Report - 'The Mountain Prison' - Waikune - October 2014

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Is this the future?
Regular User
Mar 16, 2014
Waikune minimum security prison is located in the wilder lands of New Zealand, bordering the Tongariro national park and Erua Forest. Although the site originally had a number of small fences, they functioned primarily to mark the perimeter of the prison, rather than to keep inmates inside; it was anticipated that any person who managed to escape would be unlikely to survive without food and shelter in the surrounding hostile landscape. Despite serving the New Zealand government well, detaining over 100 inmates in the rural outback where prisoners were ordered to work clearing roads or sent to support nearby forestry activity, the prison was closed in 1986 due to growing concerns surrounding the need to improve the site’s infrastructure and outdated technology. It is rumoured that no prisoner ever managed to escape, but one should be mindful that most prisons support similar stories when their history becomes subject to public conversation.

For this one we drove from Wellington, and headed in the rough direction of the snowy mountains in the far distance. The road is a long one, and the further you go humanity seems to abruptly disappear, until you find yourself passing only the odd dilapidated farm now and then. To put things into perspective, when we left the city it was a summer’s day, yet, when we arrived at Waikune minimum security prison it was snowing and the temperature had plummeted to nearly zero degrees. Access wasn’t exactly problematic though, given the lack of people. For most casual observers this site is likely to appear as nothing more than a dirty derp, nonetheless, it’s an unusual find, in the middle of nowhere, and I gathered that people in the UK may be curious enough to glimpse at what lies across New Zealand’s dramatic and forgotten landscape. Unsurprisingly, the weather has taken its toll on many of the buildings, and the place reeks of that familiar ‘urbex’ fragrance; mixed with pine trees in this instance. I imagine life was, for the most part, a cold and miserable one at Waikune, with the only taste of freedom residing in the manual work undertaken outside of the camp’s fragile fences.

Explored with Urbex Central NZ; Nillskill and Zort.

1: Waikune Prison


2: Waikune Prison - Communal/Service Buildings


3: Former Storage Room


4: Taking 'Minimum Security' far too Literally


5: Outside View of the Cell Block


6: Shoe Rack in Doorway


7: First Cell Block


8: Second Cell Block


9: Very Old Light Switches


10: Entertainment Room (With Stage and Old Ping Pong Table)


11: Stage View of Entertainment Room


12: Former Classroom


13: Blackboard with Chalk Writing


14: The Chapel


15: Strange Toyota Machine (Found Inside Chapel)


16: Outside of the Chapel


17: The Three Cookers (Cookhouse)


18: Life From the Staffs' Perspective

Likes: girtrood


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Oct 15, 2014
Nice shots, looks like a really atmospheric site. The added fragrance of pine must have been an improvement over the usual site smells though!