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History St. James Hall, which is Presbyterian (reformed Protestantism), was built in 1885.The church next door was built five years later, in 1900. Both are good examples of early roughcast church building, but the hall is a Gothic style structure while the church is said to be neoclassical Edwardian. Both the structures were designed by Robert Watt and John Mitchell, two notable architects in the early 1900s, and they are currently Category B listed heritage buildings. The church closed sometime between 2012 and 2013, after Auckland Council deemed it too dangerous to enter. After also being inspected in 2016, the hall has now been forced to close its doors. One of the roof trusses has shown signs of movement and several significant pieces of timber around the unreinforced concrete/masonry walls are reportedly rotten. According to the heritage architect that conducted the assessment on the building, this raises the potential of ‘catastrophic failure of the walls’. It has been reported that the congregation wish to remain at St. James Hall; however, the cost of the repairs and additional strengthening work are way beyond what they can afford. They say the parish is too small to raise the necessary funds. Our Version of Events After driving around half of Auckland looking for a place to pull over and sleep, we eventually found ourselves outside St. James Church and Hall. At the time, bearing in mind it was dark, we were pretty sure the church was abandoned, but we couldn’t tell if the hall next door was. So, before hitting the hay, we had a quick poke around both sites to do a spot of investigating. As it turned out, both buildings were in fact abandoned, with boards covering all the essential areas. Following that discovery, then, we decided to sleep in the car right outside, so we could wake up to a spot of exploring right away before breakfast. Inside the car, it was as uncomfortable, as it always is. There were three of us, so that made putting the seats back slightly awkward – especially with someone who was baked sprawled across the back seats – and we hadn’t washed for days. The smell was interesting, as was the shit that’d accumulated in the car. All we could do, to put all of that out of our minds, was dream about how epic the explore we were about to do in the morning was going to be. We woke early, eager to get out of the car and enter a building that would, by comparison, be much cleaner and airier than our current environment. So, we grabbed the gear and headed back over to the church hall. We did that building first as it looked as though it was going to be the more interesting of the two. Thanks to our recce the previous evening, we had a good idea about how we might access the place. Once inside, we quickly realised that the old hall had been redeveloped into a church. At first, we weren’t sure if it was actually abandoned either, since there were still instruments set up and various pieces of paperwork with recent dates on them. We did a bit of on the spot digging, though, and discovered that the hall had been deemed too dangerous to enter, by order of the council. It appeared, then, that the local parish were still using the premises right up until the last minute. Their last activity in the place, by our assessment, seemed to have been January 2017. Anyway, even in the knowledge that the hall was now abandoned, we still felt as though the vicar was about to walk in at any moment to begin Sunday service. After having a good look around the former hall, we made our way over to the church. Unfortunately, this building was much more fucked. The local goons have ensured it no longer has any windows left. As we stepped inside, the heavy stench of damp and decay made it clear that the elements have settled in nicely, along with hundreds of pigeons. Everywhere we looked there was a bird carcass. Nevertheless, we squelched on, across the waterlogged carpets and took a quick look around the place. All in all, there wasn’t a lot to see, but it was good to have seen the whole site as opposed to only half of it. Explored with Nillskill. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24:
History Bastion Point, also known as Kohimarama, is an area of land that overlooks Waitemata Harbour, in Auckland. Originally, the land was occupied by Ngāti Whātua, a large Māori tribe consisting of four sub-tribes that settled in Tāmaki. However, when Western colonisation of New Zealand occurred, the land was ‘bought’ and confiscated by the New Zealand Government for ‘public works and development’. However, in 1895, with the threat of a Russian attack imminent, the New Zealand Government decided to build a military outpost at Bastion Point. The area of land had a commanding and strategic advantage against any warships entering the harbour below. Once completed in 1886, the fort, which was named Fort Bastion, had two disappearing guns and two six pounders, with underground passages connecting each of the sites together. However, the Russian threat waned