurse. Several neighbours recall seeing the woman outside on the porch of the house feeding a tabby cat. Others say they often saw her sitting outside in her car. Sadly, what happened to the woman remains unknown. Our Version of Events It was eleven o’clock and we were stood opposite a dilapidated looking house on the other side of the street. All the doors and windows were heavily boarded, so we weren’t quite sure how we were going to get inside. We crossed the road, waited several seconds for a couple of people to pass us, then hopped a low wall to get into the alleyway that runs alongside the property.We figured if there was going to be any form of access it was probably going to be found around the back. Next, following a bit of creative thinking, wefound ourselves inching our way through a tight gap that we could just barely fit inside. The passageway we’d discovered was filled with years of grime and other things we’d rather not think about, and the air was incredibly stale and harsh against our lungs. After what felt like a lifetime of crawling flat against the foundations, we emerged through the floorboards and found ourselves inside some kind of cupboard. Rather disappointingly, no relief from the bad air was to be found though as the room absolutely reeked of the rich stench of piss. Gagging slightly, we hurried to pull ourselves out of the hole so we could stand up and try to find a room with better air quality. We promptly left the cupboard and found ourselves standing in the main corridor of the house. Since the lights were on, we could see into most of the rooms from here. We were thankful the lights were on too because the entire property was practically bursting with utter shit. At this point, we attempted to set up our tripods, but this was a challenge in itself since there wasn’t much room to put them anywhere. But, we somehow managed it and so, being very careful not to touch anything for fear of catching something incurable, we cracked on and started to explore the house a bit. At this point, though, we decided we’d make the whole endeavour a quick one. If anything, the heavy smell of piss was getting worse; it was so bad in the corridor it brought tears to our eyes. There was certainly plenty to see inside the building, especially in the dining/kitchen area, and it would have been great to have learned more about the previous owner to help preserve her history, but the very dated food substances we stumbled across put us off a wee bit. Fifteen minutes later, feeling satisfied that we’d seen everything there was to see, we were pretty keen to get back in the filthy hole again. There were a lot of old photographs and pieces of documentation lying around that gave some insight into who the old lady was, but in the end the smell became unbearable. In hindsight, it smelt a bit like there sewage pipes had malfunctioned. Anyway, putting that thought aside, we emerged back on the street in record time. The tight squeeze that had previously seemed challenging was in fact a doddle. After that we felt pretty damn dirty – the level of dirtiness you feel when you’ve been exploring non-stop for several days – so we headed off in search of an industrial car wash. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17:
  7. History “The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.” (Hunter S. Thompson). As far as we are aware, the history of this location remains mostly unknown. In terms of the architecture, the building is similar to most houses across New Zealand; it is a wooden structure with a corrugated metal roof. There is a bit of evidence within the house, and on a couple of forums, that suggests the building was a former biker gang clubhouse. Although we found a remembrance card inside the premises with the Plimmerton Motorcycle Club (a group located just outside Wellington) logo on the back, it is likely the house belonged to one of the one percenter motorcycle clubs, as it is unusual for the ninety-nine percenters to have gang houses in the middle of nowhere that are full of beds, booze and drugs. There is also a considerable 207 kilometre distance between the house and Plimmerton. One percenter gangs emerged after the Second World War, when there was an abundance of ex-military Harley Davidson motorcycles and many ex-servicemen looking for brotherhood and the same rush found in battle. Since the 1940s the ‘1%’ have spread and formed different chapters across the world, including New Zealand, and they are famous for being outlaws. The members of one percenter gangs normally wear an identical patch on the back of their jackets, and they gain their reputations through violence, smuggling drugs and extortion. Our Version of Events All in all, this was a great little explore. From the outside, the place looked like an absolute shithole, and from the inside the condition we even skankier. However, we have a very keen interest in motorcycles, so the moment we realised we were standing in some kind of old biker den, the explore instantly became an epic (in our minds anyway). We started in the kitchen to begin with, where we could see a couple of old ammunition boxes, empty moonshine bottles and a remembrance card honouring Ricky (Snake) Howse (AKA, The Snakester). Judging by his photograph on the cover of the card, he was a real, Harley-ridin’, badass. The house reeked of dirty bikers, with the distinct smells of oil and old leather lingering in our nostrils. Even Throttle, Modo and Vinnie seemed to have moved in, happily chilling in the fridge that was just to the left of us. Next, we stepped into the corridor. This led to a couple of single bedrooms that were heavily decorated with images of motorbikes, scantily-clad women and old biker signage. One of the bedrooms had a fair bit of gear it in, including some old biker clothing, and it gave us the overall impression that it was perhaps the gang leader’s dirty den. The next room along was similarly decorated, but it was virtually empty in terms of furniture. The best room was still to come, though, and this was the next one along. We peered inside from the doorway and discovered a heavily decayed room with the remnants of nine old beds. The smell was bloody awful, but it was cool to imagine that this is where the gang once slept. Out from the troop room, there was a large communal area fitted out with several chairs, sofas and a dead sheep. Whatever happened to the sheep wasn’t pleasant either. It was spread across a large proportion of the floor and across an armchair near the window. We guess the bikers must have had mutton stew for their last supper. Just behind the seating area was a bar space too – it looked perfect after a day’s hard riding. All in all, the place wasn’t huge, but there was plenty inside to keep us occupied for a good while. After checking out the main house we had a quick wander over to two exterior sheds too, in the hoping we might find a couple of old Harleys, or some parts at least. However, we weren’t so fortunate. The wooden structure turned out to be some sort of animal holding room – presumably for the killer dogs that likely guarded the premises. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22:
  8. History Bastion Point, also known as Kohimarama, is an area of land that overlooks Waitemata Harbour, in Auckland. Originally, the land was occupied by Ngāti Whātua, a large Māori tribe consisting of four sub-tribes that settled in Tāmaki. However, when Western colonisation of New Zealand occurred, the land was ‘bought’ and confiscated by the New Zealand Government for ‘public works and development’. However, in 1895, with the threat of a Russian attack imminent, the New Zealand Government decided to build a military outpost at Bastion Point. The area of land had a commanding and strategic advantage against any warships entering the harbour below. Once completed in 1886, the fort, which was named Fort Bastion, had two disappearing guns and two six pounders, with underground passages connecting each of the sites together. However, the Russian threat waned by the 1920s and this resulted in the fort being abandoned. Fort Bastion was reactivated in the 1940s, following the outbreak of World War Two. However, as a memorial had been built over the former artillery storage tunnels, the position of the battery was moved slightly. The fort was then fitted with twelve pounder guns, which were later replaced with six pounders, and two guns at water level (where the Tamaki Yacht Club now sits). A large boom that linked Torpedo Bay with Bastion Point was also placed across the harbour to prevent enemy submarines from reaching Auckland. The last things to be added to the renovated fort were an anti-aircraft battery, three searchlight emplacements, an observation post, a radar station and a camp to house the expanding military personnel required to man the new installations. Soon after the war, Fort Bastion was abandoned once again. Over the years some sections of the site were demolished to make way for a memorial garden. The remaining parts of the fort fell into a state of disrepair and were gradually lost as the surrounding bush shrouded them. The remainder of the fort survived because little development work went on in the area owing to territory disputes that eventually culminated in the 1970s. Fierce arguments over the ownership of the land arose as the Ngāti Whātua tribe wanted the area handing back. The tribe did manage to occupy the land for five-hundred and seven days at one point, but the New Zealand army were sent in to forcibly remove the protesters. In the end, two-hundred and twenty-two of them were arrested. Despite the eviction, though, the land was eventually placed under Māori ownership in the 1980s. It was handed to the Ngāti Whātua tribe, along with some financial compensation. Since then, little interest in the fort has been shown; therefore, it remains neglected and forgotten. Our Version of Events After a fairly successful day exploring Auckland, we decided to meet up with another explorer who knew about some old tunnels that existed over near Kohimarama – one of the city’s suburbs. Apparently, very few people know about their existence because they are well hidden in the bush, so it seemed like a good idea to go check them out. It didn’t take too long to drive across the city to Kohimarama. From there, we ditched the cars and climbed over a small fence to get into the bush. At the tree borderline, you could just make out the remains of an old concrete staircase, but it was very easy to miss if you happened just to be passing by. We followed the staircase, which was harder to ascend than we initially thought due to the dense vegetation. The stairs started to disappear after a while too; they were absolutely caked in moist earth and dead foliage. The climb continued until we reached a large block of concrete that was heavily worn and cracked. Then we traversed slightly to the right to get behind it, to reach a small cave-like opening. The portal to the old tunnels wasn’t what we were expecting at all. It looked very similar to the coal mine we found in Bishop Auckland – bloody tiny! Nevertheless, our new friend, René, told us that the tunnels were inside, so, leading the way, he cracked on and disappeared into the hole. We followed him, with our fingers tightly crossed in hope that what we were about to find was going to be worth it. The first few metres were tough going with bottles of beer in hand, as it was tight and muddy. After that, though, the cave started to transform into a crude concrete tunnel. The concrete tunnel led us into a large chamber that was supported by three large columns and a long metal girder. We crossed the room quickly because it was incredibly hot inside, and headed into another passage that gradually turned to the right. At the end of it, we discovered a collapsed section of the fort and a small room to the right, behind an iron door. And that was all there was to see, unfortunately. However, even though the explore turned out to be a short one, it was still cool to be able to stand in the remnants of Fort Bastion. It always amazes us how this sort of stuff manages to survive, despite being abandoned for well over seventy years. Explored with Nillskill, Nadita and René. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9:
