Mark Wallbank from Paranormal New Zealand. Photo by Mark Smith.

Auckland’s ghosts: on the scene with the Paranormal New Zealand team


Mark Wallbank has devoted a lifetime to feeling spooked.

He has camped out in haunted houses, hunted for poltergeists and travelled the globe in search of paranormal phenomena. While for any of us it’s the fabric of nightmares, Mark reckons he’s living the dream.

“Feeling spooked is a sensation I get great joy out of,” he says. “I’ve never experienced a fear of the unknown.”

Mark heads Paranormal New Zealand with a team of seven investigating everything from UFOs and aliens to ghosts and cryptids. He’s written several books outlining his findings and has conducted research in Australia, the UK and Hawaii.

In New Zealand, he and his team have investigated nearly all of the allegedly haunted locations.  

“The ones that have given us a multitude of strange occurrences to ponder on are all in Auckland,” he says.

Puhinui Homestead, Howick Historical Village

One of the homes in Howick Historical Village, Puhinui Homestead, has a long history of haunting. Built in 1861 by William McLaughlin and moved from Wiri to Howick in 1982, several people have reported seeing an apparition of a woman – thought to be William’s daughter Sarita – ascending the stairs and in the master bedroom.

Mark and his team worked closely with the village between 2010 and 2017, conducting close to a dozen investigations, and experiencing multiple incidents of unexplained noise and movement, including loud footsteps in different parts of the house.

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Puhinui Homestead in Howick Historical Village. Photo by Sam Collier.

When Mark undertook a solo overnight vigil at Puhinui Homestead in 2016, his flat-based torch (which had been placed on a chair as a trigger object for ghosts) was thrown down the stairs at 3am – and not by Mark, the only person in the house at the time. This footage was captured on film, and also included 12 minutes of clear audio of movement, scraping, clunking, footsteps and furniture shifting.

“This was quite an incredible moment for me and one that I haven’t yet been able to explain.”

So is the village definitely haunted? “To be honest, I haven't experienced too much that I'd consider without a doubt paranormal. I've witnessed a few occurrences firsthand that I couldn't explain, though for me to call a location conclusively ‘haunted’ would take a bit of solid evidence to back up such a statement.”

Lake House Arts Centre, Takapuna

Built as a family home in the 1890s and relocated from its original Hurstmere Road site in 1997, the Lake House Arts Centre has a rich and eclectic history. Over the years it has been flats, a hospital and a boarding house. It is said to be home to a resident child-ghost called Patty, and there have been multiple reports of a man holding hands with children walking around the outside of the building and a woman dressed in white seen in reflections in the artworks.  

Some of the unexplained occurrences have even been captured on security cameras, including an apparition of a woman floating around the ground floor, the front doors opening of their own accord during the night, and glowing balls of light (orbs) flying all over the place.

The centre is a favourite haunt for Mark and his team. They have staked out the property on multiple occasions, and armed with cameras, proximity alarms, atmospheric detectors, tape recorders, temperature gauges, and electromagnetic field (EMF) meters, have collected a stockpile of evidence.

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Mark Wallbank from Paranormal New Zealand at Lake House in Takapuna. Photo by Mark Smith.

“The team has had numerous possible interactions with equipment and trigger lights being manipulated,” Mark says. “The sounds of a child running down the hallway, shuffling, knocks and sounds of movement have all been observed during our investigations and, at one point, investigator Aimee Peterken seemingly played (and lost) a game of dominoes with ‘Patty’. This was filmed and witnessed by myself and a guest investigator.

“Meanwhile Paranormal New Zealand investigator Sam Collier had a physical interaction during one session when his camera’s firmly fixed illuminator lamp was pushed back and twisted around on him as he ascended a small set of stairs.”

Kingseat Hospital, Karaka

Once a psychiatric hospital – and now the haunted theme park Spookers – Kingseat Hospital in South Auckland is considered by many to be the most haunted hotspot in the country. Well over 100 ghost sightings have been reported there.

Paranormal New Zealand has spent over a decade investigating the run-down ex-hospital site, and their experiences are enough to make most people’s hair stand on end. Mark says that certain rooms in the old nurses quarters felt different from others (“some rooms had an icy cold chill and the air felt thick and heavy, while rooms next to it felt warm and normal”), and his investigators frequently experienced unexplained occurrences like touching, pushing and voices.

One particular visit left Mark spooked and speechless.

“I was holding an EMF meter in my hand and I asked any possible entities in the room to touch it. Almost immediately my hand became ice cold and the meter began flashing and beeping.”

The team started asking questions, instructing the entity to touch the meter’s sensor or grab Mark’s hand for ‘yes’ and to not answer for ‘no’. They communicated with the entity for about an hour, discovering she was a nurse who committed suicide in 1974, at the age of 27.

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The old Kingseat Hospital in Auckland. Photo from Paranormal New Zealand.

“I’m still getting my head around all the things we experienced. I’m not usually one to jump up and yell ‘haunted’, but I feel the physical actions that we experienced, and all witnessed, do count for something.”

Meanwhile over in the dilapidated maximum security buildings – where people have reported being touched and pushed, seeing apparitions, and hearing growling and door slamming – Mark heard footsteps and a thud, and saw a shadow figure around six feet tall floating from left to right.

So after a lifetime of chasing ghosts, can Mark say, hand-on-heart, that they are real? He remains sceptical.

“I don't know,” he admits, “but I've experienced the very same things that many others have experienced – things I can't explain. When I consult those more sceptical or scientifically minded than myself for answers and nothing conclusive is on offer, I know I'm onto something special.

“Something is going on here. What? I don't know.”


Story by Vanessa Trethewey for the Winter 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Vanessa Trethewey is a freelance writer who regualarly contributes to AA Directions Magazine.

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