Puysegur Point Lighthouse

Puysegur Point is in the far southwest of the South Island of New Zealand. It lies within Fiordland National Park on the southern head of Preservation Inlet, some 145 kilometres west-northwest of Invercargill.

The lighthouse is now automated but for many years was the home of three married light keepers.

The Centre Island to Colac Bay cable developed a fault, repairs to which have not been effected, as it is now considered that it would be more economical to substitute a wireless telephone system to operate between Centre Island and Awarua, in conjunction with Puysegur Lighthouse. The proposal is now under investigation.
– Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives: Post & Telegraph Department, 1917

Wireless was installed at Puysegur Point in 1925.

The original wooden lighthouse was burned down in 1942 by a man who had recently left a psychiatric hospital and made his way down to Coal Island across the fjord from the lighthouse. He decided the light was a deliberate plot to keep him awake at night by shining in his window so took matters into his own hands. He held the keepers hostage with a rifle, smashed the radio telephone and set fire to the lighthouse.

The concrete lighthouse which replaced it has now in turn been replaced by two automated beacons.

Radio callsign: VMU until 1927, then ZMU
Location: 46°10′ S, 166°36′ E
Elevation: 45 metres above sea level
Construction: cast iron tower
Tower height: 5 metres
Light configuration: modern rotating beacon
Light flash character: white light flashing once every 12 seconds
Power source: batteries
Range: 19 nautical miles (35 kilometres)
Date light first lit: 1879
Automated: 1943
Demanned: 1990

Puysegur Point. Otago Witness, 9 August 1916
Puysegur Point. Otago Witness, 9 August 1916
Puysegur Point. Date unknown
Puysegur Point. Date unknown. Courtesy: Chris Underwood
The original Puysegur Point lighthouse
The original 50′ high Puysegur Point lighthouse, which was destroyed by fire in 1942. Photo: Evening Post
Puysegur Point lighthouse on fire, 8 February 1942
Puysegur Point lighthouse on fire, 8 February 1942. Photo: Capt JC Mercer
Radio installation at Puysegur Point lighthouse
Radio installation at Puysegur Point lighthouse. Photo courtesy Chris Underwood

The photos above and below were taken in 1940 or later, based on the presence of the Hallicrafters S-22R Skyrider Marine receiver (seen behind the telegraph key in the above photo) which was first produced in 1940.

Radio installation at Puysegur Point lighthouse
Radio installation at Puysegur Point lighthouse. Photo courtesy Alex Glennie
An early photo of radio masts at Puysegur Point lighthouse
An early photo of radio masts at Puysegur Point lighthouse. Photo courtesy Alex Glennie
Radio masts at Puysegur Point lighthouse
Radio masts at Puysegur Point lighthouse. Photo courtesy Chris Underwood
Radio masts at Puysegur Point lighthouse
Radio masts at Puysegur Point lighthouse. Photo courtesy Alex Glennie
Puysegur Point light with its bank of solar panels
The current Puysegur Point light with its bank of solar panels. Photo: Maritime NZ

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