Category Archives: Central NI (Tongariro-Ruapehu)

Out Of Bounds

Prisons have existed on this site for nearly a century. For the duration of the Second World War, conscientious objectors were detained here. In the 1950’s the site housed a prison farm which was further developed in the late 1970’s. The large size of the site – thousands of hectares of commercial and native forests, farms, wetlands and a river – meant that a perimeter fence was impractical, and the site was only ever suitable to house up to 600 inmates at a minimum to medium security level.

From 1998 the prison began to suffer repetitional damage, first involving a seizure of almost $1 million worth of cannabis plants growing on site, followed by the revelation that buckets were being used in place of toilets, two inmate drownings involving Maori cultural training, canoes and parachutes, and the conviction of a prison guard for supplying cannabis to a prisoner in return for a bribe.

The closure of this unit – one of four we visited as the autumn sun was falling fast – was announced in 2012, and the land and its buildings have now been returned to their original owners. No signs of the commencement of demolition were evident, and – gratifyingly – no signs yet of vandalism. A 360 degree panoramic mural painted around the walls of the dining hall conveys a sense of geographical placement among the majestic landscapes beyond the perimeter of confinement, tantalisingly out of reach.

This is Part One of a four part video series. Part Two. Part ThreePart Four.

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Circuit Breakers

This 600 MW thermal power station has dominated its landscape since its construction in 1972, with a 198m high chimney – the second tallest structure in New Zealand – made from 16,400 tonnes of concrete, 1200 tonnes of reinforcing steel and almost 1,000,000 bricks. After its decommissioning in 2007, we visited four times to create this film. It was lit and guarded 24/7: the latter making for some tension; the former making for ideal conditions for shooting video and stills in the dead of night.

Waikune Prison Part two

Abandoned since 1986 this derelict prison camp located in a remote area of the North Island in New Zealand barely resembles a prison. The prison is heavily decayed with surprisingly little vandalism and the prisons strange colour schemes were meant to help calm prisoners. Our road trip taking us to this prison began with a sunny 18 degrees, five hours later we were in snow, this place  had a very somber feeling to it.

With thanks to WildBoyzUE who joined Urbexcentral for this explore.

Smash You Bro

This car wreckers yard was the set of the New Zealand cult classic film Smash Palace released in 1981. The junkyard offers a rare opportunity to see cars from multiple eras and in various states of decay – some are even in the process of being reclaimed by nature by means of plants growing inside them.

Ruapehu Railways

Standing at the feet of Mt Ruapehu are the remains of several railway viaducts in various stages of decay. Modernisation of the railway network and the move towards concrete bridges in place of the historic steel viaducts has meant that these symbols of industrialisation are no longer in use. One of the viaducts has been turned into a tourist attraction with the option of walking across it – on this viaduct I took the path less travelled and popped down for a look at the hidden service platform beneath its deck.

Thermal Resort

 

This abandoned thermal resort has sat vacant for years, cats both living and dead can be found throughout the premises and the place has a very peculiar air about it. The lawns are mowed, the garden tended to and the cats fed. Someone has been looking after this place, despite the fact that it does not seem to have functioned as a business for many years.
The area this is located in has a reputation for being a little bit dodgy, and I couldn’t help but feel on edge walking around with a DSLR when there was a ute (SUV for you Americans) parked in an abandoned service station across the road with two unsavory types eyeballing me.