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Found 25 results

  1. History Unlike the railways in Europe or northern America, New Zealand tracks were rudimentary. They were built cheaply and hastily using light iron rails that had a narrow 3ft 6in gauge. Even the tunnels and bridges were minimalistic and usually made as small as possible to get the railways up and running as quickly as possible. It was always the intention, though, that the lines would be improved in the future as traffic and available finances increased. The four-hundred and sixty-two metre long Chain Hills Railway Tunnel, also known as Wingatui Tunnel, was one of the tunnels built in the 1870s, during New Zealand’s brief period of industrialisation. The line itself was constructed to improve transportation of coal and other natural resources across the land to major ports, where the goods could then be shipped elsewhere. Like the Caversham Tunnel, the Chain Hills Tunnel was largely dug out by hand, but it is unique in the sense that it is a Victorian styled brick tunnel that would have taken longer to build than some of the others that were carved out. The Chain Hills Tunnel also sparked much excitement in Dunedin during its construction as workmen made an interesting discovery while making a cutting at the southern end of the tunnel. Thirty-five feet under the ground, which it is thought was once swampland, a large number of moa bones were found (a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand). The bones ranged in shape and size and were in a very good state of preservation owing to the high alkaline levels in the soil. The Chain Hills Tunnel was completed in 1875, and it was measured as being four hundred and sixty-two metres long. Progress was aided with the construction of brick kilns at either end of the tunnel, as this meant materials did not run short because bricks were constantly available throughout the project. However, finishing the tunnel proved to be a difficult and dangerous task. For years the project was plagued by regular flooding, which slowed progress, and workers were also encumbered by the hardness of the stone they were cutting through. Alongside these issues, six months before completion a rock fall occurred at the north end of the tunnel. The incident claimed the lives of two men, Patrick Dempsey and Thomas Kerr. A third man was severely injured as both of his legs were shattered, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life. In the end, the tunnel did not remain in service for very long either as it was abandoned in 1914. A new dual-lane tunnel was constructed further south which meant there was no longer any need for the Chain Hills Tunnel. In the short period of time the Chain Hills Tunnel was operational it claimed another life – that of Irishman George Thompson. Reports indicate that late one evening in 1895, George took a shortcut through the tunnel to get home. Although there are several niches in the tunnel it is likely George was unaware of them, or simply too far away to reach one, before he noticed the oncoming train. Since its closure, however, no more lives have been lost. For a while the tunnel was used as a popular way of passing between Abbotsford and Wingatui, and for moving sheep between the two locations. Nevertheless, since the 1980s the tunnel has been closed to the public due to the deterioration of the tunnel’s structural integrity and subsequent health and safety concerns. In recent years there have been plans to redevelop the tunnel into part of the proposed Otago Central Rail Trail (a cycle and pedestrian track). But, due to lack of funding and ongoing concerns surrounding the structural integrity of the tunnel, especially with the increased risk of it being damaged by an earthquake, the project has come to a standstill. The only recent work Dunedin City Council has carried out on the Chain Hills Tunnel has been to shift two vents from sewer gas reticulation pipes, to stop them from venting into the tunnel. Our Version of Events Having just returned from a South Island trip the previous night, we had no intentions of going exploring, until Nillskill rocked up that is. He was passing back through Dunedin so we decided while he was around to have a crack at the old Chain Hills Tunnel that’s been on the cards for quite a while. We understand there was a public open day a few months ago, but going to an event like that would take away one of the most interesting parts of exploring – figuring out how to slip into these places. We loaded up the car with the usual gear and raided the fridge for all the beers we had spare, then set off in the direction of Mosgiel, a town that is apparently well-known for its local legends and myths. The drive didn’t take too long, which is always good, but the next hour or so we spent trying to find the damn tunnel was a right challenge. To avoid a couple of nearby farms we headed into a patch of native woodland. This would most likely have been quite pleasant, if we’d been able to see where the fuck we were going. But, as we didn’t want to risk using the torches with the farms being so close, we ended up getting very lost among the trees and bushes. After following a few false trails, we did eventually stumbled across the entrance to the tunnel. Just the faint sight of it in the distance raised our disheartened spirits. The next challenge, though, was to get past a locked gate. Fortunately, this wasn’t as bad as it had first appeared, probably due to the fact that we’ve had plenty of practice in the art of contortion over the years we’ve been exploring. To keep it brief, despite some initial doubts about our ability to contort through the space available to us, we managed to worm our way inside. As expected, the inside of the tunnel was incredibly muddy. Even sticking close to the walls didn’t help very much. As for the tunnel itself, though, it was, aesthetically speaking, very pleasant. It reminded us of an old Victorian railway tunnel you’d find in the UK. The condition of some of the bricks in the Chain Hills Tunnel are quite poor too, which enhances its overall photogenicity. Other than that, however, there isn’t a lot else to see. That’s the nature of old railway tunnels unfortunately. We did find a couple of niches and a few pipes belonging to the sewer system, but they’re pretty standard finds in these places. Eventually, after what felt like a fair bit of walking, we found ourselves at the second gate. For some reason, the authorities had left this one open, probably due to the fact that the tunnel is inaccessible from this side. Whatever the reason, it gave us an easy exit from the tunnel, where we found ourselves on a narrow muddy trail surrounded by dense forest. Apparently, if you continue down the track for a while you eventually reach the present day railway line, but it’s quite difficult for anyone to access the tunnel from this side. We didn’t walk down the trail to find out if this is true mind, since we had a bottle of whisky to get started on back in Dunedin. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:
