Nugget Point Lighthouse is a lighthouse at Nugget Point in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. It is owned and operated by Maritime New Zealand.
Nugget Point lighthouse. Rocky islets (The Nuggets) can be seen beyond the point.
Nugget Point lighthouse stands near the southeast corner of the South Island, near the mouth of the Clutha River. Many small islets and reefs lie close to Nugget Point.
Nugget Point Lighthouse was solarized in May 2020 and now has no main power.
|Location:||latitude 46°27’ south, longitude 169°49’ east|
|Elevation:||76 metres above sea level|
|Tower height:||9 metres|
|Light configuration:||LED flashing beacon|
|Light flash character:||white light flashing once every 12 seconds|
|Power source:||Solar power|
|Range:||14 nautical miles (29.5 kilometres)|
|Date light first lit:||1870|
|Height||9 metres (30 ft)|
|Shape||cylindrical tower with a balcony and lantern attached to a one-story building|
|Power source||mains electricity|
|Focal height||76 metres (249 ft)|
|Range||10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi)|
|Characteristic||LFL(2) W 12s.|
Getting to Nugget Point Lighthouse
The Nugget Point Lighthouse is accessible to the public. It can be reached on foot from the nearby road end.
The History of Nugget Point Lighthouse
Nugget Point had over the years been considered a dangerous locality for ships. Most shipping casualties were small vessels travelling to the Clutha River.
Operation of the Nugget Point light
The light began operating in July 1870. It was originally powered by oil illumination. In 1948 the light was converted to diesel-generated electric power, and then later connected to mains electricity.
Nugget Point lighthouse was automated and the last keeper was withdrawn in 1989.
In May 2006, the original light was replaced with a LED beacon mounted externally. The new beacon is powered by mains electricity backed up by battery power, in the event of a mains failure. The original lens in still in place today.
The light is monitored remotely from Maritime New Zealand’s Wellington office.
Life at Nugget Point light station
Life at “The Nuggets”, as it was known, was a challenge. The region is renowned for its cold weather.
Although the station was connected to the mains power supply, electricity was not supposed to be used for heating. One keeper was turned down twice when he requested electric heaters for his house. This was despite the neighbouring station, Cape Saunders, receiving seven heaters. After a series of letters and much debate, the issue was finally resolved, at the end of winter.
The Nugget Point light station was only 11 kilometres from the town at Kaka Point. Keepers and their families could take part in the local community and the lighthouse keeper’s children could attend the local school.
Access to the station was by a track marked with a sign saying “road not recommended”. After a difficult journey to get to the station, the keepers were not always happy with what they found.
During the 1960s, one keeper wrote:
“Nugget Point, in fact, was a mess and in particular our house was a shambles. The furniture had not been replaced since 1868 when it had been first supplied to the station. The roof was dilapidated and stained the water pink [drinking water was caught from the roof in tanks], the septic tank was broken and the house leaked.”
Nugget Point originally had three keepers; however, by the time the light was automated, this had been reduced to one keeper and his family.
The lighthouse was built from 1869 to 1870 and first lit on 4 July 1870. The tower was constructed from locally quarried stone. The lighting apparatus that was installed had come to New Zealand on the same ship as the lighthouse designer James Balfour in 1863 and was originally intended for the lighthouse at Cape Saunders.
Kaimata, or Cape Saunders, is the prominent headland on the Pacific Ocean coast of Muaupoko, the Otago Peninsula, in the far south-east of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Te Wai Pounamu, the South Island. It is home to the Cape Saunders Lighthouse.
Captain James Cook sighted the landmark on 25 February 1770 and named it in honour of Admiral Sir Charles Saunders, under whom Cook had served in Canada in 1759.
Sir Charles Saunders by Sir Joshua Reynolds
With the project on Otago Peninsula experiencing many delays, the lighting apparatus was used at Nugget Point instead.
In 1901 Walter Hutton Champion was the lighthouse keeper along with his wife Alice.
Originally, the lighthouse was powered by an oil burner. In 1949 the oil lamp was replaced with an electric 1000 W lamp powered by a local diesel generator. The generator was replaced in the 1960s by a connection to the mains grid although the original lens for the light remained in place and continued to be used.
The light was fully automated in 1989 and is now monitored and managed from a Maritime New Zealand control room in Wellington. In 2006, the original light was replaced with an LED beacon, powered by mains and backed up by battery. The lighthouse was solarized in May 2020 and now has no main power.
An easy 20-minute return walking track leads from the car park at the end of The Nuggets Road to a viewing platform right next to the lighthouse overlooking “The Nuggets”. The lighthouse itself is fenced off.
- Information panel at Nugget Point lighthouse
- Rowlett, Russ. “Lighthouses of New Zealand: South Island”. The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
- Nugget Point Lighthouse Archived 14 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Maritime New Zealand. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- Aspden, R J. “Balfour, James Melville”. Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
- Phillips, Mark. “Cape Saunders (1880)”. newzealandlighthouses.com. Archived from the original on 15 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
- “Nugget Point lighthouse – Maritime NZ”. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2022.