This imposing, six-sided, wooden lighthouse looks thoroughly at home on Cemetery Point. But this is not its original site.
The lighthouse was first built on a rugged headland at the entrance to Akaroa Harbour, more than 80 metres above sea level. The site was chosen in 1875 and the lighthouse built in 1878-79, to a design that was developed by an engineer, John Blackett, for New Zealand conditions. There are several similar lighthouses elsewhere on the New Zealand coast, but the design is particular to New Zealand.
The materials were brought in by ship to a landing in Haylocks Bay, near the site, and hauled up a specially built road to the top of the headland. The light first shone on 1 January 1880. It was a “manned” lighthouse and keepers’ houses were built on the headland.
In 1977, the old lighthouse was replaced by an automatic light. The following year a Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in Akaroa and by the year’s end the tower had been cut into three pieces and manoeuvred over steep and narrow Lighthouse Road down to Akaroa, where it was re-assembled on Cemetery Point. Its historic equipment, which had been salvaged before the tower was moved, was then re-installed.