North Shore's phantom hum a mystery

ELUSIVE HUM: Stefanie Schaefer is plagued by a strange hum and wants to know its source.
ELUSIVE HUM: Stefanie Schaefer is plagued by a strange hum and wants to know its source.

Stefanie Schaefer just wants the mysterious hum she hears to stop.

The strange phenomenon, known as the North Shore hum, has made headlines in Australia and the UK and even has a mention in Wikipedia.

But North Shore is not alone in having a hum. There's also the Bristol hum and the Durham hum in the UK and Kokomo hum in the United States.

There have been a number of scientific studies but no-one can say why some people can hear a steady drone.

Stories on North Shore's hum first appeared in the North Shore Times about seven years ago and were picked up by international media.

Ms Schaefer has now come forward saying people still suffer because no cause has been found.

She says it's a low frequency sound she can't ignore and it's loudest in her Murrays Bay home.

"It's as if someone is blowing into the neck of a glass bottle. It's loud enough to irritate me," she says.

"It's stressful because it's frustrating not being able to identify the source."

Hearing tests ruled out tinnitus but did find she had acute hearing.

Turning off the mains electricity didn't make it go away and the transformer box outside has been ruled out too.

Her gut feeling is that it could be related to the increased use of new technology and rising electromagnetic activity.

Ms Schaefer hears the hum constantly in her house or car and says the sound vibrates through her.

"I always have the urge to get out of the house. You're desperate to get away from it. It just does your head in."

Ms Schaefer also hears it in other parts of Auckland, including Whangaparaoa, and has heard it in Wellington.

It affects her sleep and concentration and

she just wants answers so she's not forced to move house.

"I would like to find out if there are still more hum sufferers out there. Maybe we can exchange our experiences, make sense of it and find the source of it to be able to stop it."

The North Shore Times reported on the investigations by Tom Moir into a hum heard in Birkenhead, Albany, Glenfield, Takapuna, Torbay, Orewa and Whangaparaoa in 2006.

Dr Moir's research team captured an audio recording of the sound people heard but it appears the source was never found.

Ms Schaefer emailed Dr Moir who told her Murrays Bay was a hotspot for the hum.

Masking it with another more pleasant noise, like rainforest noise CDs, appeared to be the only way to reduce it, he told her.

It's a tactic that Ms Schaefer has already tried after taking up a strange suggestion from an online hum forum.

She looks up Boeing 747 cockpit sounds on YouTube and plays them in the background to mask the hum.

Ms Schaefer thinks there are lots of other sufferers who just don't talk about it.

"It's not something you put your hand up about and say ‘I hear a really weird noise and it stresses me out'."

Email stefanie if you hear it.

To listen to the hum click here. NOTE: Turn your speakers up!


There's a kind of a hum all over the world. Here are some of the other places around the globe where hums have been reported.

Windsor hum, Ontario, Canada 2011 The Canadian government has given funding this year to investigate its cause Taos hum, New Mexico, from early 1990s It even got a mention on the TV show The X-Files.

Kokomo hum, Indiana, US, from 1999 The city of Kokomo commissioned a study to find answers. Two industrial sites were identified and abatement measures were taken but some residents still hear it.

Bristol hum. First reported 1979 Durham hum, village of Woodland, UK, from 2011. 

North Shore Times