New Zealand's First Lighthouse

Sitting out at the entrance to Wellington's harbour, along what's known as the Storm Coast, is New Zealand's first permanent light house.

Pencarrow Lighthouse

As early as 1842 a temporary beacon was erected on Pencarrow Head.  As shipwrecks continued to occur, New Zealand's first light house was erected on 1 January 1859.  The keeper was New Zealand's only woman light house keeper.

Despite the precautions, the coast remained dangerous to shipping and up to 21 wrecks have been recorded on the Pencarrow coast with the most recent in 1981. 

The remains of a ship lay on the beach just past the lighthouse.

Near Burdans Gate at the start of the track is a memorial to the Wahine disaster; a ferry grounding which in the rough seas had passengers washed up on this coast line.

Not far past the lighhouse are the nationally important lakes Kohangapiripiri and Kohangatera which were once tidal inlets.  Over time earthquakes have raised the foreshore and created a barrier to the sea.  The lakes now support wetland vegetation. 

There is a public bus service to Burdans Gate, Eastbourne or you can park your own vehicle there or ride your bike straight on through.  A great way to arrive on the coast is by ferry from Wellington. 

  • A return walk to the lighthouses - 4 hours
  • A return walk to the lakes - 5 hours

While this is an easy walk, plenty of food, water, warm clothes and sun protection are required as there are no facilities and little shelter on the way. 

Any dogs must be on a leash for the entire walk to protect birdlife and stock on the neighbouring farm.  No dogs are allowed in the lakes block or south of the sea level light house.

For more information on bus and ferry services or bike hire, maps or general information, talk to an i-SITE Visitor Centre.

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