NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES

 

 

Home Lighthouse Tenders The People The Lighthouse Service Lighthouse List Reference Page

 

Akaroa (1880)

 

 

 

Relocated Lighthouse (photo 2006)

    

Relocated Lighthouse (photo 2006)

Relocated light lit at night (photo 1998) Courtesy Robert Hurvitz

          

                                                                                                                New Light at Akaroa Head    Courtesy Maritime New Zealand

 Akaroa (date unknown)

Postcard (date unknown)   Courtesy John Elsbury   http://www.nzpostcard.co.nz/

 

  View of Akaroa Harbour (photo 2006)

 

Google has a satellite map

 

The Akaroa lighthouse was situated on Banks Peninsula on the eastern head of the Akaroa harbour. 

During the lighthouse survey of 1874 on board the Luna, John Blackett, Marine Engineer and Captain Robert Johnson, Nautical Advisor selected the Akaroa Heads as a possible site for a lighthouse. At the time, there was a good timber trade out of the port and Akaroa was considered likely to be a major port or even a principal navy base. It was also known for its many shipwrecks since at least 25 ships had already wrecked in the area. The first recorded being the Atlantic which was wrecked in 1839, fortunately with no loss of life.  18

On 21 January, 1875, the Akaroa Heads was chosen as suitable lighthouse site. Two years later, in March, 1877 the Marine Engineer marked out the site and the lantern was ordered from Europe. 13

The New Zealand Government initially wanted the cost of construction shared between themselves and the Canterbury Provincial Council. The Provincial Council declined to provide any money for the project, however, before any further negotiations could be made, the Provincial Governments were dissolved under the Abolition Of Provinces Act of 1876 so the New Zealand Government bore the full cost of construction, 7150. 6s. 5d.  115

The lighthouse was designed by John Blackett119 

Construction begun on April 23, 1878 on a site just to the east of a small inlet called Haylocks that ran inland about 200 yards. First a road was blasted out of solid rock up to the lighthouse site. The road, 500 metres long, took 10 months to build.  13

On February 21, 1879, a landing stage and derrick were built from kauri timber to unload supplies, with the derrick towering 70 feet above the high water line.  Then on March 7, 1879, Black Brothers commenced assembly of the  wooden lighthouse structure which had been pre-cut in the UK and shipped to New Zealand aboard the Duke Of Argyle3

The lens was manufactured in France. The mechanism was manufactured in Scotland.  115 

Due to the sometimes harsh southerly winds, construction was slow with one storm completely demolishing the half standing structure. In another storm on March 30, 1879, the construction overseer, Mr. William Black, was found dead from exposure while riding on horseback the10km trip from the site to the town. 13

The tower is a six-sided Victorian structure with four levels and is 12.5 metres high and 5.49 metres wide at the base, the frame is of Australian hardwood with linings and weather boards of New Zealand Kauri. 10  The walls are double skinned and filled 2/3rds high with ballast to weigh the structure down, preventing it from being blown off the cliff. The dome is copper and the flagpole is Oregon timber. 18 

The light was first lit on 1 January 1880 and stood 270 feet above sea level. 13

The light was a second order dioptric holophotal revolving light, hand made in France and designed by Augustin Freznelk, a French physicist and lighthouse engineer.  The lens, which is over 2 metres high and 1.5 metres in diameter, rotated by clockwork, driving 8 prisms around a central oil burning wick. The lens rotated in 80 seconds, giving a periodicity of 10 seconds to the flashes which was visible for 23 miles. 13

The first two keepers were Alexander Parks (Principal Keeper) and Martin Nelson  (Assistant Keeper) and they manned the light working four hour shifts. 13  3

During the early years, it was one of the least popular stations with the keepers and was commonly referred to as the "penal" station. Communication with the Akaroa township was also a problem until a telephone was installed on 27 February, 1885  13 / March 1885.  2  The station was also a Lloyds signal station and when ships arrived off the coast they requested that their owners or agents be notified. Before the telephone was installed this meant the assistant keeper had to walk to Akaroa township to use the phone.  Another event that improved station life also happened in March, 1885. The station received it's first horse. She was named                 Polly 3  / Pollie. 2