  9. History “Originally the station [Otahuhu A] was designed to be maintenance free but this proved to be a fallacy early on. Although we all knew very little about gas turbines, we learnt quickly that there was a great team environment” (Allen Morrison, former generation technician). Otahuhu Power Station is located in Otara, in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. The site holds two decommissioned plants: Otahuhu A and Otahuhu B. Otahuhu A, a gas turbine plant, was constructed in the 1960s. When it became operational in 1968, it had four 45 MW gas turbine units and, for three years, it contained the largest turbines in Australasia. Two additional units using Rolls-Royce Olympus gas turbines were installed in 1978, to cope with the demands of a rapidly expanding city. The turbines in Otahuhu A were retired from electricity generation in the late 1990s. However, they remained in service to provide reactive power to Transpower NZ, the owner of the national grid. Active power is the energy used to power our homes and various devices, while reactive power is used to regulate voltage in an electrical power system. This prevents damage, such as the overheating of generators and motors, reduces transmission losses and helps to maintain the ability of the system to withstand and prevent voltage collapse. The turbines were finally decommissioned in November 2013. The Otahuhu B site was commissioned in January 2000 at a cost of $350 million. It was a natural gas combined cycle plant that used a Siemens V94.3A(2) gas turbine in single-shaft configuration. When it was first commissioned, the plant capacity was 385 MW; however, upgrades to the equipment had to be made in 2005 to increase the amount of electricity being produced by the plant. It’s capacity subsequently increased to 404 MW. Otahuhu B was still a relatively new plant when it closed its doors in September 2015 (it had only been run for half of its expected life). Sadly, of the thirty-three people working at the plant, fifteen were left without jobs, while the rest were transferred to other Contact sites. According to Contact Energy, the former owners of the site, the plant was turned off due to the increasing development of renewable energy across New Zealand, such as the new Te Mihi geothermal power station. One report also indicated that ‘New Zealand has a surplus of generating capacity at the moment and this means that generators have less control of the price. To make money they need to keep the system on the edge of a shortage. Shutting down Otahuhu is consistent with this objective.’ Otahuhu Power Station was sold to Stonehill Property Trust for $30 million in February 2016. Both plants are due to be cleaned of asbestos, dismantled and sold off as scrap. It is expected that the land will eventually be sold off for commercial and industrial use. Our Version of Events It recently came to our attention that the old Otahuhu Power Plant closed its doors back in 2015 and is now due to be demolished, so we decided to go have a wee look. Having heard that demo work was already in progress, though, we weren’t expecting to find much, especially after catching a rumour about the police blowing up the control room as part of a training exercise. Our first glimpses of the site showed our speculations to be accurate. Site A, the oldest part of the power station, is currently semi-demolished and it has many, many holes in it. Obviously, this made accessing it very easy, but we were a bit disappointed to find we’d missed out on our chance to see the turbines. Nevertheless, as with most power stations, there was still plenty of stuff lying around, so it wasn’t a complete waste of a journey. The control room was certainly interesting too, for it did indeed look like someone had lobbed a few grenades around in there. Nevertheless, after spending a good hour on the site, we decided we’d revisit the site during the day the following day, as it was difficult to take photos and not get caught waving torches around – especially when the building didn’t have much of a roof left. We returned the next day and gathered the snaps we’d been after. Then, we decided to head over to site B, the newer plant. At this point, we weren’t sure whether the site was closed or not, since there were two car parks nearby and they were full of cars. What is more, all of the lights were still on, and a few machines were still casually humming away. Yet, despite having initial reservations, we crept onto the site, albeit very slowly. The entire place looked like a live power station; it seemed as though it could be put back into operation tomorrow, and it felt like we were going to accidently bump into someone – a worker or security guard – at any moment. There was some evidence that demolition work might have begun from the outside, or at least some redecoration work, but we really weren’t sure which at this point. We must have been on the second site around two minutes before we noticed that we may have wandered directly into the path of a camera. That’s what worrying about bumping into workers does to you… Nevertheless, rather than run away we decided it would be worth the risk to crack on and get inside the main building. After all, opportunities like this only come round every so often. So, that’s what we did. In the end, we’re glad we did because inside we found ourselves surrounded by fine quality industrial porn. We spent the next forty minutes or so convinced security would be onto us at any moment, so every single sound made us stop in our tracks. As it turned out, though, no one turned up to give us a bollocking and escort us off site, so, all in all, it ended up being a great explore. Explored with Nillskill. Otahuhu A 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: Otahuhu B 29: 30: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36: 37: 38: 39: 40: 41: 42: 43: 44: 45: 46:
  10. History Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital is located in Karaka, a small rural area south of the city of Auckland. The construction of the hospital, which derives its name from a hospital in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, began in 1929, when twenty patients from a nearby mental health institution were sent to the site equipped with ten shovels and twelve wheelbarrows. Following a visit to the United Kingdom, Dr. Gray (the Director-General of the Mental Health Division of the Health Department at the time) felt that it was a good idea to open a sister hospital in New Zealand. Kingseat Hospital opened in 1932. Thereafter, the facility continued to grow and several new buildings were constructed on the site, including a two-storey nurse’s home. By the beginning of 1947, there were over eight hundred patients at the hospital. However, in 1968 a number of nurses at the facility went on strike due to ill treatment and high stress levels. This forced the hospital administration to invite unemployed people and volunteers to assist within the hospital grounds with general domestic tasks. Eventually, the dispute with the nurses was partially resolved and, in the end, normal service resumed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that more nurses are said to have died at Kingseat than patients, due to the high stress levels caused by working in such an emotionally, and physically, draining environment. As one member of staff reported after the closure of Kingseat: … I worked here as a teenager, it was a horrible hospital with dinosaur thinking and a lot of what they say is true. How they treated the elderly and mentally handicapped people back then was horrible… It was horrible living in the nurses ‘home’, it was horrible working in the huge main kitchen and it was worse working in the separate units. The eating hall looked like a disaster swept through after each feeding… There was never enough hands to help the extremely handicapped eat, no medications to avoid being scratched or attacked… I cried with relief to learn this hospital has closed. The gardens were kept beautiful, with its tennis courts and pool, but what was behind closed door sucks… I cried looking at the elderly demented people being held here, their only crime was not being of sound mind and having no living relations… Despite its underlying problems, further development occurred in 1973, when a therapeutic pool was constructed. It was opened by the then-Mayorness of Auckland, Mrs. Barbara Goodman. Four years later a larger, main swimming pool was installed at the hospital. As the hospital continued to grow, various externals sites formed a connection with the facility, such as various alcoholics groups that sent patients to be treated for their drinking addictions. The hospital also started to accept voluntary patients between the 1980s and 1990s. However, in 1996 South Auckland Health sold Kingseat Hospital, following the government’s decision to replace ongoing hospitalisation of mentally ill patients with community care and rehabilitation units. Similar to the UK, New Zealand went through a period of deinstitutionalisation which involved housing mentally ill patients within the everyday community, and this resulted in most of the country’s asylums and institutions being closed down. Subsequently, Kingseat Hospital closed in 1999, after the final patients were relocated to a mental health unit in Otara. The last sixteen patients were not sent into the community because they were not suitable for rehabilitation. The final patients were moved to an old Spinal Unit complex that was surrounded on all sides by electrified fences. It is reported that local residents of Otara were concerned for the safety of their families if a patient did manage to escape from the secure unit. In contrast, South Auckland Health argued that such fears were unwarranted and unjustified, and that the secure unit’s location would allow the patients to be closer to their own families, whereas Kingseat had been much more isolated. After Kingseat Hospital closed, it was considered as a potential site for a new prison. It is estimated that it would have been able to hold up to six hundred inmates. However, it was decided not to redevelop the facility due to the buildings on the site being potentially earthquake-prone. Since 2000, then, a large proportion of the hospital has simply been left to decay. The rest of the site is lived in by members of the Tainui tribe and other New Zealanders. Since 2004 over two hundred people have come forward to file complaints against the national government for mistreatment and abuse during the 1960s and 70s. Many of those people are former patients and nurses. The site has also gained a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in New Zealand. According to the television programme, Ghost Hunt, the most common apparition seen at the hospital is the ‘Grey Nurse’ – a former member of staff who is reported to have committed suicide. However, despite the spooky problem, a development company has proposed plans to transform the site into a countryside living estate with four hundred and fifty homes. The plans would ensure that the original buildings and grounds would be preserved. Our Version of Events We’ll keep this brief, since the explore itself was pretty uneventful (it was still very interesting, but more of a chilled walk-around). To begin with, we met up in Auckland with another explorer who runs the Derelict NZ Facebook page, and from there decided to head out of the city to visit an old psychiatric hospital. Apparently, the architecture was very different to other stuff you tend to find in New Zealand, so it seemed well worth a visit. In other words, it meant we were going to find some bricks! We rocked up sometime in the afternoon and parked the cars in an old parking bay that was presumably part of the hospital. As we got out, we were surprised at how lively the old site was. There were people walking outdoors, children playing on the grass and other people doing menial tasks outside their houses. However, as noted above, parts of the site are lived on, so in hindsight this shouldn’t have been odd at all. Doing our best to blend in, we crossed a large, well-kept, grass field. We were heading for the abandoned looking buildings where there were fewer people. At the first dirty looking derp, we had to wait patiently for several minutes for a very unusual guy to continue on his way. He appeared to be walking his cat, and was talking on his phone to no one… It would appear, then, that not all the patients have left the facility. After a few odd glances at each other, though, the guy eventually wandered off into some nearby bushes, and that was the last we saw of him. Accessing the buildings wasn’t particularly difficult, and it’s possible to get inside at least several of them. Most are largely stripped, as the photos show, but some do have a few unique features, such as the cells we found inside a former ward. Unfortunately, the old high secure section of the site has been torched, so there’s not much to look at inside there. The hardcore fence outside it is still in situ though, so that was something interesting to see. The final thing we found that’s worth mentioning is the old therapeutic pool. It was much different to any other we’ve seen before. After the pool we headed back to the cars as there wasn’t much else to see. It was time to crack on and find something else to explore. Explored with Nillskill, Nadia and Derelict NZ. 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: 27: 28: 29:
