War Memorial, Te Aroha
[unless otherwise noted, all photographs: Bronwyn Lloyd]
- & Te Aroha -
"One thing's for certain, there are no ghosts in this hotel," said Bronwyn.
At that precise moment, the light bulb in our room went out ...
But wait, how had we go into this situation in the first place? What precisely were we doing in the old Junction Hotel in Thames on a rainy Friday evening? The answer will, I hope, interest you strangely ...
Regular readers of this blog will recall that our previous ghost hunt took us to the spooky old Waitomo Caves Hotel late last year. For what we found there, I'll refer you to my previous post on the subject.
Any further tally of haunted hotels in New Zealand would undoubtedly include the Brian Boru in Thames, an old Gold-rush era hotel, founded in 1868, and the only New Zealand entry on Wikipedia's comprehensive list of ghosts.
Another more recent contender, though, is the Palace Hotel, Te Aroha, recently investigated by the "Haunted Auckland" team (as recorded on their website here). Which, then, should we make the setting for our next ghost hunt?
Well, neither, as it turns out.
I received no answer to my request for a booking for two nights at the Palace Hotel, despite repeated requests. Nor did I have any more luck with the Brian Boru, which is perhaps more easily explicable, as the hotel no longer offers accommodation (though there is still a functioning café on the ground floor).
Junction Hotel, Thames [Wikipedia]
Instead, we thought we'd go for the Junction Hotel, founded in 1869, and thus only a year younger than the Brian Boru, and "the only hotel, restaurant and pub" in Thames "still acting as one over a century later", as Wikipedia puts it.
What's more, they do have a functioning website, and even offer a special deal for those quixotic enough to book a double room for two nights!
There's only one disadvantage, in fact. No-one has actually (yet) reported any ghostly activity there, despite its long and chequered history ...
I think you'll agree that it's only a matter of time. Look at those poky little corridors! Above all, look at the carpet ...
Doesn't that look an awful lot like the carpet in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining to you?
The Shining [Juli Kearns]
And here's something even more creepy: the old faded patterns in the bathroom:
I'm sorry to report that we noted no movement in our carefully selected "gold rush" trigger objects:
There seemed to be something a bit strange about one of the old photos in the corridor outside, though:
The room itself was narrow but adequate. Besides the mysterious extinction of the light bulb just as Bronwyn was expressing scepticism about the supernatural credentials of the other, more permanent "guests" in the hotel, the only thing we noted was the disappearance of various small items of clothing (they subsequently turned up in a bag which had not yet been unpacked).
One of the weirdest things we found in haunted old Thames was the display at the back of one of the local cafés. How creepy is this?
Next day we were on the road to Te Aroha. We were a little surprised to find how striking it is: beautiful old Art Deco buildings all around the town centre, and misty mysterious hills looming behind:
The retail area looked less than thriving:
But that was made up for by the beauty of the situation:
As for the Palace Hotel, what can I say? We didn't go in - this time. But I wouldn't rule out a future stay in the beautiful environs of Te Aroha, when the next birthday season rolls around, and it's time for another ghost hunt ...
So what precisely did we achieve? Once again, as at Waitomo Caves, any manifestations we did detect came as a response to disrespectful statements and actions on our part ... Can it be that if you don't bother the ghosts, they won't bother you? Hard to say, really, but the search will go on.