Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Intrepid Ghost Hunters (2):

War Memorial, Te Aroha
[unless otherwise noted, all photographs: Bronwyn Lloyd]

Haunted Thames
- & 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 ...

The Brian Boru Hotel, Thames

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?

The Palace Hotel, Te Aroha

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).

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 ...

The corridor (1)

The corridor (2)

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 ...

The pattern in the carpet

The room next door

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:

Faded pattern squares

I'm sorry to report that we noted no movement in our carefully selected "gold rush" trigger objects:

Trigger object 1: horseshoe

Trigger object 2: stone adze

The rest of our ghost-hunting kit

There seemed to be something a bit strange about one of the old photos in the corridor outside, though:

Gold rush era photograph

In the window

But wait, what's this?
Could it be a face?

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).

The creepy old church out the window

The backstairs area

Mirrors (1) [JR]

Mirrors (2) {JR]

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?

Café display

Hello, Dolly!


Fake flames

Voodoo paraphernalia

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:

Under the mountain

Art Deco (1)

Art Deco (2)

Local Museum

The hills behind the town

The retail area looked less than thriving:

Mastering the Art of Window Display

But that was made up for by the beauty of the situation:

Mokena (1)

Mokena (2)

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 ...

The Palace Hotel

Another view of the Hotel

Old Shed behind the Hotel

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.

WW1 Memorial, Te Aroha


Richard said...

I saw The Shining recently and hence I agree re the carpet. I think you two are definitely on to something. I saw emanations in some of those photographs.

Those old hotels. That window display. The blue eyed doll!

I am completely convinced.

You will come across a ghost for sure.

(Have you read 'The Green Man' by Kingsley Amis? It's re a ghost (and other things) in an old hotel. The book provides proof that ghosts exist (in England at least), but your job is to find a real ghost in NZ.

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

Actually there was a TV adaptation of The Green Man starring Albert Finney (as the hotelier) and Patrick Malahide (as the ghost) which was pretty good, too ...

I can't help wondering if you're ever so slightly taking the piss, though ... all I can promise is that if any genuine supernatural phenomena turn up druing our investigations, that you'll see them first on this blog!

Richard said...

Take the - ?! God forfend!

By the way this is brilliantly done, ghosts or not. Those corridors ARE eerie and the dolls are also. Really. Whether there are ghosts? I had a kind of "out of body experience" that was eerie. (When a dog barked near me I got terrible shock and thought I was dying (I mean for sure) and I kind of saw this blue shape that was me. It was as if I had gone elsewhere for part of a second.

Exactly what that means I am not sure.

There have been other things in my life but none quite involving ghosts as such. Part of me believes (as I think a part of Amis must have)...

What I will say (satire etc aside) that there are certain things we cant know about (consciousness etc) and it is these questions of being etc that mostly fascinate me rather than (so much) certain modern lit. theory. I connect them also to scientific or philosophic questions.

Also, against Scott, I think things such Thor Heyerdahl's visit to Easter Island and other things of mystery are important to us (and myself)...we are "religious animals" (not perhaps 'caterpillars' as in Eliot's poem) as much as we are thinking things, and as much as we are social beings to whatever.

Stephen King has a point (points) - the Shining was a great film for sure.

But I am not so big on horror as such but when it has a "point" it interests me.