Cape Foulwind Lighthouse New Zealand

The Cape Foulwind Lighthouse is a lighthouse that is located at Cape Foulwind, 11 km (7 mi) west of the town of Westport on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Perched 70 metres (230 ft) above the Tasman Sea, the light guides vessels along the Buller coast, and is one of the most accessible lighthouses in the country The LED light flashes white once every 12 seconds and has a range 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi). It is a Category 2 heritage-listed structure

Lighthouse overview

Cape Foulwind is situated south of Westport on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Lighthouse feature: Details
Location: latitude 41°25’ south, longitude 171°28’ east
Elevation: 70 metres above sea level
Construction: concrete tower
Tower height: 9 metres
Light configuration: LED flashing beacon
Light flash character: white light flashing once every 12 seconds
Power source: batteries charged by solar panels
Range: 10 nautical miles (16 kilometres)
Date light first lit: 1876
Automated: 1926
Demanned: 1926


Getting to Cape Foulwind Lighthouse

The lighthouse is an 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) drive west of the town of Westport and a ten-minute walk from the northern end of the Cape Foulwind walkway. The circular walkway goes past the lighthouse, and on to the New Zealand Fur Seal colony at Tauranga Bay, with views back to the lighthouse. Entry into the lighthouse structure itself is not permitted.

Cape Foulwind lighthouse is accessible to the public and can easily be visited as part of the Cape Foulwind walkway.

There is no public access to enter the lighthouse. The Cape Foulwind Tower remains much the same as when it was first built. The foundations for the original tower can be seen just in front of the current tower. The foundations for the original keepers’ houses are also visible.

Find this on the map: Cape Campbell

The History of Cape Foulwind Lighthouse

Cape Foulwind was first considered as a site for light in 1874, however, it was not until 1876 that the light was first lit.

The original tower, built of rimu, suffered from rot. The new concrete tower was built behind the original tower, in the mid-1920s. The light in the new tower was first lit in 1926.

The need for a lighthouse was identified during the gold rush era;[however, it was not until 1 September 1876 that the light was first lit. The original hexagonal tower was built of rimu. It suffered from rot, and was replaced in 1926 by the present concrete tower with an automated light, which is now operated remotely from Maritime New Zealand’s Wellington office. Traces of foundations of the old tower and the keeper’s houses can still be seen.

Operation of the Cape Foulwind light

The original light in the new tower was an automatic acetone-powered light. It provided automatic operation and was also very efficient, only requiring refuelling twice a year. The new light with its automatic operation and improved efficiency spelled the end for the keepers. The final keeper was withdrawn in 1926 when the new light became operational.

The lighthouse is operated by Maritime New Zealand, it is registered under the international Admiralty number K4486 and it has the NGA identifier 111–5600. With a focal height of 70 metres (230 ft) above sea level, the light can be seen for 10 nautical miles.Its characteristic is a white flash every twelve seconds, originally fitted with a Fresnel optic, it now uses an LED system fixed to the gallery railing.

In the mid-1950s the acetone light was converted to electricity which simplified maintenance even further.

The original beacon has now been replaced with an LED beacon mounted on the tower balcony and powered from battery banks charged by solar panels.


Constructed 1876
Construction Concrete tower
Automated 1926
Height 9 metres (30 ft)
Power source solar power
Heritage Heritage New Zealand Category 2 historic place listing
First lit 1876
Focal height 70 metres (230 ft)
Light source LED
Range 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi)
Characteristic Flashes white once every 12 seconds




  1. ^ Rowlett, Russ. “Lighthouses of New Zealand: South Island”The Lighthouse DirectoryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  2. Guiding LIght (Interpretative sign along the Cape Foulwind walkway). Cape Foulwind: Department of Conservation.
  3. Cape Foulwind Walkway” Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  4. Cape Foulwind lighthouse – Maritime NZ” Retrieved 9 September 2020
  5. “Cape Foulwind Lighthouse”New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi KōreroHeritage New Zealand.
  6. Cape Foulwind lighthouse”Christchurch Star. 18 August 1876. p. 2. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  7. Notice to mariners”West Coast Times. 27 May 1876. p. 2. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  8. ^ Simon Nathan (12 June 2015). “‘West Coast places – Westport'”Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 15 June 2016.

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