Haunted Auckland investigates the city’s oldest continuously licensed premises. Do former patrons still lurk in this pub’s notorious Gin Room?
First opened / licensed in 1865. Used to be a General Store which burned down. The Queens Ferry’s name is derived from the Scottish hometown of the founding publican John Robertson. Mr Robertson and his wife, May, who took over the manager’s role, both died of natural causes on the premises.
The Queens Ferry Hotel is one of two buildings classified by the Historic Places Trust in the historically well-heeled Vulcan Lane. Apparently the pub is the country’s oldest drinking establishment, (the first beer was poured on April 19, 1865), and it’s seen action across three different centuries. Also kept in the basement in the 1800s, were cages in which sailors were locked after drinking sessions, so they would not miss their boats the next day.
The Scots militia met here in the hotel’s early days. Freemasons frequented it in the 1880s. The weapon that was used in the infamous Bassett Rd ‘Machine Gun Murders’ in Remuera in 1963 was assembled in the hotel’s cellar and then smuggled out wrapped in newspaper. There have been 3 natural deaths in the building. Information is available in a book called “Queen’s Ferry Hotel Proprietors”.
Investigation of all 4 levels of the Queen’s Ferry building in Vulcan Lane, Auckland City performed by Haunted Auckland members, Mark, Matthew, Barbara and Karen.
Ali the bar man and Rose the Bar manager told us of some of the many stories of mysterious encounters at the bar through the years.
Ali reported that the glass washer nozzle under the beer taps is renowned for spraying guests and staff – especially when the ghost is being discussed. It was initially queried whether the water might have been dripping from the airconditioning unit, but the range and force of the spray seem to discount this, as well as people hearing the ‘clunk’ and actually seeing the washer being depressed. Ali reports being sprayed up to 6 times in a single day. (Side note from Karen: I was at the QF on the 3rd May. There were different bar staff working, but an inverted shot glass had been placed over the washer…..) When demonstrated, we saw that it takes quite a bit of pressure down on the button to make the water squirt, which made the incidents intriguing. Ali didn’t think it could be a malfunction.
Weird noises are also reported from the men’s bathroom in the Gin Room, like running water – but upon investigation there’s no water running/no one there.
The chef has reported hearing a girl’s voice downstairs in the basement.
Ali says that you often feel presences while working, or feel like there’s someone watching you and ‘you know that someone’s there’.
Joe, the General Manager was ‘making out’ with his girlfriend in the Gin Room, she apparently actually SAW ‘people’ watching them, and was understandably very freaked out.
Joe also reported seeing someone walk past in his peripheral vision in the Gin Room while staff were cashing up.
Rose has worked at Queens Ferry for two years. She reported that she went downstairs to the basement and went into the walk-in fridge to fetch a cake. Her friend accompanied her to the basement. The fridge door closed and shut her into the fridge. Upon questioning she said that she didn’t try the door handle which is on the inside. This may be because a) she wasn’t aware of it, b) because her hands were full as a result of carrying the cake or c) she was so freaked out that she wasn’t thinking straight. It could even be a combination of these (ie not seeing the handle there because she was holding the cake & not thinking to look for one because she was scared).
Starting from the very top and making our way downwards to the basement doing a full audio / video and photographic sweep on every floor.
Top Floor – Poker Storage Room
Located on the very top floor, this room was being used mainly for storage. Whilst setting up equipment, we noticed Barbara’s torch seemed to switch on and off by itself. So we started asking questions. As we asked the ‘presence’ to turn the torch on, it instantaneously turned on. We asked it to be turned off, it went off. Maybe just coincidence as it only did this a couple of times on command, but still a little unnerving, yet rather exciting at the time. Its worth noting that the torch is a ‘twist to turn on’ type, so a little effort is needed to make it light up.
Karen’s phone also lit up mid-session, which according to Karen, has never happened before. Matthew felt a brief cold sensation up in the top floor storage room, however we decided to put that down to a breeze from the doorway.
Middle Floor – The Gin Room
This room we monitored with two static night shot video cameras, 3 audio recorders and our digital cameras. We set up an LED light motion sensor on the floor in the gin room and sat down for a bit to soak in the atmosphere and ‘listen’.
A couple of times the sensor light was triggered when nobody had moved. Again, could be a coincidence, but still worthy of mention. The motion sensor activating on queue was captured on static video camera. Our Tri-field meter recorded the fridges in the Gin Room reaching levels as high as 10 milligause. Exit signs gave off an extremely unusual 100+ milligause level, which radiated through the nearby walls ( A possible explanation to stories of the “dark corner” in the Gin Room that has often been experienced.)
Barbara and Karen decided to do a short EVP session in the ladies toilets.
Here, the torch chose to light up again, this time while it was still in Barbara’s bag. (Again, the torch is a ‘twist to turn on’ type so a little effort is needed to make it light up.)
Main Floor – The Bar
Our Tri-field meter showed that the bar fridges in the main bar were reaching 8-10 milligause.
The Sound system speakers in the main bar also gave off a very high magnetic field, which would oscillate while there was music playing, although this would be just the magnets inside the speakers.
E.M.F wise, the motors for the pumps to the beer taps in the basement were off the scale, 100+ milligause! Cooler fans in the walk-in refrigerator gave an interesting oscillating magnetic field, between 15-25 milligause.
The team’s thoughts
A nice old pub. Old stonework in the basement was interesting. It’s obviously seen a bit of life in its time. It’s in pretty good shape considering it’s almost 150 years old. Especially when you compare it to other building of similar age we’ve investigated. It looked like it may have been renovated a few times, at least in the main bar and Gin Room floors.
We all agreed that the Queens Ferry was a very peaceful feeling place overall.
Karen – ” For me, the strangest place in terms of sensing activity was the ‘poker room’ I think. I frequent the Queen’s Ferry & so am quite familiar with the Gin Room (which probably doesn’t give me an objective view). However, the ladies’ bathroom in the Gin Room was definitely creepy with the lights off!”
After reviewing the teams’ collection of nearly 800 photographs, 8 hours of audio and over 2 hours of static video footage, we were unable to document any conclusive evidence to prove the existence of a ghost, or ghosts present within the walls of the Queens Ferry Hotel.
Staff and patrons to this wonderful old building have been witness to many incidents and experiences through the years. It seems they are most certainly feeling, seeing and hearing ‘something’, however we did not manage to capture anything conclusive in the time we were there.
It is likely at the very least, that the Queens Ferry does contain some residual phenomena considering the activity that has taken place within its walls and the large volumes of patrons that have frequented the QF through the decades.
Haunted Auckland hopes to go back there in the near future for a follow-up session.
The Queens Ferry Hotel in Vulcan Lane, Auckland City is in our opinion worthy of further investigation.