Cape Foulwind

Get technical and historical information and resources about Cape Foulwind lighthouse.
Cape Foulwind 1
Maritime NZ
A shot of Cape Foulwind lighthouse and surrounding homestead.
View larger image [JPG: 3072x2304, 96ppi, 2.47MB]


Lighthouse overview

Cape Foulwind is situated south of Westport on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Lighthouse feature: Details
Location: latitude 41°25’ south, longitude 171°28’ east
Elevation: 70 metres above sea level
Construction: concrete tower
Tower height: 9 metres
Light configuration: LED flashing beacon
Light flash character: white light flashing once every 12 seconds
Power source: batteries charged by solar panels
Range: 10 nautical miles (16 kilometres)
Date light first lit: 1876
Automated: 1926
Demanned: 1926


Getting to Cape Foulwind Lighthouse

Cape Foulwind lighthouse is accessible to the public and can easily be visited as part of the Cape Foulwind walkway.

There is no public access to enter the lighthouse.

The Cape Foulwind tower remains much the same as when it was first built. The foundations for the original tower can be seen just in front of the current tower. The foundations for the original keepers’ houses are also visible.

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The history of Cape Foulwind Lighthouse

Cape Foulwind was first considered as a site for a light in 1874, however, it was not until 1876 that the light was first lit.

The original tower, built of rimu, suffered from rot. The new concrete tower was built behind the original tower, in the mid 1920s. The light in the new tower was first lit in 1926.

Operation of the Cape Foulwind light

The original light in the new tower was an automatic acetone powered light. It provided automatic operation and was also very efficient, only requiring refuelling twice a year.

The new light with its automatic operation and improved efficiency spelled the end for the keepers. The final keeper was withdrawn in 1926 when the new light became operational.

In the mid 1950s the acetone light was converted to electricity which simplified maintenance even further.

The original beacon has now been replaced with an LED beacon mounted on the tower balcony and powered from battery banks charged by solar panels.