Tiritiri Matangi

Get technical and historical information and resources about Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse.

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Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse
Maritime New Zealand ©2016
An arial shot of Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse and surrounding homestead.

View larger image[JPG: 2272x1074, 144ppi, 3.3MB]

Lighthouse overview

Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse is situated on Tiritiri Island in the Hauraki Gulf. It marks the approach to Auckland Harbour some 28 kilometres to the south.

Tiritiri Matangi is the oldest lighthouse still in operation in New Zealand. It was also the first lighthouse to be built by the Government.

Lighthouse feature: details
Location: latitude 36°36' south, longitude 174°54' east
Elevation: 91 metres above sea level
Construction: cast iron tower
Tower height: 21 metres
Light configuration: modern rotating beacon
Light flash character: white light flashing once every 15 seconds
Power source: batteries charged by solar panels
Range: 18 nautical miles (33 kilometres)
Date light first lit: 1865
Automated: 1984
Demanned: 1984

Getting to Tiritiri Matangi

Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse is located on Tiritiri Matangi Island and is accessible to the public.

There is no public access to enter the lighthouse

Tiritiri Matangi island is a wildlife sanctuary administered by the Department of Conservation and is a popular day trip from Auckland.

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Tiritiri Matangi photos

Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse
You can download a four page photo gallery of Tiritiri Matangi lighthouse dating back as far as 1865 to some more recent shots, depicting operationas of the lighthouse and life on Tiritiri Matangi Island.

Photo gallery[PDF: 7.6MB, 4 pages]

Lighthouse turns 150

On 1 January 2015, Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi celebrated the sesquicentennial of the lighting of Tiritiri Lighthouse.

150th celebration booklet

[PDF, 1.24Mb, 9 pages]


Map of lights

Map of lights and beacons around NZ

[PDF: 220kB, 1 page]


The history of Tiritiri Matangi

Lighthouse construction

Construction of the lighthouse was very difficult and cost £5,747. It took 4 months to dig down through 3 metres of thick, boggy, clay-like mud to reach ground that was hard enough to build on.

Building materials for the lighthouse were shipped to the island and then carted in sledges by bullocks over the slippery banks to reach the construction site. Despite the challenges of construction, the original tower is still standing. The light itself, however, has undergone many changes.

The light was first lit on 1 January 1865.

small image desciption
The original 1861 tower designs for Tiritiri Matangi by McLean and Stilman Civil Engineers, George St., London.

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Lighthouse timeline


VRB-25 beacon installed

This is the current light – range 18Nm


Solar panels installed


Power beam beacon installed

Range 19Nm

Lighthouse keeper removed


Fog horn

Fog horn / detector fitted (electric Chance Brothers)


Site connected

Site connected to mains power via underwater cable


Xenon lamp installed

Xenon lamp installed (Ernest Davis) – range 24Nm (character changed to Fl 15s)


Radio beacon shut down


Disel generated light source

Light source converted to diesel generated 230V



Light painted white (originally painted red)


Light returned

Light returned to Marine Department

1940 - 1945

Naval base on the island


Radio beacon installed

Fog horn installed

Fog horn (compressed air diaphone) installed


Fog horn discontinued


Lighthouse keepers withdrawn

Acetylene generated light source

Light source converted to Acetylene – range 20Nm (character changed to Fl(2) 30s)


Fog signal installed

Fog signal installed (Slaughters Cotton Powder)


Red sector removed

Red sector over Flat Rock removed


Fog horn installed

Fog horn installed (ex Timaru) Slaughter’s cotton powder


Kerosene generated light source

Incandescent burner fitted (kerosene) – range 23Nm


Signals for weather

Signals used for local weather


Telegraph installed


Red sector installed

Red sector installed over Flat Rock


Paraffin generated light source

Light source Doty burner (paraffin) – range 23Nm


Light first lit

Light operational (Total cost £5,747)