Historic Place Category 2
The Akaroa Lighthouse is located on Beach Road close to the wharf and Akaroa Cruising Club
Road Reserve, Canterbury Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent of registration includes part of the land known as Road Reserve, Canterbury Land District, and the structure known as Akaroa Lighthouse thereon.
When the Akaroa lighthouse was built in 1878 coastal shipping was the principal form of transport and communication in New Zealand. Lighthouses were essential for the efficiency and safety of this service. The original site at Akaroa Head was selected in 1875 and the lighthouse was commenced in 1878 and completed the following year. It remained in use on this site until the 1970s. In 1980 it was cut into three sections, taken to its present site, reassembled and restored. The light may still be lit on special occasions. The lighthouse is open for public inspection.
Lighthouses were an essential aspect of the coastal maritime trade in New Zealand in the 19th century. Their importance has declined in recent years and many lighthouses have been de-manned and
disestablished. The Akaroa Lighthouse, even in its relocated position, is a prominent reminder of this service in its heyday.
The Akaroa lighthouse is one of the few surviving wooden lighthouses on the New Zealand coast. It is a functional wooden building of simple but pleasant lines. The triangular-paned glass screen and copper sheathed cupola are distinctive and attractive features. Although it has been moved, its appearance today is essentially the same as it would have been on 1 January 1880 when it first exhibited.
The lighthouse is a prominent feature of Cemetery Point, Akaroa.
Glass screen and copper cupola.
The Akaroa Lighthouse is a six-sided wooden weatherboard building which is 12.5 metres high and 5.49 metres wide at the base. Its sides slope inwards to the light platform at the third floor. Entry is at ground level through a tongue and groove door. Narrow stairs rise between each floor. At the third level a door opens onto a balcony with wooden rail and paling balustrade and wooden angled supports, which encircles the tower. The top level which is enclosed by glass arranged in triangular panes is topped by a rounded roof sheathed in copper.
The Akaroa light is a second order dioptric holophotal revolving light, hand made in France. The lens, which is over 2 metres high and 1.5 metres in diameter, is constructed of a number of prisms which reflect the light in eight separate beams radially from the tower. The lens rotates in 80 seconds, giving a periodicity of 10 seconds to the flashes which are visible to 40 kilometres.
The clockwork rotation mechanism is driven by weights descending in the tower. The light originally used a wick burner kerosene system, but in 1917 a Chand incandescent petroleum vapour kerosene burner was installed. In 1951 a 1000 watt electric system with an output of one million candlepower was installed.
1951 Light electrified.
1980 Lighthouse relocated at Akaroa township; many cladding timbers replaced; balcony strengthened and pipe stair rails replaced with brass rails; sprinklers installed.
- Original Construction: 1879 (circa)
- Modification: 1951 (circa)
- Relocation: 1980 (circa)
All the major framing is Australian hardwood; the auxiliary frame, interior linings and white painted exterior timber is mostly kauri; triangular plates of glass below the dome are held in by cast bronze; dome sheathed in copper.
- Architectural Drawings/Plans,Akaroa Museum and the Akaroa Lighthouse Preservation Society hold plans for the Lighthouse.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica,1985, v11, p262
- Frances Porter (ed), Historic Buildings of Dunedin, South Island, Methuen, Auckland, 1983.,Gordon Ogilvie, 'Akaroa', pp58-67
- Historic Places in New Zealand,12.1, March 1986
This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.
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