Occupation is the best security. This hospital – closed since 2007 – has remained relatively untouched and unexplored due to the proximity of its replacement built directly next-door. Held for several years in a land banking holding pattern, the nearly five hectare property with its buildings was approved for sale in 2013 and sold for less than a quarter of its ‘capital value’ (a government estimate) the following year.
In 1973, under the watch of Matron Grattan, this now-demolished former nurses’ home at Wellington Hospital operated by “standards of conduct . . . akin to those of personal freedom, co-operation and responsibility which are acceptable in a private home, yet with the extra consideration necessary due to the number of residents under one roof.” Lunch was served daily in the dining room between the hours of 12 midday until 1:15pm, and dinner from 5-6:30pm. Suitable frocks, skirts and slacks, and a scarf to cover any hair rollers in use, were required while dining, and nurses were directed “not to linger about in the front foyer in a dressing-gown”. By the end of the first decade of the 2000’s, several floors had been converted to hostel accommodation. Residents cooked their own meals in tiny kitchens on each floor, warnings were prominently displayed about cleaning up cooking messes and theft of food from the communal fridges, and the reception office appeared to have been equipped with a cricket bat for self-defence.
Demolition was swiftly carried out in February, 2019, with signs on the perimeter fence indicating a children’s hospital is to come.
This explore went unexpectedly smooth and what every urban explorer hopes for – easy entry, no interruptions and a location that was full of memories of the past which offered a small glimpse into what went on at this now abandoned rest home hospital for the elderly.
Soon into the explore, I came across scenes akin to a horror movie, grey hairs still sat next to the ‘saloon’ of the old rest home, wheelchairs and toilet seats everywhere and possession’s lying around – even a nurses dress hanging up, sitting idle exactly how they were the day the hospital was closed.
Standing proudly on top of the hill overlooking a lower South Island town, this once-grand hospital now sits decaying and derelict. Little positive future can be foreseeable aside from demolition for this location as the buildings were purpose built as a hospital and not a motel, there are simply too many buildings and grounds for the owners to know what to do with. The hospital-turned-backpackers was opened on 2 December 1872 and closed in 1998, much of the site including its operating theaters, x-ray, psychiatric and emergency departments have been abandoned since.
Hiding down a Wellington side street lies this abandoned doctors clinic, declared ‘earthquake prone’ in 2012, the fate of this building is undecided.
Most things were stripped from this clinic but there was still the odd lamp and drug signs, this was a quick in and out explore, avoiding the sensors for the alarm.
Filmed in late 2011- this was the final days of the old Hawera Hospital (1925-2012). Demolition was already well underway on the South Taranaki Hospital, with at least half the complex already gone. A compact digital camera was rigged onto the hot-shoe of a DSLR to capture on video the state the place and what was being photographed- plenty of shaky camera footage ensued. Abandoned in 2002, the hospital’s state of decline over the next decade was dramatic and completely unnecessary. It wasn’t a pretty explore- a bleak and hazardous environment, the complete opposite of what a hospital is supposed to be about- inhospitable.