  2. History 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:
  3. 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:
  4. 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:
  5. 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:
  6. 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:
  7. 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:
  8. 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:
  9. 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:
  10. 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:
  11. 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:
  12. 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:
  13. 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)
  14. 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:
  15. 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
  16. History Coastal fortifications were constructed across New Zealand between 1873 and 1944, initially in response to the fear of an attack by the Russians. Prior to this, New Zealanders had been too engrossed in the Maori wars to pay very much attention to threats from larger foreign powers. Further defences were built in the 1940s, during World War II, in anticipation of a Japanese invasion. British designs were used, and adapted to suit New Zealand’s natural environment. Typically, the fortifications included a number of gun emplacements (pill boxes), observation posts and underground bunkers which would have connecting tunnels and supply, command and engine (to power searchlights and guns) rooms. During the 1870s, New Zealand was home to a self-governing colony from Britain and Scotland. Since colonialists had focused on generating new towns, mining villages, logging sites, farms, harbours and battling the natives, no coastal defences had yet been constructed. Following a newspaper report in an edition of the Southern Cross in 1873, which claimed Britain had declared war on Russia, and that a Russian warship – the Kaskowiski – had entered Auckland harbour and captured a British vessel, along with the city’s entire arms and ammunition supply and a number of citizens, widespread panic occurred. The invading ship was apparently a modern 945-man vessel, with over a dozen 30-ton guns and a deadly gas launcher that could destroy British ships from a great distance away. In response to the mass panic caused by the article, the government commissioned its first reports on the colony’s defences. It was understood that Britain would protect the main territories and shipping lanes, but the ports would be the responsibility of each individual colony. By 1877, Russia had declared war on Turkey, and this served to raise fears even further. The government made the decision to construct coastal fortifications and purchase naval ships capable of protecting their harbours in Wellington, Auckland, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers. A large amount of heavy artillery and ammunition was delivered from Britain, and by 1885 work on constructing seventeen forts began. In total, the New Zealand government purchased ten Armstrong BL 8-inch guns, and thirteen BL 6-inch guns, both on disappearing carriages; the total cost of all the machinery was approximately £160,000. Disappearing guns were latest in military technology, however; they bore the name based on the fact that the guns would disappear under cover while reloading. Following another Russian scare, an additional eleven RML 7 inch guns and nine RML 64-pr Mk3 guns were installed – just for good measure. By 1886, a Russian warship did indeed enter the port of Wellington, although it turned out to be a ‘goodwill visit’. The second wave of coastal fortification construction occurred between 1942 and 1944, following the massive attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. Once again, British designs were used and adapted to suit New Zealand conditions. An advanced radar system was installed in most of the coastal defences, allowing long range shooting at night. This replaced the old, traditional, fortress system of range finding. All of the fortifications were equipped with, mostly British, new and old ordnance; some WWI pieces were also requisitioned from museums and recommissioned. Most of the coastal defences were decommissioned by the 1950s, owing to advancements in air warfare and the advent of powerful missile technology. Throughout their years of operation, not a single one of the defences fired a gun as an act of war, and only one single boat was ever sunk, accidentally; a fishing boat named ‘Dolphin’. Our Version of Events It was a sunny afternoon, but we were waiting for nightfall to hit a few other locations we had in mind, so we had a bit of time to kill. The old coastal defence fortifications at Harington Point seemed like a good time killer and they have a bit of an interesting history attached to them. From the road, after parking up near some suspicious looking tourists, we followed a small track into the bushes that led down onto the cliffs. The path took us directly to a concrete archway that leads into the side of the sea cliff. Unfortunately, the place is heavily graffitied and, like Australia, most of it isn’t art. Interestingly, though, parts of this sea defence at Harington Point date from the late 1800s, since cement imported from Britain was in abundance between 1840 and the early 1900s. According to a government document, New Zealanders went mad for the stuff around this time, and even private citizens and farmers built many experimental buildings out of it; unlike Britain, New Zealand hadn’t yet adopted strict building regulations. Most of the Harington Point structures were built using convict labour, though, not experimental builders, as this was ‘the done thing’ back in those days. A military barracks in the nearby area was used as a temporary jail while the prisoners constructed the fortress and additional roads. There was, apparently only one escape attempt over the course of the construction period: In October 1898, two of the prisoners working on the interior of the Harington Point fort made a break for freedom, slipping away from the warders by pretending to be busy on errands. Once they were discovered missing, a black flag was raised above the fortress to indicate that there had been an escape. All available hands were enlisted to search, including four warders, nine artillery men, two members of the Artillery Corps, and the crew of a boat that had just landed. Eventually two gunmen came across the escapees, who threatened them with rocks: “Drop that and come along! We’ll have no humbug!” Gunman Lynch cried, and the escapees surrendered (Kiwi Adventures). As expected, most of the rooms and tunnels were completely bare, except for beers cans, bottles and exercise machines; the usual sort of stuff you find in these places. After exploring the first bunker and tunnels, we followed another path; a little more overgrown this time, to reach more structures further down the cliff, all positioned in a shallow trench. As with the others, these too were covered in a lot of graffiti, but