  11. History ‘Legend has it that McLean, then aged nearly eighty, walked in to the offices of England Brothers Architects and told the clerk he wanted the plan of a house. He was offered the blueprint of a conventional four-roomed cottage popular at the time. McLean retorted abruptly – “Not four rooms, but FORTY!” He was then ushered into the office of R. W. England.’ (Christchurch City Council). McLean’s Mansion, formerly known as Holly Lea, is a Category 1 heritage building that was designed by Robert England. It was built for the seventy-eight-year-old Scottish philanthropist, Allan McLean, between April 1899 and September 1900 by Rennie and Pearce Builders. Once it was completed it became, at the time, the largest wooden residential structure in New Zealand, built almost entirely out of kauri (a type of evergreen tree). The mansion, which is said to have been inspired by Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, is based on a fusion of styles of Jacobean architecture and additional Victorian features. Once completed, the building had fifty-three rooms in total. There were nineteen bedrooms, nine bathrooms, six servant rooms, a library, a kitchen, a large basement, a large dining area and additional function rooms. Analogous to other Jacobean buildings, many of the interior features were elaborate and ornamental; most the handiwork of Christian artisans. A number of the ceilings on the ground floor were extravagant coffered ceilings. Finally, the balustrades and newel posts on the grand staircase featured thistles and flowers, all emblems of Scotland, to remind visitors of the owner’s homeland. As for the furnishings, most were of an exclusive design specifically selected by the housekeeper and an expert from Paris. Both were sent to Britain with instructions to buy there, or from Europe, regardless of the cost. The following descriptions of different rooms in the house provide a good impression of what McLean Mansion’s interior looked like: … an enchanting wood carving of the traditional bear and her playful cub up a seven-foot tree. Along one wall a mirrored mahogany stand displays a fine group of bronze and marble statuary. Nearby is the handsome grandfather clock… and along the opposite wall stretches an outsize in high-backed winged settees upholstered in glowing burgundy. There is a dramatic contrast here between the mirrored reflections of dark polished woods, the gleaming white ornamental ceiling and portico, and the time- defying Persian carpet… The antique chairs, covered in regency brocade are feather-light… Several twin-light wall brackets supplement the ceiling lights. Paintings of Flemish and Scottish scenes hang in groups from brass rods. The green and chartreuse fitted carpet makes a perfect complement to its white and gold background. Round the white marble fireplace the ornate brass fender makes a glittering splash… Nevertheless, despite the extravagance, the residence was only used privately for thirteen years. After McLean died in 1907 he ensured that his wealth and mansion would be left to help others who were less fortunate than himself. Under the provisions of his will, McLean stated that his mansion was to be used as an institute, providing ‘a home for women of refinement and education in reduction or straitened circumstances’. The mansion remained an institute for thirty-eight years, before it was sold to the Health Department and used as a dental nurses’ hostel in 1955. During the 1950s a lack of staff was a major problem for the New Zealand School Dental Service; however, McLean’s Mansion made it possible to launch a recruitment drive as many new trainees could be offered board and lodge in the large building. The only consequence of this alteration was that after the sale of the premise most of the extravagant furniture was taken away as it was not suitable for the building’s new purpose. The building remained a hostel up until 1977; after this time, though, the house stood empty for ten years while the government sought to find a new use for the building. Eventually, by 1987, the old mansion was purchased by Christchurch Academy, a vocational training organisation. Today, McLean’s Mansion is something of an oddity that stands out as belonging to a different era because it is surrounded by modest residential houses and modern commercial buildings. What is more, McLean’s Mansion was badly damaged in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake and, despite its Category I heritage status, the Canterbury Earthquake Authority (CERA) immediately issued a demolition notice. However, this caused a public outcry by the local community. As things stand, all demolition plans were halted, but the owners of the premises have not been able to find a buyer who is willing to restore the property. The cost to restore the building is estimated to be $12 million. Our Version of Events It’s always good popping back through Christchurch and seeing how the city is slowly being brought back to life. Compared to what we saw when we first arrived in 2014, things are certainly looking very different! Having said that, there are still plenty of abandoned things to see, especially in the suburbs. So, after a quick drive around the city to see how the reconstruction projects are going, that’s precisely where we headed. Our aim this time round, though, or at least part of our overarching aim, was to visit McLean’s Mansion because it’s still standing but may not be there for much longer. After all, it has been left to rot and crumble for six years now. All things considered, it didn’t take us too long to find the building. We would like to suggest that it was our awesome detective skills that helped us locate the mansion, but the fact it stands out like a sore thumb compared to everything else surrounding it is probably the real reason we found it so easily. Maybe a sore thumb isn’t a good comparison, though, because the mansion’s architecture is stunning compared to everything else nearby. Anyway, we’re digressing, this time round we were much more cautious as we sought to find a way inside. Unlike the good old days when the city was a veritable free-for-all, there have been massive improvements in security in recent years as there are certain people who have grown intolerant of people sneaking around Christchurch’s abandoned buildings. For instance, the recent rumour is that the mansion has been fitted with alarms and sensors. Whether this is true of course is another matter. Fortunately, it seemed the alarms were taking a quick break when we entered the property, and no one turned up to turf us off the premises. This left us with enough time to have a good look around and grab some snaps. Our overall opinion of the place is that it is looking very fucked these days, owing to the deadly combination of vandalism and earthquakes that have plagued it for the past six years or so. Now, rubble is scattered absolutely everywhere throughout the mansion, and several sections of wall have collapsed altogether. The place reeks of mould, mixed with a dusty woody scent, too, probably on account of the fact that the building is still largely a wooden construction. This is not to suggest the building is uninteresting, though. In fact, the architecture is pretty unique and much different to anything we’d find in the UK. There were a few oddities to be found in the mansion as well, such as a dentist’s chair and the legendary staircase decorated with well-known Scottish flowers. All in all, then, we’d suggest that McLean’s Mansion is a place worth visiting. Hopefully, if some funding is found to repair and strengthen the structure, it will continue to be an important part of the city’s heritage for many years to come. 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: 26:
  12. 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:
  13. History Even though the small town of Milton was connected with the goldrush years in the 1860s, it was actually founded as a milling town at the beginning of the 1850s. It is rumoured that this is how the town received its name – Milltown is said to have been shortened to Milton. The Bruce Woollen Mill, which was primarily a vertical woollen and worsted manufacturing mill that made blankets, rugs, carpet and apparel fabric, was one of the later additions to the industry as it was not established until 1897. A considerable amount of money was invested in the mill as much of the company’s machinery was specialist equipment imported from Britain. If anything, then, this indicates how prosperous the industry was at the time. Although there are no records of the prices of the machines, a government website reveals that the estimated cost to run the mill initially was £6,000 ($998,000 in today’s NZ currency). However, despite the huge investment, the doors at Bruce Mill did not stay open for long as a devastating fire destroyed the building four years later. Although no one was killed, only the brick walls were left standing after the incident. The mill was rebuilt in 1902, though, thanks to the high demand for woollen products at the time. Thereafter, no further disasters occurred, and by 1923 the company had, apparently, produced the first Swanndri shirts (hard-wearing wool bush shirts). In the same year renovations had to be made to increase the size of the building to meet increasing consumer demands for their growing range of products. The main classical styled office building was the last building to be constructed as part of the expansion plans. Yet, by 1962 Bruce Woollen Mill was taken over by Alliance Textiles. The mill was run smoothly thereafter, without further incident – up until 1992 at least, when forty-nine workers were locked out for refusing to sign new contract agreements. This would result in a group of thirteen protesters assembling outside the gates for the next six years. This was the longest industrial action in New Zealand trade union history. Unfortunately, the protests did not amount to much as Alliance Textiles closed the mill in 1999, with the loss of fifty-four jobs. It was reported that it was no longer economically viable to run the mill due to cheaper products being imported from China and India. Despite the closure at the end of the 1900s, Bruce Woollen Mill Ltd. was re-established for a few years by a consortium of Wool Equities Ltd. and a group of manufacturers and wholesalers in 2012. The mill reopened as a manufacturer of woollen, merino possum, worsted and hand knitting yarns Nevertheless, the Bruce Woollen Mill went into receivership in January 2016. As a result, it is said to have had a considerable impact on the local community in terms of the job losses incurred. Our Version of Events We’d spotted Bruce Woollen Mill while we were checking out the old bacon factory in Milton, but decided we’d come back the following day to have a crack at it during the day. It’s easier to get photos during the day after all. The only problem, though, was that we weren’t quite sure if the place was abandoned or not. Therefore, we spent a little while researching the location, and eventually came across a few articles that indicated it was indeed partially closed. Well, that was good enough for us. It was time to find a way inside! Getting in wasn’t particularly easy, especially since workers from the live section of the factory kept coming outside to satisfy their nicotine addictions. However, we persevered and crept around the site checking out all the nooks and crannies, hoping one of them would reveal a way inside. In the end, our searching turned up nothing, except access to an old workshop – a part of the site that looked a lot more fucked than the other buildings. At this stage, though, we were out of options, so we decided to have a poke around inside anyway. Industrial porn is industrial porn at the end of the day, and sometimes you just have to take what you can get. As it turned out, the workshop we’d managed to access wasn’t too bad at all. The entire place was alive with the rich smells of oil and used metal. The wooden benches and floor boards were littered with hundreds of screws and heavily stained with years of grease. The sheer amount of old-school equipment in there was great to see too, and it even had the classic stash of VHS porn tapes lying around. It’s likely that we would have spent longer in this room, testing out a few of the machines to see if they worked, but this didn’t happen because we happened to find a door hidden among the shadows at the very back of the room. It goes without saying, our curiosity got the better of us and we couldn’t help but take a peek to see what was on the other side. Sure