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WildBoyz

New Zealand Otahuhu Power Station (Sites A and B), Auckland - June 2017

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

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Otahuhu B

 

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Edited by WildBoyz

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Interesting place. I especially like the pics from #33, also the light on pic 13.

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It looks like they have stripped quite a bit more out since I was there .

 

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    • By WildBoyz
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      In 1951 the French government attempted to restore many of the northeastern ouvrages, to defend against a potential advance by the Warsaw Pact. However, following the establishment of the French Nuclear Strike Force, the importance of the Maginot Line diminished. Latiremont was subsequently abandoned by the military in 1967. Today, the fortress remains abandoned and has suffered heavily from water ingress. 

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    • By WildBoyz
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      Our Version of Events

      After a good session in Brussels, sampling the fine beer of Belgium, we set off in the direction of Luxembourg. Our grand aim was to find an incredibly large underground fortress, but since that entailed a fair bit of driving we figured we might as well check out a few abandoned châteaus along the way. Château D’ah took our fancy because we’d seen some shots of the main downstairs corridor and a very striking staircase. In hindsight, though, if we’d known how fucked the place was going to be, we probably would have given this place a miss and checked out a couple of other locations we had on our list. 

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    • By WildBoyz
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      Our Version of Events

      On our mission to consume lots of good beer, we left Bruges and set off in the direction of Antwerp. However, just over an hour later we found that we were almost upon the great city. We’d neglected to take into consideration how small Belgium is so we had a bit of spare time to kill before it was time to get pissed all over again. To break up the drinking and sober up a bit, then, we decided to go take a quick look at the [mostly] abandoned village of Doel we’d read about some time ago.

      Finding the place was easy. We simply drove in the direction of the great big nuclear power plant that towers over everything within its vicinity. What is more, with few residents still living in the village itself, there was no dodging and diving to get onsite. Instead, we simply drove straight into the heart of Doel. 

      It felt very strange to be driving along streets that seemed completely abandoned. There was nothing especially spectacular about the place given that most of the buildings are simply empty shells and homes, but there was still something rather cool about the whole experience. The best bit, of course, was being able to find a parking spot right in the middle of the explore. That never happens! 

      All in all, it didn’t take long to walk around the place. We had a bit of a mooch down every street, and peeked inside a fair few of the buildings. But, as we quickly discovered, there’s very little left inside any of the structures. The only interesting thing we found in one of the houses was a small kitten and around twenty dishes of rotten food. Unfortunately, the cat bolted as soon as we entered the building, so there wasn’t much we could do to try and save it. We didn’t have anything edible on us to lure it back either, only strong Belgian beer. 

      Explored with Ford Mayhem, MKD, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane and Husky. 
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      History
       
      Castle Wolvenhof, also known by many as Château Du Loup, was designed by J. Vercoutere and constructed between 1912 and 1914 for the industrialist, Gaspard Vanden Bogaerde. It was one of two castles built in the area. With the outbreak of World War One, Bogaerde and his brother Émile, the owner of the second castle, volunteered to enlist in the Belgian army and they were subsequently sent away to fight. While they were away, German forces commandeered the buildings and the site was converted into a prison camp and a small airfield named Flugplatz Abeele. Towards the end of the war, Castle Wolvenhof sustained a significant amount of damage as much of the wood, including the very expensive floorboards, was torn out and used as firewood. Following the German defeat, the two brothers returned to their properties and spent the next few years renovating them. The Bogaerde families continued to live in the castles long after the Second World War. However, in 1999, both buildings were sold to the city and the grounds were opened as a public park. 

      Today, although it is a heritage building, Castle Wolvenhof is abandoned. Yet, after someone, presumably the city, invested 322,500 euros in the property in 2016, restoration work has begun. The aim of the project is to bring back the building and return it to its former glory. It is unknown what purpose the building will serve once the restoration work is complete; one source suggests it will remain a central part of the park in which it is situated. 

      Our Version of Events

      Although we’d just returned from New Zealand and had barely set foot on English soil, we decided that a new trip was in order, to make the most of the good summer weather Europe has been experiencing. So, with an epic explore in mind, somewhere along the Maginot Line, we decided to travel through Belgium to reach it. Our decision to visit Belgium was twofold: we could see a few abandoned sites along the way, and drink lots of Belgian beer. 

      The first stop on our travels, mainly for a quick break after driving from the north east, was the legendary Château Du Loup. Surprisingly, finding it was easier than we’d imagined, and gaining access wasn’t as hard as we’d anticipated. However, no sooner had we stepped inside the building did we set off an alarm. From the inside, though, it didn’t seem to sound too loud, so we decided to crack on and take some snaps anyway. For the next half an hour, then, we raced around the building trying to take a photo of each room. The entire time it felt as though a farmer might turn up, or some kind of Belgian security guard, but, fortunately, neither did. In the end, we were able to leave without further incident. 

      It was only when we were making our way back outside that we realised how loud the alarm really was. It was clearly attracting quite a bit of attention from the people who were making good use of the surrounding parkland too. At this point, then, we decided to casually join the general public and take a wander around the park. Our blending in seemed to work rather well, other than the fact our French and Flemish skills don’t go much further than ‘Hallo’, ‘Ik ben op zoek naar, John’ and ‘Bonjour’. Still, it was enough to get us back to the cars. After that, our next destination was Bruges, with plenty of time left in the day to drink lots of beer!

      Explored with Ford Mayhem, MKD, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane and Husky. 
       
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