1. Ghost Town – Tangarakau
Let’s start with a place so spooky in New Zealand that it’s even called Ghost Town. Signs to the town of Tangarakau say: Ghost Town, accompanied by goat skins slung on either side. Should you dare to turn into the town on this secluded section of the Forgotten World Highway in the North Island, you will be met with a campground surrounded by rolling hills and a working farm. Things have changed since the tunnelling and railway days where 1200 people used to live here… Now, well, it’s a ghost town.
Location: Forgotten World Highway
2. Napier Prison
A prison, an orphanage and a psychiatric unit… nothing sounds spookier. Napier Prison has been all of these things since it was built in 1862. There are often reports of supernatural activity in the prison, which you can now explore through self-guided day tours, spooky night tours or attend one of the regular events. Delve down death row, the hanging yard, the psychiatric units and more in this seriously spooky place in New Zealand. Find more awesome things to do in Napier in Napier – Guide for Backpackers.
Location: Bluff Hill, Napier
3. Chateau Tongariro
To some, Chateau Tongariro is a premier historic hotel at the base of New Zealand’s largest volcano. To others, it is a creepy old hotel with stories to tell. The hotel wasn’t always serving high tea and hosting guests. Chateau Tongariro used to be a women’s asylum to which some staff have said to have seen a nurse called Charlotte who died here, as well as patients who hung themselves…
Location: Whakapapa Village, Mt Ruapehu
4. Lake Wakatipu
Ok, so this isn’t an obvious one. Lake Wakatipu is more famous for being the stunning lake that Queenstown sits along. However, the story of Lake Wakatipu and what it represents in Maori legends is pretty darn spooky. Lake Wakatipu is said to be a giant taniwha – a huge monster – lying on its side with its heart beating at the centre of the lake. The beating heart creates the waves that you often see at the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Scary!
5. Quail Island
Just a short ferry ride from Lyttleton in Christchurch, Quail Island has a fascinating yet spooky past. Visit the island to see quarantine sites of when the island was used to contain patients with leprosy, shipwrecks and gravesites of the island’s residents.
Location: Quail Island, Lyttleton Harbour, Christchurch
6. Larnach Castle
New Zealand’s only castle wouldn’t be a very good castle without a few haunting stories to go with it. Larnach Castle was complete in 1887 for a politician called William Larnach. His first wife died in the castle at 38 years old after a stroke, his second wife died of blood poisoning at the same age and his daughter died of typhoid at 21. William committed suicide after learning his son was having an affair with his third wife. Beyond that, the castle was a mental hospital during the World Wars. Unsurprisingly, two TV shows have been to the site in search of paranormal activity. Visiting Larnach Castle is one of the many things to do in Dunedin.
Location: Otago Peninsula
7. Spirits Bay
If the name wasn’t obvious enough, Spirits Bay is said to be the place where the dead gather before moving on in Maori mythology. There have been numerous reports of weird sightings at Spirits Bay over the years. Either way, it is a stunning and culturally significant part of the Far North of New Zealand.
Location: Far North, Northland
8. Otira Tunnel
If an 8.5km tunnel running right underneath the Southern Alps wasn’t scary enough, the Otira Tunnel is also said to be one of the haunted places in New Zealand. One of the people who died during its construction, a Scottish construction worker, is said to be wandering around trying to find his way home. Not that you will get much chance to help him as you pass through the tunnel inside the TranzApline that goes through Arthur’s Pass.
Location: Arthur’s Pass National Park
9. The Vulcan Hotel
Said to be one of the most haunted buildings in New Zealand, The Vulcan Hotel most famously holds the spirit of a spiteful prostitute named The Rose who was murdered in a room of the hotel. Electrical appliances turning themselves on, groaning in the corridors, and even male guests to the hotel have apparently felt being strangled or held down. Gulp!
Location: Saint Bathans, Otago
10. Demolition World
Perhaps not haunted but a seriously spooky place in New Zealand has to be Demolition World. The pay-by-donation attraction in Invercargill is a pretend town made entirely from objects found in a dump. Creepy mannequins watch you as you wander around this fake town full of historical objects with unknown pasts.
Location: Invercargill, Southland