enough, it led into another room. It was a good start. This one was much different, however. Suddenly we found ourselves inside a small warehouse that was filled with cardboard boxes and metal carts. At this point we started to get a little excited, wondering if we’d perhaps found a way into the actual woollen mill as this section appeared to be an old storage area for products ready to be transported. So, with this in mind we cracked on and made our way to the other side of the building, where we found a set of industrial rubber curtains. Little did we know at the time, but this was our last obstacle – the last thing between us and the juicy machinery on the other side. One by one we passed through the curtain and, on the other side, we found ourselves standing before rows upon rows of pure industrial goodness. We’d managed to wander into the closed part of the old woollen factory, and it was fucking amazing. There were cogs, switches, levers and buttons everywhere we looked. For the next ten minutes or so, then, we were all happy snappers. If anything, mind, there was too much to take photos of! However, in our excitement we inadvertently ended up wandering into the live part of the site, where the production line was still up and running. So, from this point on we turned from being excited schoolboys into epic ninjas with unrivalled stealth skills and, somehow, managed to work our way around the workers and active machinery. It was great, being among whining machines and the whirring of drilling that coming from somewhere on the far side of the factory floor. Somehow, though we’re not quite sure exactly how, we managed to remain undetected the entire time we were inside the old woollen mill. At one point all of the machines even stopped, meaning our footsteps and camera taking noises suddenly seemed unbelievably loud. But, the guys working inside seemed oblivious to our presence. Nonetheless, after a further half an hour or so we decided that we’d pushed our luck far enough and that it was probably time to call it a day. We still had a bit of daylight left and more explores lined up, so it made sense to leave while we were still ahead. The battle to resist the urge to take more photos was intense on our way out, but eventually we managed to get back to the bus without incident. It was time to get back on the road and get a few more explored under our belts. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. Equipment being assembled in 1897 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: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36: 37:
  14. History The year is 1918 and the cold, motionless, body of Michael Dravitzki is being moved into the New Plymouth hospital morgue. His small frame is covered with a white sheet. It is believed the young boy has fallen victim to a very potent strain of the Spanish influenza virus. The medical staff at the hospital are overwhelmed with the increasing number of patients who are suffering from headaches, sore throats, breathing problems and high fevers. Many fear for their own lives as, day after day, patients and staff begin to dribble red froth from their lips and fall into a state of unconsciousness. Once this happens it is not long before each of their faces gradually darken purple, and then brown before they finally die. Many of the patients had been in good health and going about their everyday business only hours few hours ago, but now they are gravely ill; no one has ever seen anything like it before. To help contain the deadly virus and free up beds for those who desperately need them, the dead are swiftly removed from the hospital, to join the young boy, Michael. There is mass panic spreading throughout the facility and New Plymouth as people fear today could be their last; in many ways, the fear is just as potent as the virus itself. Despite the odds, however, Michael lived (up until he was 89 in fact), along with many other New Zealanders. An elderly lady whose job was to assess the bodies in the morgue later discovered that he was still breathing. All in all, though, 8,600 died from the virus (of those 2,160 were Maori). It is thought that the severe form of influenza arrived on the Royal Mail liner Niagara on the 12th October 1918. According to witnesses, even though there were several cases of the influenza on board, two key figures, Prime Minister William Massey and his deputy, Sir Joseph Ward, refused to be quarantined. Therefore, the ship is said to have docked in Auckland and this led to the subsequent release of the virus. However, alternative sources suggest that the case of influenza on board the ship was assessed by health authorities as being ‘ordinary’ and the same as that which already existed in the city, and that Massey and Ward took no part in making quarantine decisions. They argued, instead, that it was the war that caused the deadly pandemic. Yet, regardless of the conflicting stories and the uncertainty about the true cause, one thing is certain and that is that the pandemic that hit New Zealand was very real. Barrett Street hospital in New Plymouth – the major city of the Taranaki Region – played a major role in trying to treat the unfortunate victims of the outbreak. In point of fact, Barrett Street Hospital had originally been built in the 1860s to tackle increasing cases of typhus fever, scarlet fever and diphtheria in New Plymouth. It is for this reason the facility became one of the largest in New Zealand; it had more, equipment, suitable medical supplies, beds and staff to take care of patients. In the end, the hospital treated thousands of people and managed to save a large proportion of them. Of the 81,000 people in the area, only 635 died between October and December 1918. The number of fatalities could have been considerably higher without the hospital and its dedicated staff. After the flu pandemic, Barrett Street Hospital continued to grow and serve the general public. The first major addition to the site was a home for the nurses. This was constructed in 1905; however, another storey had to be added a year later because it was not large enough to accommodate the expanding staff. By 1916, though, the standards in the nurses’ home were deemed wholly inadequate and substandard. This resulted in a new accommodation block being constructed in 1918. The history on the nurses’ home, which still stands today, can be found in a supplementary report. Following the successful construction of the new onsite accommodation, the hospital expanded further as new offices, an out-patients block, a dedicated children’s ward and a tuberculosis ward were added to the site. Nonetheless, the ‘glory days’ at Barrett Street Hospital were numbered. In 1950 the Hospital Board revealed plans for a new, larger, hospital that would be located in Westown, as the existing site could no longer be extended due to the detection of unstable foundations. The hospital very gradually wound things down for the next forty-six years, and, in the end, the original hospital did not actually close until 1996; only by the end of the twentieth century was it completely empty of medical supplies and equipment and sold to the Government for $1 million. It was reported that many people, including staff and nearby residents, were sad to see the eventual closure of their historic centre of medicine. But, many of those people did also admit that the old hospital was getting too old and worn, and that the corridors and wards were too large which meant finding your way across the premises entailed a considerable amount of walking. Surprisingly, though, despite these unpopular features, new life was injected into the hospital as a number of legal (New Plymouth School of Gymnastics and Carrington Funeral Services) and illegal (squatters) tenants moved in. The year is 2012 and several heavy knocks coming from the front door have woken a group of squatters. Bleary eyed and slightly hungover from last night’s cans of Tui, several squalid-looking individuals take a minute for their surroundings to come into focus. Most of the windows have been shattered and the glass is strewn over the floor. A mixture of psychedelic colours sting their eyes as they struggle hard to open them. It’s the graffiti, which mostly consists of scruffily written names in red and green spray paint that is scrawled over all the walls in the room. One of the group coughs, retching as the taste of beer and vomit suddenly rises and stings the back of her throat. The glass on the floor crunches loudly as she struggles to stand up right. Three more heavy knocks ring out loudly throughout the room, followed by a loud, authoritative, voice. “Come on, open up. We know you’re in there. We’re Ministry officials, open the door!” The door opens and the Ministry officials enter the foul-smelling room. The hospital is to be evacuated. According to recent surveys, the entire site has been deemed earthquake prone. In addition, a large amount of asbestos has been discovered throughout the premises, making it extremely dangerous to enter any of the buildings. One by one the illegal tenants are rounded up and kicked out of the hospital, along with the gymnastic school and funeral company who had been using the old morgue to store their bodies. They are warned not to return, otherwise the police will be called. Just as the officials are about to leave, everyone present is informed that the fate of Barrett Street Hospital is imminent demolition. Our Version of Events Our journey from Midhurst continued up to New Plymouth, where we decided to check out the historic Barrett Street Hospital.It took hours to get there, but bangin’ tunes and beer kept us going. When we finally arrived, the sun was shining and the temperature was twenty degrees, so things were looking good. It was time to get the pasty guns out and set up some tripods and cameras! Looking at the building from the outside, it looked as though it was going to be a right doddle getting inside. We were feeling confident. Several hours later, however, and we were still trying to find a way inside. If anything, we can say we were persistent… In the time we’d been there, we’d already bumped into a group of New Zealand’s equivalent of inbred chavs, two ladies (former nurses) who wanted to gain access to the old nurse’s home and a random guy who was checking out the local attractions as he’d just moved to the area. Perhaps we were a little too confident when we boldly told them, “we’ll find a way inside”, despite the metal sheeting that was covering every possible way of getting into the hospital. In the end, though, we did in fact manage to gain access to the main hospital, after failing miserably to get into the nurse’s site. Access was incredibly innovative and a wee bit ballsy to say the least. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Once inside the good old smell of rot and damp filled our nostrils. No doubt there was a bit of asbestos in there too, spicing the whole experience up that little bit more. Nice and content we’d finally managed to worm our way inside we began the usual activity of walking around aimlessly. When you think about it, it’s a bit weird really, waking around an entirebuilding for no other purpose than to see its rooms and take photographs. Nevertheless, this is exactly what we did, and this led us to discover the largest corridor any of us have ever seen. This thing was fucking massive, and it can be blamed for wasting many of our valuable minutes. At one point, we did think about giving up trying to find the end, but after thinking about it we decided that we might as well reach the other side to tell everyone about what it was like walking down the longest corridor EVER. As you might imagine, it was much like every other corridor. It had lots of adjoining doors, lightbulbs and terrible wallpaper. After walking around a good proportion of the hospital, we came to the conclusion that each of the wards were identical so we decided we weren’t going to get any shots that differed from the ones we’d already taken. In other words, it was all becoming a little samey. With that, we headed for our innovative entrance/exit. On the way, though, we chatted to one another once again about the old nurse’s home, and how it would be a shame to miss out on seeing it. It seemed like it was worth another shot at getting inside, especially since it’s the most historic building on the site and its future is uncertain. As we recalled, although there are talks to try and save it, based on its heritage value, there is no firm plan in place to guarantee its survival. 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: 26: 27: 28: 29:
