A ghoul's errand: The modern-day ghost hunters searching for spirits in a Wellington flat

In a city like Wellington, there is no shortage of character homes. Old villas sit up against the hillsides in layers and look over the city with windows lit up like watchful eyes. I've often wondered what if these homes aren't all just occupied by people? What if some have other, less concrete residents?

I've been living in one of these 100-year-old villas perched atop a hill for the last three years - and in that time I've heard a few things go bump in the night. 

There's a whispering noise only women living in the house sometimes hear as if someone has snuck up behind you and breathed into your ear. 

Strange knocking noises too - three distinct bangs on the front door, or the side of the house but when you answer no one is there. 

Once I swear I saw someone disappear into a darkened bedroom - but when I called out there was only silence. 

Perhaps the most inexplicable incident was less chilling. A dishwashing liquid bottle on a windowsill rocked side to side, without anyone touching it or any breeze to be felt. I might have thought I was losing my mind, had someone else not seen the whole thing too.

I had my suspicions but they were only that - suspicions. So I invited paranormal investigator James Gilberd from the New Zealand Strange Occurrences Society, along with his colleagues Jo Davy and Ellie Tucker to come into my house, and see if there's anything which could prove I'm not only living with breathing flatmates. 

The trio came to my house on an unusually still winter night and immediately my thoughts of the dramatic, excitable ghost hunters I spent my childhood watching vanished. 

Gilberd, Davy and Tucker were all extremely friendly and very calm.

"We don't do the dramatics, " Davy told me happily. 

The investigators prefer not to know anything about the house or experiences of those in it before they start - any information they are given could make them susceptible to suggestion. 

The investigation began in the living room. Immediately all three noticed a large drop in temperature. However, as Gilberd explained, this was likely due to an HRV vent in the ceiling directly above the door.  Further experimentation with a large potted plant confirmed this - if we placed the plant under the vent, we could clearly see the leaves move in the draught from the vent in the ceiling. 

But Gilberd said he "wasn't convinced".

"There's just something..I don't know, something odd about this room. When I first walked in I didn't notice the temperature, just felt a bit weird walking it. But I don't know what that is, it might not be paranormal."

Unbeknownst to them, this living room is one of the most active rooms in the house - multiple women who have lived in or visited the villa have heard a hoarse whispering sound, directly into their ears. It's never clear enough to distinguish what's been said - but it's audible and unsettling nonetheless.

The next step was to measure the electro-magnetic field (EMF) strength of the room. The theory behind EMF is that ghosts either emit an EMF or they can manipulate the field to cause a change - it's often used in paranormal investigations. 

Gilberd noticed the measurement was "quite high" throughout the living room.

He theorised the unusual reading could be related to an electric substation on the corner of the road. However when Gilberd and Tucker went outside they realised although the EMF maxed out close to the substation by the time they were back in the house it dropped down to usual levels. 

The higher than average reading was not conclusive evidence of anything, Gilberd said.

"It's a little bit higher than you would expect - that could be the age of the house, it could be the wiring. It's a little unusual, but I wouldn't worry about it," he told me.

The other piece of equipment used by Gilberd and his team was a Natural EM meter. This measures magnetic field changes and moving static electrical charges. As Gilberd put it - "if this goes off, something exciting is happening".

"Put it this way - it doesn't usually go off, so if it does then something odd is going on," he said.

Luckily for my peace of mind, it remained silent throughout the night. 

The trio moved through my flat, taking temperature readings and EMF measurements - none of which were enough to conclusively prove I am haunted.

Ghost hunting appears to be an inexact science - there are readings here and there that could be a sign of something - but then again it could just as easily be something else.

After more than two hours of pleasant conversation, and sitting quietly to see if anything would show itself I bade farewell to the paranormal investigators. 

As they disappeared into the night I felt strangely at ease even though the mystery hadn't been solved.

Maybe I'm not alone in my house - but maybe that's not such a bad thing.