NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES
Moeraki (Katiki Point) (1878)
The North Otago port of Moeraki was established for the whale oil trade of the 1840's, but the trade declined and the port lost it's dominance to it's northern neighbour Oamaru thirty three kilometres away. 1
In 1837 19 4 the Sydney Packet ran aground and was Otago's first shipwreck. 17
Captain Johnson who was surveying the coast for lighthouse sites reported to the Commissioner of Customs in 1874, "vessels trading between Port Chalmers and the Northern ports pass very close to this part of the coast, and vessels bound to and from Oamaru and Timaru specially have to go very near the Fish Reef. Here, therefore, a coastal light is seriously needed, and I am of the opinion that a light should be erected as soon as possible." 4
In 1876 the Marine Department decided to build a costal light at Katiki Point, south of Moeraki for the safety of the shipping trade between Port Chambers, Oamaru and Lyttelton. Also the farming community had increased port traffic in the area. The Oamaru authorities were put out over Moeraki being chosen as a costal light as they had hoped their own light would be upgraded. They were also ordered to change their harbour light from white to red which sealed it's fate of never being a costal light. See Cape Wanbrow 2
Construction of the lighthouse commenced in 1876 but was delayed by bad weather. Just before the light was to be lit a severe storm struck and shook the tower so violently the lamp glass broke. The lamp was replaced and the wooden tower had to be strengthened before the light was lit in April 22 91 , 1878. 1
Cost to build £4288. 91
NOTICE TO MARINERS.
Exhibition of Fixed White Light on the Moeraki Peninsula, and alteration of Color of Lights on Cape Wanbrow and Oamaru Breakwater.
Customs Department (Marine Branch) Wellington, 19th March, 1878. Notice is hereby given that on and after the evening of Monday, the 22nd day of April next, a light will be exhibited from a Lighthouse which has been erected on the southern, point of the Moeraki Peninsula, on the East Coast of the Middle Island, the characteristics of which are as follows: The tower is 28ft in height, built of wood and painted white. The light will be a fixed white light of the third order, visible all round as far as the land will allow. The light will be elevated about 170 ft above the level of the sea, and, allowing 15ft for the height of the eye, will be seen at a distance of 19 nautical miles in clear weather, and at lesser distances according to the state of the atmosphere. On the same night on which the Moeraki Light is exhibited, the fixed white light on Cape Wanbrow, Oamaru, will be altered to Red, and the fixed red light on the end of the breakwater to green. This green light will not, however, be exhibited during bad weather, when the danger lights (two white horizontal with a red light between them) are shown from the flagstaff. J. Ballance.
Grey River Argus, Volume XXI, Issue 3001, 28 March 1878, Page 2
Wooden beams were added later to prop the lighthouse against the severe winds during storms. 17
The Moeraki Port suffered a final blow when the feeder railway line was closed a year later. However the settlement remained making Moeraki one of the least isolated stations. 2
The station had two keepers each with their own two bedroom house. 1
With the presence of a school in the small town of Moeraki, the station was desirable for keepers with child who could attend the local school. 2
By the 1970's there was only one keeper at the station and he was withdrawn in 1975. 1
Until December 2005, the light was powered by mains electricity with a diesel generator backup using the original lantern. 1 A new LED beacon was installed on the balcony of the lighthouse. The original light is still in place today. The new beacon is power by mains electricity backed up by battery power in the event of a failure. The light is monitored remotely from Maritime New Zealand’s Wellington office. 1
The Moeraki lighthouse has along with others been featured on New Zealand postal stamps issued by the Government Life Insurance Office.
Part of the lighthouse series that was released in 1969 when New Zealand changed to decimal currency, the Moeraki stamp had a value of 1/2 cents.
Stamp Web Sites
From Hwy 1, turn into the Moeraki township just south of the boulders. Just before the town, turn right onto Lighthouse Road. Drive 7km on a sealed/gravel road to the lighthouse. The Katiki Point Historic Reserve is administered by the Department of Conservation. The reserve andlighthouse can be reached on foot from the car park on Lighthouse Road.
For a map of the area click here
91. Star , Issue 4872, 10 February 1894, Page 6. South Island Lighthouses
197. Norman Simpson (Gayle Dickison, Nov 4 2011)
Text and photographs. Copyright © 1999-2013 Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.
If anyone has any information on this light please contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: April 15th, 2012