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Puysegur Point (1879)


Photo courtesy of MSA.


Situated near Preservation Inlet in a remote part of Fiordland, Puysegur Point was New Zealand's most isolated lighthouse.

In 1874, the Luna was ordered on special duty for a lighthouse survey of the South Island (sometimes referred to as the Middle Island in those times). On board were, Captain Robert Johnson and Mr. Wilson of the Marine Department,  plus a number of reporters and other dignitaries.  267  275  276

The Luna left Bluff on Wednesday February 25 and after another visit to Dog Island headed southeast around the bottom of the South Island to survey a site for a lighthouse at the southwest corner of the South Island.  272 

Several sites were to be considered, Green Islets, Puysegur Point and Winsor Point. The Islets are about 15 miles south of the entrance to Preservation Inlet. Winsor Point is about eight mile further on.  278  

The Luna entered Preservation Inlet via the east end named Otago's Retreat and anchored on the west side of the inlet on Thursday  February 26, 1874. Otago's Retreat was named after the schooner Otago, which accompanied  H.M.S. Acheron on a surveying expedition took refuge in the inlet during during bad weather.  272

After the Luna landed, the Marine surveyors tramped southwards along the beach and over rocky crags until they reached Puysegur Point about 3 miles from the mouth of the inlet,  where they surveyed a site for a lighthouse.  278    As it was too difficult to reach Winsor Point over land from this point the party turned back  278  and planed to visit the next day by boat.  272  

Friday at 7 a.m. the Luna tried to head towards Winsor Point but the weather and seas made it too difficult. The Luna headed back into the inlet and anchored at Cuttle Cove for another day. On Saturday at 5 a.m. the Luna steamed once more to Winsor Point, but was unable to find a safe anchorage which ruled out Winsor Point as a lighthouse site unless a 7 mile road was built from Preservation Inlet.  273     The Luna then steamed to the Green Islets, but once again a suitable anchorage was not found.  279


First lit in 1879.

It is of the first order dioptric, a fixed light, and was opened on March 1, 1879. The cost was £9958, and aa vessels from Australia and the United Kingdom make the land here it is of great service to mariners. There are three men in charge, Mr. P. Boyle being the head keeper. 91Star , Issue 4872, 10 February 1894, Page 6


J F Ericson moved to the lighthouse August 8, 1878 as the first keeper, here is an excerpt from the Ericson family history;  192

With his wife and five small children J F Ericson landed at Otago’s Retreat on 8 August 1878 to take charge of the new lighthouse station at Puysegur Point. The 60 ft wooden tower had  been built and Ericson’s first task was to install the lantern and equipment so that the light could begin to operate in March 1879. Access to the lighthouse station was by narrow winding road about three miles from the landing. Everything had to be brought up from the landing and the road was so bad that much of the keeper’s time was spent in trying to make the road sufficiently smooth for horse. On November 30 1878 he wrote –

We have had to carry up a good deal of the stores on our backs. It is hard and tedious work but the horse is rather light for this road and we are obliged to assist him.”

On 6.1.1879 George was born and Mrs. Ericson had to depend on the other keepers wife to “see her right.” Despite the hardship, by 1st March 1879 all was ready and Ericson lit the lamp. Life at Puysegur was a never ending struggle with the bleak isolation, the gale winds, rain and fog. In May 1880 J F Ericson wrote …

“owing to the very heavy rainfall we have had during this month our road has been completely blocked up by landslips. In one place the whole sidling has come down and about 1,000 yards of stuff is lodged on the road. We have often to work in very bad weather besides being tormented with thousands of sandflies while working. Therefore I hope, sir, you will kindly grant us a rise in salary for each of us is doing our very best to deserve it.”

 Instead a Government circular was received announcing a general 10% reduction in salaries.

