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Murimotu Island (North Cape) (1929)

Date: [Between 1930 and 1934]

North Cape Lighthouse. Bledisloe, Charles Bathurst, Viscount, 1867-1958 :Snapshots of New Zealand. Ref: PA1-f-015-23. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.






Photo courtesy of MSA.

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Near the northern most point of New Zealand, the Surville Cliffs, stood a lighthouse on Murimotu Island off North Cape.

The name is sometimes used to refer just to the cape which is known in Māori as Otou and which overlooks Murimotu Island, and sometimes just to the eastern point of Murimotu Island. It is also used to refer to the whole larger headland stretching about five km from Murimotu Island westwards to Kerr Point Ngatuatata and including the Surville Cliffs.

In 1908 Captain Bollins of the Marine Department recommended a light be erected on the island. Money was secured in 1912 but due to the first world war the light was never constructed. After the war the Marine Department debated whether to erect a lighthouse on the Three Kings Islands instead. This debate obviously went on for years as it was not until 1927 that a light was constructed.

The light was lit in 1929 and was a  400mm fixed optical lens powered by acetylene gas.

The light was replaced in 1973.

On 23 January 1974 the lantern room was gifted by the Marine Department to the Commissioner of the Crown and is currently displayed in Waitaki Landing.

Restoration is being undertaken by Arthur Ole Lancaster.



The original site of the lighthouse is now the North Cape Scientific Reserve and is a restricted area.

The lantern room is on display at Waitaki Landing and can be found on the Far North Road heading towards Cape Reinga.

Views of the cape and island are from Hwy 1, above Te Kao, across Parengarenga Harbour and from Rarawa Beach.


Island North
Province Northland
Location North Cape
Number K3690
Date Commissioned 1927
Date Decommissioned 1973
Automated 1973*
Latitude 34 34' South      34 24' South*
Longitude 173 03' East       173 03' East*
Elevation Above Sea Level 99m*
Height 2m*
Character Flashes every 8 seconds*
Range 18 N. miles*
Made Chance Bros & Co, Smethwick, Birmingham, England
Construction White concrete tower*
Converted Kerosene To Diesel
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity
Present Tower Not original
Authority Owned and operated by Maritime Safety Authority
Date Visited 6 February, 2000

* Present tower which is automated and was erected in 1973.


Principal Keeper From To




Assistant Keeper (1st) From To





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

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

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