some better stuff (a great deal better) started to appear down here. After a quick wander around the trench which is fitted with bunkers and various other buildings, we decided to traverse our way along the cliff, walking just above the old rusting barbed wire coils that, amazingly, still remain in situ. We entered the next bunker through the window. From this one, the only way out is via a long 100 metre long tunnel, so we made our way through that to reach the surface once again. Explored with Nillskill and Bane. 1: Entrance to Coastal Defence 2: Inside the Tunnels 3: Ammunition Store 4: Towards the End of the Tunnels 5: The Trench 6: Some Better Graff in one of the Buildings 7: Street Art by Pixel Pancho 8: Street Art by Pixel Pancho 9: To the Beach 10: More Gun Emplacements 11: Built to Repel the Japanese 12: Looking out of a Gun Emplacement 13: Inside an Observation Post 14: Looking Out of the Observation Post 15: Trents Tuna Fektory 16: The 100 Metre Long Tunnel 17: Concrete From the Late 1800s 18: More of the Good Stuff 19: The Exit 20: Tunnel Exit 21: Engine Room 22: One of the Original Entrances from the Late 1800s 23: Looking Towards Port Chalmers 24: The Wire From the War that Never Happened
  17. History Antonio Hall, listed as a Category 2 Historic Place, is a large abandoned mansion located in Christchurch, New Zealand. Thomas Kincaid, a successful grocery merchant, had construction begin in 1904 on six acres of land, however, the structure wasn't fully completed until 1909. Clarkson and Ballantyne were commissioned to design and oversee the development of the mansion which was intended to be styled as a comfortable modernised Victorian/English Domestic building. By 1929, though, both Mr Kincaid and his wife had passed away and the property was sold to John Montgomery, a prominent citizen of Christchurch. Throughout Mr Montgomery's ownership the mansion retained its original name as the 'Kincaid Property', although the gardens were extensively redeveloped. Nevertheless, by 1946 the house was once again sold; this time to Bishop P.F. Lyons, on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops. In 1947 the Kincaid Property subsequently became the 'Holy Name Seminary', catering for young boys who aspired to become priests. Towards the very end of the 1940's it was reasoned the that premises were inadequate for its new purpose, thus, money was invested to construct additional dormitories, a new dining room and and onsite chapel; which opened in 1950. The chapel was later extended in 1959 when the Holy Name Seminary became a house of Philosophy and a Major Seminary. Further lecture halls were also included in the ongoing renovations. Unfortunately, not too soon after affording time and effort into such extensions, it was deemed that it was no longer financially viable to manage the property; the decline in enrolling numbers had a detrimental effect upon the the future of the house and Seminary. In the years to follow the Churches only viable option was to operate the premises as a private hostel for university students. As it effectively became a student hall of residence, or college as they are otherwise termed, it was subsequently renamed and became known as 'Campion Hall'. By 1981, the property was sold to Mrs Luisetti and her husband, and they chose to run the site as a boarding house. The building was able to cater for up to one hundred people at a time and the additional space was often used to cater for further wedding receptions and other joyous events. Mrs Luisetti renamed the house in memory of her son, who was tragically killed in 1975. For unknown reasons the building was later sold to the Wellstar Company Ltd., and since then it has remained largely vacant; despite now being privately owned. On a positive note though, there are reports suggesting that in the years it has been closed a few of the rooms have been used as temporary accommodation for people who are homeless. In 2011 Antonio Hall fell victim to the earthquakes, like many of the buildings across Christchurch. The only person rumoured to be living onsite at the time was the groundskeeper and, despite the extensive damage that occurred in the section he was living in, it is reported that he managed to escape unharmed. The former mansion, which covers 4283 square metres, with over one hundred bedrooms, seven lecture rooms, a library, a cool store, dining and kitchen facilities, a water-tower, garden sheds and a chapel, now lies entirely abandoned; potentially awaiting demolition. Our Version of Events Yet again we have another property potentially awaiting demolition in Christchurch, primarily because the estimated costs to repair the site are considered to be too great. As an explore though, Antonio Hall offers much more than your average mansion. From the outside one can easily be forgiven for making the assumption that it's likely to be nothing too special, however, once inside it's foreseeable that opinions will be swayed. We wandered around this site for hours, taking in all of the objects that have been left behind and forgotten. The site was so big I've been unable to post photos of everything that can be found inside. The best way to describe the site is as a wacky maze, full of intricate designs and styles, and yet, there's also a certain sense of sadness about the place, as beds lie untended and various bits and pieces have started to crumble away. Explored with Nillskill. 1: Antonio Hall 2: Fire Damaged Bedroom 3: Intact Bedroom 4: Another One of the Many Bedrooms 5: Open Book 6: Leafy Piano 7: Old Armchair 8: Larger and More Grand Piano 9: The Chapel 10: The Chapel Black and White Shot (With Pews) 11: Missing Staircase 12: Former Girls Dormitories 13: Girls Dorm Bedroom 14: Old Cooker Hobs 15: The Damaged Ceiling (This Sort of Scene was Commonplace Throughout) 16: The Water-Tower 17: Antonio Hall from the Water-Tower 18: A View from the Water-Tower 19: Christchurch Behind Antonio Hall's Roof 20: Golf Buggy 21: The Gardener's Shed 22: Rusting Oil Tank (Gardener's Shed Behind) 23: The Kitchens 24: The Dining Room 25: The Dining Room Black and White Shot 26: Detailed Wall Decor 27: Fabric that was Formerly in Storage 28: The Head Wedding Table 29: Stained Glass Window in the Chapel 30: A Second Stained Glass Window in the Chapel