  15. History Following the Second World War, sixty huts were moved from a United States Marine camp at Paekakariki to the small town of Otaki. This was part of an initiative that was started by the Wellington City Mission. The buildings were moved to establish a haven/holiday lodge for widows and children of those unfortunate servicemen who perished while in service. Today, none of the existing wartime buildings survive. The only relic from that era is an outdoor church altar. Over the years the number of people visiting the site steadily declined, until the mission eventually decided to sell the land and buildings. A couple named Maureen and Howard Lange purchased Bridge Lodge in 1998, and they transformed the site into what was described as a ‘popular function centre’. Once it was open to the public, the Lange’s advertised Bridge Lodge as being a ‘backpackers type accommodation’, with single and double separate rooms rather than dormitories. The site also catered for motorhomes and caravans, and was willing to accommodate seasonal workers for the local orchards, special events and wedding parties. The site was especially popular because it was within walking distance of the town of Otaki, where visitors could, apparently, find an array of cafes and shops. However, the dreams of owning a holiday venue and building up a retirement fund were short lived. In 2010 the Government announced their plan to build a four-lane expressway between Peka Peka and Otaki. The project was expected to cost $355 million and affect more than one hundred properties. Despite gathering a number of petitions and requests to alter the course of the road, Maureen and Howard, along with ninety-nine other property owners, were handed compensation (limited to the estimated value of their property) and ordered to pack up and leave immediately. Construction was expected to start in 2013. In 2017 it is still ongoing. Our Version of Events Having had a bit of a mooch around New Plymouth, we decided to head back down to Wellington. The journey north had resulted the near-destruction of the car’s CV joint, meaning every single corner we turned caused a heavy clunking sound. So, driving extra carefully, and only forwards (as much as this was possible), we had to limp our way back down the highway with our fingers crossed, hoping the joint wouldn’t snap and leave us stranded in the middle of Middle Earth. After all, there are all those orks, uruk-hai and Nazgul lurking in the bushes. And yet, even with such dangers surrounding us, travelling anywhere without regular exploring breaks is, as we all know, incredibly boring. Therefore, we decided to make a quick stop at an old holiday camp which can only be likened to a 1950s version of Butlin’s. Accessing the site wasn’t particularly difficult, given that most of the neighbouring houses and buildings are also abandoned because of the highway development that is now very close to reaching these properties. If anything, with the exception of us of course, the whole area seemed completely devoid of people. Instead, it was one of those places where nature has been left to take control. Those areas of bush and grass land that were once nicely trimmed and tamed are now wild and teeming with life. Getting inside the buildings wasn’t too challenging either as most of the doors around the old holiday camp were open. What struck us as odd, though, was seeing how intact most of the site is. For a place that’s been shut since around 2010, it’s in remarkably good condition. In fact, it could probably reopen next week if someone brought along a hedge trimmer and a tin of paint. In terms of the explore itself, the holiday camp is fairly basic. It mainly consists of a number of communal buildings which house such things as the kitchen, dining hall and events spaces. It also has many identical rooms, several toilet blocks and a main reception house. We explored most of the site and, in the end, determined that there’s nothing exceptional about it. If anything, walking around the site made us consider how miserable a holiday at Bridge Lodge might have been. In our minds, it looked a lot like a spruced-up concentration camp, albeit without the barbed wire and armed guards. Having said that, we did find some old spotlights that were left behind. What was really good about the explore, though, was the was the abundance of fruit we came across. It seems that the nearby orchards have pollenated the grounds of the old camp over the years, leaving a diverse range of tasty snacks available to unsuspecting passers-by. Some of the ones we came across while wandering around included banana passionfruit, grapefruit, feijoa, blackberries and lemons. After making this a discovery, the exploring went completely out of the window for a while. You can’t turn your nose up at free lunch, especially when there was an incredible amount of it. Several feijoas and passionfruit later and it was time to get back to the broken car. The aim was to get back to Wellington where we planned on getting a bit more exploring done. With that, we made our way towards the main road. In the end, though, we didn’t leave for another forty-five minutes because we stumbled across those derelict houses I mentioned earlier, and more feijoa trees that looked like they were worth checking out. There were some fine looking properties hidden between the trees, but unfortunately it seems they’re all destined to be demolished along with the old holiday camp to make way for the extended highway. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25:
  16. History Barrett Street Nurses’ Home, which is a two-storey roughcast building, was designed in 1918 by the firm Messenger and Griffths. At the cost of £16,089, it was constructed between 1921 and 1922. It was officially opened on 14th March 1922 by the Minister of Health at the time, Mr. C. J. Parr.Further additions were added by Frank Messenger in 1928, 1936 and 1945. One final part of the building was also modified in 1950, five years after Messengers death. The nurses’ home was one of the many buildings at Barrett Street Hospital that the Messenger and Griffths firm designed; the others include, a doctor’s residence, storage buildings, a children’s ward, the ambulance garage, a laundry block and the Board offices. As indicated in our report of Barrett Street Hospital, in August 2012 the legal and illegal tenants of the Barrett Street site were forced to vacate the buildings with immediate effect due to assessments that had revealed their poor structural integrity. In other words, the entire site was deemed earthquake prone. What is more, the assessment also revealed that there were extremely high levels of asbestos throughout most of the old buildings; therefore, the entire site has been marked as posing a health risk to the general public. As things stand in 2017, demolitions plans are said to be imminent, starting with the removal of asbestos. However, it has been reported that the old nurses’ home, which is now a Category A heritage building, will not be demolished. Having said that, though, no decisions have been made concerning what will actually happen to it. Our Version of Events As indicated in our last report, we’d already spent much time trying to get inside the old nurses’ home and, as far as we could tell, it seemed pretty inaccessible. Nevertheless, after having something of a group ‘lightbulb moment’, we decided to have one last crack and check out a part of the building we’d previously neglected to thoroughly examine. It’s a good job we did have a look there too, because that ended up being our way inside this incredibly historic building. Once inside, it was quickly very obvious that the place was almost completely stripped. Admittedly, this was a little disappointing, but, as we would soon discover, the building had much more to offer in the way of aesthetic features. It didn’t take us long, then, to realise that this building was much different to the rest of the hospital we’d already wandered around. Rather than adhering to a traditional medical-style design, this place was heavily cladded in dark brown wood. The floors, too, weren’t your average concrete base, or plywood; there were solid hard wood boards covering them. The place was fantastic, especially with the lingering smell of the wood in the air, which was a bit like the mouth-watering aroma you get when you bake a joint of ham. Are we all hungry now? Ignoring the sudden craving for ham, we cracked on and made our way through a long corridor towards a sizable wooden staircase. From here building only got better and better. Down on the ground floor we came across several large rooms that reminded us of being inside a traditional English pub, or a fancy teaching college. Take your pick. Then came a large grand hall, the old laundry room and a traditional-looking kitchen. In hindsight, the place could easily become a small museum, not unlike some of the buildings you can find in Beamish. The final interesting feature we uncovered in the building was a strange metal contraption that looked a little bit like an incinerator. In fact, there was one in every single bathroom we’d wandered into. However, we couldn’t be sure they were incinerators, all we know is that we’ve never come across anything like them before. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time left to investigate them too thoroughly as we didn’t have a spanner on hand, and we were rapidly losing daylight. It had taken us that much time to explore the whole hospital, and all of its buildings, that it was almost time to find a pub somewhere in New Plymouth. You can probably guess what we did next, then. With that thought firmly planted in our minds, it was time to pack up the camera equipment and get back to the car. 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: 26:
  17. History The foundation stone for Oamaru’s former hospital (known locally as ‘the hospital on the hill’) was laid by Deborah Shrimski (the wife of Samuel Shrimski, who was himself a reputable businessman) on 2nd April 1872. All of the shops in the town were closed for the entire day to commemorate the event. After that, the hospital was constructed remarkably quickly and it opened at the end of the same year; although, the first patient, twelve-year-old James Riddell, had been admitted the previous month. The new public facility had four small wards (each equipped with two beds each), a day room, a surgery and two rooms for the warder and his wife. An additional attached wooden building housed a kitchen and wash house. In its first year, sixty-three patients were admitted to the hospital. Although a fee was expected where possible (£1 weekly), the committee in charge of such affairs never pressed for payment. Unfortunately, though, this lenient and humane attitude toward health led to some patients, who were more than capable of paying, avoiding to do so. Over the years, as New Zealand’s population grew, so did its facilities to cope with the increasing number of people. Oamaru Hospital was one of those services that was extended and improved, and by the 1980s the site was completely transformed. Nevertheless, the beginning of the 1990s brought new Government health reforms and with them uncertainty as Area Health Boards were abolished and replaced with bureaucracies whose aim it was to ‘rationalise’ health costs and delivery. Subsequently, new hospital charges were introduced and many hospitals, including Oamaru’s, had to be downgraded. Despite largescale protests which saw half of Waitaki’s population attend a citizen’s march, hospital services were ‘rationalsied’. By 1997, all surgical operations requiring anaesthetic had ceased at Oamaru, and the Maternity Annexe was closed. This resulted in many jobs loses. Things changed for the better, however, in 1998 when the Government announced that a $5 million loan would be provided towards the construction of a new Oamaru Hospital. Essentially, the funding was attained thanks to a community of lobbyists who had spent years trying to secure the continuation of services for the Waitaki population. A new hospital was constructed in 2000 and all services and staff were moved to the new site. Thereafter, the old hospital on the hill was closed. The original plan had been to redevelop the old buildings into a residential area; yet, the only development that took place between 2000 and 2016 was the conversion of the former maternity annexe into the Eden Gardens motel. As for the rest of the site, it rapidly deteriorated due to vandalism. Today, most of the site has been demolished, to make way for a proposed residential housing estate, but work on the project has stalled as parts of the hospital have had to be used as landfill for stabilisation purposes. Our Version of Events The old Oamaru Hospital site is one we’ve visited several times, usually on our way up to Christchurch as it’s an ideal stopping-off place. Each time we’ve visited, though, we’ve normally just loitered by the car while the Urbex Central boys have gone off to take photos of some ‘amazing boiler house’. I can’t say we’d ever been in an interesting boiler house before, so we were of the opinion that it was a bit of a desperate explore. However, what we didn’t realise when was that it contained an enormous boiler system and several additional rooms. For some reason, this part of the hospital survives and remains relatively intact. This is probably due to its relatively concealed location. Anyway, on this occasion, we thought we’d bite the bullet and go take a look at this ‘epic’ forgotten place. And, I can say now that I’m glad we did go do some investigating. Props to Urbex Central for actually finding it too, since there’s nothing immediately obvious about the place at all. God knows what possessed them to wander down there in the first place. Once you find it, then, the first thing you enter is a kind of locker room and toilet block. If you pass through this you find yourself at the top of a staircase that takes you down into the boiler house itself. At the bottom, there are three doors to choose from. The one to the immediate right takes you into the boiler room, the one to the left into two smaller rooms that house some heavily decayed machinery and the one behind takes you into a room that eventually joins the large boiler house. We started with the main part of the building and were instantly awestruck at what we found. The entire room, which was pitch black, was filled with plenty of archaic machinery, mostly from Northern Ireland. The smell of damp and decay was quite powerful, but that was to be expected I guess and the place doesn’t really get aired out very often. All in all, we spent around thirty minutes inside the building. It doesn’t take very much time to wander around it all, but there is plenty to take snaps of. 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:
