Cape Campbell Lighthouse is a lighthouse at Cape Campbell in the Marlborough region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand.
Cape Campbell, Te Karaka in the Māori language, is in Marlborough, New Zealand, on the northeastern coast of the South Island. It lies at the southern end of Clifford Bay, 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Ward, and 42 kilometres (26 mi) southeast of Blenheim. Cape Campbell lies close to the salt works at Lake Grassmere.
It is the third-easternmost point of the South Island, at a longitude of about 174o16.5′ East. (The two easternmost points are West Head (it is the western shore of the opening to Tory Channel – the opposing shore being on Arapaoa Island), and Cape Jackson (between the entrances to Queen Charlotte Sound and Port Gore), both at a longitude of 174o19′ east.)
It was named by Captain James Cook after Captain (later Vice-Admiral) John Campbell, who had been a strong supporter of Cook as an Observer for the Royal Society
The Cape Campbell Lighthouse has guided ships rounding the cape since 1870.
The third night of the Cape Campbell Track is spent at Cape Campbell, where the lighthouse keepers once stayed. When walking the Cape Campbell Track, a four-day private walking track, walkers retrace part of the original pack track used by the lighthouse keepers to obtain vital supplies from the Flaxbourne Station Homestead where the first telegraph office stood.
Cape Campbell Lighthouse marks the southern approaches to Cook Strait. It is situated on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, about 50 kilometres from Blenheim.
In June 2020, Cape Campbell Lighthouse was fitted with a 24 volt Flashing LED beacon, replacing the rotating beacon.
The original lighthouse at this site was first lit on 1 August 1870. However, this lighthouse was constructed of timber, and in 1898 these timbers were found to be decaying. This led to the construction of the current cast iron tower, which began operating in October 1905.
The light was originally fuelled by oil. In 1938 the oil lamp was replaced with an electric one powered by a local diesel generator. This was subsequently replaced by a connection to the mains grid in the 1960s. The light was fully automated in 1986 and is now managed from a control room in Wellington.
It was featured in the 2016 film The Light Between Oceans.
|Location:||latitude 41°44’ south, longitude 174°17’east|
|Elevation:||47 metres above sea level|
|Construction:||cast iron tower, but originally made of wood|
|Tower height:||22 metres|
|Light configuration:||24 volt flashing LED beacon|
|Light flash character:||white light flashing once every 15 seconds|
|Power source:||mains electricity|
|Range:||19 nautical miles (35 kilometres)|
|Date light first lit:||1870|
Getting to Cape Campbell Lighthouse
Cape Campbell Lighthouse is accessible to the public at low tide only from Marfells Beach.
There is no public access to enter the lighthouse.
Find this on the map: Cape Campbell
The History of Cape Campbell Lighthouse
The cape has contributed to the wrecking of many ships. It was after the wreck of the Alexander in 1858, in which one person was drowned, that Cape Campbell was chosen as a suitable site for a lighthouse. It was another 10 years before one was built, however. The light was finally lit on 1 August 1870.
Two years after it was first built, faults were found in the tower’s original wooden construction. It was wedged up and the timbers were refastened throughout. In 1898 the hardwood was found to be decaying, and it was decided to replace the wooden tower with a new one made of cast iron.
In October 1905 the light began operating from its new site. The old tower situated alongside, was demolished shortly afterwards.
To make the lighthouse stand out from the white hills behind it, the tower was painted with black and white stripes, rather than the standard plain white. There are only two other lighthouses in New Zealand with stripes: Dog Island Lighthouse which looks similar to Cape Campbell; and Cape Palliser Lighthouse which has red and white stripes.
Operation of the Cape Campbell light
The light was originally powered with a Colza oil-burning incandescent lamp.
In July 1938 the light was converted to an electric light. The electricity was initially supplied by diesel generators. It was converted to mains electricity in the 1960s.
In 1986 the light was automated and the last keeper was withdrawn that same year.
The original light mechanism was removed and replaced in November 2003 with a modern rotating beacon, illuminated by a 50-watt tungsten halogen bulb.
The new light is powered by mains electricity and backed up by battery in the event of power failure.
The light is monitored remotely from Maritime New Zealand’s Wellington office.
Life at Cape Campbell light station
Life at Cape Campbell light station changed very little for the keepers and their families over the years.
Despite the station’s proximity to Blenheim, about 50 kilometres away, domestic life at the station was reasonably self sufficient. Until the 1960s, cows were kept to supply fresh milk, and bread was baked at the station each day. The keepers also took advantage of the access to plentiful supplies of seafood, including crayfish and paua in their diet.
|Construction||cast iron tower|
|Height||22 metres (72 ft)|
|Shape||cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern|
|Markings||white and black horizontal bands tower|
|Power source||mains electricity|
|Operator||Maritime New Zealand|
|First lit||1905 (current)|
|Focal height||47 metres (154 ft)|
|Range||19 nautical miles (35 km; 22 mi)|
|Characteristic||Fl W 15s|
- Beaglehole, John Cawte. The Life of Captain James Cook, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California (1974).
- Rowlett, Russ. “Lighthouses of New Zealand: South Island”. The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
- Cape Campbell Lighthouse Archived 22 January 2019 at the Wayback Machine Maritime New Zealand
- A youngster’s vision of the Cape Campbell Lighthouse and surrounds is in the book, The Tall White Tower. (Published by Terry Cole, nephew of the author, Eric Creamer.