The team ventures south to the scenic Hawkes Bay to investigate this majestic art-deco hotel on Napier’s waterfront.
Napier has been described as the ‘Art Deco Capital of the World’ and the Masonic Hotel is a fine example of Art Deco architecture.
The Masonic, built in the 1860s and originally 3 stories high, suffered from the effects of two earthquakes. The most devastating being the 1931 Napier Earthquake when the building was ravaged by fire.
There have been other deaths both natural and unnatural in the century-and-a-half since the hotel was first built. A chef once died in one of the hotel’s baths and a regular resident to the Masonic, a man who returned to stay there for weeks at a time every year, same room, same season, died in the elevator.
Staff have also reported mysterious music, strange lights, apparitions and cold spots. From the stories we had heard and read, we decided to hit the road again and stay a night to see it there was any truth or substance to the tales.
The Haunted Auckland team for this investigation was Mark, Kel and Stu (Barbara’s husband who stood in, as Barbara arrived quite sick and couldn’t partake in the session that night). Mark stayed in Room 131. (Which is allegedly haunted and had many stories come from staff and visitors). Barbara and Stu in room 149 and Kel in room121.
There is a section of the hotel which is currently under renovations, so is closed to the public. This is where we recorded the most activity during the session.
We were given a thorough tour of the entire hotel by the very helpful, Lali.
The team arrived in the afternoon and after checking in, set about talking to staff and planning the night ahead.
On her arrival Kel experienced some psychic or perhaps sense-based activity.
“When I arrived I checked in went to my room, number 121. When I was in the room, my ears started ‘buzzing’. To me, that usually means there are spirits present. I then noticed the curtain which separates the room to the bathroom move. I thought it might have been a breeze from the window, but they were closed. The curtain moved again and I asked if “that is you moving the curtain, can you make it move some more?”, which it did. I told it to stop and it did. Unfortunately no one else was in the room with me and I did not get a photo or any other evidence of this.”
“When I went out of my room to the corridor I felt someone looking at me.. I turned around, there was no one. At Reception, I spoke to Rachel and asked if anything had happened in 121, she explained that someone had stayed in one of the rooms down the end of the corridor where I was staying. She could not remember exactly what room number though, but that they had left in a real hurry without explanation. I asked another staff member, Wendy if she had experienced anything strange, she said that at times she would feel someone behind her but on turning around there would be no one there.”
Starting at the very top attic, we were given a tour by the caretaker Graham, who had worked there many years and knew every inch of the place well. The attic, a huge storage space on the top floor covering the full length and width of the building was eerily chilly and was home to a myriad of stored bric-a-brac. From old antique furniture that used to adorn the hotel rooms, to many old television sets that were being replaced and stored due to the analogue-to-digital changeover of television in this country.
Photographic and audio recordings were made of this area.
Mark spent quite a bit of time sitting in the sun room recording for E.V.Ps and snapping photos.
“As soon as I walked into that room, I suddenly felt and icy chill breeze engulf me. It hit me as soon as I stepped down into the room and walked in. It was like walking into a freezer with a fan aimed at me, but whipping across my body like a light swirling wind concentrated to certain parts of my body. Back, face, legs, neck etc, a very weird feeling indeed!”
We felt that the icy cold feeling may have been because it was very cold outside and there were a lot of glass windows in the sun room, but we could not explain the wind/breeze sensations. There were no open windows to allow for any outside air movement.
“As I was sitting doing a solo EVP in the dark sun room, Kel came in and suddenly looked confused. She had thought that I was talking to someone in the room and arrived to see only me there. She said she could hear my voice as I was asking questions during the EVP session, as she was walking down the long corridor to where I was, but could also hear another mans voice talking as well. She had thought at the time that it was either Stu, or perhaps another staff member. It wasn’t. “
Kel, the team sensitive comments;
“When I was walking down the hallway to the Sun room I heard Mark talking. I could also hear a male voice talking with him. I just thought Mark was talking to Graham, who had shown us the attic. I was amazed when I saw Mark by himself.”
Room 102 (Renovation wing)
Kel spoke to Jessie from reception, who had asked if we had picked anything up in the renovation section of the hotel. Previous to us being shown that wing of the hotel, the staff weren’t telling us anything so as not to give us any clues. We prefer it this way. They mentioned nothing about any of the rooms and what was allegedly in them or any details of what had happened.