by the 1920s and this resulted in the fort being abandoned. Fort Bastion was reactivated in the 1940s, following the outbreak of World War Two. However, as a memorial had been built over the former artillery storage tunnels, the position of the battery was moved slightly. The fort was then fitted with twelve pounder guns, which were later replaced with six pounders, and two guns at water level (where the Tamaki Yacht Club now sits). A large boom that linked Torpedo Bay with Bastion Point was also placed across the harbour to prevent enemy submarines from reaching Auckland. The last things to be added to the renovated fort were an anti-aircraft battery, three searchlight emplacements, an observation post, a radar station and a camp to house the expanding military personnel required to man the new installations. Soon after the war, Fort Bastion was abandoned once again. Over the years some sections of the site were demolished to make way for a memorial garden. The remaining parts of the fort fell into a state of disrepair and were gradually lost as the surrounding bush shrouded them. The remainder of the fort survived because little development work went on in the area owing to territory disputes that eventually culminated in the 1970s. Fierce arguments over the ownership of the land arose as the Ngāti Whātua tribe wanted the area handing back. The tribe did manage to occupy the land for five-hundred and seven days at one point, but the New Zealand army were sent in to forcibly remove the protesters. In the end, two-hundred and twenty-two of them were arrested. Despite the eviction, though, the land was eventually placed under Māori ownership in the 1980s. It was handed to the Ngāti Whātua tribe, along with some financial compensation. Since then, little interest in the fort has been shown; therefore, it remains neglected and forgotten. Our Version of Events After a fairly successful day exploring Auckland, we decided to meet up with another explorer who knew about some old tunnels that existed over near Kohimarama – one of the city’s suburbs. Apparently, very few people know about their existence because they are well hidden in the bush, so it seemed like a good idea to go check them out. It didn’t take too long to drive across the city to Kohimarama. From there, we ditched the cars and climbed over a small fence to get into the bush. At the tree borderline, you could just make out the remains of an old concrete staircase, but it was very easy to miss if you happened just to be passing by. We followed the staircase, which was harder to ascend than we initially thought due to the dense vegetation. The stairs started to disappear after a while too; they were absolutely caked in moist earth and dead foliage. The climb continued until we reached a large block of concrete that was heavily worn and cracked. Then we traversed slightly to the right to get behind it, to reach a small cave-like opening. The portal to the old tunnels wasn’t what we were expecting at all. It looked very similar to the coal mine we found in Bishop Auckland – bloody tiny! Nevertheless, our new friend, René, told us that the tunnels were inside, so, leading the way, he cracked on and disappeared into the hole. We followed him, with our fingers tightly crossed in hope that what we were about to find was going to be worth it. The first few metres were tough going with bottles of beer in hand, as it was tight and muddy. After that, though, the cave started to transform into a crude concrete tunnel. The concrete tunnel led us into a large chamber that was supported by three large columns and a long metal girder. We crossed the room quickly because it was incredibly hot inside, and headed into another passage that gradually turned to the right. At the end of it, we discovered a collapsed section of the fort and a small room to the right, behind an iron door. And that was all there was to see, unfortunately. However, even though the explore turned out to be a short one, it was still cool to be able to stand in the remnants of Fort Bastion. It always amazes us how this sort of stuff manages to survive, despite being abandoned for well over seventy years. Explored with Nillskill, Nadita and René. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9:
History “Originally the station [Otahuhu A] was designed to be maintenance free but this proved to be a fallacy early on. Although we all knew very little about gas turbines, we learnt quickly that there was a great team environment” (Allen Morrison, former generation technician). Otahuhu Power Station is located in Otara, in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. The site holds two decommissioned plants: Otahuhu A and Otahuhu B. Otahuhu A, a gas turbine plant, was constructed in the 1960s. When it became operational in 1968, it had four 45 MW gas turbine units and, for three years, it contained the largest turbines in Australasia. Two additional units using Rolls-Royce Olympus gas turbines were installed in 1978, to cope with the demands of a rapidly expanding city. The turbines in Otahuhu A were retired from electricity generation in the late 1990s. However, they remained in service to provide reactive power to Transpower NZ, the owner of the national grid. Active power is the energy used to power our homes and various devices, while reactive power is used to regulate voltage in an electrical power system. This prevents damage, such as the overheating of generators and motors, reduces transmission losses and helps to maintain the ability of the system to withstand and prevent voltage collapse. The turbines were finally decommissioned in November 2013. The Otahuhu B site was commissioned in January 2000 at a cost of $350 million. It was a natural gas combined cycle plant that used a Siemens V94.3A(2) gas turbine in single-shaft configuration. When it was first commissioned, the plant capacity was 385 MW; however, upgrades to the equipment had to be made in 2005 to increase the amount of electricity being produced by the plant. It’s capacity subsequently increased to 404 MW. Otahuhu B was still a relatively new plant when it closed its doors in September 2015 (it had only been run for half of its expected life). Sadly, of the thirty-three people working at the plant, fifteen were left without jobs, while the rest were transferred to other Contact sites. According to Contact Energy, the former owners of the site, the plant was turned off due to the increasing development of renewable energy across New Zealand, such as the new Te Mihi geothermal power station. One report also indicated that ‘New Zealand has a surplus of generating capacity at the moment and this means that generators have less control of the price. To make money they need to keep the system on the edge of a shortage. Shutting down Otahuhu is consistent with this objective.’ Otahuhu Power Station was sold to Stonehill Property Trust for $30 million in February 2016. Both plants are due to be cleaned of asbestos, dismantled and sold off as scrap. It is expected that the land will eventually be sold off for commercial and industrial use. Our Version of Events It recently came to our attention that the old Otahuhu Power Plant closed its doors back in 2015 and is now due to be demolished, so we decided to go have a wee look. Having heard that demo work was already in progress, though, we weren’t expecting to find much, especially after catching a rumour about the police blowing up the control room as part of a training exercise. Our first glimpses of the site showed our speculations to be accurate. Site A, the oldest part of the power station, is currently semi-demolished and it has many, many holes in it. Obviously, this made accessing it very easy, but we were a bit disappointed to find we’d missed out on our chance to see the turbines. Nevertheless, as with most power stations, there was still plenty of stuff lying around, so it wasn’t a complete waste of a journey. The control room was certainly interesting too, for it did indeed look like someone had lobbed a few grenades around in there. Nevertheless, after spending a good hour on the site, we decided we’d revisit the site during the day the following day, as it was difficult to take photos and not get caught waving torches around – especially when the building didn’t have much of a roof left. We returned the next day and gathered the snaps we’d been after. Then, we decided to head over to site B, the newer plant. At this point, we weren’t sure whether the site was closed or not, since there were two car parks nearby and they were full of cars. What is more, all of the lights were still on, and a few machines were still casually humming away. Yet, despite having initial reservations, we crept onto the site, albeit very slowly. The entire place looked like a live power station; it seemed as though it could be put back into operation tomorrow, and it felt like we were going to accidently bump into someone – a worker or security guard – at any moment. There was some evidence that demolition work might have begun from the outside, or at least some redecoration work, but we really weren’t sure which at this point. We must have been on the second site around two minutes before we noticed that we may have wandered directly into the path of a camera. That’s what worrying about bumping into workers does to you… Nevertheless, rather than run away we decided it would be worth the risk to crack on and get inside the main building. After all, opportunities like this only come round every so often. So, that’s what we did. In the end, we’re glad we did because inside we found ourselves surrounded by fine quality industrial porn. We spent the next forty minutes or so convinced security would be onto us at any moment, so every single sound made us stop in our tracks. As it turned out, though, no one turned up to give us a bollocking and escort us off site, so, all in all, it ended up being a great explore. Explored with Nillskill. Otahuhu A 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: Otahuhu B 29: 30: 31: 32: 33: 34: 35: 36: 37: 38: 39: 40: 41: 42: 43: 44: 45: 46: