Recently we had the experience of staying in a place that was once a grand 19th-century hotel. Which sits proudly on a hilltop overlooking the Waitomo Caves. It does sound very posh doesn’t it, well, as it so happens the Queen’s head once lay on a fluffed up pillow on the first floor, during late 1953. Of course, that pillow and surrounding linen have hopefully done it’s dash at this hotel.
Now it is but a shadow of its former self though it still labels itself as being “Grandeur and Elegant”. With such a description and nothing to dispute it when little googling has been done, it pulls in the unsuspecting tour bus loaded with tourists and one-nighter locals such as us.
Driving towards the hotel, for a moment it looked quite promising. My next thought was perhaps I should have completed more research before booking as we surveyed the worn-out carpet and wallpaper repaired with sellotape. That was to be the least interesting of our findings by the end of our stay.
It really would’ve made an ideal setting for “The Faulty Towers” series. Really it did feel like we had stepped into a casting role for “The Faulty Towers”. As soon as we were booked in, the cheerful receptionist informed us, the hotel was supposedly the “most haunted hotel” in New Zealand. The Squire commented that the expressions on my face were priceless! I might add so were my thoughts.
The fact that we lay in a room that the Queen was given way back in 1954 was of some consolation?. Depending on which way you view that little gem of information.
Even though she needs a spruce up, she does have a lovely feel about her, the hotel not necessarily the Queen.
Our Room with a View
What a gem. On a 30 deg afternoon, we had sun pouring into the room with no workable fan and a dripping toilet. As it was daylight, ghosts weren’t added to the list of undesirable room additions.
Back down to reception I trot hoping to goodness that there was a spare room to be had for us, two weary travellers.
Luckily there was. Right next door at No12.
On the ghost front, I think we went from the frying pan into the fire. That’s if you believe in such things, we don’t. So surely for us, there would be no ghostly encounters?
Haunted Stories or someone’s fertile imagination?
Once an upon a time, there was a Maori princess, who was the daughter of a high-ranking Maori chief. Who became enamoured with a British soldier. One evening, on her way up to the fort for a romantic rendezvous with a solider. She was mistaken for a warrior by one of the British sentries and was shot dead. Her spirit is said to haunt the Victorian wing of the hotel which houses the Honeymoon Suite. She has also been reputed to taking up residence in the Waitomo Caves Hotel attic, and her moaning can be heard coming from this area.
The story of the Ghost of Room 14 relates to the tale of the Maori Princess. A young male guest at the hotel felt what is reputed to be her spirit passing through him, and after telling the story to several guests staying at the time, he retired to his room and committed suicide. He is said now to wander the corridors as well.
The adjacent Room 12 is also said to be frequented by the princess, with moving lights reported in the en-suite bathroom and guests having bed sheets pulled away and toes tickled during the night.
So, to answer my previous question, did we experience anything unearthly? Thankfully, we did not. No encounters, not one problem at all, no tickling of feet or dark shadows catching our eye. In fact, we had a good sleep. No doubt helped by finding a local restaurant out in the countryside dishing up good food and an evening walk to prepare us for sleep and no time to think of spooky stories.
There are, of course, two sides of all ghostly tales.
If you are interested in the paranormal or have a fondness of ghostly touches in the middle of the night, do feel free to book into this hotel or visit the following sites if you happen to be in the area.
If like me, after the initial discomfort, of all this talk referring to ghosts just makes you want to laugh out loud? You’re not alone. There are a few Skeptics Societies to join who are committed to finding the scientific facts behind claims of paranormal activity.
To experience the pure elegance of travel from a bygone era, we may have to find somewhere else. We are sure of one thing, we won’t be back ghosts or no ghosts.