 Descendants of George’s family and members of Southland Tramping Club made a pilgrimage to Puysegur to mark the centenary in 1979.  A tramping party were flown to Preservation Inlet and walked to the lighthouse, while others travelled by helicopter. 192


During 1909, the Marine Department who had earlier experimented with incandescent burner systems (Chance Patent) at Pencarrow, Stephens Island and Jack's Point (Timaru) made a decision to install them in other lighthouses. Lighthouse expert, Mr. Scott installed the new burner on the light.  90


The Southland Times reports that on the 26th last a very severe thunderstorm passed over the district, and the lighthouse at Puysegur Point was struck by lightning. According to the statement of Mr. F. Sandager, the keeper on watch at the time, the building was struck on the dome, the lightning travelling through the lighthouse and down the braces outside. Little or no damage was done to the building, saving a few boards being split where the lightning found egress and an iron band which encircles the structure torn off. Mr. Sandager received no injury- There is a lightning conductor on the tower, but it is thought that the metal had been fused by previous strokes of lightning.

Otago Witness , Issue 2338, 22 December 1898, Page 37


Late in 1925, a wireless radio is installed.  241

The initial transportation to the lighthouse was by a 9 hour boat trip from Bluff, this method of transportation was replaced in the late 1950s by a sea plane.

Decommissioned in 1980, the lighthouse was replaced by two beacons on Windsor Point and Cape Providence.



The Puysegur Point 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 Puysegur Point stamp had a value of 2 1/2 cents. 

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

In 1978, the Puysegur Point Lighthouse stamp was overwritten with a new value of 25 cents.


Stamp Web Sites



Inaccessible, unless you have a boat or tramp through the bush.


Island South
Province Southland
Location Fiordland
Number K4442
Date Commissioned March 1, 1879
Date Decommissioned
Automated 1989
Latitude 46 10' South
Longitude 166 36' East
Elevation Above Sea Level 48m  (45m)
Height 5.5
Character White light flashes every 12 seconds
Range 22 N. miles (41km)   (19 N. miles)
Construction Wooden, replaced by concrete tower January 1943
Converted Kerosene To Diesel January 1943
Converted Diesel To Mains Electricity
Present Tower Original??
Authority Maritime New Zealand
Date Visited


Principal Keeper From To
  1st lit, March 1, 1879  
John F Ericson  13b  192 August 8, 1878  13b  192 December 1, 1880  13b  
Martin Nelson  22  13b  December 1, 1880  13b   July 3, 1882  13b 
James Cunningham  13b  July, 1882  13b   October, 1885  13b 
Anders Hansen  13b  October 7, 1885  13b   January 15, 1887  13b 
Donald McNeil  13b  22 January 14, 1887  13b  July 4, 1890  13b  22
Philip J. Voyle  13b  July 3, 1890  13b   October 11, 1894  13b 
Alexander Parks  22  13b  October 11, 1894  13b  November 12, 1896  13b  
Horace A. Wakefield  13b  April 27, 1897  13b  June 7, 1902  13b  
John Frederick Rayner  13b  y z June, 1902 y z     June 7, 1902  13b   November, 1906 y z     September 4, 1906  13b 
Robert Leatham McIver  13b   September 4, 1906  13b   December 19, 1909  13b 
Philip J. Voyle  13b  December 30, 1909  13b  January 17, 1913  13b 
Samuel Hart  13b  January 17, 1913  13b  July 23, 1914  13b  
George F. Marlow  13b  July 23, 1914  13b   March, 1916  13b 
Albert V. Pearce  13b  March, 1916  13b  April, 1918  13b 
David W. McLeish  13b   April, 1918  13b  April, 1920  13b 
James A. Goddard  13b  April 10, 1920  13b  July 17, 1922  13b 
A. Joseph Hooper  13b  July 17, 1922  13b  March 16, 1923  13b 
Albert Mitchell  13b  March 16, 1923  13b  October, 1925  13b 
A. J. Hooper (Acting)  13b     
John H. Irvine  13b     
Stanley (Acting)  13b     
Sydney Scholfield  13b     
F. N. (Ted) Watts  13b     
William Smith  13b     
A Pullen  13b     
Alfred G. Hodge  13b     
Henry Newson  13b     
George H. Brown  13b     
John O. Auld (Acting)  13b     
Douglas Bawden  13b     
Noel, J Frec  13b     
William D. Kemp  13b     
Peter J. Coleman  13b     
Torris Bonnievie  13b     
Tom A Clark  13b  3  June, 1959   
Brian F. Mason  13b     
Raymond M. Waler  13b     
Michael P. Pilone  13b     
Raymond J. Johnson  13b     
Peter W. Daniel  13b     
Paul Therkleson  13b     


