NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES
Cape Campbell (1870) (1905)
Photo courtesy of MSA.
Reference Number: 1/2-092146-F. Object #83428
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Cape Campbell is situated on the eastern coast of the South Island near the approaches to Cook Strait and was named by Captain James Cook after Vice Admiral John Campbell who circumnavigated the world with Anson. 4 The local Maori had named the cape Te Karaka. a
The treacherous coastline has claimed over 18 shipwrecks between 1845 and 1947. d The notable being the New Bedford whaler Alexander which wrecked in 1858 with the loss of one life and the ship a total loss. 1
At that time Cape Campbell was chosen as a suitable site for a lighthouse. However it would be another 10 years before one was built. 1
With the formation of the Marine Board of New Zealand in 1865 (renamed The Marine Department in 1866) who took of operations of all lighthouses, James Balfour was appointed the Marine Engineer and Inspector of Steamers on October 11, 1866. 10
Balfour designed the lighthouse but before the lighthouse could be built Balfour was drowned in a boating accident in Timaru Harbour in December, 1869. c
Construction begun in 1869 on a wooden lighthouse and was first lit on 1 August, 1870. The light was originally powered with a Colza oil-burning incandescent lamp. 1
The first lighthouse keeper was William Hendle who was transferred from Mana Island where he had also been the first keeper. Hendle was transferred to Pencarrow Head lighthouse in 1872 but was to return to Cape Campbell in 1878. He died of a heart attack in the lamp house on 30 March, 1881 at the age of 50. His body was transported back to Wellington for burial aboard the lighthouse tender Steller. b
Unfortunately another wreck occurred in 1871. The Rifleman en-route from Lyttleton to Havelock was lost with all hands. 4
The new lighthouse did not hold up well, and after two years had to be shored up. By 1898 the old wooden tower was found to be decaying and a new cast iron tower was manufactured by Thames Iron Works (Judd Engineering) 18 and erected on the site. This new light was first lit in October, 1905 and the original wooden tower was demolished the same year. The original foundations for the old wooden tower can still be found near the new tower. 1
In 1897 the light station was established as a Post Office, the first of about 15 light stations around the country. 4
In July, 1938 a diesel powered electric generator was installed and the original oil burning lamp was converted to a 1000 watt electric lamp. Later in the 1960's the station was connected to mains electricity. 1
The light was automated in 1986 and the last keeper withdrawn. 1
The original light mechanism was removed and replaced in November 2003 with a modern rotating beacon, illuminated by a 50-watt tungsten halogen bulb. 1
The new light is powered by mains electricity and backed up by battery in the event of power failure. 1
The light is monitored remotely from Maritime New Zealandís Wellington office. 1
The Cape Campbell lighthouse has along with others been featured on New Zealand postal stamps issued by the Government Life Insurance Office. The lighthouse featured on the 1947 issue with a value of 1 1/2d. This was overprinted with 2 cents in 1967 when the country changed to decimal currency.
Stamp Web Sites
The lighthouse was also featured on a Universal Mail series of stamps in 2003, for a value of $1.50.
Take Hwy 1. 35-40km south from Blenheim. Just south of Lake Grassmere turn onto Marfells Beach Road. Drive about 9km to the campground/beach area. Walk around the headland to the light depending on the tides.
Views of the light can also be obtained from Lake Grassmere Road, which is north of the lake.
There are also several companies offering guided walks to the lighthouse.
a. Marlborough Online http://www.marlboroughonline.co.nz/index.mvc?ArticleID=6
b. Friends of Mana Island http://www.manaisland.org.nz/index.htm David Cormick Lighthouse Keepers on Mana Island
c. Engineering Heritage New Zealand http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/bio-detail.cfm?id=4
d. Cape Campbell Wines http://www.capecampbell.co.nz/profile/history.aspx
e. Jeremy Matthews (Sept 2012)
f. Noeline Fairchild (daughter of Charlotte May Creamer, eldest daughter of W & E Creamer)
g. Melvina Wise
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2011 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.
If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. email@example.com
Last Updated: November 28, 2009.