Are you easily scared? Or perhaps you enjoy a good haunting! Either way, you don't have to travel far in New Zealand to find tales of paranormal activity.
Perched on a hilltop on the Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle is a one-of-a-kind in New Zealand. It was built in 1871 and legend has it the spectre of its very first owner can still be seen on cold and windy nights, forlornly strolling between the building's parapets. Ambitious Australian William Larnach arrived in Aotearoa in 1867, determined to become a big kahuna in the business world. He'd already married wealthy heiress Eliza Jane Guise and he used her fortune to build the 25-room, neo-Gothic mansion. With his bumptious ways, William did become a successful businessman and politician, but fate dealt some unbearable body-blows: Eliza died in 1880 and his second wife, Mary, died five years after they tied the knot. His third wife, Constance, is reputed to have had an affair with one of his sons, his favourite daughter Kate died of typhoid and after a series of catastrophic business failures, William took his own life in 1898, aged 65.
These days, the castle is a historic tourist attraction and in addition to seeing William's ghost by the parapets, some visitors have reported feeling "an icy cold hand" touching them on the nape of the neck in Constance's boudoir. Another staff member recalled showing a travel writer around the castle and the pair shared a wry joke that if there was a ghost, it would most likely be Eliza because she'd had such a hard life there. "The next thing, I felt someone push me hard from behind, right in the middle of the back," reported the staffer. "I fell down at least half a dozen steps and was quite badly hurt. My suspicion is that it was Eliza Jane, who maybe didn't appreciate my laughing."
Tourists have been flocking to see the glowworms at Waitomo since at least the beginning of the 1900s. But some of them got more than they bargained for – especially if they stayed at the legendary Waitomo Caves Hotel!
Surrounded by the lush farmland, hills and bush of the King Country, the Edwardian-era building, currently closed for business, is said to be home to at least two ghosts. Former manager/co-owner Martin Sandler used to regale guests with tales of doors opening in front of him and closing behind him of their own accord when he locked up for the night.
Some travellers reported feeling their bed clothing being removed and others said a human-shaped indentation appeared on their beds.
A maid once entered a bathroom to find the bath awash with blood – when she returned after fetching some cleaning products, the tub was shiny and clean.
One Canadian visitor, meanwhile, accidentally spilt talcum powder on the floor. She searched around for something to wipe it with and when she returned, a child's footprint had inexplicably appeared in the powder.
Even sceptical guests have had their moments. One evening, a bar patron loudly declared he did not believe in ghosts and moments later the glass he was holding spontaneously shattered.
The vast and rambling Waikumete Cemetery in West Auckland is one of the biggest graveyards in the Southern Hemisphere. It was established in 1886 when the city's cemetery in Grafton began getting uncomfortably full.
Ghost sightings in the older part are legion: A black-clad woman has been spotted numerous times, peering wretchedly from the windows of the Chapel of Faith in the Oaks, and also drifting through the grounds near the chapel.
A female apparition, dressed in white, has also been seen by more than one person.
A crematorium worker reported seeing a "lady in bare feet with a long type of gown. It was a sort of off-white colour" standing in the middle of one of the cemetery's many roadways. "Her hair was unkempt, but what disturbed me most was her gaze, which was fixed firmly on me." He quickly drove off in the opposite direction and when he looked back, "She had gone, as though she had disappeared into thin air… I've never forgotten it."
Another local was taking her dog for a walk when she saw the spectre of "a white-clad lady" walking among the overgrown and crumbling graves.
Every year, thousands of people visit Auckland's Alberton House to feast their eyes on a treasure of the nation's past. The beautiful 18-room mansion, built in 1863, was once the home of the wealthy Kerr Taylor family, who hosted balls, hunts and garden parties for the city's elite. These days, in addition to welcoming curious day-trippers, the Mt Albert abode is reputedly home to a female ghost or two.
A staffer once shared that people had reported seeing "women dressed in Victorian clothes" on the first floor, where the bedrooms are. On one occasion, a man came downstairs and asked who the woman in old-fashioned garb was that he'd encountered upstairs. The receptionist replied, "You were the only one up there."
The mansion is sometimes booked as a wedding venue and a bride once claimed she was joined in a room by a number of female apparitions, whom she believed were the Kerr Taylor sisters.
Another former employee reported that once, when he was surveying the grounds from the upstairs verandah, he saw a woman on the lawn wearing a long, old-fashioned dress. When he went downstairs to investigate, she was nowhere to be seen.
Wellington's ornate St James Theatre, built in 1912, began life as a vaudeville playhouse, and was then turned into a cinema before being restored to its now-lavish and gilded splendour. Among the ghosts reported to dwell within its walls is the "Wailing Woman", believed to be the revenant of a thespian who was booed off stage and later took her own life in her dressing room.
One former caretaker heard the dead actress' wails in the auditorium and two former staff members reported seeing her in a red dress, running through the basement after a flood.
Ghostly voices of a boys' choir have also been heard wafting through the theatre, but its most famous spectre is Yuri, a Russian ballet dancer, who reportedly fell to his death from the fly tower, "high above the stage".
In the past, theatre staff have said Yuri toyed with them by flashing lights, removing light bulbs, closing curtains, slamming seats and setting off false fire alarms.
One former staffer, however, claimed Yuri saved his life one night in the 1960s when he was up in the fly tower.
"I felt this very strong feeling of being pushed backwards and this intense cold, like I had a packet of frozen peas on my chest. I looked closely where I was about to step. There was a drop of 10 metres…"
In the '70s, the police were called to investigate claims that somebody was secretly sneaking into the theatre and folding down seats in the balcony. The officers sent their dogs to investigate – but despite their strict training, the cowering canines refused to enter the gallery.
Christmas Day 1977 was a sad one for the congregation of the Trinity Methodist Church in Dunedin – it was the last time the parishioners held a service in the 1869 neo-Gothic bluestone building before amalgamating with another church in the city.
Soon after, the Fortune Theatre Company moved in and over the years performed a wide array of productions, including Kiwi favourites Glide Time, Foreskin's Lament and Ladies Night. Soon after taking up residence, however, spooky things began to happen. Strange voices whispered lines offstage and theatre lights, well secured to their fittings, plummeted from the lighting grid. One of the creepiest encounters happened offstage. Someone in the audience once reported trying to strike up a conversation with a man in old-fashioned clothing sitting beside them. The man ignored them and when they turned to face their neighbour a second time, he'd vanished. One theory was the ghost was the spirit of a strait-laced congregation member displeased the church had been overtaken by a bunch of liberal thespians.
Sadly, the theatre closed in 2018.
Tens of thousands of school children and family groups have enjoyed their camp experiences at The Y Camp Adair in Auckland's Hunua Ranges since it opened in 1913. Visitors get to enjoy the fresh air, open fields and native bush of the city's oldest regional park and also, it's been reported, the odd ghost!
ampfire legend has it that a group of children were once murdered by their teacher on the site, although there is no historical record to back this up. The most common reports of haunting in recent years involve camp occupants hearing a piano mysteriously playing at night after all heads have hit the pillow.
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