Assistant Keeper (1st) From To
  1st lit, March 1, 1879  
William McLeod  13b  April 1, 1878  13b   December 5, 1879  13b 
Patrick Henaghan  22  13b  December 5, 1879  13b  22  January 3, 1883  13b  22 
Anders Hansen  13b  January 3, 1883  13b  October 6, 1885  13b 
William Scott  13b  December 30, 1885  13b   April 23, 1888  13b 
John McKinna  13b  April 23, 1888  13b  May 10, 1891  13b 
Jerome Sinclair  13b  22  May 10, 1891  13b  22  June 1891  13b 
Frederick W. Butler  13b  June, 1891  13b  October 11, 1894  13b 
Andreas Fremming Stewart Sandager  13b  80 December, 1894  80   January 25, 1895   13b  February, 1904  80     February 29, 1904  13b 
Thomas Dennis  13b  July 24, 1904  13b   February, 1907  13b 
Henry J. Kent  13b  October 4, 1906  13b    July, 1907  13b
John C. Johnston  13b  July 11, 1907  13b  August 3, 1910  13b 
D. Chames  13b  June 13, 1909  13b  October 31, 1912  13b 
Charles M. Dusting  13b  October 3, 1912  13b   May 9, 1913  13b  247 
Thomas B. Smith  13b  January, 1913  13b   November, 1914  13b 
George H. Brown  13b  November, 1914  13b  July, 1916  13b 
Richard Cargill  13b  July, 1916  13b  September, 1916  13b 
John J. Albert January, 1917  13b 
Norman H. Harvey  13b  April, 1918  13b   1919  13b 
John H. Irvine  13b  November, 1919  13b  November, 1921  13b 
Frederick Young November 25, 1921  August 7, 1924  13b
Walter D. Bond  13b  August 7, 1924  13b   
Thomas Hart  13b     
R. G. Stanley  13b     
F. E. N. Jones  13b     
F. H. McKernon  13b     
Walter J. Leighton  13b     October 24, 1934  13b 
A. O. Duncan  13b    April 1, 1936  13b 
P. O. Smith  13b  April 1, 1936  13b   
Arthur Richardson   13b  August 31, 1937  13b   
Edward H. Earl   13b     December 10, 1940  13b 
Norman Miller  13b  189  December 10, 1940  13b  189   November 9, 1946  13 b  189
Ronald Corson   13b     
H. M. Mayall   13b     
Richard, G. Smith   13b     
T. Robert Welsh   13b     
Leslie H. Broom   13b     
D. W. Greenen   13b     
Arne H. Mitdgard   13b     
Edward C. Skeates   13b     
Ronald R. Trainor   13b     
Brian H. Hopper   13b     



