New Zealand Gets a New Lighthouse

January 12, 1913

Castle Point Lighthouse, located near the village of Castlepoint on the southeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, was first officially lit. The 75-foot (23-meter)-tall lighthouse was constructed to help guide and protect vessels sailing in the vicinity of the North Island’s southeastern shoreline, an area that can be dangerous due to local reefs and shallows as well as frequently strong winds and turbulent waters.

Robert West Holmes, engineer-in-chief of the New Zealand Public Works Department, gave the New Zealand Times his assessment of the Castle Point Lighthouse less than two weeks after the structure had gone into service. The New Zealand Times reported that Holmes said “that the new lighthouse on that part of the coast has been satisfactorily constructed, and that the light itself was burning well.” The newspaper also noted, “The new structure has been erected on a reef which stands out to the northward of the point, and which has an elevation of about a hundred feet [30.5 meters] above sea level.”

Castle Point Lighthouse has the distinction of being the only lighthouse in New Zealand that was built with steel sheets riveted together. In addition, the structure was one of the last manually operated lighthouses in New Zealand; it wasn’t fully automated until 1988. The lighthouse remains in operation today and — with a light that can be seen 19 nautical miles (35.4 kilometers) away — has long been a major point of reference for many vessels en route from South America to New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, which is at the southwestern tip of the North Island.  

In 2013, a celebration was held at Castle Point Lighthouse to commemorate its centennial. Those in attendance included Grant Hinchcliff, who was the lighthouse’s last keeper before the structure was fully automated. “We as keepers all knew we had a special job,” said Hinchcliff in an interview with the Wellington-based Dominion Post. “It wouldn’t suit everybody, but the view was just out of this world and I met very interesting people – we were very, very spoilt.”

Photo Credit: 7thChakra (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

For more information on Castle Point Lighthouse, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Point_Lighthouse

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