NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES
Cape Palliser (1897)
Cape Palliser, with lighthouse and houses.
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mätauraga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
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Cape Palliser was named by Captain James Cook, on December 7, 1769 while sailing up the coast he sighted land and named the point Cape Palliser after his good friend Captain Palliser of the Beagle. 3
Standing on the southern tip of the North Island, Cape Palliser often bears the brunt of the Cook Strait gales. Numerous wreaks had occurred in the area so a lighthouse was proposed. 3
The lantern and lens were ordered from London and arrived on the SS Kaikoura, leaving London on March 6, 1896 arriving in Wellington on April 22, 1896. 3
The tower was pre-fabricated in Birmingham, 18 England and arrived in Wellington on board the SS Ionic and the SS Kaikoura. 17
The lighthouse was built on a ledge cut out of the bluff 78 metres above sea level, however the keeper's houses were built on a flat area at sea level. This made it necessary for the keepers to climb a steep and treacherous track up to the tower. 1
The light fueled by oil was first lit the evening of October 27, 1897. 3
Stores were delivered to the station every 3 months by the light house tender. In rough seas, the stores has to be landed at the more sheltered Kawakawa Bay, 6 kilometres away. 1
In 1912 the treacherous track was replaced by 258 wooden steps that climb vertically up the cliff. Within a month a rock fall damaged part of the stair and they needed to be re-built. 2 But still oil and later kerosene had to be hauled up the cliff on a railway using only a hand winch. 1
In 1929 while Arthur W. Page was stationed at the Cape Palliser light a magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred on 17 June, which severely damaged the South Island town of Murchison. The Cape Palliser lighthouse, situated on the same fault line, was also damaged by this earthquake and Page was still dealing with the earthquake’s aftermath months later. 13a
In 1954 the lighthouse was converted from kerosene to a diesel powered generator. Later in 1967 the station was connected to mains electricity. 2
There was no road until 1941 18 then the keepers would collect their mail and supplies once a week from Pirinoa. 1
Cape Palliser lighthouse is still fitted with the original Fresnel lens, which was installed in 1897. 1
The tower was repainted early in 2008. 21
The Cape Palliser lighthouse has along with others been featured on New Zealand postal stamps issued by the Government Life Insurance Office.
The lighthouse featured on the 1947 issue with a value of 2d.
On July 10, 1967, the stamps were over printed as New Zealand changed to decimal currency.
Stamp Web Sites
From Wellington drive Hwy 2, then Hwy 53 to Martinborough. From Martinborough take the Lake Ferry Road, just before Lake Ferry turn towards Whangaimoana. From there follow the coast on Cape Palliser Road to the lighthouse. This road is gravel in places and there are several creeks to ford.
The keepers’ houses can be seen from beside the lighthouse steps. They are now both privately owned.
13a. DOC. Cape Brett, Keepers Stories
210. Dominion, Volume 4, Issue 1175, 10 July 1911, Page 7
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2013 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.
If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. email@example.com
Last Updated: December 3, 2011