MacKenzie State Park, located in Opihikao on the scenic Red Road that follows the rugged Puna coastline, is said to be one of the most haunted places on the Big Island.
This park is named after a young ranger that planted the ironwood trees in the park and died in 1938. It has a slightly checkered history, including unsolved murders and huaka'i pō* (nightmarchers).
The park was built by prison convicts in the late 1850s, during the height of the sugar plantation era in Hawaii and the convicts - mostly plantation laborers who committed crimes - were shipped over from Honolulu’s prison camps. Working under the unforgiving conditions of an isolated area, the convicts cleared the thick rainforest and removed large lava rocks to level the park’s ground. Many of them succumbed to the hot humid climate, lack of sanitized water, and outbreak of diseases. There are no records of where their bodies were buried, presumably somewhere in the park.
MacKenzie State Park was unfortunately the scene of several terrible crimes. In 1980, a young couple was camping in the park when they were attacked and severely beaten outside their tent during the night. Their bodies were found by other campers the next morning, the man was dead and the woman was barely alive. No arrest was ever made and the crime still remains a mystery to this day. In 1993, a 16-year-old highschool girl was kidnapped and raped by three men. After beating the victim unconscious, the three men disposed of her body over the cliff in the park. The men were later arrested and according to their confession, the victim was still alive when they threw her into the ocean. Her body was never found. Most recently, in 2008, while filming the movie “The Tempest” (by Miramax, with Helen Miren and Djimon Hounsou) on location at MacKenzie State Park, the film’s cast and crew discovered the bullet-riddled body of a well known local surfer at the bottom of the sea cliff.
There are also many reports of drowning accidents at the park. Most victims were unwary fishermen who got swept away by big waves and strong currents. During high surf periods, the crashing waves can get 30-40 feet high above the cliff, washing everything (large chunks of rock and even a few ironwood trees!) into the ocean. The bodies of drowned victims are rarely recovered in these treacherous waters.
For years, local residents have reported seeing ghosts or experienced strange unearthly phenomena at MacKenzie State Park. Some of these occurrences happened in broad daylight. Those who have hiked on the trail along the park’s cliff have said they often heard footsteps following them and when they turned around to look, there was no one. Native Hawaiians have long believed that the park is a spiritual place: a shadowy territory that belongs to the lost and restless ‘uhane (human souls).
The eerily quiet ironwood forest always seems to possess some kind of unsettling energy or supernatural feeling about it. Many of the ironwood trees in the park are very old, their exposed roots spread out over the ground like snakes or gnarly fingers! One local resident recalled as she was taking a walk in the park one afternoon, she saw someone ahead of her on the trail. Whoever that was then turned around, gave her a wave, and then vaporized into an ironwood tree right in front of her eyes!
People who take their dogs to the park have observed that the dogs sometimes behaved nervously for no apparent reason or barked hysterically up a tree at an unseen threat. There are also reports of hearing someone crying or whispering voices inside the many gaping holes in the ground (collapsed lava tubes) seen around the park. Visitors who camp at the park for the first time - and are completely unaware of the park’s reputation - usually have the creepiest stories to tell. Some have heard voices and footsteps around their tents all night, but when they went outside to look there was always no one. Others have claimed they were abruptly awakened in the middle of the night by bloodcurdling screams outside in the dark! A few have experienced frightening paranormal encounters like being choked while sleeping by a presence inside their tent or sleeping bags suddenly unzipped and pulled away by invisible forces or the tent shaken violently and repeatedly throughout the night without any explanation!
People who take pictures at the park are sometimes baffled at mysterious objects appearing out of nowhere in some of the shots! Local fishermen who fish in the park at night have witnessed mysterious iridescent fireballs that bounce and roll along the surf and then disappear into the sea caves at the bottom of the cliffs. Overnight campers have also reported seeing similar flickering green fires dancing around the park. Some thought they were fireflies, but alas, this insect does not exist in tropical Hawaii!
KRG MAKES CONTACT WITH A SPIRIT
Date of investigation: March 1, 2013
MacKenzie State Park, Puna, Big Island of Hawaii
Members present: Zach, Grace, Steve, Jason, Marcie, Frisco, Josiah
Equipment used: K2 meter, ion detector, digital recorder, crystal pendulum, various digital cameras and cell phone cameras, spirit box.
After spending an hour or so familiarizing ourselves with the park, which sits dangerously close to a 30 foot cliff, we started to get signs that we were not alone. In fact, according to KRG team member Marcie Grover, a gifted sensitive and seasoned investigator, we had five spirits around us, one of which was named Louie.
"I decided to attempt a sensitive session with a quartz crystal pendulum and sat down on a rock about 15 feet from the cliff wall, facing the ocean. I immediately made contact with a spirit named "Louie" or "Louis", who I sensed was a Portuguese prison laborer from the crew who built the park in the 1850s. He indicated there were four other such spirits there with him. He had created his own "Purgatory" and would not "go to the light" due to his Catholic upbringing. He indicated he had killed a fellow laborer due to lack of provisions. I believe he died a few weeks after that incident."
