Auckland Civic Theatre

What lurks behind the curtains at New Zealand’s largest, and most iconic theatre?


The Auckland Civic Theatre is in the heart of Auckland City. It’s imposing Rococo facade looms over a busy and well-patronised intersection of bars, restaurants and retail outlets. The Foyer is decorated in the style of an Indian temple whilst the main theatre section employs an impressive and atmospheric “Arabian Nights” theme complete with a starlit domed sky, turrets, minarets and two large golden Abyssinian Panthers reclining on either side of the stage. The Civic’s interior houses six floors of dressing rooms, storage areas, function rooms, crew stations and operating apparatus consisting of complex pulley and cable machinery for screens and curtains.

 Auckland Civic Theatre
 Auckland Civic Theatre
 Auckland Civic Theatre
 Auckland Civic Theatre
 Auckland Civic Theatre
 Auckland Civic Theatre

civicexterior ps2 Auckland Civic Theatre


The 2,750-seat capacity Civic Theatre opened on 20 December 1929 on the site of the former Auckland City Market. The design of the complex boasted some innovative features such as a large room in the basement (Wintergarden) from which the main cinema screen above was viewable, the second largest Wurlitzer organ in the Southern Hemisphere and a large orchestra pit that could be elevated up onto the main stage.

The Civic survived the great depression (despite the bankruptcy of its owner Thomas O’Brian) and it became a popular venue for American servicemen during the Second World War. The basement Wintergarden was transformed into a Cabaret and its resident scantily-clad adagio dance troupe kept the troops entertained with raucous and energetic performances. A particular member of the Wintergarden dance troupe, Miss Freda Stark was infamously daring and she had been known to perform on stage clad only in gold body paint or a g-string and feather headdress. Miss Stark’s ghost reputedly haunts the Civic despite the fact that she did not actually die in the theatre.

The Civic Theatre under construction. NZ Herald 11 September 1929.

In the late 1990′s, the Civic was subject to an extensive renovation. It reopened on 20 December 1999, precisely 70 years after its first cinema screening. In addition to screening film festivals (with a revised seating capacity of 2,378), The Civic now hosts international stage musicals, concerts, conferences, functions and theatre productions.

Haunted Auckland has conducted 2 investigations of the Civic Theatre so far.

Check out the Haunted Auckland investigation reports.

The grave of Freda Stark; located at Waikumete Cemetery in Glen Eden, West Auckland.


Investigation 1 –

Investigation 2 –


  1. i have known this place to be haunted i pick up natural spirit energies if i feel them around me i dunno y i just do for some reason i did pick up quiet a few when i was there with my ex a few years ago but didnt tell him cause i didnt want him to think i was crazy n then i reasearched that the civic theatre was haunted that was just creepy for me to even know that.

    1. I didnt know who to tell at the time hardly people believe me. I cant communicate with them or talk to them its just something happs naturally since I was a kid. Ever since I was litle I have been fascinated with ghost spirits n stories n etc of what happ to them n history of the buildings that it holds I have no idea y just a hobbie I really enjoy.

  2. I dont know how to communicate with them would be kool to help my power grow a little if u know anyone that has had that let me know cause i dont know where to start looking.

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