  18. History Erskine College, located in Island Bay, Wellington, is listed as a Category One Historic Place and is a former Catholic girls’ boarding school. Originally constructed in 1905/06, the building was named the Convent of the Sacred Heart, and it was intended that its structural design be a combination of French Gothic and Edwardian Collegiate architecture. The chapel (Chapel of the Sacred Heart) wasn’t built until 1929/30. The name was altered in the late 1960’s, to avoid confusion with the Sacred Heart College which is located in Lower Hutt, Wellington. The site was named after Mother Janet Erskine Stuart, the fifth Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Although the site fell into a state of decay in the 1990’s, Learning Connexion art school reoccupied the buildings between 1997 and 2009; during this time the chapel was also refurbished and used for small wedding services. The entire site was declared unsafe in 2012 due to the increased fears of earthquake threats, and it has since remained abandoned. Our Version of Events Just as I was preparing to depart New Zealand, it was decided that there was an hour to kill. Erskine College suddenly jumped onto the cards because there were rumours of a chapel lurking within its depths that has been largely unexplored. After a quick food stop at New World, we made our way to the old college on the hill. Quite conscious that I’d put on some cleaner clothes for the flight home, we made our way through some rather muddy woods at the back of the site – to avoid detection and make for a better story. Despite the rain pouring from the trees, and the steep muddy slopes, we managed to reach a point of entry largely unscathed and clean. I even managed to climb up the site of the building and through a window without getting my hands dirty; or so I thought at the time. Sure enough, after ten minutes of wandering, there she was!.. A chapel which was, for the most part, quite pristine, save for the odd crisp packet. By this point though, time was ticking away fast, so we quickly made every effort to grab as many photos as possible. As it turns out, however, I think I should have aimed for quality over quantity, as many of my photographs came our rather blurry on account of my rushing around. Unfortunately, because of the time limit and the sheer size of the site, we only managed to explore a fraction of the college, but, I guess a quick explore is better than no explore! Afterwards, we raced to the airport so I could check my bag in (early bag check-ins for international flights apparently), then, after a beer in the airport bar, we quickly left again to check out an abandoned prison. Up on the hilltop, however, we managed to get a flat tire after driving over a particularly large piece of rock, and so, after fitting the spare, I decided it was time to stop fucking around and go get the plane. Sure enough, back at the airport I soon discovered that my trousers had half the hillside on them, and plenty of chapel plaster dust… And so, that’s how my journey to New Zealand ended; trying desperately, ten minutes before my flight, to brush off all the ‘foreign contaminants’ before I attempted to leave the country and re-enter the UK. Explored with Nillskill. 1: Erskine College External Shot 2: Erskine College Back in the Day 3: Main Hall 4: Function Hall 5: Another Hall 6: Obligatory Staircase Shot 7: Upstairs Rooms - Adjacent to the Chapel 8: The Chapel Stained Glass Windows 9: Chapel of the Sacred Heart 10: Chapel of the Sacred Heart - Ground Shot 11: Jesus 12: Side Room in the Chapel 13: Chapel Candles 14: Side Seating 15: High Ceiling 16: Frontal Stained Glass Windows 17: Chapel With the Altar Table 18: The Main Altar 19: The Virgin Mary 20: Staircase Leading out of the Chapel 21: Decorative Room 22: Stage Area 23: Old Piano 24: Old-School Lift 25: External Shot
  19. History Hamilton Central is New Zealand’s first underground station, although it has been abandoned since 1995. The railway originally ran through the centre of Hamilton and was one of the busiest locomotive areas on the north island. Over the years traffic on the line increased significantly as services for both passengers and industry improved; progress and growth was to such an extent that by 1968 the use of steam operated locomotives on the north island was brought to an end, replaced instead by the more contemporaneous diesel engine. During this period of expansion the railway used a method known as ‘cut and cover’ to construct the new station (Hamilton Central). This method involves excavating a large amount of earth and covering the hollow with concrete and spoil, and was designed to conceal the noise of countless trains thundering across the city. This also provided a partial solution to the growing traffic problems that were becoming an increasing concern. Above ground the former site of an old railway yard functioned, for many years, as a car park, tunnel entrance and bus terminal, all aimed towards serving the many public users of the station. In later years, a concrete slab was placed over the entrance of the underground station and after the closure of the terminal a DIY warehouse was constructed in its place. The warehouse’s car park, storage and staff areas now lie behind part of the station (if you climb up and look behind the wooden panel the last photograph). Part of the decision to close the underground station evolved due to increases in crime, concerns surrounding the safety of passengers, vandalism and graffiti. In preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup there were plans to reopen the underground station, however, the combination of impending financial debt and complications involving the warehouse above resulted in the dismissal of all pending proposals. Our Version of Events Some form of underground station has long been on the ‘to do list’, and since being in New Zealand the prospect of exploring one seemed unlikely; until I return to the UK at least. Nevertheless, one turned up! For this one we travelled many, many, many kilometres (not miles over here)… Then a few more kilometres, to reach the city of Hamilton; because that’s what you do in New Zealand. It’s a fantastic city though, for anyone planning a visit. Our prime concern, however, was the underground station that’s been abandoned for quite some time. Access is a little interesting with this one, as you have to find a way onto the main line and then give it legs until you reach the underground platform. Inside, although it’s heavily vandalised and covered in graffiti, it still feels like an underground station, with the tiles, the smell of pollution and general layout. The old ramp which ascended to the former terminal also still exists. Just as we were wrapping things up though the experience became all the more awesome as a train rushed past the station; kicking up the dirt of the platform and filling the air with the sound of the horn as it raced on to its destination. Explored with Nillskill and Zort. 1: Hamilton Central Station 2: A view across the platform 3: A track view 4: Looking down the platform 5: Bottom of exit/entrance tunnel 6: Top of exit/entrance tunnel (concrete cover positioned above) 7: Inside the tunnel 8: Hamilton Central Platform 9: Caught by surprise 10: The train in the distance
