Category Archives: New Zealand

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.

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Abandoned South Island tunnel

After hearing a rumor about a mysterious train tunnel in the South Island of New Zealand myself and DerelictNZ went out to investigate.
Sadly our first attempt was a bit of a fail after spending a whole afternoon trying to find it but after some more research urbexcentral returned and this time success!

The tunnel was fully bored and constructed in the early 1940’s however it was given up on after some of the walls started breaching. The damage inside the tunnel is pretty substantial and it felt pretty unsafe to lurk through, from the crazy angles and curvature in the tunnel I suspect the kaikoura earthquake in 2016 played a part in the damage.

Abandoned South Island tunnel, New Zealand, Urbex Central NZ

Abandoned South Island Tunnel

Abandoned Tunnel South Island New Zealand

Abandoned collapsing tunnel

 

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.

Operation In Progress

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.

New Zealand’s abandoned shark and aquarium

 

Located in a sleepy town that has had its fair share of earthquakes lies this little aquarium on the wharf, abandoned and closed down due to earthquake damage. In operation, it seems the aquarium was well loved and although small was full of interactive activities for children who visited.

Due to an injury this explore posed a little bit of a challenge to UC but thanks to fellow explorer DerelictNZ we were able to successfully explore this place and enjoy its wonder; such as an inflatable shark, not quite the infamous Melbourne shark but close enough.

 

 

Bye Bye Tip Top

A longstanding employee of Tip Top’s bakery in Wellington succinctly documents personal and professional concerns in the year of its closure. A bakery had existed on the site since the early 1900s: originally Denhard Bakeries before the property and business were sold to George Weston Foods (NZ) in the 1950s. Tip Top’s shuttering of the plant appears to have been actioned swiftly. On Tuesday 30th September, 2008, staff were gathered and informed of the imminent closure, with the final bake coming less than three weeks later on Sunday 19th October.

 

Good Night, Nurse

 

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.