Assistant Keeper (2nd) From To
Charles W. Scopes   13b  1878   13b   1881  13b 
David Lyall   13b  August 29, 1881   13b   December 31, 1884  13b 
Philip D. G. Payne   13b  22     (Probationary)  22 November 1, 1885   13b   March 31, 1886  22
Philip D. G. Payne   13b  22      April 1, 1886   22   January 3, 1888  13b  22  (Resigned, found gold on Coal Island)  22
Charles Edward Johnston   13b   22  January 3, 1888  13b  22 July 12, 1889  13b  22 
Duncan C. Dawson   13b  July 12, 1889  13b  March 25, 1890  13b 
David Partington  13b  22  March, 1890  13b  22   January 25, 1895  13b  22 
Gideon J. Semmens   13b  22 October 11, 1894  13b  22  April 27, 1897  13b 
Edward Morris Parks   13b   22        (Probationary)  22 November 1896  13b  22  May 15, 1897  22
Edward Morris Parks   13b   22 May 16,  1897  22  March, 1899  13b 
William Murray  13b   22         (Probationary)  22 March, 1899  13b  22  September 22, 1899  22 
William Murray  13b   22  September 23, 1899  22  September 29, 1902  13b  22 
Charles G. Eade   13b  October 11, 1902  May 31, 1903  13b 
William B. Burns  13b  June, 1903  13b  July 27, 1903  13b 
James W. Crampton   13b  July 23, 1903   13b   December 21, 1904  13b 
Francis (Frank) Ernest Lee  13b  13a December, 1904  13b  October 4, 1906  13b 
John Thwaites   13b  22  February, 1907   13b  22   July 27, 1908  13b  22     (Resigned)  22
John Arnold   13b  September 1908   13b   June 13, 1909  13b 
Mr. Kane  155 1911  155  
Rueben H. Trewen   13b  August 1, 1910   13b  October 3, 1912  13b 
James P. Smith   13b     (Probationary)  22 October 3, 1912  13b  January 17, 1913  13b 
John Pottinger   13b  22  May 9, 1913   13b  22   1916  13b 
Percy R. W. Willers   13b  March, 1916   13b  April, 1919  13b
Robert S. Sutherland March, 1919   13b  April, 1922  13b 
Edward l. Fowler   13b  April 1, 1922   13b  December 9, 1923  13b 
A. E. King   13b    November 22, 1923  13b  
A. O. Duncan   13b 
J. J. A. Donaldson   13b  September 11, 1926   13b   March, 1928  13b 
Albert J. E. Payne   13b 
V. George Whitemen   13b 
Hugh Campbell   13b 
John A. McIntosh   13b 
James H. Hobbs   13b  November 19, 1934  13b  August 31, 1937  13b 
Henry Newson   13b  April 6, 1937   13b   May 17, 1939   13b 
Thomas G. Smith   13b  May 17, 1939   13b  April 2, 1943   13b 
G. H. Carter   13b 
C. E. Loader   13b 
Kenneth R.G. Beaver   13b 
William (Bill) D. Kemp   13b 
Barry W. J. Hill   13b 
Raymond M. Walter   13b 
I. S. Usmar   13b 
William G. Whitley   13b 
William (Bill) G. & Isabel Whitley  64 c 1960  64 c 1962  64
B. A. C. Smith   13b 
B. Murray Williscroft   13b 
Clive C. Nicholls   13b  1964   13b 
Maxwell B. Connell   13b 
Alan Heap   13b 
Edward B. Norris   13b  290  May, 1966   13b  290   c  June, 1968  290 
R. G. Scott   13b 
Peter W. Daniel   13b 
Warren P. Russell   13b  November 28, 1967   13b   April 29, 1969   13b 
R.J. Hewson   13b 
Bransley   13b 
A. Potter   13b 
Paul Therkleson   13b 








Additional Sources:

13b. DOC, Lighthouse of Foveaux Strait - A History. Angela Bain May, 2010.

64Christchurch Star, Section C, December 8, 1999



91Star , Issue 4872, 10 February 1894, Page 6

155Evening Post, Volume LXXXI, Issue 120, 23 May 1911, Page 6

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

192. John F Ericson (Trevor Meikle, May 25, 2010)

247. Dominion, Volume 6, Issue 1755, 21 May 1913, Page 6

267. Wellington Independent, Volume IX, Issue 4038, 27 February 1874, Page 3 (Chapter 1)

272. Wellington Independent, Volume XXIX, Issue 4052, 13 March 1874, Page 2 (Chapter 6)

273. Wellington Independent, Volume XXIX, Issue 4054, 16 March 1874, Page 3 (Chapter 7)

275. Wellington Independent, Volume XXIX, Issue 4053, 14 March 1874, Page 3

276. Otago Daily Times , Issue 3759, 23 February 1874, Page 2 (Chapter 1)

278. Otago Daily Times , Issue 3776, 14 March 1874, Page 2 (Chapter 3)

279. Otago Daily Times , Issue 3777, 16 March 1874, Page 2 (Chapter 4)

290. Edward B Norris (Simon Norris, Aug 8, 2014)










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Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2011 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.

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

Last Updated: September 10, 2010