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


Baring Head Lighthouse (1935)



Courtesy MSA                                                                                                               


Reference Number: EP-Transport-Shipping-Lighthouses-02

View of Baring Head Lighthouse under construction. Photographed by an Evening post staff photographer in March 1934.

Reference Number: EP-Transport-Shipping-Lighthouses-01

Baring Head, Wellington, showing the lighthouse and cottages in which the keepers live, flanked by two steel masts. Photographed 17 August 1937 by an unidentified Evening Post staff photographer.


View of new LED beacon mounted on the balcony.


Google has a satellite map


Baring Head was named after Baring the director of the New Zealand Association, the forebear to the New Zealand Company who bought settlers to the New Zealand. Baring Head is situated on the southern headland of Port Nicholson (Wellington Harbour).

In 1929 the Marine Department discussed moving the old Pencarrow lighthouse to a new site at  Baring Head. The idea was deferred while tests were made on new revolving light equipment at Cape Egmont lighthouse. 18

In 1931 they decided to build a new lighthouse which would serve both as an approach light for Wellington harbour and a coastal light for Cook Strait. The contract was let, but due to economics the contract was then deferred. 18   The land was donated by Mr. Eric Riddiford in 1932 and in 1934 work begun. At the time Baring Head was so inaccessible by road, the Marine Department considered shipping construction materials there.  50

First lit on June 18, 1935, Baring Head was the second to last manned lighthouse to be built in New Zealand. It replaced the first New Zealand light, the original Pencarrow lighthouse which was extinguished the same day and later designated as a historical place. The light was the first to run on electricity from the onset and was initially run with a diesel powered generator. This meant the keepers no longer had a night watch and an alarm system in the keeper's house would warn of any failures.1

One of the more accessible lighthouses, the keepers were able to pick up their supplies in Wellington or the suburbs and the keeper's children also attended school there. 1

Originally a two keeper station, it later reduced to one. 1

During the Second World War the lighthouse grounds were used by the New Zealand Navy as a radar and signal station. 1

In 1950 the light station was connected to the main electrical grid and the diesel generators were used as a backup. 1

In 1956 the light's character was changed from flashing three times every 15 seconds to the present character due to a nearby Harbour Board automatic light having a similar character. The lens does not revolve, the bulb flashes on and off instead. 4

The radio beacon, which guided ships up to 100 nautical miles away, was removed in 1981.  50

The lighthouse was automated in 1989. 1

In February, 2005, the original light was replaced with a new LED beacon which is mounted on the lantern room balcony. The new light is powered by mains electricity with a battery back up. 1

In August 2010,  the Greater Wellington Regional Council purchased the adjacent land around Baring head lighthouse.  10



The Baring Head lighthouse has along with others been featured on New Zealand postal stamps issued by the Government Life Insurance Office. 

Part of the lighthouse series that was released in 1969 when New Zealand changed to decimal currency, the Baring Head stamp had a value of 3 cents. 

The stamps in the series, Moeraki  1/2 cent, Puysegur Point  2 1/2 cents, Baring Head  3 cents, Cape Egmont  4 cents and Dog Island  15 cents.



Stamp Web Sites



The lighthouse grounds  are inaccessible to the public. 1

However viewable from the East Harbour Regional Park - Great Harbor Way

From Wellington drive east to Wainuiomata, then follow the Coast Road south to the East Harbour Regional Park walkway.

The drive from Wellington is about 40 km.

Also walk or bike from Pencarrow (Burdens Gate track)  Details.


Island North
Province Wellington
Location Wellington Heads
Number K4004
Date Commissioned June 18, 1935  1
Date Decommissioned
Automated 1989  1
Latitude 41 25' South  1
Longitude 174 52' East  1
Elevation Above Sea Level 87m  1
Height 12.2m  1
Character Oscillating white light on for 9 seconds off for 6 seconds.  1
Range 19 N. miles (35 km)            10 N miles (18km)  1 Possibly new beacon installed 2005
Made Built on site  1
Construction Concrete hexagonal tower  1
Converted Kerosene To Diesel Always used a diesel generator  1
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity Built with a diesel generator. Connected to mains electricity in 1950  1
Present Tower Original
Authority Owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand
Date Visited 20 February, 2000


Principal Keeper From To
  1st lit, June 18, 1935  1  
Robert S Wilson  51  2        (c  Dec, 1942  51  2)  
Norman Miller  189 January 30, 1950  189 August 22, 1952  189
William (Bill) D. Kemp    
Steve O'Neill  51  2 c 1980's 51  1989 
  Automated and Keeper Withdrawn 1989


Assistant Keeper (1st) From To
  1st lit, June 18, 1935  1  
  Reduced to a one keeper station  




Additional Sources:

50New Zealand Archives, Aug 2009.

51Lighthouse Digest (Paul W. Shirley), Dec 2009.

189. Norman Miller (Jocelyn Groom, July 23, 2011)



Home Next

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

If anyone has any information on this light please contact me.

Last Updated: November, 27 2009.