Hokitika Haunted House – The Seaview Asylum and Gaol

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.

Similar Posts:

33 thoughts on “Hokitika Haunted House – The Seaview Asylum and Gaol

  1. Rebekah says:

    Oh spooky! I live in Hoki and that place was the old mental asylum called Seaview. Closed down a few years ago and now is just an accommodation place. but yes – spooky as! I used to be a journalist in Hokitika and know a lot of awful stories from up there.

  2. Gareth says:

    Wow! That’s brilliant. The place definitely had a strange vibe about it. I knew there must have been more of a story behind the place. Do you know if there are any online links to articles about the place? Thanks for reading the blog. Do you mind me asking how you found it?

  3. Rebekah says:

    I found your link through Twitter – @Hokitika_nz tweeted the link.

    There’s some info here:
    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/west-coast-places/12/4 or here:
    http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc05Cycl-t1-body1-d3-d14.html and on wikipedia here:

    The NZ book Misery Hill is based around Seaview.

    It was quite a scary place at times – the local council is currently erecting a monument to all those there who died and were unknowingly shipped to Dunedin Hospital for scientific research on the butter train. I’ve spoken to ex groundskeepers who used to find buried treasures there because the people there didn’t trust anyone. There is a lot of information about Seaview at Shantytown in Greymouth if you ever get another chance to come here.

  4. Dr Mathew McDougall says:

    This is definitely Seaview Hospital. I did my Nurse training there and have very fond memories of living and working at the hospital.

    The ward that you stayed in was called “Kiwi” and was the acute admissions area. People that were admitted generally came in here first and were assessed. Generally most were short stay and did not get moved to the other wards.

    I also visited Seaview a few months ago and was surprised at how the grounds have become run down… When I was there it was alway well looked after and offered a lot of work for some of the hospital residents as well as town folks… However, Kiwi ward did not look like it had changed much at all.. same beds, wall paper etc…

    For me, a truly interesting and important part of my growing up….

  5. Gaylin says:

    hey there,

    me and my family lived in one of the old doctors houses in Seaview from 2008 early 2010.

    i knew the landlady u refer too, she was a lovely woman. quirky, great company and a very tolerant landlady, and we really enjoyed the residence xmas party!

    Theres an awesome glow worm dell at the bottem of the hill, that u could scamble down to from our house if u were brave!

    every one i knew from town couldnt believe we lived there, my boss refered to our house as the spookiest most haunted thing he has ever seen. It was rather spooky walking up the hill after id finished a late shift at one of the pubs in town, once one of the town cops picked me up and dropped me home, i dont know what was scarier, him or the place!

    We did have a few odd incidents at the house, but all in all we found it a fantastic mostly peaceful place to live, a haven from the small township of Hokitika. We even watched when a few of the locals demolished the old nurses residence.

    There is alot of spooky history and apparently the place is riddled with old steam tunnels, that they also use to move the patients around (?), the town is full or rumours and stories about the place.

    Before, when it was a prison/asylum they also hanged some bloke their(i think for murdering a child, her grave is marked in the cemetry), from what i can gather, the gallows was under the old tennis courts.

    It is a very odd place, but one we called home for a bit.

  6. Veda says:

    We had a VERY similar experience to you a few days ago and, despite being told it was merely a disused hospital, out intuition told us otherwise. Rebekah, any chance you can share some of the stories?!

  7. My wife and I just accidentally stumbled upon this place….it felt really weird! So many abandoned buildings but there appeared to be some people living there as well, not to mention the houses backing onto the cemetery? Props to you for staying there, I would have been super freaked out!

  8. beanz says:

    I was there a few days ago, first time in 30 years. I used to work there in my school hols, my mother worked for one of the Doctors I served the food in the wards. What a time warp, wish I took more of an internal tour and I wish now that I had stayed there overnight. I enjoyed working there, lots of stories.

  9. I was here a few weeks ago !! Explored about 80 % of the unused areas…. Even the real run run down building and the morgue ! An amazing place and amazing history too !
    Images will be on the website I listed – this is one of the only places I’ve found it on the web ! Glad I got 100’s of images ….

  10. beanz says:

    Hi Luke, Will you be posting the photos somewhere? Would love to see them. I have been looking a book on the history of the place, no success yet.