She continued to investigate further:
"After hours of seemingly playing "tag" with the spirits, someone suggested we go completely dark and use the small indicator lights on the ion detector only to note activity... and we had immediate success. I asked the spirits if they could light up the device once for yes and twice for no and we again had an immediate response. The device remained blank when no questions were asked."
Her conclusion of this investigation:
"The MacKenzie investigation was not only a success, I believe we discovered new and important information previously unknown in the paranormal community: certain spirits are so afraid of light sources only total darkness will bring about any kind of results. Our particular spirits, presumably raised Catholic with an ingrained fear of eternal damnation, will not go near anything which, to them, resembles the light which appears to take them to the other side. This assumption is verified in the hours we spent chasing K2 and ion hits with our bright lights, only to have the energy spikes disappear immediately. It was only in total darkness when the spirits of MacKenzie made themselves known. This presents a problem for us in the future obtaining physical proof, but we will experiment with IR and night shot cameras. For now, however, we have the corroboration of five witnesses who experienced and took part in the spirit communication with the ion detector, and that, for now, is more than a step in the right direction."
OTHER ANOMALIES CAUGHT ON CAMERA & DIGITAL RECORDER (EVP)
The spirit show did not end with the ion detector only lighting up in response to our questions. We also captured numerous digital photos showing mists, orbs, and strange objects that did not appear in the series of shots we took at each time, along with a strange EVP of a woman "moaning". As far as capturing anything on camera, really helps when you take three pictures of the same area because it gives you a "past, present, and future" set of photos that can later be used to see if anything appears that was or was not in the previous shots. If you look at the following images, you can obviously see something anomalous. Keep in mind they were all shot in sequence. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words.
KRG's Jason Obenchain captures possible EVP
KRG Investigator Jason Obenchain:
"In EVP1, at 00:17 there is an unknown sound that we can't quite make out; it sounds like a voice. At 00:24, it sounds like a moaning female voice."
Jason also accidentally recorded our post investigation discussion just after things wrapped up. This is unedited raw recording of us talking about what we had just experienced. Does it sound like we are genuinely intrigued, or making things up? What do you think so far?
Further testimony from KRG investigator Steve Grossman speaks volumes
Investigator: Steve Grossman
Investigation area: MacKenzie State Park, March 1, 2013
Other team members present: Zach, Grace and her sons Frisco and Josiah, Marcie and Jason.
Equipment used: Digital cameras, K2 EMF meters, Ion meter, IR camera, and digital recorders.
"A little earlier, slightly before dark, Marcie sat down with her crystal and sensed that one of the convicts who had been brought to clear the land in the 1850's was with us. This would evidently prove to be true from what transpired later.
"Zach, Jason and I returned to the vehicles sometime between 9:30 and 9:45 and they began to go through evidence. Approximately twenty minutes later I realized that the other four had not come back to the vehicles, nor could I see any of their lights. I decided to attempt to find them and started back out with my flashlight. I saw lights ahead briefly and then they went out. I began to see the shapes of the others and as I approached Marcie and Grace both told me to turn my light out. "They don't like light," was what they said next. Then they said to no one I could see, "This is our friend Steve. Are you willing to talk to him?"
I then saw the green power indicator on the ion meter, which Frisco was holding out toward the middle of the group, blink off and on once.
"Over the next fifteen minutes or so I asked a number of questions. Each time the indicator blinked either once or twice, which was to indicate yes or no. Marcie and Grace were able to determine that Louie, the spirit she had sensed earlier, was present, along with a number of other spirits. They had not only answered yes and no questions, but had indicated numbers with multiple blinks, again in answering direct questions from Marcie and Grace. When Marcie asked these spirits not to follow, and then remarked that we would be turning our lights on and returning to the other team members, the indicator light began to blink in rapid fire fashion. When we turned the lights on the indicator went back to solid green and stayed that way. It is interesting to note that during the time we were asking questions we often would talk among ourselves, not addressing the spirits who were present, and the indicator always remained a solid green during those intervals" - Steve Grossman
As of now this is still and ongoing investigation and more evidence/testimony may be added to this post at a later date. (Not included in this report are the written testimonies of both Frisco and Josiah which are incredibly detailed, as well as a few dozen photos and video recorded on site.)
If you would like to contact KRG for media appearances/inquiries or with your personal experiences of MacKenzie State Park, you may do so using the contact form below.
KRG Case Log
The public case log of our supernatural research into Hawaii's paranormal activity.
KRG's paranormal division relies on the donations from our clients, visitors, members and supporters. Aloha & Mahalo for your generosity and support.