  20. History This report looks at some of the abandoned cliff top mansions on the outskirts of Christchurch. The damage to the mansions themselves during the 2011 earthquakes was significant to say the least, and as the cliff itself collapsed it took many of the buildings with it. Although demolition has begun, against the protests and campaigns of those who own them, the majority of the stricken homes remain, posed precariously over the side of the cliff. It is estimated that hundreds of million dollar mansions will be demolished in the coming months (330 alone in the red zone), however progress is often stalled due to bad weather which causes the land in the area to become more unstable; concerns are tied in with the knowledge that water can seep into the myriad of cracks found within the cliff which initiates substantial ground weakening. Construction workers reported that it took more than eighteen months to devise a safe demolition plan, and ground conditions are continually monitored. Alarms have been placed in the key demolition areas, and they are triggered by unusual ground movement and instability. Initially, the use of explosives were considered, but those plans were quickly disregarded for fear of bringing the whole cliff down onto the buildings and roads that lie within close proximity beneath it. Since then ‘unmanned’ drones have been used to assess the structural damage of every structure, to calculate whether human demolition crews can enter each property. Once unspoiled and seamless, offering picturesque views as they overlook Sumner Beach, the mansions now stand cracked and broken. Pools and terraces sit empty, and only vacant chairs remain; taking in those spectacular views alone as they look out to sea. The first to be successfully dismantled was a six bedroom property, formerly valued at $2.28 million – re-evaluated to be worth less than a dollar. Although it was reported that the houses had been entirely cleaned out, it is at this stage worth mentioning that many people were in fact unable to reclaim their belongings and alongside full fridges sit the remains of people’s lives. Many people were forced to flee for their lives and were unable to grab their possessions as they left. Being conscious of this, I have tried to limit the photographs to reveal fewer personal items and effects, to give viewers a taste of the destruction rather than entirely invade other people’s privacy. Our Version of Events As for our little escapade; having aggravated the church royally on our last quest, we decided to leave the city for a short while, and worked our way towards the outskirts to seek out the fabled lost mansions of the Port Hills area. Now, despite the fact that they’re on top of an enormous cliff that towers above the city, we spent a good while struggling to find them; not sure what happened there. After much searching, we eventually found ourselves at the bottom, near an entire abandoned school which is directly underneath (they still mow the lawn and maintain it however), staring up in awe at bits of mansion poking out over the edges of the cliff – the next challenge though was to find our way to the top. The roads leading up to the Port Hills mansions are narrow and winding, and it is easy to mistake entire side roads for driveways. This is what we did for the next hour or so, as we became more confused in the maze of carnage (we wanted to get to the uppermost buildings which were situated at the highest point, so we passed many damaged structures). In the end we ditched the car and continued on foot, sneaking past the folks whose houses were somehow unaffected, until we finally reached what we were looking for. The damaged was far greater than I expected; although looking back I’m not exactly sure why I imagined it to be any less that what it was. These were some of the worst affected buildings I’ve seen in Christchurch. Staircases were dislodged, entire walls teetering – held together by a few crumbling fragments – and rooms completely distorted and buckled as we walked across their floors. Many of the mansions have ‘no-go’ lines drawn across at certain points, indicating which part of the building is slanting over the edge of the cliff. There’s not very much to stop a curious person stepping over those lines however, even with the knowledge that you will face imminent death if the structure did decided to topple over the side. Pushing those thoughts aside, guided instead by an awesome curiousity, we managed to explore several of the mansions and small gardens. Still, I should hasten to add that curiousity is a dangerous phenomenon, and sometimes you can overstep the mark; we did this by peering into an old chest freezer in a garage. I lost a few sensors in my nose after that one. Explored with Nillskill. 1: Private pool and terrace 2: Extensive structural damage 3: Poolside chair 4: Kitchen contents 5: The lost bedroom 6: Decaying toys 7: Former bedroom 8: Bathroom (toilet roll rack - nothing better than being prepared!) 9: Living room mirror 10: Someone left the dog behind 11: Fireplace 12: Store cupboard in the garage 13: Mansion exterior 14: Mock European style mansion 15: Crumbling walls 16: Main hallway 17: Looking down the corridor 18: Dining room and kitchen 19: The kitchen 20: Looking into the living room 21: View from the living room 22: The patio - positioned over the cliff 23: The cliff - suddenly a lot closer 24: A broken kitchen 25: Tentative steps 26: The main street 27: Broken letter box 28: Someone's former living room 29: Patio door barely clinging onto life 30: A studio style bedroom
  21. History Palmerston North Police Station, originally one of four stations in the city, was completed in 1938 at a cost of £30,000, and operated up until 2005. The existing building was built on the site of the former wooden Victorian era police station and, in keeping up with modernist ideas and technologies sweeping across the county at the time, its design included seismic resistant concrete. Respectable structural engineers from California, Japan and New Zealand worked in partnership to implement and advance the use of reinforced concrete throughout its construction. The building is also based on a stripped classical style, which restricts the use of classical design elements (i.e. columns, decorations and pediments), and much of the exterior is plastered over to exhibit imitation stone joints. At the time, Palmerston North was considered to be an exemplary example of a modern police station in the southern hemisphere, and it attracted much attention from the Australian State Police who requested the site’s plans to assist in the construction of their own stations across the Tasman. It was reported that the police station stood to represent efficiency and subsequently a large number of cells, most equip with a toilet and some with a shower, were incorporated into the building’s design, alongside living quarters and other areas for staff. Interestingly, after the closure of the former Palmerston Police Station crime, between 2006-2010, rose significantly and the overall rate for the city was equal to the rest of New Zealand as a whole; although crime rates have dropped in more recent years. What began as nothing more than a small clearing in a forest, formerly occupied by indigenous Maori communities, the city of Palmerston North has risen to become one of the fastest growing cities in New Zealand. Since the arrival of British and Scandinavian Europeans, the area has been entirely transformed and as the forests disappeared farmlands and cityscape began to appear. Our Version of Events Well folks, it happened, we finally found ourselves holed up in a police station, and an especially grim one at that. Three people or more to most cells, traditional plastic coated foam mattresses, one shared stainless steel toilet (with an incorporated sink on top), a shower if you’re lucky, graffiti from former inmates, and a peep hole for the guards to watch you taking a shit. As we arrived in the city police presence was tremendously high, and as we discovered the new police station is only a few hundred metres down the road. Nevertheless, we managed to amble on inside and the explore was excellent. Although it’s mostly stripped, many of the original features survive and you get a good feel for what it would be like being a ‘bad-guy’ in one of the old Robocop films. The graffiti inside the cells is incredible; a mixture of former gang members’, general ‘bad-guys’’ and Maori captives’ thoughts and feelings. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction to be had being able to see police officers walking outside the windows and watching them move about the street when you pop your head over the edge of the rooftop. Explored with Nillskill and Zort. 1: Palmerston North Police Station 2: Coat of arms 3: Old paperwork 4: Small cell 5: Large cell 6: Peep hole for the guards (opposite the toilet inside the cell) 7: Willy Mitford (research him, there's a good story) 8: Viva La Revolution 9: The other end of a larger cell 10: Stainless steel toilet and sink 11: Corridor to cells 12: Toilet roll and bar of soap (one for each cell, after that you're using your hand) 13: Fume cupboard 14: Examination/evidence sink 15: Steve Irwin 16: Booking room (looking down into the cell blocks) 17: Temporary holding cell 18: Booking room 19: Print room 20: Front of the station (the public side) 21: Map of Palmerston North (inside the chief's office) 22: Main reception (for the innocent folk) 23: Main reception and front door 24: Upstairs (staff area) 25: Staff bar 26: Palmerston North Main Street 27: The new police station 28: Behind the reception booth 29: A very large camera 30: Prisoner drop-off area
  22. History Church College of New Zealand is a former private secondary school, positioned at Temple View in Hamilton. The site is owned by a Mormon religious and cultural group, and when the school was operational it was run by the Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Officially, construction began in 1952, with the announcement that a temple would be erected in Hamilton, and upon completion – in 1958 – the entire site and its buildings covered approximately 85.5 acres of land; in its entirety the site includes a temple, a housing estate, a secondary school, a library, a medical centre, farm land and a significant number of dormitories for boys, girls and staff. The cost of construction was considerable, given that the surrounding land mainly comprised of soft peat and work on establishing solid foundations began in the early 1950’s. Throughout the construction period the design of the school and the social infrastructure of the local community was heavily influenced by church officials from Utah, until members of the church located across New Zealand also moved into the area. Many of the materials used in the construction of the commune’s buildings were locally sourced and a high number of Mormons from American, who were specialists in plumbing, mechanics, welding, painting, electrics and brick work travelled over to establish a communal way of life. Cultural influences of the immigrants are manifest as many of the buildings are based on typical American design ideals. Once in operation the secondary school located onsite taught New Zealand children and teenagers aged thirteen (year nine) to eighteen (year thirteen). In total 700 students attended the school and over 100 members of staff were employed in any given year. In 2007, however, the school ceased to accept new students, and by 2009 only 120 students attended the school and its number of staff members had been cut to 50. The school closed later that year. It is reported that a moderate tuition fee was in place, but the school received the majority of its funding from the church. Essentially, closure of the school can be attributed to the church who decided that the public schooling system offers quality education and it was unanimously agreed that a significant amount of money could be saved if the public system was utilised. Although certain parts of the commune still exist, primarily the temple, housing estate and farm lands, the school is set to be demolished, although part of the school is destined to be converted into a community centre. The medical centre and a significant number of the dormitories have already been demolished to the disappointment of many within the community. On an ironic note, the chairman of hearings commissioners pointed out that “it did not help that the motto of the Church College of New Zealand was ‘Built for Eternity’â€. Our Version of Events After our little escapade inside Hamilton Central Station, we travelled outside the city centre towards the Mormon community, unsure of the progress of demolition. A couple of the members of Urbex Central NZ had attempted this particular location earlier in the year, however, they were met by a large angry mob of Mormon followers who decided to hunt them down. Luckily, escape, albeit a rather wet one, was made possible through the old peat bogs behind the site. This time though, we caught them off guard and approached the site whilst they gathered inside their church for prayer time. Access was simply enough, and myself and Nillskill managed to step inside relatively silently. Zort, on the other hand… … As I had my back to him while he entered, I thought he’d jumped through the solid glass window next to our entry point. The sound was unbelievable; something like a thousand glass bottles all shattering at the same time. Quickly deducing that we’d most likely been heard we raced on inside to gather as many photographs as possible. As it turned out, however, it seems our incredibly loud entrance fell on deaf ears; perhaps they’d reached the singing bit of their service? We were lucky in this respect too, because the site was huge. We spent hours navigating the many corridors and the various rooms and facilities Church College of New Zealand had to offer. Our last close encounter with the Mormons occurred as we wandered through the ground floor of library, and a car drove past the window as we were all stood staring back. Somehow, we weren’t noticed…? As we left the commune we decided, for one last venture, to drive through their housing estate and past the church; where the service was still in full swing. This time they noticed us and, as we drove past extremely slowly, every one of them stared out at us from inside. Cultic activity, it would seem, is a bit disconcerting. Explored with Nillskill and the ninja-like Zort. Apologies for the pic-heavy report. As I stated previously, the site was incredibly big… 1: Outside view of Church College of New Zealand 2: Sports stands 3: PE Department male toilets 4: PE Department male changing room 5: Pectoral machine in the former gym 6: More gym machines 7: Leg machine 8: Gas lanterns for outdoor education 9: Sports equipment and dreaded spare kit 10: Swimming pool 11: Swimming pool viewing area and offices 12: A view of the pool from the viewing stands 13: The main sports hall 14: The main sports hall rear view 15: Scoreboard 16: Main stage in assembly hall 17: Large piano in assembly hall 18: From the rear of the assembly hall 19: The projection room above the assembly hall 20: The upper stands in the assembly hall 21: The scaffolding and ropes for the stage 22: Inside the large organ in the assembly hall 23: The costume and props room (backstage) 24: Ping pong tables in entrance area 25: Cleaning Device 26: Service Posters 27: Traditional school projector 28: The board of awards 29: The counsellors office 30: The TV room