  11. Hello !! Thanks for the reply !!
    My website is http://www.donotresuscitate.co.uk/ !
    Its got a power station from N.Z and i explored 3 asylums over there too! ( not up yet ! )
    I have got detailed maps of the area and a few links to some facts ! ( i’ll send them over ) There was loads of info in the cemetery next to it ! ( many unmarked graves of prisoners and patients ) And info on the sculpture of the head you shot – about a group of Māori people there who were buried without headstones.
    And i didnt get into the area you were staying in ( but met that lady ! haha ) but covered the rest that wasn’t lived in …..including the morgue…..

  12. sera jane says:

    Hay.. me and my boyfriend are from greymouth Iv been to the hokitika asylum tons of times verry freaky place spchly at night times, wev got a seat of keys for the old bildings there. theres a master key an another 4 keys (on orignal rope) they were found there in the depth of the bushes few yeahs ago. id like to find out more behind the story of them….

  13. Dolly says:

    Yes seaview is one of the most spookiest places i have ever been.I went up there two days ago and i really did not like the feeling of it at all.But then on our way out we stopped at the monument at the top across from the lighthouse and when i read what it said on there about Maori from all those different regions in the north island being imprisoned under a devious grown i then realized why i had such a spooky feeling and at that time just wanted to cry because as it says on that monument there bones never left and as i am a maori and from many of those places that it says on that monument it just really hit home that there is nothing said about this place called Seaview in our history.Does anyone have any information about when it was a prison or know of any websites that i would be able to look this up on or even books on when it was a prison up there?????

  14. Jenny Arnold says:

    Hello there,
    I visited Parehaka Community at the foot of the Taranaki Mountain, last year, on the 17th or 18th of April. Significantly, I was awakened there, to the peaceful resistance of the Parehaka tribe and their allies, to the colonial troops sent in to clear them out of the way so as to – well, basically to steal their land. Peacefully, they protested. Welcomed and fed the troops and resisted lifting a finger against them. For this the men were all carted off to various places of imprisonment. The monument between the Graveyard at Seaview terrace and the old Seaview psychiatric hospital, is there as a monument to the peaceful warrior leaders who were taken from Perehaka and incarcerated there at Seaview for the rest of their lives….in hard labour. (Many other leaders of Perehaka supporter tribes were taken to other gaols or assylums for hard labour to teach them a lesson. Some ended up held in caves on the peninsula out from Dunedin…hellishly cold and some dying from this cold. I found the trip to Parahaka hugely informative and rewarding, then a month later i passed through hokitika for the first time and found on the internet, this inexpensive place to stay…Seaview lodge at Hokitika, just on the other side of the hill from the airport there. It wasn;t till the next morning when I went for a stroll, that i found the monument to the warriors and instantly recognised the head shapes from the Taranaki renderings of the family resemblance to an ancestor involved in the Parehaka resistance. I too was a bit tearful to read of the incarceration of these men here during the mental asylum hey day as i was aware of the resisitance situation….also, i am from the Far North and saw that the Te Tai Tokerau tribes were represented in this monument.

    It was a bit of a time warp but rather quaint and lovely and I met the lovely hostess you mention. I was invited to stay in the rooms in the main office building and was lucky enough to meet the owner of the property who was down staying from another centre/city, when I was there. I learned a lot from this gentle-man the next day. He really loves the place and respects its history greatly. The hostess gave me a couple of history books to read about Seaview Terrace history and I read them through rather rapidly and wandered around the graveyard. I found the sexton was working in the graveyard and chatting to him, found out that the extensive graveyard is basically the regular Hokitaka/seaview terrace and surrounds burial place. Knowling I had relatives from the early 2oth century who were gold and coal miners from the Westcoast, i asked to review surnames of people buried there and he helped me find three graves for forebearers of mine. this was an unexpected find for me as it hadn’t occurred to me to seek out family in the graveyard…..I had never been to this part of the country before last year. My relatives were all in unmarked graves and buried in the late 1920;s and early 1930;s. it seems my family were probably dirt poor and could not afford any headstones or gravemarkers…..the onset of the depression between the two wars made life a bit rough for them, or so it seems. Very cool to be shown the gravesites though! Yay for the existence of those records still. After that i was motivated to look out for other old relatives in the Greymouth graveyard when i passed through there and hey presto, even found a living, distant older second cousin near Greymouth, that I would not have even thought of looking for, had it not been for my stay at Seaview.

