Otago 1

Vulcan Hotel

Tragic Murder of a Prostitute

In the early 1880s an itinerant prostitute known only as the Rose ventured into town, one of a seemingly endless stream of young ladies lured to the minefields with hopes of finding a better life. She worked the dance halls and rented a room at the Vulcan Hotel. A gifted singer, her dulcet tones were claimed to have drawn her no shortage of fans and eager clients. But one evening the Rose invited the wrong customer back to her room. Her body was found the next morning on the bed where she made her miserable living. She had been raped, robbed and strangled to death. Her killer was never caught.


HAUNTED: The historic Vulcan hotel in St Bathans.
The Vulcan Hotel, Otago

The ghost of a young woman is said to haunt the bar at the Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans. She is thought to have been a bar maid who died of a broken heart.
The room that was believed to have been hers can be asked for, if you decide to spend the night in a haunted hotel!!!!

Christchurch Press
By MIKE CREAN - The Press | Tuesday, 12 June 2007
The ghost of St Bathans is in a tizz. News last month that hills in the backdrop to the village may be ripped open for coal has spooked her.

"Will I ever be able to rest in peace?" the hassled spectre pleads.

The spirit of a young woman who died in the tiny Central Otago township's Vulcan Hotel is said to haunt anyone who disturbs her occupation of the front-corner bedroom where she passed away. St Bathans almost died, too, with the end of gold mining in the mid- 1930s. People moved out in droves. The village stands miles from anywhere, on a lonely loop road, where permafrost completes the pallid ghostly aspect. The Vulcan survived, to serve a handful of resilient old-timers and local farmers, joined in summer by city folk seeking tranquillity. To them, the former Post Office and bank are striking reminders of lost affluence. The "discovery" of Central Otago in the last 20 years has brought a rebirth, making St Bathans a fashionable place to build a schist pile and gaze upon mountainscapes and skies that look like God's attempt to imitate Grahame Sydney's art.

I was regularly at St Bathans in the mid-1970s and played club rugby with Don Harley, a local farmer and former Otago rugby flanker. I looked him up on a trip back sometime around 1990. Inspired by the well-known Coast to Coast endurance race, Harley had devised a triathlon event for St Bathans - the Ghost to Ghost, a race starting and finishing outside the ghost's bedroom window. Harley took me around the Ghost to Ghost course in his farm-muddied 4WD. The ghost smiled on us. How will she react, though, if hordes of people move in on the coat-tails of a massive coal-mining operation? Coal has long been dug from lower slopes of the Hawkduns. We burned lignite from a small mine there and complained about the dust from it. But that is nothing compared to what may lie ahead. A coalrush becomes more likely with every few cents added to the price of petrol. Local coal deposits are estimated at 650 million tonnes and technology exists for converting coal to gasoline.

The coal reserves are valued at $82 billion - and money talks. Ask the St Bathans ghost. She remembers St Bathans changing from a hell-hole canvas town of 2000 souls to a solid village with a stable population of 600. She remembers, too, how miners and sluicers turned a hill into a lake, opposite the Vulcan Hotel.

Many Irishmen were on the job so the hill became known as Kildare Hill. As the hole they created filled with water, it was unimaginatively dubbed Blue Lake; though maybe it was imaginative since, in my time down south, its waters were green. She remembers when gold pickings at St Bathans were so rich that diggers almost undermined the town and had to be stopped by the local county council before Post Office, bank, Vulcan Hotel and all were sent tumbling into an abyss. And that spelt the end of the golden era.

Saturday, February 06, 2010
St Bathans Post Office.

An Invercargill, NZ man has taken a photograph that could be proof of the afterlife, or it could be a cloud – who knows?
Andrew Watters travelled to St Bathans, near Alexandra, with his partner Kim Ward during the weekend in search of the spirits that reputedly haunt its buildings.
"I'd always been nagging my Kim to go and have a look at the Vulcan Hotel and its supposed ghost, hoping we would find something."
That search turned up short.
"I had a beer at the pub and got goosebumps but I think it was just the excitement."
The pair took plenty of photos and didn't think they had anything until a friend spotted a shape with an uncanny resemblance to a woman in the window at the post office, he said.
"It's freaked me out a bit. The shape is very close to a human figure."

The photograph did not make him any more or less sceptical about the existence of ghosts but it was bizarre, Mr Watters said.
Vulcan Hotel leasee Jude Cavanagh said it was the first she had heard of a ghost sighting at the post office.
"It's a very spirited town, so who knows?"
The post office, which was managed by the Department of Conservation since the 1950s, had been vacant for about a year, at least in the bodily sense, she said.
"It all adds to the legend of the place."
The department's Alexandra community relations programme manager Amanda Ware said she had no knowledge of any phantom presence at the post office.
The building, opened in 1909, was a category two historic place and had been vacant for about a year, she said.

From Darrin in Dunedin
We have had quite a bit of activity over the years in this house. The most recent was about eight months ago when my Mother and myself both heard an Irish woman's voice talking, the voice travelled down our hallway. She was as loud as can be and Mum was in her room and I in mine. The voice was southern Irish (my Mother is from Belfast so we know the difference) and she sounded happy. Although you could hear her well and even hear the lilt in her voice there was something wrong with it, hard to explain but the only way I can put it is that her voice was "out of sink" so to speak, couldn't hear what the actual words she was saying.

Other things include a hard "pressing" around the edges of beds. Strange noises from my room like someone dragging heavy furniture across a wooden floor (I slept through this believe it or not! Ha) Last year my Mother watched a white form follow me up from the back paddock as I carried a sack of wood up.

The house goes back to at least 1900, and I have actually found a photo of it going back to 1905. There is quite a bit of history here on Saddle Hill, there used to be an old school and church up the road that dates back to the 1870's but they are both gone now (although I did find the old foundation stones upon which they stood) and the road suffered a slip in the 1940's closing access.

I have attached a close up negative of the orb we captured on film, you can make out a lot more detail.

What is fascinating about this shot of the orb is that it is the brightest thing in the photo and is in motion. It appears to loop up behind itself (proving it is moving in three dimensions?)

I have measured out the total distance the orb has travelled and it is a minimum of 19.5cm! The speed of the aperture was 1/64 or 1500th of a second(0.015) Am I correct in thinking that the rate of speed can be deduced from the following formula? Distance travelled 19.5cm divided by shutter speed 0.015 = 1300km/ph!

Would be interested in, and would greatly appreciate your opinion on this.

Kindest regards,


Dunedin Hospital's Grey Lady

Many stories have been told of the Grey Lady of the old Dunedin Hospital. It’s thought she was a young solo mother, whose baby had been taken into care. After the birth the young woman sank into a deep depression and subsequently died.

Her pitiful, sobbing, ghost wanders between ward one and Victoria ward going by the stairs to Jubilee ward looking for her baby. 

Many nurses have reported hearing the sobs and seeing the shadowy ghostly apparition late in the evenings. Some of the nurses have said they felt her reach out and touch them as they passed by.

Unfortunately the old hospital is long gone and a new building has taken it's place.

Given time, new ghosts might emerge.

One of Otago University's Halls of residence, Hayward Hall is all the remains of the old Dunedin hospital. The students who live there will tell you it's haunted, some even claim to have seen the ghosts.

Larnach Castle

Nestled on the Otago Peninsula lies Larnach’s Castle. Perhaps one of the most famous buildings in New Zealand. Built by the Honorable William James Mudie Larnach, Larnach Castle is an old building with a long and chequered history. It has had many owners and many uses over the years. It's been a family home, a hospital for the mentally ill, and is currently one of Dunedin's best known tourist attractions and a very fine hotel.

The Castle has it's fair share of ghost stories, mostly based around the tragic lives of the Larnachs. One of the stories is that Katie Larnach, Sir William’s favourite daughter, haunts the ballroom which was reputedly built for her as a 21st birthday gift. Kate died shortly after that birthday.

Larnachs first wife Eliza Jane was supposed to have died in what is called the South Bedroom.

Directly underneath that room is the Library or the Study. Eliza died at the age of 38 of apoplexy. It is thought to be her presence that can be felt in the bedroom doorway. After his first wife Eliza's death Larnach then married his wife's sister. She too died unexpectedly.

Larnach married again, his third wife Constance was much younger than William, the match was doomed from the start. Constance had an affair with Larnach's son Donald. Donald later took his own life in the Grand Hotel (now the Southern Cross).

William Larnach was a colorful character, who facing financial ruin after the fall of the Colonial Bank, committed suicide in his office in Wellington in 1898. It is not known if his ghost is responsible for opening closed doors during the night.

Some of the hotel staff have reported hearing footsteps late at night and feeling as though someone has touched the back of their necks making the hair bristle.

One evening as the current owner and hotel manager worked late. They both heard what sounded like a heavy piece of furniture being pushed along the floor. When they went to investigate nothing was amiss. On another occasion as staff were checking that the function room was empty and all the guests had gone, they heard very heavy breathing, it sounded like it came from the South Bedroom, when they checked the room was empty.

There are other stories of the ghosts of Larnach's Castle. Don't let me spoil the fun, judge for yourself, if you're ever in Dunedin visit the Castle have afternoon tea amid it's splendid charm.

based on Information by Steve Hart  

Larnach Castle - Is there a Ghost???

Margaret Barker, Owner of Larnach Castle, talks about ghosts...

"You want to hear about the Castle Ghost. Is there one? Well, many people have had a strange experience on the upper floor - always in the same place. And these people have not known that other people have had this same experience. Someone or something touches them on the back of the neck. A clairvoyant told us that this presence is very unhappy. This presence is at the door of the bedroom of the first Mrs Larnach. I think that it is her. I think that she would be pretty unhappy because after she died Mr Larnach married her sister.

A play "Larnach - Castle of Lies" has been written about the last part of Larnach's life. This play tells the story of Larnach's unhappiness financially and with his children and his third wife. Any way the Fortune Theatre presented the opening night of this play in our Ballroom with 100 invited guests. It was a night to remember. As the guests arrived a terrible storm blew up from nowhere. The smoke from the fires blew back down the chimneys so that you couldn't see - and your eyes hurt. Hail crashed on the iron roof so that you couldn't hear. Doors mysteriously opened by themselves and it got very cold. In the play - just as Larnach shot himself there was a blinding white light. Afterwards at supper people were talking about the lightning strike as Larnach held the gun to his head. Me, a disbeliever, said "Oh no that was stage effects." So we asked the stage manager. He said "It was none of our doing, it was lightning." I think that Larnach was present that night. He didn't like the play. Next day all those right-brained businessmen who had been at the play were trying to reconcile what they did or didn't believe with what they had seen and experienced that night.

We think Mr Larnach is generally supportive of what we do. When we were considering setting ourselves up in catering - well, we had our first wedding booked - a strange thing happened that provided us with the capital. A postgraduate student was found in possession of Larnach's skull. The publicity that this event and Peter's subsequent trial produced brought thousands of extra paying guests to our doors. Truth newspaper published a photograph of the skull. The bullet hole was in the centre of the forehead. Was this the skull of the father William Larnach, who shot himself in Parliament, or the skull of the son, Donald, who shot himself at the Grand Hotel (now the Southern Cross)? The mortuary reports were researched and it was the skull of the father because he shot himself in the forehead and the son shot himself through the jaw. People just lapped up this scandalous stuff. Though I have to say that the Larnach family, Larnach's grandchildren and great grandchildren were deeply offended by it all. It was their relatives' graves and remains that had been desecrated. We had this unexpected financial windfall and just at that time the breweries bought Wains Hotel and auctioned off the lovely oak dining chairs, the silver teapots, pots and pans, water heaters and all other kitchen equipment. We were at the auction. We bought all this gear up and we were in catering. If you are lucky enough to have been to a function or had tea in the Ballroom you would have sat in one of those oak chairs bought from the Wains auction. So Mr Larnach was watching over us and giving us a helping hand… We feel that he approves of the way in which we cherish his beautiful home. His discontented first wife didn't like it much so he had to buy her another house in town.

The saga of the skull goes on today. Fleur Snedden, Mr Larnach's great, great grand daughter wrote his biography. She has spent many years researching Larnach's life to get the record right for her family and for everyone that was interested. Certain myths were exploded. The Larnachs did not have such flash ancestors as they pretended. Larnach's father hung a man in his yard. And of course there was the scandal. Larnach couldn't have liked all this being made public. The books failed to arrive for the book launch that was held in Parliament, Larnach's old stamping ground. Then the person who had possession of Larnach's skull back in 1972 forced the withdrawal of the book. Fleur's telling of the story of his possession of the skull was incomplete. A correction had to be made in the book. .. He said that he had not interfered improperly with the skull because someone else unspecified had removed it from the mausoleum and given it to him. He had kept it nicely polished. The matter with Fleur Snedden was settled out of court to his satisfaction. This book is now back on the market, but it missed the Christmas sales. Was Peter acting of his own free will or was he unknowingly an instrument of Larnach's vengeance? Did Larnach stop the sales of this book because his great, great grand daughter saw fit to wash the family's dirty laundry in public? Or was it like the lightning just one of those things?"

Otago Daily Times

Email Story - Sent Wednesday, April 16, 2003 2:23 PM


Many years ago I visited Larnach Castle and found it be very cold and sad. I felt that it was locked in the past where all the players were still there. When I was physically standing at the door of the great ball room I was moved to the side of the ballroom where I was watching people in old attire dancing around the great room. The music was playing and everyone was having a great time. Everything was in colour. When I came back into myself all I saw was the dimness. Upstairs I was followed to the bathroom.

Last year I went back and I saw the father, the brother and a younger woman. the daughter standing at the front entrance as I walked in. They were dressed as they would have been so long ago. I wandered around the great house which I mostly remember but the bathroom that I originally saw is quite different.

The bedroom where the first Mrs Larnach slept was still very heavy and sad. I walked outside this great house and walked around to the back. I talked to the people caught in time in that house as I stood looking at it and then across from the house I saw a huge sagged rip in the air and then a huge bang like a door had been opened and shut.

My son was not far from me and he heard nothing. However I have seen this doorway before and heard a similar sound. The vibration was like a big thunderbolt.

Next time I visit I expect that the house is free and full of sunshine.I have seen many spirits since I was small and they appear in many forms.I've seen them walking on the motorways and if they have died in their cars I see them still sitting there. This would explain why someone else would have another car accident shortly after. Sometimes like Larnach Castle I see the same as they see and what the place looked like in their time.

Amazing to see. I have met spirits that aren't the nicest but I have learnt the gift of sending them home. I've seen rooms with beautiful swirling light going around the walls cleaning any negative space that lost spirits have left and afterwards the houses glow with peace.

I've been to many places overseas and seen the ones locked into time.

Every battle and warzone never looses the vibration of what happened there. Every life that is taken is imprinted in its history.Spirits ask me how I see them and I tell them because I can. I talk to them in my mind and they talk to me back. I do this so they can move on. Its no fun being locked into time.
If anyone anywhere feels or sees something don't run in fear but ask that they, the lost ones find the peace and love that they are looking for. Ask this with a pure heart and your reward will be their peace that you will feel as their thanks.

Kindest regards

Janice Knox

One final personal story of Larnach Castle - Larnach Ballroom

Anytime I've been involved at a haunting or cleansing, the phenomenon is almost always by though transference. I only remember one or two occasions when the apparition was clearly audible. Too be perfectly honest I prefer hearing by thought, it's not as disturbing.

Except for this one occasion.

In March this year 2003, I went with my husband and a close friend from the USA; to one of our well know "haunted" landmarks.

When we went into the ballroom (tea-rooms) my mood changed, I became sullen and belligerent. It was a cold day, so we sat near the fire place. I had no sooner sat down than a man came and stood beside me, he laid his hand on my shoulder, and I became instantly angry. He was a morose unhappy chap, who did not want to leave that which he had built.

He was also annoyed at the number of people passing through his space.

My friend; a well known international parapsychologist took out a Trifield meter and pointed it in my direction. To my left it read 1 to my right it shot up to 7.