Kel had sensed that an entity residing in room 102 of the renovation section had a heavy accent and was a chain smoker. This was confirmed as correct by Jessie. He did in fact have a heavy accent and was a chain smoker. The staff then told us a story of an old regular customer, who had stayed in the same room (Room 102) every year for at the same time/ season for 6 weeks straight, for 29 years! One visit, he was found dead in the elevator. This was 2 years ago. He had passed away in the place he loved more than any other.
A wonderful, yet sad story. It is thought that the man still prefers to visit the Masonic Hotel as he always did, even in the afterlife. Same room, same season, same duration. There has been strange sensations and activity reported in Room 102 and in the elevator since.
Guest Rooms Level
We spent many hours roaming the corridors, taking photos, recording audio and filming with a static video camera in various positions throughout the night. At one point we were sitting quietly in a hallway outside the rooms, when we all heard a loud scraping noise followed by heavy footsteps walking overhead in the attic above. It sounded first like someone in the attic was pushing or sliding a heavy cabinet or desk across the floor. Then at times walking from one end of the attic to the other. We could hear and follow the footsteps as they ‘walked’ over us.
Also at the time we did hear other noises which we could immediately explain. i.e. the air conditioning switching off and on, the elevator/ lift being used, people down at reception. But we could not debunk the noises above. Mark went to have a look to see if it was Graham the Caretaker, working late upstairs but the door was heavily bolted and padlocked from the outside. No one could have been up there as this was the only entrance to the attic.
In the morning, whilst having breakfast we asked Lali and another staff member about the late night noises and were told that other guests and staff have mentioned the sounds in the past as well and to this day, no explanation has yet been forthcoming.
“When we were down stairs we heard a lot of noise coming from the attic like someone was dragging furniture. Mark went upstairs to check if someone was up there the door was locked.”
One of the staff took us down to the basement, an amazing place that instantly felt like travelling deep into some huge underground bunker. There were alleyways and corners, hidden rooms off in every direction. It was a fascinating maze of concrete and brick beneath the contrasting beautiful that it was the foundations for. This was being used for storage and workshop space.
Like the attic above it was a huge cavernous place that one could easily spend much time rummaging and exploring in its immensity.
After reviewing the team’s many photographs, 15 hours of audio and over 10 hours of video footage, we were unable to document any conclusive hard evidence to prove the existence any entities present within the walls of the Masonic Hotel.
Members did notice a few unusual sensations during the physical investigation.
“I could not sleep very well as I kept on hearing the noises above me in the attic.”
However, this still does not necessarily mean that the hotel is haunted, as we were unable to capture anything definitive, at this investigation.
Staff and visitors to this wonderful old hotel have been witness to many incidents and experiences through the years. It is likely at the very least, that the hotel does contain some residual phenomena, considering the amount of visitors staying there and the activities that have taken place within its walls through the many decades.
The team agreed though that any entities that might reside at the Masonic, could be purely residual. A Residual Haunting is a playback of a past event. The apparitions involved are not thought to be spirits, but are “recordings” of an event or person. This type of event is not dangerous at all, the ‘people’ that are seen are not aware of anyone being there as they are not conscious beings, only repeating imprint recordings that are replaying themselves over and over.
So if you ever have the chance to witness one, do so without fear, enjoy it. After all, you may just be witnessing history repeating itself!
Napier’s Masonic Hotel in beautiful Hawke’s Bay, in our humble opinion, would have to be the nicest, most helpful and Paranormal Investigator-friendly hotel the group has so far visited, alongside the Waitomo Caves Hotel.
The decor is lovingly retro (as is pretty much ALL of Napier) and very well maintained. The staff, be it in the restaurant, the front desk, even the caretaker, were informative, helpful and so welcoming that we felt right at home!
The staff and their obvious love for their surroundings and their positive attitudes showed how dedicated and connected to the hotel they all were. It was great to see and is quite rare with hotels these days.
Haunted Auckland would like to recommend you pay them a visit and stay for a while or maybe just check into their restaurant for a meal or brunch. The Masonic Hotel also get the prestigious Haunted Auckland honour of having the best Beef Stack Burgers with fries, in the entire country!
If you haven’t sampled one of these treasures, do so before you die!
A HUGE thank you to Rachel, Jess, Lali, Selina and Graham the caretaker, for all your help on the night.