A Shining Example

Lighthouses have long played a crucial role in keeping mariners safe when navigating New Zealand’s extensive coastline – we spotlight eight beauties.

With such an extensive coastline, maritime navigation aids have long played a vital role in keeping mariners safe as they navigate New Zealand waters.

Maritime New Zealand owns and maintains the lighthouses and beacons that are outside harbour limits in New Zealand, while those within harbour limits are controlled by local authorities.

Ultimate responsibility for all maritime navigation aids in New Zealand lies with Maritime New Zealand.

It controls and monitors this country’s 23 lighthouses which are all now fully automated via a computer in Wellington.

The adventurous and somewhat romanticised tradition of lighthouse keepers based on-site in remote locations, was gradually phased out around New Zealand early last century. Lighthouses were gradually de-manned, starting in 1912 with Bean Rock lighthouse in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.

Built in 1871, Bean Rock is the only remaining wooden cottage lighthouse in New Zealand and today its beacon shines from solar power rather than kerosene.

The isolated and desolate Brothers Islands lighthouse situated on the western side of Cook Strait was the last to be fully-automated in 1990.

The public is able to visit 15 Maritime New Zealand lighthouse sites around the country but not enter the lighthouses themselves. This is for public safety and to protect the sensitive monitoring and signalling equipment inside.

Waterfront looks at eight New Zealand lighthouses – each with its own quirks and stories.


[Download PDF guide]