Destruction Gully: Further exploration along the ”Coast of Ghosts”, West Auckland.

Carrying on with our ongoing field research into the infamous ”Coast of Ghosts”, named by local mayor Bob Harvey, due to its haunted reputation and the level of tragedy the region has seen through the centuries.
We’ve spent many visits at Whatipu so far, so for this one, we wanted to head a little further along the coast to a piece of the coastline called Destruction Gully. The estimated terrain elevation above seal level is 278 metres.
It was down there in that gully that many of the dead washed up after the Orpheus disaster. Some were taken away, while others were buried where they lay.
We wanted to spend some time in this region to acknowledge and pay our respects to the many who had passed away.
On 7th February 1863 when the Royal Naval Corvette, the HMS Orpheus, 68.8 metres in length and launched in 1860, was wrecked on the Manukau Bar. This is to date New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster with 189 men out of 270 crew and passengers being unaccounted for.
The vessel was a fully-rigged, three-masted ship, that was also powered by two steam engines.
The Orpheus left Sydney, Australia on 31 January 1863, but being pressed for time, the Captain decided to take the vessel into the Manukau Harbour. Here the vessel struck the northern end of the Middle Bank at 1.20 pm on 7th February 1863.
Over the next four hours, the ship began to break up as it was battered by large waves formed by the force of the outgoing tide. Despite a rescue attempt 189 officers and men, including Commodore Burnett, were unaccounted for out of a complement of 270. Over the following weeks, bodies washed up all along the surrounding coastline.
The HMS Orpheus was not the first or the last ship to be wrecked on the Manukau Bar. Between 1848 and 1981 eighteen ships were wrecked on the Manukau Bar with the loss of 244 lives.
Since that devastating event, many people have claimed to have witnessed apparitions along the coastline. Mysterious lights are also seen flitting through the dense bush at night in areas deemed unreachable. There are reports of the sounds of guttural screaming being carried along on the wind with no apparent source.
Many say the area of the tragedy feels heavy and emotional. Much sadness, fear and uncontrollable despair are felt in certain areas. One such witness was former Waitakere City mayor Bob Harvey who, after his own experiences there, refers to the area as a ‘Coast of Ghosts’.
This was an overnight campout, so was part paranormal research, part respectful tribute to the departed and part adventure.
Out in the deepest and darkest wilds of West Auckland.
Here are a few photos we took along the way. Enjoy.

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