  18. History Clinton, which was originally named Popotunoa (after the nearby bush-clad hills), is a very small town in New Zealand. It was named after the 5th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne, Henry Pelham-Clinton, the former British Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is located along State Highway 1, approximately halfway between Balclutha and Gore, and has a population of 285. There are 129 occupied dwellings and 15 remain unoccupied. Government statistics indicate that the town is showing signs of a decrease in the number of people who work and reside there. As far as its history goes, the only interesting thing to happen in the town throughout its entire history was that it was ‘dry’ between 1894 and 1956. In other words, no alcohol was consumed anywhere within the town’s established borders. The townspeople were among those who voted in favour of the Temperance movement (a social movement against the consumption of alcohol and subsequent intoxication) across New Zealand in the early 1900s. However, it is important to point out that having never lived in the town ourselves, our view of Clinton’s uninteresting history is more than likely quite bias; we have never lived there, so perhaps do not appreciate the general goings-on that have occurred there over the years. The fact that there is a book titled, Clinton: Our History, is enough evidence to suggest that something more must have gone on since the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a copy of the book to inform our reader’s because Mrs. Barnett was not home when we passed through town. But, if anyone desperately wants to learn any more about this town’s history, but more especially the stories and photographs gathered by local families, they can purchase the three-hundred-and-twenty-page book from Mrs. Barnett by giving her a ring on (03) 415 7723. Our Version of Events There was no actual plan to visit Clinton, it just sort of happened. After a massive fail in Invercargill, we happened to be driving through and randomly decided to stop off to stretch our legs a bit. We didn’t know it at the time, but true to its description the place was a veritable ghost town. Even the classic rock tunes blasting in the mini bus didn’t stir any life in the place. It took all of two and a half minutes to drive around the entire town and in that time we located a nice abandoned-looking row of houses. They looked a bit shit, but we figured they’d do just nicely while we took a break from driving. Finding the front door of the first house was a bit of a challenge, because it didn’t seem to have one. We thought that was a bit odd, but in hindsight, why waste money on a front door when you have a well-functioning back door. Seems perfectly logical when you think about it. Anyway, once we were inside we quickly discovered that the place was a right shit-hole. It would have been great the previous night when we’d had to kip in the mini bus (which was a lot more uncomfortable than it sounds) since it had several beds inside, a bathtub and a tin of chunky soup that we could have shared, but as far as explores go it was pretty desperate. There was a can of deodorant in there, too, which seemed to amuse our fellow Kiwi friends far more than it should have done… Five minutes later and we were heading towards the second house. This looked as though it had a lot more potential. We wandered down the main garden path and peered through the front window to make sure the place was actually abandoned. You have to be careful in New Zealand; you might be convinced a house is abandoned, but quite often it turns out someone is still living there. With this in mind, we wanted to be doubly sure that we weren’t about to walk in on someone eating their morning Shreddies. Still unsure whether anyone was living there, we wandered around the back to try the back door. The same trick worked, it opened without so much as a push. We entered the kitchen very cautiously, preparing ourselves to hit legs at any moment. Our shoes suddenly seemed to squeak rather loudly as we edged forward across the kitchen floor, and that classic sneeze that hadn’t been there all day now wanted to be released. Isn’t that always the way. Despite the epic nose explosion, we managed to make it across the kitchen and into the main corridor. This was the sketchiest bit, though, since all of the doors leading off the corridor were closed. In other words, we had no idea whether anyone was lurking inside any of the rooms. By now they’d be arming themselves with the nearest baseball bat, ornamental vase or double barrelled shotgun. Courageously, or stupidly, take your pick, we opened each of the doors one by one. Fortunately, it turned out the house was empty, but it had been an exciting five minutes finding that out. More importantly, though, this house was far more interesting than the previous one had been. This one had plenty of stuff leftover, which is what we all like. Oddly, it looked as if someone had started trying to pack things up at one time, but it seems they never managed to finish for some reason. After spending a bit of time in there, it became quite clear that no one had been around in a long while. There was mould growing in semi-drunk beer bottles on the dining room table, and dust on most of the belongings in each of the rooms. Judging by the photographs and ornamental objects in the cabinets, we’re guessing the place was owned by an elderly person and, sadly, they most likely passed away a few years ago. After around twenty minutes, we were out of things to take photographs of, so we decided to call it a day in Clinton and head off in the general direction of Milton. As we were walking back to the bus we did notice a third abandoned house just over the road, but it looked pretty fucked from the outside. Also, we figured two houses is more than enough for one report, so it’s there and ready for the picking if anyone happens to find themselves passing through the sleepy town of Clinton. 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: 26: 27: 28: 29:
  19. History Believe it or not, bacon has been an important part of human history since at least the twelfth century, when it was offered as a reward to married men who could go a year and a day without arguing with their wives. The term originally derived from the Middle English word ‘bacoun’, which was used to refer to all forms of pork. Across the United Kingdom, any man that brought home the bacon became well respected in his community. It is no surprise, therefore, that bacon remained a popular food among colonialist settlers in New Zealand. They brought the tradition with them and this resulted in the establishment of the Kiwi Bacon Factory in Milton. Milton very quickly became an important farming and industrial town in New Zealand. It was originally a small settlement in the 1850s, but it grew rapidly due to its geographic location that placed it on the route to several thriving goldfields. However, following the First World War the town struggled to survive. First, the significant loss of manpower had a detrimental impact on the productivity capabilities of the townspeople, and, second, the goldrush years came to an abrupt end. Eventually, only a large woollen mill (Bruce Woollen Mills) and the bacon factory (Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd.) kept the town going through the 1900s. Both factories were the town’s main employers. Throughout the 1900s Kiwi Bacon went on to become one of New Zealand’s most prominent industries, with factories based in Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Milton. On its website, Kiwi Bacon Co. Ltd. suggests that the brand has been serving New Zealanders since 1932 but that the Milton factory existed long before this. It was William Henry Hitchon (1872-1957) who started the bacon factory in Milton, which later became known as Hitchon Brothers Bacon Ltd. It is reported that at least two generations of their family worked there before it was purchased by Kiwi Bacon Ltd. However, although Kiwi Bacon is now a nationwide brand, the Milton site was closed in the early 1980s due to its isolated location and the diminishing scale of the town. Despite the closure of the factory, the bacon tradition in Milton was, in a way, temporarily revived in 2008 when a local collector named Rex Spence decided to open the Milton Butchery Museum. While it lasted, the museum was New Zealand’s largest collection of antique cleavers, chopping blocks, photos and many other meat-related things. Apparently, it also featured the country’s most famous sausage maker. For a while, the museum was a popular tourist destination, especially among elderly ladies who had been the ones who used to visit the local butcher, and it became a place of nostalgic reminiscence. Some of the women recalled many of the classic jokes the butchers would have for them, and one women in her 80s retold her story of one butcher asking her if she wanted to hop inside the chiller. She said, “I thought he wanted to have sex with me, but as soon as I got in there he shut me in and stayed in the shop!” Nonetheless, despite its initial success it seems that interest in Milton’s Butchery Museum dwindled, to the extent that it was no long viable to keep open. As things stand today, then, Milton’s famous bacon and butchery past has been cleaved. Our Version of Events With the turn of a new month, we decided it was time for a new exploring trip. This time, though, we wanted to hit New Zealand’s South Island and see what treats it had in store for us. So, after a very late departure from Dunedin, we set off in the direction of Milton. There’s nothing much in Milton these days, as the history above hinted, but two things on the internet did capture our attention: an old bacon factory. Having never been inside a dedicated bacon factory before, it seemed like a potentially interesting explore. Besides, aside from Vegans, Veggies, Pesco-vegetarians, Pollo-Vegetarians, Flexitarians, Cannibal-vegetarians, Lacto-ovo vegetarians, Fruitarians, Raw/Living Foodists, Muslims, some Hindus and Jewish folk, who doesn’t like a bit of bacon? We rolled into Milton in the dead of night, in a very large and conspicuous minibus. We had requested something smaller, like a pigup truck, but they didn’t have any left apparently. The bus was a bit excessive for the three of us, but the upside was that it was roomy and ours for free for a few days. Fortunately, given the size of the vehicle, Milton was exactly like a ghost town, with no cars on the roads or pedestrians on the footpaths, so our bus didn’t attract too much attention. The only life in the small town seemed to be two guys outside the wool mill having a smoke, and a barking dog somewhere in a garden behind us. We spent a good fifteen minutes or so sneaking around in the bushes around the back, trying to find a way inside the factory, but our efforts were in vain… Until, we eventually found an unlikely way of getting inside. Several minutes later, after a bit of breathing in and dodging an old bees nest filled with decaying bee corpses, we were in! Our first glances inside the building revealed that it clearly hadn’t been visited in quite a while. There was a lot of mould covering the floors and furniture, and water had managed to get in through the roof as there were many photogenic green stains on the walls. From the first damp room, we proceeded to tiptoe our way around the building, trying hard to not alert the smokers outside to our presence. This is where torches with high lumen outputs aren’t such an advantage anymore. Of course, as with anyone trying to be stealthy without an adequate light source (we chose not to turn the torches on for a while), we managed to walk over everything that made a significant amount of sound: glass, metal, plastic bags. How the guys outside didn’t hear us we’ll never know. Or maybe they did and just didn’t give a shit? In terms of the explore itself, then, we found that even though it was filled with a large amount of utter shite, it still resembled how we imagined a bacon factory would look. There were large storage areas, chillers and strange tiled rooms. In particular, one room that caught our interest had a large tiled L-shaped bath inside it. It reminded us of something you’d find in a horror film styled abattoir. Even now, since all of us are a bit rusty when it comes to knowledge about butchery equipment, we can’t tell you what it was used for. Aside from the bath, the other interesting things we stumbled across were the old records books, a sizable ‘bacon cauldron’ (our interpretation) and a chat up line: ‘Do you like bacon? Wanna strip?’