NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES
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 Blackett. 119
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 Argyle. 3
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
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
Issued as part of a stamp series on the Lyttelton Tug, Akaroa Lighthouse featured on a 20 cent stamp.
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:
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.
22. Akaroa Museum
64. Christchurch Star, Section C, December 8, 1999
91. Star , Issue 4872, 10 February 1894, Page 6. South Island Lighthouses
115. Akaroa 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)
199. Edward Wilson (Lynda Webster, March 9, 2012)
245. New Zealand Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 12544, 11 April 1904, Page 5
291. George Edward Brown (Lynda Brocklehurst, May 22, 2014)
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2013 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.
If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: December 27, 2009.