Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Haunted Hut?

As we all know, ghost stories are best told out in the wilderness, preferably by the dim light of a campfire, or no light at all.

It stands to reason then, that New Zealand's backcountry huts make a perfect setting for one of those spooky tales. Miles from civilization, cut off from any means of communication, dark, full of strange noises without and within - it's a ghost story waiting to happen if you spend the night alone in a hut.

And yet, I've never had anything spooky happen in a hut, or heard of any spooky happenings. But a recent story in the Timaru Herald (Timaru is a town on New Zealand's South Island between Christchurch and Dunedin) talks about strange experiences at Hooker Hut (pictured above), which is in the Southern Alps near Mt Cook Village.

The original Hooker Hut was built in 1910, and has apparently had ghost stories associated with it for decades. The hut was rebuilt in 1948, then shifted intact in 1963 due to instability in the glacial moraine, and shifted again in 1994. The collapsing moraine walls near the hut make it difficult to reach in its current location, so they are looking at moving it once again.

All of this confusion seems to have annoyed the local spirits. According to mountain guide Jane Morris, who spent a night there recently with a DoC Visitor Centre Assistant, they were not alone in Hooker Hut that night.

Shortly after going to bed, the pair heard footsteps on the deck outside, followed by what seemed to be someone rummaging through a backpack. Then they heard what sounded like an ice axe banging against corrugated iron.

They got up and looked outside, but saw no other people or wildlife. After returning to bed, various noises continued through the night, including the sound of pots clanging and someone shuffling around.

Likely candidates for haunting the hut include a man who helped to build the original hut, and later died in an avalanche in the area.

This is the problem with New Zealand - if this happened in Canada you'd just assume it was a bear! Here - well there's only so much noise birds and possums can make. Anyway, if you're headed to Mt Cook you can check it out for yourself.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora,
There are stories even more frightening about a place called Pages Shelter near the Temple Basin in the Arthurs Pass area. Apparently screaming beneath the floors, ghostly appiritions, ect. Not many stay there.

Anonymous said...

My Dad and his mountaineering friends thought haunted hut stories were a load of nonsense until an experience they had a hooker hut in Mt cook national park n the late 1970's. During the night someone quite clearly started knocking on the door, however absolutely nobody was outside. Then they heard a really loud clanging noise and the snow shovel had somehow been dislodged and appeared to have been thrown into the snow some way in front of the hut, despite being firmly attached. They thought maybe it had just been blown out, but were still all a bit freaked out by the experience after hearing it was notorious for such occurrences.