… Classic. After the bacon banter, it was time to leave. We’d run out of things to look at. The largest room in the building was crammed full of old equipment and most of it wasn’t even butchery-related. Getting out was a lot easier than getting in, and by the time we were back on the street the guys who had been smoking and the sound of the barking dog were long gone. Milton was back to being a ghost town. With that in mind, we decided to take advantage of the silent night and have a quick wander over to the old wool mill nearby to do a bit of investigating and find out whether or not part of it was abandoned. The answer to that question, however, will have to wait. In the meantime, we leave you with some more bacon banter: What do aerobics instructors and people who process bacon have in common? They both tear hams into shreds. 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. History The Miramar Peninsula, which is located on the south-eastern side of Wellington, has a rich and especially fascinating underground history. The area is perforated with many coves and caves, and even more interestingly old military bunkers that date back to the late 1800s. However, information about these subterranean worlds is quite often fragmented or simply non-existent. What is known, though, is that for many years the peninsula was occupied almost entirely by the military, until 1907 at least when the northern section of the peninsula was linked to the rest of the city by tram. The peninsula has always been an important component in the defence of Wellington; its very name, Miramar, means ‘sea view’ in Spanish. The strategic position of the land was thought to be ideal for the construction of observation posts, coastal guns and emplacements. These were installed to prevent the approach of Russian enemy warships and subsequent attacks. Further additions to Wellington’s defence were made between 1933 and 1960, when Palmer Head was selected as the site for a new battery. Guns were installed in 1936 and by the outbreak of World War II it was operational, although not at full efficiency because some facilities had not yet been constructed. One of the fundamental problems was accommodation; however, this was eventually resolved with the erection of temporary huts. These were later replaced with more substantial buildings. A radar station was the next facility to be added to the installation in 1941 and remnants of this can still be found today. Later in that same year, following the completion of the radar station, it was decided that the site would be expanded once again. This time secret underground military plotting and wireless rooms were to be constructed. The development included the construction of an access road, an access tunnel, two plotting rooms, an engine room and two wireless rooms. Only two entrances for the secret facility were built, one to the north and the other to the west. Palmer Head was decommissioned in 1957, along with every other battery in New Zealand. The advent of air warfare and the threat of a nuclear apocalypse rendered these outdated forts redundant. Nevertheless, the guns were not removed and scrapped until 1961. Thereafter a widespread demolition exercise was put into effect. The original idea for Palmer Head was that it would become a new housing estate, and preliminary plans were drafted. In the end, though, the land was never actually set aside for this development. It was decided that the project could not go ahead due to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) facilities in the area. Despite the rejection of the development project, the demolition plans for Palmer Head still went ahead and it was dealt with in two phases. By the end of 1970 most of the Palmer Head site had been reduced to rubble. As for the old plotting rooms and wireless rooms, though, they were never destroyed because they lay inside a fenced-off compound owned by the CAA. It is reported that for many years the old ventilation ducts to the rooms were left exposed and they were not buried until the 1990s, when several alterations were made to the compound. The Moa Point Radar station at the top of the hill also survived as it was being used by the CAA in the 1970s. Today, the forgotten secret rooms are once again accessible; although, finding the hole in the hillside is no easy task. Our Version of Events It was almost time to leave Wellington and head off in search of more abandoned places elsewhere in New Zealand, but as we had a little bit of time left on the last evening we set out to get one final explore done. Thanks to a young wizard who goes by the name Zort, we’d received word of some old plotting rooms deep inside a hillside somewhere on the Miramar Peninsula and they sounded particularly interesting. A good old historic underground explore would be a perfect way to end the trip. We drove as close to the site as was possible, but had to ditch the car and walk the rest of the way. So, armed with our cameras and torches, we entered the bush. For the most part, we were walking blindly, not quite sure exactly where the tunnel entrance would be. But it was good fun and we spotted a fair few wētā along the way. In the end, we actually came across the way into the underground rooms a lot quicker than we’d expected. For once there was a minimal amount of fannying around, so everything went smoothly much like a well-oiled machine. Getting into the rooms was, as we’d expected, a tight affair. Basically, if you have any Christmas padding around the midriff, or aspire to be a Hercules lookalike, you’re not getting into this site. With that in mind, we crawled flat on our fronts for a fair few metres until the tunnel gradually widened enough to kneel. From there we had to scramble down a pile of rubble and drop into a long concrete corridor. At this point we could stand up straight and see, quite clearly, that the only way we could go was forwards. So, we followed the tunnel and passed a few empty rooms to the left and right of us. One of these looked like it might have housed the engine at one time. As for the others, it was impossible to tell what their original purpose was. At the end of the corridor we found two larger rooms that were connected by a small window and a left-hand turn. We explored each of the rooms which have a few bits and pieces metal lying in them, and then made our way back to the corridor which turned out to be flooded in the next section. It wasn’t too deep to begin with, but the further we went the higher it got. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant pool of water either; it was slightly green and stale looking. Eventually, we reached the limit of our gumboots (wellies) and couldn’t quite reach the end of the tunnel where there was a large metal gate and more rubble. This forced us to turn back the way we came. After that we faffed around for a while trying to do a bit of light painting, before we finally decided it was beer O’clock and time for some food. To get back out we returned to the pile of rubble and, once again, suffered the tight squeeze back through sand, rubble and concrete. Explored with Bane. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16:
  21. 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:
  22. 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:
  23. History Monk Cottage, located next door to St. Patrick’s Church, was constructed sometime in the 1860s, when European settlement took place after gold was discovered in the area. The small church, which is listed with the Historic Places Trust, was a community owned church built later in 1873. It is estimated that the value of both premises amounts to around $40,000. Although very little history exists surrounding Monk Cottage, which is now also community owned, several reports suggest it was the former home to each of the reverends of the church. The community’s plan for both sites is now to preserve them, and save each from being demolished in the future. Over the years the church has remained largely intact as it is still used for community events such as weddings, other festive occasions and funerals; contrariwise, the general condition and integrity of the cottage has been left to deteriorate. Although there is no sign of water damage, Monk Cottage has been subject to vandalism and, since its paint has worn away over time, the effects of the weather. Many years ago there was also a path leading up to Monk Cottage, but today it has almost completely disappeared. Our Version of Events If you leave Wellington and take a little drive towards Makara, following the windy road through areas of open grassland and forest, you are likely to stumble across Monk Cottage. It’s very easy to miss, so you need to keep your eyes peeled; and if you do, you’re sure to spot the little gem. After our scenic journey through New Zealand’s magnificent landscape, we parked the car and walked straight up to the old house. Although there are other buildings around, and there’s a nearby road, we didn’t see any other people, so accessing the building felt a little too easy. The whole time we were there I was expecting an angry farmer, or a curious passer-by, to collar us. Fortunately, this didn’t happen. As we approached the dusty house from the front garden I couldn’t help but think that the entire structure looked as though it belonged in the Wild West. If there had been horses and cowboys around, they would have blended in quite nicely. Once we were inside my imaginings weren’t spoiled either; the whole building, and the things inside it, looked as though they also belonged in Dodge City. All we were missing was the whisky and a couple of harmonicas. On the whole the building is very small, as you might expect, but there was something marvellous about the entire thing. The dusty boards creaked beneath our shoes as we walked from room to room. Unlike most abandoned places, the smell was woody, rather than the usual musty stench of mould. Most of the cracked wood seemed slightly rotten, but it was baked dry instead of damp. Almost all of the old paint inside was chipped or peeling from the walls and, where the wallpaper had fallen off under the stairs, we found some very old newspaper that looked as though it has been plastered onto the wooden boards a long time ago. After spending twenty minutes taking photos, and playing with the piano for a while, it was agreed we’d seen all there was to see and that it was time to saddle up and move on. We closed the door carefully behind us as we left; it was time to hit the saloon and try our hand at a game of poker. The baked grass crunched as we waked back towards the road. Our camera bags hung low, to assure smoothness in drawing our Nikons with a steady hand, should we have felt the need to draw at any moment. I held a long steady gaze, taking in my full surroundings. We knew, right then, with our confident sauntering, triggerless remotes and 64gb memory cards there wasn’t any room for anyone else in this town. If I’d had a hat I would have pulled it down low, covering my face like Clint Eastwood. Alas, I didn’t, and more to the point, I suddenly realised I was daydreaming. So, instead, we simply got back in the car and set off back into Wellington in search of more explores. Explored with Nillskill and Zort. 1: Monk Cottage and Barn 2: Monk Cottage 3: The Piano 4: The Piano Close Up 5: The Lawnmower 6: Lawnmower and Sinks 7: Stag's Head and Fireplace 8: Stag's Head Close Up 9: The Stove 10: The Staircase 11: Upstairs Chair 12: Upstairs 13: Upstairs: The Other Side 14: The Newspaper Under the Stairs (Overcoats for Every Man Advert at the Bottom)
