Castle Point lighthouse – a hundred years of safe navigation

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 43, April 2013

The centenary of what had become known as the “Holiday Light” was celebrated in Castlepoint in February.
Castle Point Lighthouse
Maritime New Zealand ©2019
Foundry workers on top of the Castle Point tower at Lukes foundry in Wellington in 1912.

Castle Point Lighthouse is one of New Zealand’s most iconic towers and, as part of the celebrations, it was opened to the public.

MNZ’s lighthouse engineer Jim Foye said the event was well-attended, with over five hundred people touring the tower over the two days. “We don’t often get the chance to show people the inside of our lighthouses, so it was great to be able to open the doors. The tower’s such an icon for the area, so there was a lot of interest.”

Castle Point 2013
Castle Point Lighthouse in 2013.
Maritime New Zealand ©2019

The Castlepoint Residents’ Association was instrumental in organising the centenary events in the area, which included free concerts, historical displays, and a cavalcade of horses riding from Cape Palliser to Castlepoint along the beach.

The 23-metre cast iron lighthouse was manufactured in Wellington in 1912 and was the last of six cast iron towers to be made in New Zealand. The glass optic was supplied by Barbier, Bernard and Turenne (Paris), the turning mechanism lantern by James Milne and Son (Edinburgh), and the light source by Chance Bros (Birmingham) for a total cost of £9,703.

The light was lit for the first time on 12 January 1913. It still uses the original optic, with the light source being provided via a 1,000 watt lamp supplied by mains electricity. The light was originally illuminated by an incandescent oil-burning lamp, but was changed to diesel-generated electricity in 1954, and then to mains electricity in 1961. The original hand turning mechanism has also been replaced with electric motors. The lighthouse was fully automated and demanned in 1988 and is now maintained and remotely monitored by MNZ.

Learn more about Castle Point lighthouse

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