Q&A: Confessions of... a spooky tour guide

Hairdresser and historical tour guide Andrew Smith. Photo: Linda Robertson
Hairdresser and historical tour guide Andrew Smith. Photo: Linda Robertson
Andrew Smith is a hairdresser and historical tour guide. His self-run tour business, Hair Raiser Ghost Tours, takes visitors on an educational and ‘‘spine-tingling’’ tour through particularly historical or ghostly parts of Dunedin.

Why do you do what you do?

It's always entertaining. Every single night is different. You don't know what you're going to end up with. I wanted to create something different.

I wanted to focus on the darker side of Dunedin. Obviously, the ghost stories and unfortunate untimely events appealed as an alternative tourist opportunity. Historical entertainment is what it is all about.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Beyonce Knowles. She can sing and dance. What more can you ask for?

What is your earliest memory?

Waiting for the tiger bus. It was sort of an iconic bus in the city. I guess it appealed to every kid. Not every bus was not painted like that. Basically, I just remember waiting. If a normal bus came along I'd basically beg my mother and say `no, no, no. Not this one. We'll wait for the tiger bus to come along'.

One of my earliest memories is sort of being fixated by this bus which now sits down at the Toitu Museum. Kids from my era will remember that bus.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?


What is your most embarrassing moment?

I was coming home from a game of cricket [in England] and I'd had a bit too much to drink and I fell asleep on the train, the Flying Scotsman. By the time I woke up, it was too late. My next stop was in Edinburgh. I might have had 5, 4 on me.

No cards. No phone, having to convince the guy behind the ticket office to give me a new ticket home which, of course, he did. He thought it was a great joke. That was in 1996. I've had a lot of embarrassing moments since but it always comes to mind.

Then there's obviously the funeral thing which is a bit cringe-worthy and a bit embarrassing. My car has sign-writing all over it. Hair Raiser Ghost Tours. I had to go a funeral one day and the only park available was right outside the venue, right outside the church.

I had to park my little ghost-mobile right outside and that was embarrassing to say the least. Obviously, every time you go to a funeral in the future you park about three blocks away so as to not raise eyebrows.

What's your proudest achievement?

Witnessing the births of my two children. I only fainted once!

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

I support the search for the South Island kokako also known as "the grey ghost''.

Property aside, what's the most extravagant thing you've bought?

Paul Smith shoes.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Basil Brush. I could have chosen someone cliched but I wanted to pick something a bit different.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Ocho chocolate cake with orange butter icing.

What would be your dream job?

Trumpet player.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?


What keeps you awake at night?

My power bill.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Whatever by Oasis. Great soundtrack to my life. Tough choice, along with The Smiths Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. But I chose Whatever as it defines a moment in time for me in Manchester 1995. The endless summer of fun.

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