We have stayed in quite a few dodgy accommodations during our trip, some dirty, some noisy, some too hot, but there was one place in the sleepy seaside town of Hokitika in South Island New Zealand that was particularly memorable. Not because it was dirty, or even dodgy, but it was just plain spooky. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was dirty because we were staying in our own tent on the lawn.
We were making the trip down the West Coast towards Franz Joseph after picking up some food in Greymouth.. Looking at the map, the next logical place to try and get to before nightfall was Hokitika. As we approached the sun was already beginning to set and we were starting to get worried that we wouldn’t get our tent pitched before dark, or find a camp site that was still open. We need not have worried though because we drove past a sign advertising Accommodation and Camping. A quick turn around and we were driving up a lonely path, past an old graveyard and church towards a guest-house on a large expanse of land looking out over the sea. The sky was grey and it was threatening to rain, which added to the gloomy mood of the place. There were two buildings, one looked like the main house and the other looked like an old hospital or nursing home from the 60’s. After a quick discussion, we all agreed that despite it being very spooky, it would be a laugh to pitch the tent and stay there for the night.
We all sat in the car and debated who would go to the house to discuss the price for pitching a tent on the lawn. After some negotiation, I agreed to go knock on the door. The door was answered by a pleasant enough older lady with long black hair. After some swift negotiation we agreed on $15 to stay for the night. She pointed at the other building and told me we could use the showers and other facilities in the other house.
She walked across the yard with me, unlocked the door to the old building and showed me in. Immediately I felt like I’d walked into a 60’s time-warp, complete with old furniture and decorations. It smelt kind of old too, like your grandma’s old farmhouse. She walked me through the long corridor to where the showers and bathrooms were. A quick glance around some of the rooms and it was apparent that it used to be some kind of nursing home or hospital, complete with hospital style beds and curtain partitions. It had clearly closed down many years earlier and hadn’t been modified or changed since. Once the landlady disappeared back into the main house we proceeded to set up the tent in the fading daylight.
The combination of fading light, grey skies, crashing waves, an old church, graveyard and old nursing home/hospital all added up to a very spooky setting. On top of that we were also the only people that were staying there, adding a lonely feel to the place. We all cracked open a beer and played a game of cards while discussing what exactly the old house had been used for, and why it hadn’t been upgraded since. One thing was for sure, none of us was going to try and navigate through the dark corridors in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
The next morning, I was brave enough to go and explore the building fully. You can get a feel for the place in the video that I took below. All in all, it made for a memorable and fun experience in the small town of Hokitika. I recommend you check it out if you ever find yourself passing through.