Agnostic guide to Wellington's ghosts

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Inverlochy House, above, is possibly Wellington's most haunted site, says ghost writer James Gilberd.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Inverlochy House, above, is possibly Wellington's most haunted site, says ghost writer James Gilberd.

Evidence of the supernatural may lurk in the hallways of ghost-sighting hot-spot Inverlochy House but James Gilberd hasn't found it – yet.

He describes himself as "agnostic" about the existence of ghosts but has experienced unexplainable black shapes and investigated flying mirrors, levitating skulls and "strange electromagnetic spikes" in Wellington.

"There simply is not enough strong evidence at this stage," says Gilberd, co-author of a new book investigating, and sometimes debunking, paranormal activity in New Zealand.

FAKE: What looks like a ghostly image on the couch at is actually the camera strap.
FAKE: What looks like a ghostly image on the couch at is actually the camera strap.

On New Year's Day, 1997, Gilberd and partner Denise Durkin were staying in a Whanganui hotel when they both woke up to see a yet-to-be-explained black shape coming at them.

"I still can't figure out how two people woke up simultaneously and had the same experiences. How is it that we both had the same nightmare?"

This experience, the most persuasive he has had to suggest ghosts exist, started him on the road to becoming a paranormal investigator.

More recently he has investigated a levitating plastic skull in a Wellington house, which he hopes to show by experimentation to have a rational explanation.

A focus of researching the book has been at Inverlochy House, off Abel Smith St near the bypass.

Reports of ghosts there date back to 1980, when a mirror reportedly came off one wall, flew across the hallway to the other wall, then slid slowly to the floor. Since then several people had spotted a ghost, believed to be a young Maori maid, but there might be more than one entity present in the house, he said.

His Strange Occurrences team had done numerous paranormal investigations at Inverlochy, using electromagnetic field meters, sound recording equipment, and night vision and specially adapted cameras to gather evidence.

"Strange electromagnetic spikes" have been detected, which he suspects could lead to people hallucinating, or the unexplained movement of objects.

"I would say it's one of the most potentially paranormal sites in Wellington."

Theatres such as the St James and the Opera House were other hotspots. "I would love for us to do an investigation of the Embassy Theatre. I have heard some interesting stories about that place."

Gilberd's book, Spooked – Exploring the Paranormal in New Zealand, co-written with Wellington writer Jo Davy, was launched last night.

Coinciding with the launch are two exhibitions. Opening tonight at MYGALAXI Gallery in Dixon St is an Arlo Edwards-curated exhibition, Spooked, with a variety of artists responding to the idea of the supernatural.

Wellington artist Bruce Mahalski has gathered together paranormal-related artefacts, which are on display at Inverlochy House till Friday.

FULL OF SPIRIT

Wellington's top 10 sites for reported ghostly events:

Inverlochy House

St James Theatre

Opera House

Downstage Theatre

Te Aro School, a former jail

Makara coastline

Erskine College, Island Bay

Mt Victoria former fever hospital

Massey University (former museum site)

Weir House, Victoria University accommodation

The Dominion Post