From 1907 to 1977, the keepers were also responsible for weather reports to be sent 4 times a day to the New Zealand Meteorological Service. In all, there were more than 80,000 weather reports sent over the 70-year period.  115

The light originally used a wick burner kerosene system, but in 1917 a Chand incandescent petroleum vapour kerosene burner was installed. 10

In 1935 a kerosene powered generator was installed ending the task of winding up the clock mechanism. 13

In 1951 a new powerhouse was built for the light to be run from a diesel powered generator. 13  A 1000 watt electric system with an output of one million candlepower was installed. 10

Sometime later the lighthouse was connected to mains electricity. 18

The principal keeper's house burnt down during the night in 1952. In 1960 the assistant keeper's house was removed. 13

In 1977, the last keeper was withdrawn and the old lighthouse was closed. A new replacement tower was built with an automatic light. 13

The following year a Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in Akaroa and by the end of the year the tower was cut into three pieces and maneuvered over the steep and narrow Lighthouse Road down to Akaroa.  The lighthouse was re-assembled on the waterfront at Cemetery Point. The original lighting equipment, which had been salvaged before the tower was moved, was then re-installed.  115    The restoration was completed on 4 October, 1980. 13 

 

 

Registered with the New Zealand Historical Trust

Register Number: 3343
Date Registered: 22 August, 1991

Historic Place  - Category 2

 

POSTAGE STAMPS:

Issued as part of a stamp series on the Lyttelton Tug, Akaroa Lighthouse featured on a 20 cent stamp.

 

DIRECTIONS:

The original lighthouse can be viewed in the Akaroa township on Beach Road, on the waterfront. By permission of the Marine Department the light is lit on special occasions and the Akaroa Lighthouse Prevention Society conducts tours on request.

For more information:

Akaroa Civic Trust

The original site of the lighthouse is open as a DOC scenic reserve. Little remain of the settlement, but the foundations to the houses, and the original stonework for the road down to Haylocks Bay.

DOC Akaroa Head Scenic Reserve

 

 

Original Lighthouse

Island South
Province Canterbury
Location Banks Peninsula
Number K4314 1 
Date Commissioned January 1,1880  1 
Date Decommissioned December, 1977 1
Automated December, 1977 1
Latitude
Longitude
Elevation Above Sea Level 82m  (270ft)  1        
Height 8.5m   (28ft)  1        
Character
Range 23 N. miles  1  
Made Pre-cut and built on site
Construction Wooden.         
Converted Kerosene To Diesel 1951
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity 1
Wattage 1000
Present Tower Not original
Authority Owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand
Date Visited January 10, 2005
 

 

New Lighthouse

 
Date Commissioned December, 1977
Date Decommissioned
Automated December, 1977
Latitude 43 54' South 1 
Longitude 172 59' East 1 
Elevation Above Sea Level 68m  1 
Height 3m (10 ft)  1 
Character White flash every 10 seconds  1 
Range 19 N. miles  1 
Made
Construction White tower
Present Tower Not original
Authority Owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand
Date Visited

 

 

Principal Keeper  From To
1st lit, January 1,1880  1 
Alexander Parks  22 November 26, 1879  22 September, 1885  22
Fitzroy Montague Smith  22  91  November 10, 1885  22 August,  1894  22
James William Nicholson  22 September 19, 1894  22 February 6, 1901  22
William Chandler  22  183   November 1, 1900  183 August 1, 1904  183  245
David Partington  22 August 1, 1904  22  245 May 1, 1909  22
Donald McNeil  22 May 1, 1909  22 March 17, 1910  22
William Murray  22  May 28, 1910  22 June 8, 1911  22
Edward R Wilson  22  199 June 8, 1911 22  199 1913/14?  199
     
Livingstone (Pat)  22  2 December 1922  2
     
James Anderson  22  April 1, 1919  22 
     
     
Tom A Clark  22  3 1 April, 1955  3 1958? 
     