  23. History In 1880 the Canterbury Cricket and Athletics Sports Co Ltd. purchased 10 acres of land within an area known as the Lancaster Estate, for £2,841 (approximately £260 per acre). By 1905, however, the Canterbury Cricket Association became the sole owners of the grounds and remained so until 1911, when they once again became co-owners, this time with the Canterbury Rugby Union. Regardless, in 1919 parliament assumed control over the grounds and established the Victory Park Board to manage and undertake responsibility for its management. This change in ownership was principally a result of WW1 which left the club in severe financial difficulty, to such an extent that parts of the grounds were ploughed to farm potatoes in the hope that they would help raise funds to support the continued survival of the club. Nevertheless, under the management of the government the site was developed extensively over the subsequent years and the stands were constructed to hold a capacity of approximately 33,000. In 1995 an additional corporate stand was also constructed and fully completed. It wasn't until 1999 that the stadium moved from the Victory Park Board into the hands of JADE Stadium Limited, a company which was established to take over management of the facilities. Once again the stadium was developed further, increasing the overall capacity to roughly 38,500. The final redevelopments occurred in preparation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, at a cost of $60 million, and the capacity was raised to 43,000. If the grounds had been fully completed it would have been the second largest stadium in New Zealand; second to Eden Park in Auckland. A final detail, for those wondering about the conflicting signs - indicative of a name entirely different to the 'Jade Stadium - in its final years, through sponsorship rights with AMI Insurance Limited, the facility briefly became known as AMI Stadium. Although it was primarily a rugby and cricket ground, over the years the stadium operated it has hosted a number of significant events ranging from various sporting events to a variety of concerts; Bon Jovi, Roger Walters, Meat Loaf, Tina Turner, U2, Dire Straits and Billy Joel, to name but a few. As the situation stands now, although the council had the stadium insured for $140 million, discussions are currently ongoing as the insurance company and engineers argue that the structure can be fully repaired and strengthened. The council suggest that it is uneconomical to fix the existing facility due to the extent of the damage in the land and surrounding stands. Our Version of Events And there we were, travelling through Christchurch, staring at the surroundings incredulously when we stumbled across AMI Stadium. Against the rest of the destruction this particular site stood superficially solid in its appearance, as something that should have been representative of a dominant symbol in a city aspiring to prosper. As we moved in for a closer look it was clear that the stadium had suffered a similar fate to the rest of the city, as the cracks within its frame suddenly became blatantly visible to the eye. Going along with the spontaneity of the moment we decided, contrary to the cameras and secca in the area, that we'd attempt to get into the stadium and absorb the magnificent views of the stands and former centre pitch. We were right in our decision to attempt it as the views and atmosphere inside the monolith were arresting. This is perhaps the only time I've sat in a stadium and taken in absolute silence, inciting a feeling that's a conflicting mix between fact and fantasy. Explored with Nillskill. 1: The AMI Stadium from The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament 2: Access way to the pitch 3: AMI Stadium sponsorship sign 4: The bush on the pitch 5: Pitch maintenance vehicle 6: Walkway outside of stands 7: Express food and drink 8: Door twenty-four 9: Top floor walkway 10: The AMI Stadium overview 11: One hell of a lot of seats 12: The stadium and beyond 13: A view inside the restroom 14: Up on the lighting scaffolding 15: Lighting walkway 16: Lighting ladder (to the top) 17: Capturing a whole stand 18: The way out 19: Stands A-G 20: Seating with old barrier 21: Old turnstiles 22: Emergency equipment 23: The AMI Stadium stands 24: The rear stand 25: McDonalds sponsorship sign 26: Outside view of AMI Stadium
  24. History Legend has it that at an infamous junction, “you turned right to Tokanui if you were mad, and left to Waikeria [prison] if you were bad’. Neither, though, were desirable destinationsâ€. Tokanui Psychiatric Hospital opened its doors in July, 1912 and operated up until 1998. The site is located fourteen kilometres from Te Awamutu, New Zealand. In the beginning, the site was entirely self-sufficient as it included its own facilities; a farm, clothing manufacturers, laundry rooms and onsite accommodation – to name but a few. The hospital had capacity for over one thousand patients; the majority of whom came from areas such as Wellington, Porirua and New Plymouth. By the 1980’s, however, New Zealanders’ attitudes to healthcare underwent a shift towards deinstitutionalization, moving instead towards ‘community care’, and accordingly the large psychiatric sites were gradually mothballed. A number of medical practitioners travelled over to the UK during this time, to evaluate the measures being implemented in place of out-of-date practices. Even during these times, though, attitudes to such changes in the UK were heavily opposed for a significant period of time. New Zealanders’ mind-sets were also divided, especially in view of the fact that many patients had spent the majority of their lives at institutions, to the extent that these sites had effectively become their homes. On the other hand, there were many patients who had been admitted to these institutions under more forcible circumstances and they often developed clinical depression, anxieties and OCD as a consequence. Many simply felt isolated from their friends and families; many found it difficult to maintain contact due to the considerable distances between cities in New Zealand. Fortunately, for those who required continuing care, The Hospital Board had ring-fenced a financial allowance to make revised provision; principally