Baring Head Lighthouse

Lighthouse at Baring Head, 9 July 1949

Lighthouse at Baring Head, 9 July 1949. Photo: Whites Aviation Ltd. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Location: 41°25′ S, 174°52′ E
Elevation: 87 metres above sea level
Construction: concrete tower
Tower height: 12.2 metres
Light configuration: flashing LED beacon
Light flash character: white oscillating light on for 9 seconds then off for 6 seconds
Power source: mains electricity
Range: 10 nautical miles (18 kilometres)
Date light first lit: 1935
Automated: 1989
Demanned: 1989

Baring Head Lighthouse under construction, March 1934

Baring Head Lighthouse under construction, March 1934. Photo: Evening Post. Alexander Turnbull Library.

In 1932 it was decided to build a new lighthouse at Baring Head to serve both as an approach light to Wellington Harbour and as a coastal light for Cook Strait.

Work commenced on the buildings, the lighthouse and radio beacon towers in 1934, and the light was first lit in June 1935. The old Pencarrow light was extinguished when the Baring Head light started operating.

Baring Head was the first manned light to be built in New Zealand for 22 years. The lights built between 1913 and 1935 were all unmanned. It was also the first light in New Zealand to start operating on electricity, initially supplied by diesel generators until mains electricity arrived in 1950.

10 June 1935 - Some close-up views at Baring Head, where the new light will replace Pencarrow next Monday, June 17: 1 - Baring Head Lighthouse, 2 - Automatic switchboards in the power house, 3 - Some of the 56 storage batteries which supply power direct to the light and the dwellings, 4 - Mr RS Wilson (left), principal keeper and his assistant, Mr T Harte, with their wives and the assistant's son, David Harte, 5 - The main and reserve lamps, 6 - Interior of the powerhouse, which is equipped with Diesel engines

10 June 1935 – Some close-up views at Baring Head, where the new light will replace Pencarrow next Monday, June 17: 1 – Baring Head Lighthouse, 2 – Automatic switchboards in the power house, 3 – Some of the 56 storage batteries which supply power direct to the light and the dwellings, 4 – Mr RS Wilson (left), principal keeper and his assistant, Mr T Harte, with their wives and the assistant's son, David Harte, 5 – The main and reserve lamps, 6 – Interior of the powerhouse, which is equipped with Diesel engines. Photo: Evening Post. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Lighthouse and cottages at Baring Head, 12 August 1937

Lighthouse and cottages at Baring Head, 12 August 1937. Photo: Evening Post. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Radio beacon transmitter at Baring Head

Radio beacon transmitter at Baring Head. A note on the back of the photo says the transmitter was moved from Stephens Island. Courtesy: Chris Underwood

In 1981, the bulk carrier Pacific Charger ran aground at Baring Head during her maiden voyage.

Baring Head light keeper Steve O'Neill at work, 25 May 1988

Baring Head light keeper Steve O’Neill at work, 25 May 1988. Photo: Martin Hunter, Evening Post. Alexander Turnbull Library.

Baring Head radio transmitter, date unknown

Baring Head radio transmitter, date unknown. Photo: Jack Colman (radio technician)

Baring Head light was automated in 1989 and the last keeper was withdrawn.

In February 2005, the original light and associated equipment was replaced with a new LED beacon located on the balcony of the lighthouse.

The new light is powered by mains electricity, backed up by battery power in the event of a mains failure.

The light is monitored remotely from Wellington.

Baring Head Lighthouse, as it is today

Baring Head Lighthouse, as it is today. Photo: Maritime New Zealand

In 2008, three amateur radio operators participated in International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend from Baring Head:

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