While New Zealand may boast a relatively short human history, with its wild environment and sometimes-tumultuous history, there’s plenty of fodder for tales of woe. The spirits of New Zealand have plenty to be restless about. Read on for the spookiest places around New Zealand and the tragic tales that lay their haunting foundation.
Racecourse Hotel, Riccarton
Built in 1883, The Riccarton Racecourse Hotel cost just £11,000 to construct and is a fine example of solid, Cantabrian architecture, but the elegant structure belies a dark history within. In the dead of the night in 1933, Donald Fraser was reportedly murdered by two shots to the head from a double-barrelled shotgun. His wife was asleep in the room at the time, but the murderer evaded investigation and no one was ever found guilty of the crime. Today, Fraser is purported to wander the corridors of the Racecourse Hotel, searching for his killer.
Larnach Castle, Dunedin
With just one castle in New Zealand, it only makes sense that it would develop a spooky reputation. Lanarch Castle is located outside of Dunedin near the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island. Dating back to 1871, it is also reportedly home to a host of spirits, including William Lanarch himself, who is said to have committed suicide after learning of a romantic betrayal between his young third wife and one of his sons from his first marriage. Several others of the Lanarch clan also met their untimely deaths on these grounds and are said to haunt the halls, ballrooms and chambers of the expansive castle.
Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital, Karaka
Formerly a psychiatric hospital with a history of patient mistreatment and suspicious deaths, the abandoned Kingseat Pyschiatric Hospital ranks high on the heeby-jeeby scale. It’s no wonder that it has now been converted to a haunted tourist destination called “Spookers”. With the former psychiatric hospital building playing host to the main haunted house, it’s difficult to know which haunted elements are part of the attraction and which are calls from souls beyond the grave.
Spirits Bay, Far North
Said to be the jumping-off point for spirits leaving this world, Spirits Bay in the Far North of New Zealand is steeped in both modern-day myth and ancient Maori legend. According to Maori accounts, spirits can be seen travelling along the beach in the night and suddenly disappearing. Do not attempt to divert these spirits on their journey to their destination; they will not the tolerate distraction.
The Buried Village, Rotorua
Once a thriving tourist destination, the Village Te Wairoa was troubled by a string of unusual events in the late Autumn of 1886. The weeks following culminated in what is still known as one of New Zealand’s natural disasters. On June 10th, 1886, Mt Tarawera erupted violently, shooting fire fountains into the sky and raining hot ash down on nearby settlements. 150 people lost their lives and the events leading up to the eruption became regarded as dark omens of disaster. The Buried Village is now an expansive excavation site that sits in eerie, peaceful quiet. Visitors can tour the museum, walk the paths, explore the excavations, and learn about the people and events surrounding the fateful Mt Tarawera eruption.
The 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera was one of New Zealand's greatest natural disasters. Rocks, ash, and mud bombarded the peaceful village of Te Wairoa, leaving a tomb of ash and mud. Now you can see what lies beneath at this carefully excavated site.