I asked the gentleman if he wanted to talk, I was met with a resounding "NO" and he moved away to my left, closer to the fire, which was at my back.
Photo of William LanarchMy husband, poor man skeptic that he is, was having a great deal of trouble keeping his own composure. He came around the table and placed his arm on mine. At that exact moment, the gentleman by the fire took exception to his being there and rushed forward, the blast of cold air was palpable. It was so damn cold my Goosebumps laid eggs. Paul, my husband said "What the hell was that?" Our psi friend was taking photographs as fast as she could. Unfortunately nothing showed up.

I took this photograph in 2006, Notice the portrait of Mr Larnach looks more like a skull.


A couple of weeks later. There was an article in the OTD it said. "The police were investigating a fire in the Ballroom of Lanarch Castle.' It had apparently been set in the fireplace and has spilled out on to the floor. By person or persons unknown. The Castle was closed at the time.

It's the middle of summer here, with temperatures up in the high 20's C. Who lit the fire and why????





Larnach Castle 2011 by Alison

I wanted to make my daughter's 13th birthday memorable so took her to
Larnach Castle for the night.  We had a meal in the castle.
Afterwards took photos outside of the castle at night.


The castle seemed different than usual.  I go there annually.

During the night at the Stables accommodation room we heard a ball
being rolled up to but not banging on our door.  We ignored it
although it went on for quite a while.  Later on we heard it being
rolled down the stairs.  This time got up to investigate in case a
child was hurt. There was no child and there was no ball.

Spoke to the staff the next morning and was informed that there have
been reports of children playing in the loft of the stables and as my
daughter was 13 they wanted to play with her.

Looking at the photos later (bragging to a friend) I noticed what
appears to be a face above Constance's bedroom.  Thinking it was on
the next floor up I compared photos to a daylight one and there is no
other floor above Constance's bedroom.


Maybe you can use this for your wonderful website and maybe you can't.
Edit as you wish.  I left my daughter in the pic to show that it
isn't a shaky photographer as my daughter is perfectly in focus, it's
the castle.  It's a great website that I've only just discovered and
am having fun exploring. Thank you



It would appear that there is a
 man standing on the rampart of the castle.


Glenfield House Dunedin

A Strange thing happened when I tried to scan a picture of an old photo that hangs on the wall of this old 1880's mansion; the original two attempts to scan the photo resulted in a black blotch where the photo of the man is (see below). This gave me the major creeps!!! Anyway, the story on this place is that it belonged to a family for generations. The photo that hangs in the billiard room has been there for at least several generations. About ten years ago, the house went into disrepair and was left vacant until two women bought the house and renamed it the Glenfield House. They restored the old house and opened a bed & breakfast.

It's well known in Dunedin, New Zealand that this house is haunted, except to American tourists! I spoke with the women during my stay and they said that while they've lived there, nothing really happened to them but they don't like to go into the billiard room because they feel the gentleman who's photo hangs on the wall, watches them as they move throughout the room. They get similar comments from guests.

It was totally coincidental that I ended up staying there in November 1997. I was with my wife on our honeymoon and our travel agent in the U.S. booked us here because they have a contract with the owners of the house. The first time I walked into the house, I felt that it was spooky, but understand, I did NOT know that the house was haunted. It wasn't until later that evening that a tour guide brought up the subject.

During my first walk through while moving luggage to our room, I looked around and went into the billiard room, but very QUICKLY walked out. I made a comment to my wife that that room was freaky and very COLD! It wasn't until the next day that I found out that the house was considered haunted because of the billiard room.

The women that own the house were told by one of the younger generations of the family that use to own the house, that she didn't know who the photo was of. It was originally assumed that it was a family member from an earlier generation.

The owners of this B&B were gracious and treated us like royalty.  The house is incredibly maintained and feels like a cross of English and old Americana. If you want a fun stay in Dunedin, New Zealand, stay at the Glenfield House. We didn't have anything strange happened to us and we stayed on Halloween night. The only real spooky thing in the entire house is the photo on the wall, which has its own halo around the man's head. Enjoy the photos.... Ghostly Guy




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