Pencarrow Head Lighthouse New Zealand


Pencarrow Head Lighthouse is a decommissioned lighthouse at Pencarrow Head in the Wellington region of the North Island of New Zealand.

Upper Lighthouse

Upper light (decommissioned in 1935) and lower light (still in use)

Constructed in 1859, the Pencarrow Head Lighthouse was the first permanent lighthouse built in New Zealand. It was first lit on 1 January 1859. It was constructed from sections of cast iron that were shipped from England. Its first keeper, Mary Bennett, was the first and only female lighthouse keeper in New Zealand. The light was decommissioned in 1935 when it was replaced by the Baring Head Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is registered as a Category I Historic Place. It was the first structure in the Wellington area that was covered by a heritage order shortly after the New Zealand Historic Places Trust was established subsequent to the Historic Places Act 1954 having been passed. The Minister of Marine, Bill Fox, added a plaque at the lighthouse’s centenary in 1959 to mark the occasion. The Marine Department transferred the land, which it had acquired from Wellington Province in 1865, to the Department of Lands and Survey in 1960. In 1966, the lighthouse itself was given to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, which has managed the building since.

Pencarrow Sector Light

A new low-level lighthouse was commissioned in 1906 due to the problem of the high-level lighthouse being frequently obscured by fog and clouds. This lighthouse is still in use.

Pencarrow Sector Light 019.jpg
Coordinates 41.359268°S 174.847975°E
Constructed 1906
Construction concrete tower
Height 17 metres (56 ft)
Shape octagonal tower with balcony and lantern
Markings white tower and lantern
Focal height 18 metres (59 ft)
Range 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi) (white), 10 nmi (19 km; 12 mi) (red), 16 nmi (30 km; 18 mi) (white), 13 nmi (24 km; 15 mi) (red)
Characteristic Fl (3) RW 12s.


The area has no road access; a reasonably flat walking or mountain biking track follows the coast line. The climb to the upper lighthouse is steep. A return journey takes about four hours on foot or one and a half hours by mountain bike.


“Pencarrow”. New Zealand Lighthouses. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
Rowlett, Russ. “Lighthouses of New Zealand: North Island”. The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
“Pencarrow Lighthouse (Former)”. New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
“New Zealand’s first lighthouse lit”. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
“The lighthouse and its surroundings”. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 7 October 2014. Archived from the original on 31 October 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
“Pencarrow Heads Light House Walk”. FreeWalks NZ. Archived from the original on 31 October 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
“Pencarrow Lighthouse”. Heritage New Zealand. Archived from the original on 16 October 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.

External links

Pencarrow Lighthouse (old) in Lighthouse Digest’s Lighthouse Explorer Database
Pencarrow Light (new) in Lighthouse Digest’s Lighthouse Explorer Database
Lighthouses of New Zealand Archived 16 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Maritime New Zealand
New Zealand’s first lighthouse turns 150 on RNZ, 4 January 2009.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Old Pencarrow Light and Pencarrow Sector Light.

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