for those who were intellectually disabled and chronically mentally ill. As regards the hospital’s past, it is reported that many claims of child abuse have arisen since its closure, insofar that people have been horrified by some of the stories which have emerged. Nevertheless, people are being encouraged to speak out against the physical, emotional and sexual abuse that occurred, so communities can acknowledge what happened and learn from the irreversible effects of such mistreatment. Since its closure, Tokanui Psychiatric Hospital has remained, for the most part, intact despite some minor demolition of staff facilities. Many of the buildings are now considered too dangerous to enter owing to large amounts of asbestos being contained inside. A memorial stone now lies at the site of the former cemetery, where over five hundred Maori and European patients are buried. The cemetery was decommissioned in 1968 and patients were instead given pauper graves at the Te Awamutu general cemetery. The farm continues to operate and is currently owned by the Ministry of Agriculture. Some metal theft has occurred, unsurprisingly, but a good proportion of the medical equipment had found use elsewhere. Even so, the site is still patrolled around the clock by Waikato Security Services. Our Version of Events After spending a pleasant night parked up by a lake in the middle of nowhere, because someone insisted on sleeping in a hammock which allegedly required two trees to be specifically set apart by a certain distance, we arose early to continue on to Tokanui – which is also positioned in another bit of New Zealand’s ‘middle of nowhere’ region. For some reason, despite being in an environment that’s certainly not short on trees, we spent half the night driving to find two. Needless to say, the ones we did find were two fine specimens indeed. The next morning our problems weren’t over though, for just as we were set to move on it became evident that the car battery had decided it was all at once incapable of holding any power; not good when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, as we kept calm and carried on, we managed to jump-start the car. Onwards we proceeded! Upon arrival it was decided that we would take the long route onto the site, on account of the 24 hour secca onsite. We managed to get into Tokanui without any problems and set about exploring as much as we could fit in; ducking and taking cover occasionally as the security made their rounds. Unfortunately, while there is a morgue located in one of the buildings, we deduced that it was inside the one with the security guard HQ point outside. Rather than spending all morning and afternoon trying to get inside we decided collectively to move on to other explores that lie waiting. Although this is a good explore, there’s an overshadowing sense of sadness to the place; one that I’m unable to elucidate on. Explored with Nillskill, Zort and Dylan. 1: Outdoor seating 2: The shit's sinking fast 3: The jungle corridor 4: Mouldy bathroom 5: Mattressless bed 6: Isolation rooms 7: A bed in transit 8: Control panel 9: Raised bathtub 10: Leftover paper towels 11: The room with a leak 12: Ward control panel 13: The grim corridor 14: The silver sink 15: Old x-rays 16: The body room 17: Lowered bathtub 18: Hospital 'extract from bathing rules' 19: Facing the future together poster 20: Overlooked mould problem 21: The swimming pool 22: The learner pool? 23: Rear view of the pool area 24: A view of Tokanui Psychiatric Hospital 25: Looking for security
  25. History The Dolls House Strip Bar, as the name likely suggests, was a former strip club based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Following the earthquakes in 2011 the club was closed, due to the considerable structural damaged of the Chancery Complex in which it is located. The club was reportedly a popular venue, particularly for businessmen travelling through the city on alleged ‘work related trips’, and the female performers regularly received positive commentary and good reviews. In its final years though, the clubs reputation was blighted as the idea of a strip club in that vicinity was ill-received by some of the local populace. It also circulated that the club had close ties to the main local gang in Christchurch, and it soon became associated with various incidents in connection with drugs and regular episodes of violence. It would appear that the club was raided by police at some point in its history. Notwithstanding, originally, before being re-themed, the venue was known as the The Palladium Niteclub which opened in 1986, and soon after it became one of the biggest and most popular nightclubs in Christchurch. It was also the first club in the city to offer a full laser light-show. Over the subsequent years the nightclub played host to many popular DJs and bands, including Simple Minds; although they didn’t stage a performance, they simply enjoyed the venue after hosting their own gig. The Palladium Niteclub operated up until 2000, when it was leased temporarily to a different owner and thereafter re-branded as a club named ‘Illusions’. Due to later financial difficulties the lease was terminated and sold to David Henderson; the man behind the rise of ‘The Dolls House’. Since the earthquakes no-one has been permitted entry to the premises and consequently it has been subject to looting and numerous robbery attempts. Although many of the original objects and features remain the damage is materially noticeable. Our Version of Events After having traveled across New Zealand to witness an old asylum we reentered Christchurch very much in the need of some well earned entertainment and pleasure. What then seemed better than a former strip club? We actually stumbled across this site accidentally though, whilst attempting to enter an alternative site. It certainly didn’t disappoint by any means, and we were pretty stunned to have uncovered it. Inside we found various remnants of the strip clubs earlier history; including poles, stilettos, controversial props and lots of different styles of underwear. Being very careful not to touch anything, and after borrowing the leftover hand sanitiser, we proceeded to explore the nightclub inside and out. One of the most surprising finds was the ‘secret panel’ which opened up to reveal a very convenient little space, just out of sight of everyone enjoying the other entertainment elsewhere. What could possibly have gone on in there remains a mystery… Unfortunately, as you’d probably expect, the former nightclub was pitch black (and that’s an understatement), so the photos are by no means of the best quality. Explored with Nillskill. 1: The Dolls House sign 2: Stage floor with poles 3: Stage floor and lighting system 4: Stage floor with bar in the background 5: Old mannequin 6: Dressing room 7: Food bar and pool table 8: Condoms 9: Former wall decor 10: Leftover vouchers 11: Table/booth with orchid and bottled water 12: Seating (the 'secret room' was behind the wall with the city wallpaper) 13: DJ booth 14: Stiletto

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