Waiouru Military Camp is a camp of the New Zealand Army in the central North Island near Waiouru. All New Zealand Army soldiers complete their initial basic training at Waiouru Military Camp.
In mid-1940, 800 construction workers from the Ministry of Works built the training camp with capacity for 7000 soldiers. Within six weeks 25000 tons of building materials had arrived at Waiouru Railway Station. 450,000 tonnes of earth was shifted to make a flat area. At the same time, hundreds of soldiers camped under canvas in the snow and completed extensive field training.
By Christmas 1940, there were 230 buildings constructed, served by 20 km of streets. By mid-1941, seven regimental camps housed 7000 soldiers. There was a bakery, a hospital, two theatres and five “institutes”, each with a concert hall, library, writing room and tea-rooms. However, there were no bars; soldiers had to go to Taihape to buy a beer.
More land was required for the camp by 1949. Plans were made to upgrade the Desert Road track through the artillery range to a major State Highway and build a high-voltage power line to transfer power up the Moawhango valley. The Army Schools at Trentham were to be transferred to Waiouru, compulsory military training was about to commence and, as defence responsibilities shifted to South-East Asia, the Army needed forests for jungle warfare training. These considerations resulted in another 250 square kilometres of land to the north and east of the camp being acquired by the New Zealand Government.
Compulsory military training was carried out at Waiouru from 1950 to 1958, and balloted national service from 1962 to 1972. In 1978, the National Army Museum opened at Waiouru, and in 1985 the Officer Cadet School of New Zealand. These were busiest years at Waiouru. 100 recreational clubs were active in the 1970s and 80s: the Ski Club alone had 300 members. At the time, Waiouru had a population of 6,000 people, including 600 children.
Army recruits stationed at the camp have reported seeing shadowy figures at the end of their bunks at night as well as sounds of tapping on their metal bunk frames. Faces have been seen outside the windows at night after curfew.
In another tale, a presence known as “Harvey” has been felt in one of the shower blocks were a young man was said to have hanged himself, and his spirit is said to appear each year on the anniversary of his death. On one of these anniversaries, several recruits reported an intense feeling of cold in the middle of the night, and a pressure forcing them down on their bunks so that they could not move or speak. One also reported the sight of a dirty white mist, blurred and vaguely human-shaped but without arms or any identifying facial features.
Whether these stories are true, or just tales to frighten new recruits, we may never know. But many agree there appear to be something lingering in the barracks and dormitories of the Waiouru Military Camp.