    I think we are all very fortunate that the owner has NOT developed the property yet as this is the only reason why we are all able to go an stay there and ask these questions and realise that the place used to be a very large residential village for peeps who were very differently-abled. Peeps who saw things differently, peeps who could not find a place to fit in.
    In the early years the property was the gaol for the gold-mining rush township…..everyone from murderers to theives to drunkards and the odd psychiatric person, were lumped together into the cells.

    People who “spent time” here ranged from truly mentally distrubed, to those traumatised by rape, traumatised by disfunctional family life, bi=polar, aspergers syndrome sufferers, ADD, ADHD, Downs syndrome people, those with epileptic fits and those with torrettes syndrome. Who knows, those with alzeimers, with parkinsons and women who were depressed or suffering for the years of menopause – as well as the possibly criminally insane and dangerous, were retained here at Seaview, as well as the other institutions around the country.

    I would love to go back and stay with my hubby and some of our children, for a few days, on a trip through the west coast….soon I hope. It is a peaceful place, though has a sense of many many untold stories.

    My plea is for the place and its former peeps to be respected……they seem to have gone through a lot (not all of it bad) so it deserves respect. I think it is a kind of really good museum.


    Jenny Cameron Mundy Arnold

  15. Andy says:

    We are staying over night today! We are also the only people here and i instantly googled about this place and found your blogpost! Well… Have a good night then(also not going to go to toilet at night hahaha)

  16. we just spent the weekend here on a netball tournament, with 15 children under the age of 18 and some of their families. The place has NOT changed AT ALL infact its creepier!! The main area was fine and the children slept in the dorm room and never felt more safe but us mums slept in what we called the west wing down the long wooden hall way with the 3 beds in the far room. In 1 weekend we had a sleepwalker, I had an argument with someone in my sleep, Someone was heard rustling in the bags/curtains, a ‘person’ turned off the lights and came poked their head into the room for a look and to top it off one of our mums was treated to a shoulder massage by a lets say friendly ghost. The view is stunning but I wont be back to that place. Freaky!!!

  17. Raewyn says:

    Seaview first oridinated as Hokitika’s first prison ,book Misery Hill. When the mental started out numbering the criminals they built the Asylum. Maori where not the only ones secretly buried there when the Prison was trunning.
    It was first a Prison then the Asylum was build along side it then many, many years later the Hospital on the other end of the Hill. Seaview had its skeletons but in general is was a good place to live/stay. The book Sitivation is the total history about the asylum/mental health and a very good read.
    Owners that brought it for a song numbered three and is now two. Both give little thought about Hokitika’s history. No money but the absolute critical is spent on the place and thats a shame. The place has so much potential. The old people house smell you smelt is mold as a few of the locked rooms in Kiwi have no ceiling due to leaks that where never fixed and they rotted out.
    Many of the locals wish the council brought it instead. The land was donated to Hokitika by two very wealthy families. The church and Community Hall was built by fundraising buy the locals.
    Seaview is not a scary place, i know this because i have roamed it ,including all the building some times at midnight , myself.
    If you stand in them and listen very carefully you will hear the sadness of them. Kotuku, a building that could hold up to 80 people to stay, comes alive them people are in it. To me she smiles.
    I love the place even though it is not my history . I hate the people who are running it into the ground. I cry for Seaview as does the locals who dont come up here any more because they remember when is was beautiful.

  18. Raewyn says:

    the place would be an assume museum. Sadly it will never make it. Original intentions was to loose the houses and keep the villas. Sadly the villas are almost beyond repair. After 12 years of ownership nothing has been kept up. Its been used to make money but no money has been put back into it.

  19. Raewyn says:

    The Video Clip.
    The very first room to the right and one you dont see right behind to the left in the video are the rooms that are locked off because the ceilings no longer exist. This is where most of the smell comes from.

    The rooms to the left were when you were first brought in and before you were assessed. Males were then put into the room with partitions.

    Red room with red mat and red furniture was the women’s visiting area and a place where a person hung themselves.
    Rooms with tables in them use to be the womens sleeping quarters.
    The room with the TV and round tables was the visitors waiting area.