  24. History Johnsonville, otherwise known as J’ville, is a large suburb of the city of Wellington, New Zealand. Originally, J’ville was the site of an old Maori track which stretched from Wellington to Porirua and ran through a dense native forest; no native inhabitants resided there until European settlers arrived in 1841. After the arrival of the settlers, Frank Johnson purchased a 100 acre section of land. Once felling of trees began, Johnson names the clearing ‘Johnson’s Clearing’. A timber mill was quickly erected at the centre of what is now modern J’ville, along with a house which was set by the Johnsonville Stream. Johnson was quick to exploit the local land and vegetation, and soon became one of the biggest suppliers of timber to the nearby town of Wellington which was expanding rapidly. By 1858, after accruing a substantial profit, Frank Johnson sold his land and property and returned to England as a wealthy man. The land left behind had been changed dramatically, and as Wellington continued to grow it seemed like an ideal site to develop a large farming industry that could support Wellington; the town that would, in 1865, become the capital city of New Zealand. As Wellington grew, so did J’ville. By 1874 the area had become a small town and by 1881 it became a small dependent town district. The early 1900s, which brought electric lighting, drainage and kerbed streets represented a point where J’ville had become more of a suburban area than farm land. Although drainage was first installed in 1912, it was not until around the 1950s; when J’ville became a district of Wellington, that larger concrete drains and a main public sewer were constructed. Today, as J’ville has become more of a commercial area; with a supermarket, two supermarkets, many small shops and a library, most of the small streams and freshwater drains have been fully culverted. This has allowed the area to expand over natural and man-made features that would have otherwise inhibited further development. Our Version of Events It was fairly late on in the evening, but we decided to meet up with Gunner and have a crack at a large underground drain that has recently been uncovered in Wellington. Access was a little more public than we would have liked, but once we climbed down into the stream we were no longer visible. The first section through the stream was awkward, on account of the thorns and bushes which were extremely overgrown; like England, there were also the usual things you expect to find in a river or stream: trollies and prams etc. For Gunner, the going was a little harder since he’d forgotten to bring his gum boots, so he’d opted to go barefoot. The ground wasn’t exactly smooth either; at one stage it looked a little like he was walking over burning hot coals. One final trolley, although it could have been a push chair, presented itself as a final obstacle before we reached the large mouth of the drain. I’ll admit, at this stage things were looking a bit too concretey for my liking, so I wasn’t expecting to find anything exceptional down this one. The first cylindrical section continued for a short while, before it opened out into a box shaped passage; this was much easier to walk through as it was less slippery. Next, we entered more of the same cylindrical pipe we’d encountered at the start of the explore. There were a few old access points above us here and there, but they looked like they’d been sealed years ago. As we continued we passed several small junctions and at each the design of the pipe seemed to change slightly. After what felt like a good bit of walking; although, I did stop and start a lot to take photographs, we reached a section with a cave-like roof. It looked fairly natural, but it could easily have been man-made. After that, we were greeted by more concrete once again. This time, however, the gradient of the drain seemed to vary; some sections were straight, while others suddenly dropped off steeply. At this stage, Gunner, who wore an expression that said something along the lines of “fuck this shit boys”, and decided to head back up to the surface. I didn’t blame him, like, since there were quite a few crayfish (koura) down there and they give a good pinch apparently. After Gunner’s swift departure, up to the point we were at, the walk hadn’t been too bad in terms of stoopiness, but I was starting to notice, much like that scene in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film where they walk along the corridor to the tiny door, that the ceiling was becoming lower and lower. Ten minutes or so later and we were stooping; the back-ache quickly commenced and that desperate longing for a higher section ensued. Like old men, the mumbles and groans directed at the drain quickly began: “fucking bastard”; “piece of shit”; “cunt-fuck”; “jesus christ, my back”. Relief was soon felt, however, as we approached a large twin waterfall. Climbing down seemed a wee bit sketchy at first, as you have to walk down a slippery slope before you reach it, but as it turned out it was easier to descend than we’d first anticipated. Still, the splash back from the water was quite powerful as we walked in between both of the flows towards the next section of the tunnel. The next section was a bit more varied than what we’d already encountered, and not stoopy whatsoever; thank fuck! First, we encountered a section cave-like section once again, and then a junction where we had three choices: continue forwards, climb upwards, or turn right up a steep incline. By the end of the explore we made sure to test each of the three routes. The first led straight to the outfall; it ended in a small reservoir surrounded by bush. The second route involved a climb into another chamber above us; this inevitably led to another ladder that ascended to the surface. The final route, up the steep incline, led into a completely different styled tunnel which was more ovoid. The ovoid tunnel continued for a kilometre or two, until it reached the outside world once again. Here you are greeted by a locked gate and, unless you have starved yourself for two weeks and taken contortionist lessons, the council gets the last laugh. This means you have to turn around and walk all the way back. Explored with Nillskill and Gunner. 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. History The Kaiwharawhara stream and its tributaries, which are located on New Zealand’s north island, drain from an area of steep land from Ngaio in the north and the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in the south. The natural catchment has, however, been altered considerably in recent years as sections now flow through residential, industrial and commercial areas. Some parts of the stream have also been modified because of the presence of two former landfill sites and Karori Cemetery – New Zealand’s second largest graveyard. The stream does retain most of its natural lowland sections as it passes through pastures, scrubland and the surrounding bush. According to Kingett and Mitchell Resource and Environmental Consultants, the Kaiwharawhara stream exhibits high levels of dissolved reactive phosphorous and ammonia beneath the former landfill sites, but these levels do not breach recommended guidelines for toxicity and they do not appear to affect plant or wildlife. The culverted section of the Kaiwharawhara shown in this report runs for approximately 1.5km. Construction of the tunnel began in 1881, when the Kaiwharawhara gully was filled in and the stream was culverted as a new road was to be built above; the main objective was to improve access into the capital city of New Zealand. This section of the Kaiwharawhara flows beneath a large public park and, as noted above, a sizable working cemetery. From there, the stream runs out through Otari Wilton’s Bush; a 100 hectare site constituting forest and some of New Zealand’s oldest trees (including an 800 year old Rimu) and the only botanical garden in New Zealand that is dedicated to native plant life. Our Version of Events Finding ourselves back in Wellington, ready for some midnight exploring, Urbex Central led us to what looked like a small steam somewhere on the outskirts of the city. We faced a little walk to reach the culvert’s entrance, so it took a short while to find our way through some bush. Thankfully, though, it wasn’t too dense – carrying tripods and cameras through thick vegetation isn’t very enjoyable. We found the stream, which was only a few inches deep, and made our way towards a fairly large cylindrical concrete opening; this was the beginning of Kaiwharawhara (the urban section we were interested in at any rate). The first section continued for ten metres or so, until we reached a tunnel that looked as though it was built using WWII schematics. The entire structure was made up of large concrete blocks which arched at the ceiling, giving it a very bunker-like feel. To our surprise, considering we’d expected the culvert to be fairly straight, the tunnel curved and changed direction a great deal. As we continued on we began to notice things glowing on the ceiling above us; these were, upon closer inspection, glow worms. The tunnel ceiling was covered in them, but we were unable to capture them on camera; clearly our skills need some work. After the glow worms, we continued on and I began to notice the old lightbulbs that have been left down inside the culvert, which were presumably installed for maintenance workers. At this stage, I surmised that we’d probably seen the best bits already; namely, the glow worms, but I was wrong. Much deeper inside the culvert now and the arched concrete ceiling suddenly ended, revealing a high ceiling of bare rock. The number of glow worms inside this part was incredible, and the light they gave off was bright enough that we could walk on without using torchlight. Beneath the fantastic glow of those tiny creatures it felt as though we were walking under a mind-blowing starlit sky; it certainly didn’t feel as though we were underground anymore. As the number of glow worms gradually diminished, we reached a large chute and a bad smell which was growing increasingly stronger. Refusing to give in to the stench, we managed to climb our way down the slippery slope until we reached more tunnel with an even larger cave-like ceiling; the only different in this section was that there were rather large stalactites. The further on we walked, the larger the stalactites got. It was at this point we realised that we were probably right beneath the large cemetery I mentioned above. Along with the bizarre shapes and colours down here, there was a lot of seepage coming from the walls and ceiling, and a smell that was strange to say the least. My guess: old bodies. At one stage, the stalactites were so numerous and dense the ceiling was no longer visible and we had to crouch low to avoid touching them. Aside from the whole ‘body thing’ it was pretty spectacular seeing the variety of colours down there. All of a sudden, almost as if the stalactites had been imaginary, they simply ended and we were back inside the WWII bunker-styled tunnel. One final challenge awaited us, however, lying in wait just before the exit into Otari Wilton’s Bush: an eel. As we got closer it became quite obvious that the eel was no longer alive, though; it must have become stranded there when the water levels dropped after having been significantly higher. We carefully bypassed the dead eel and were greeted by a great rush of fresh air. It was a satisfying moment as we suddenly found ourselves out in the open, surrounded by trees and bushes in every direction. Explored with Nillskill. 1: Cylindrical Section 2: WWII Styled Tunnel 3: Onwards 4: Poor Attempt at Capturing the Glow Worms 5: A Touch of Back Lighting 6: More Concrete Tunnel 7: A Light Bulb Moment 8: The Cave Ceiling Section Begins 9: Another Junction 10: Back to Concrete 11: Getting a Little Dirtier 12: Back to the Cave Again 13: Rusty Looking Walls 14: Old Timber 15: Section Full of Glow Worms (Although You Can't See Them Here) 16: The Slope 17: The Bigger Cave 18: The Stalactites Begin 19: Under the Cemetery 20: Right Under the Cemetery 21: The Eel 22: Close Up 23: Exiting into the Bush

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