Frank Rowe  22 1965  22 1966  22
Ian & Marilyn McKinlay  22  64 70's  22 1975  64
Cliff Jones  22 70's  22
John Scapens  22 1970's  22
Steve O'Neill  22 1975  13 Dec 1977  13 
Automated and Keeper Withdrawn Dec 1977  13

 

Assistant Keeper  From To
1st lit, January 1,1880  1 
Martin Nelson  22 November 26, 1879  22 December 1, 1880  22
Charles Edward Johnston  22  December 18, 1880  22 December, 1883  22
William Hendle Jnr  22 December 17, 1883 September 30, 1884
Jerome Sinclair  22   (Probationary)  22 September 26, 1884 22  March 31, 1885 22 
Jerome Sinclair  22   April 1, 1885 22  May 1, 1891 22 
James William Nicholson  22 October 1, 1885  22 November 1,1885  22
James Anderson  22 May 1, 1891  22 September 29, 1894  22
Thomas Joseph Cox  22 September, 1894  22 September, 1895  22
Walter Canton  22 September 1, 1895  22 March 1, 1899  22
George Charles McCartney  22 April, 1899  22 May, 1903  22
Henry Thompson  22 June 21, 1903  22 November, 1903  22
Denis Quinn  22 January 15, 1904  22 May 10, 1907  22
Thomas McAlpine  22  May 1, 1907  22  January 27, 1911  22 
William John Mitchell  22  February 11, 1911  22  April 27, 1914  22 
George Edward Brown  22  291 1924  291 1924  291
     

 

 

 

Keepers (Rank Unknown) From  To

 

C Lute  22 1880  22
Frederick Ford Powell  22 1904  22 1905  22
William Henry Arnold  22 June 9, 1914  22
John Elm Tipene  22 December 8, 1914  22 July 20, 1915  22
John Arthur  22 1914  22 1917  22
William Henry Lysaght  22 April 20, 1917  22
Warren Edward Williams  22 March 4, 1919  22
George Dabinette  22 May 30, 1919  22
Phillip John Voyle  22 July 10, 1920  22
Harold Young  22 1920  22 1927  22
Charlie? Anderson  22 1920's  22
Boyle  22 1920's  22
Syd Schofield  22 1920's  22 1930's  22
Harold Garland  22 1928  22 1932?  22
Harold Garland  22 1929 1932  22
Burt Taylor  22 1930?  22
E J McNeb  22 1930's  22
Ken Armstrong  22 1930's  22
Bucknell  22 1930?  22 1946?  22
Saunders  22 1932  22 1933  22
McFarlane  22 1933  22
(Beshop?) Harry Wilkin  22 1930/1950  22
Wattie Todd  22 1935?  22
Ernie Graham  22 1935  22
J R Reid  22 1935  22 1937
Alex Campbell  22 1936?  22
Des Kotlowski  22 1937  22
A F Helps  22 1939  22
Handisides  22 1940's  22
Jimmy Flett  22 1940's  22
Harry Newson  22 1940  22 1945  22
J (Jack) A Pool  22 1940's  22
Jack Wagg  22 1940?  22
Alex Smith  22 1945  22 1948  22
George Phillips  22 1946  22 1947
Doug Borden  22 1948?  22 1950?
Ted Stewart  22 1950's  22
Cleverley  22 1952?  22
Bob Thompson  22 1950?  22
Bert Reid  22 1950?  22
Noel Frew  22 50/60's  22
Ron Rhodes  22 1950's  22
Olson  22 1950's  22
Ira Petterson  22 1950's  22
Russell  22 ?  22 ?  22

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Additional Sources:

22Akaroa Museum

64Christchurch Star, Section C, December 8, 1999

91Star , Issue 4872, 10 February 1894, Page 6. South Island Lighthouses

115Akaroa Civic Trust.

119. Engineering Heritage New Zealand (Blackett)   http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/bio-detail.cfm?id=4,

183.  William Chandler Diane Chandler, March 22, 2010)

199Edward Wilson (Lynda Webster, March 9, 2012)

245New Zealand Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 12544, 11 April 1904, Page 5

291. George Edward Brown (Lynda Brocklehurst, May 22, 2014)

 

Back Home Next

Text and photographs. Copyright 1999-2013  Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.

If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. thekiwimark@msn.com

Last Updated: December 27, 2009.