  20. I live just down the hill, whenever we go up there at night with mates, its always creepy as, especially in the Weka house!
    B.T.WT check out my YouTube channel!

  21. RAewyn says:

    Give it another year and both Huia and Ruru will look just like Weka. No money whats so ever has been put into the place. The only reason the Chapel and the Hall is not in the same state is thanks to Dr Anna and the Lions Club. No other money has been put into the whole of Seaview other than the Lodge. If you google map the place and go to the gondola you will see that even back in 2008 the gondola was falling apart. Its worse now, 7 years down the track. . No one has even bothered to wack a bit of trellis up and paint it. Its the normal story of the whole place. Makes your cry. Both owners and the manager , if you can call it that, are from Christchurch and its not their history. They simply dont care.

  22. Sarah says:

    We just arrived at this place a few hours ago. We drove down from Westport and saw the sign on our way into town, to get some groceries first. We thought we could try this “caravan park” with our rental motorhome, since we stayed beachfront the last night and this place must have a nice view overlooking the sea. So we drove up the hill, past the cementary and parked in front of the office. The lady was outside smoking and showed us where to park. Pointing to the building with the amenities, telling us this is where we find the kitchen and bathrooms. In urgent need of a bathroom, I started wandering around in building. It was twilight and I could’t find any light switch… This is when I started to feel like I’m part of “the Shining”. I finally found the light switches and bathrooms and would’t even mind to close the door since it was absolutely quiet in this place. Found my boyfriend outside and told him about my thought of “shining” and he replied, he just thought the same thing πŸ™‚ We cooked some dinner and I told him he has to accompany me to the kitchen to do the dishes. I’m not easy to scare but I just didn’t like the feeling to be in this big old house all by myself. Afterwards we played some games but I was curious about his place so I asked Google and found this website with your story and all those comments. I have to say that since reading about it’s history I’m not that scared anymore and would like to go for a tour around the estate and cemetary tomorrow myself.

    It’s just funny how most of the people who left comments here and stayed overnight just seem to have stumbled over this place here by accident, like we did. Same story, different day, different people πŸ™‚

  23. Raewyn Stepens says:

    North part of the hill has been sold onto a local man. Thankfully at least part of this amazing historical place is in the hands of some one who cares. Sadly my prediction of the rest of Seaview is going to look like the very far building Weka before two years , is coming true.

  24. Amanda Harvey says:

    We stayed there in 2010. The same as you guys alone!!! We were told we could use the house and kitchen etc. Found it to be very unsettling, I’m sure it was just our minds playing tricks!! We had a motor home x 2 but no one would sleep inside. It didn’t help that their father ran down the hall with a sheet over his head! Fantastic view of the coast. I hope someone does something with the place…I imagine it could look amazing.

  25. WestCoastlocal says:

    I have a friend moving up there right across from old psychiatric wards would love to find out more about the houses , peoples experinces and of any history known etc

  26. Hi everyone, my grandfather worked at this hospital and his name was David John Wilson. I am looking for any information about this hospital and about his time there. I didn’t get to meet him as he died before I was born and my father also has passed away and all he ever told me was we couldn’t drink the water up there. If anyone has any information and would like to share I would be very keen to hear from you.

  27. Jojo says:

    Around 15 years ago we moved into the old doctors house. 2 story house that burnt down. We had numerous nightly visits. 1 child saw an old nurse bending over him in the middle of the night. A little blonde girl, possibly 5 or 6. One night I awoke to the most feral scream. I found nothing on investigation. A young man was boarding with me at the time and I found him chain smoking and shaking the next morning. He said that he was sorry he had made the noise, but a young Maori girl had woken him up and knowing it was a ghost, was frightened and tried karate kicking her out of his bedroom. Needless to say he didn’t stay with us very long. My unbeliever child soon became the believer when the little blonde girl woke her from sleep one night. Any photos taken in the house were splattered with orbs. After arriving home from Christchurch one night a tall thin man walked past the lounge door. You kind of go, did I really see that? Doubt yourself and carry on until the next one.
    It is a shame the place isn’t being looked after. They really don’t care about the upkeep of the buildings. Christine, the woman looking after the show was never really sober to care.
    After all these years, I would love to find out more about the ghosts that shared our home and frightened so many people who stayed with us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *