WildBoyz

New Zealand
Fort Bastion, Auckland - June 2017

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 NillskillNadita and René. 
 

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Interesting place, thanks for showing!

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    • By WildBoyz
      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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    • By WildBoyz
      History

      Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital is located in Karaka, a small rural area south of the city of Auckland. The construction of the hospital, which derives its name from a hospital in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, began in 1929, when twenty patients from a nearby mental health institution were sent to the site equipped with ten shovels and twelve wheelbarrows. Following a visit to the United Kingdom, Dr. Gray (the Director-General of the Mental Health Division of the Health Department at the time) felt that it was a good idea to open a sister hospital in New Zealand.  

      Kingseat Hospital opened in 1932. Thereafter, the facility continued to grow and several new buildings were constructed on the site, including a two-storey nurse’s home. By the beginning of 1947, there were over eight hundred patients at the hospital. However, in 1968 a number of nurses at the facility went on strike due to ill treatment and high stress levels. This forced the hospital administration to invite unemployed people and volunteers to assist within the hospital grounds with general domestic tasks. Eventually, the dispute with the nurses was partially resolved and, in the end, normal service resumed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that more nurses are said to have died at Kingseat than patients, due to the high stress levels caused by working in such an emotionally, and physically, draining environment. As one member of staff reported after the closure of Kingseat:
       
      … I worked here as a teenager, it was a horrible hospital with dinosaur thinking and a lot of what they say is true. How they treated the elderly and mentally handicapped people back then was horrible… It was horrible living in the nurses ‘home’, it was horrible working in the huge main kitchen and it was worse working in the separate units. The eating hall looked like a disaster swept through after each feeding… There was never enough hands to help the extremely handicapped eat, no medications to avoid being scratched or attacked… I cried with relief to learn this hospital has closed. The gardens were kept beautiful, with its tennis courts and pool, but what was behind closed door sucks… I cried looking at the elderly demented people being held here, their only crime was not being of sound mind and having no living relations…
       
      Despite its underlying problems, further development occurred in 1973, when a therapeutic pool was constructed. It was opened by the then-Mayorness of Auckland, Mrs. Barbara Goodman. Four years later a larger, main swimming pool was installed at the hospital. 

      As the hospital continued to grow, various externals sites formed a connection with the facility, such as various alcoholics groups that sent patients to be treated for their drinking addictions. The hospital also started to accept voluntary patients between the 1980s and 1990s. However, in 1996 South Auckland Health sold Kingseat Hospital, following the government’s decision to replace ongoing hospitalisation of mentally ill patients with community care and rehabilitation units. Similar to the UK, New Zealand went through a period of deinstitutionalisation which involved housing mentally ill patients within the everyday community, and this resulted in most of the country’s asylums and institutions being closed down. Subsequently, Kingseat Hospital closed in 1999, after the final patients were relocated to a mental health unit in Otara. The last sixteen patients were not sent into the community because they were not suitable for rehabilitation. The final patients were moved to an old Spinal Unit complex that was surrounded on all sides by electrified fences. It is reported that local residents of Otara were concerned for the safety of their families if a patient did manage to escape from the secure unit. In contrast, South Auckland Health argued that such fears were unwarranted and unjustified, and that the secure unit’s location would allow the patients to be closer to their own families, whereas Kingseat had been much more isolated. 

      After Kingseat Hospital closed, it was considered as a potential site for a new prison. It is estimated that it would have been able to hold up to six hundred inmates. However, it was decided not to redevelop the facility due to the buildings on the site being potentially earthquake-prone. Since 2000, then, a large proportion of the hospital has simply been left to decay. The rest of the site is lived in by members of the Tainui tribe and other New Zealanders. 

      Since 2004 over two hundred people have come forward to file complaints against the national government for mistreatment and abuse during the 1960s and 70s. Many of those people are former patients and nurses. The site has also gained a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in New Zealand. According to the television programme, Ghost Hunt, the most common apparition seen at the hospital is the ‘Grey Nurse’ – a former member of staff who is reported to have committed suicide. However, despite the spooky problem, a development company has proposed plans to transform the site into a countryside living estate with four hundred and fifty homes. The plans would ensure that the original buildings and grounds would be preserved. 

      Our Version of Events

      We’ll keep this brief, since the explore itself was pretty uneventful (it was still very interesting, but more of a chilled walk-around). To begin with, we met up in Auckland with another explorer who runs the Derelict NZ Facebook page, and from there decided to head out of the city to visit an old psychiatric hospital. Apparently, the architecture was very different to other stuff you tend to find in New Zealand, so it seemed well worth a visit. In other words, it meant we were going to find some bricks!

      We rocked up sometime in the afternoon and parked the cars in an old parking bay that was presumably part of the hospital. As we got out, we were surprised at how lively the old site was. There were people walking outdoors, children playing on the grass and other people doing menial tasks outside their houses. However, as noted above, parts of the site are lived on, so in hindsight this shouldn’t have been odd at all. 

      Doing our best to blend in, we crossed a large, well-kept, grass field. We were heading for the abandoned looking buildings where there were fewer people. At the first dirty looking derp, we had to wait patiently for several minutes for a very unusual guy to continue on his way. He appeared to be walking his cat, and was talking on his phone to no one… It would appear, then, that not all the patients have left the facility. After a few odd glances at each other, though, the guy eventually wandered off into some nearby bushes, and that was the last we saw of him. 

      Accessing the buildings wasn’t particularly difficult, and it’s possible to get inside at least several of them. Most are largely stripped, as the photos show, but some do have a few unique features, such as the cells we found inside a former ward. Unfortunately, the old high secure section of the site has been torched, so there’s not much to look at inside there. The hardcore fence outside it is still in situ though, so that was something interesting to see. The final thing we found that’s worth mentioning is the old therapeutic pool. It was much different to any other we’ve seen before. After the pool we headed back to the cars as there wasn’t much else to see. It was time to crack on and find something else to explore. 

      Explored with Nillskill, Nadia and Derelict NZ. 
       
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    • By WildBoyz
      History
       
      “The association of motorcycles with LSD is no accident of publicity. They are both a means to an end, to the place of definitions.” (Hunter S. Thompson).
       
      As far as we are aware, the history of this location remains mostly unknown. In terms of the architecture, the building is similar to most houses across New Zealand; it is a wooden structure with a corrugated metal roof. There is a bit of evidence within the house, and on a couple of forums, that suggests the building was a former biker gang clubhouse. Although we found a remembrance card inside the premises with the Plimmerton Motorcycle Club (a group located just outside Wellington) logo on the back, it is likely the house belonged to one of the one percenter motorcycle clubs, as it is unusual for the ninety-nine percenters to have gang houses in the middle of nowhere that are full of beds, booze and drugs. There is also a considerable 207 kilometre distance between the house and Plimmerton. 

      One percenter gangs emerged after the Second World War, when there was an abundance of ex-military Harley Davidson motorcycles and many ex-servicemen looking for brotherhood and the same rush found in battle. Since the 1940s the ‘1%’ have spread and formed different chapters across the world, including New Zealand, and they are famous for being outlaws. The members of one percenter gangs normally wear an identical patch on the back of their jackets, and they gain their reputations through violence, smuggling drugs and extortion. 

      Our Version of Events

      All in all, this was a great little explore. From the outside, the place looked like an absolute shithole, and from the inside the condition we even skankier. However, we have a very keen interest in motorcycles, so the moment we realised we were standing in some kind of old biker den, the explore instantly became an epic (in our minds anyway). 

      We started in the kitchen to begin with, where we could see a couple of old ammunition boxes, empty moonshine bottles and a remembrance card honouring Ricky (Snake) Howse (AKA, The Snakester). Judging by his photograph on the cover of the card, he was a real, Harley-ridin’, badass. The house reeked of dirty bikers, with the distinct smells of oil and old leather lingering in our nostrils. Even Throttle, Modo and Vinnie seemed to have moved in, happily chilling in the fridge that was just to the left of us. 

      Next, we stepped into the corridor. This led to a couple of single bedrooms that were heavily decorated with images of motorbikes, scantily-clad women and old biker signage. One of the bedrooms had a fair bit of gear it in, including some old biker clothing, and it gave us the overall impression that it was perhaps the gang leader’s dirty den. The next room along was similarly decorated, but it was virtually empty in terms of furniture. The best room was still to come, though, and this was the next one along. We peered inside from the doorway and discovered a heavily decayed room with the remnants of nine old beds. The smell was bloody awful, but it was cool to imagine that this is where the gang once slept. 

      Out from the troop room, there was a large communal area fitted out with several chairs, sofas and a dead sheep. Whatever happened to the sheep wasn’t pleasant either. It was spread across a large proportion of the floor and across an armchair near the window. We guess the bikers must have had mutton stew for their last supper. Just behind the seating area was a bar space too – it looked perfect after a day’s hard riding. 

      All in all, the place wasn’t huge, but there was plenty inside to keep us occupied for a good while. After checking out the main house we had a quick wander over to two exterior sheds too, in the hoping we might find a couple of old Harleys, or some parts at least. However, we weren’t so fortunate. The wooden structure turned out to be some sort of animal holding room – presumably for the killer dogs that likely guarded the premises. 

      Explored with Nillskill. 
       
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