This is a story from our monthly newsletter, Heritage this Month.
Rosemary Baird | Akaroa
Akaroa’s iconic lighthouse is looking smart after recent upkeep and repainting.
The lighthouse is looking flash after recent works by Christchurch City Council to repair surrounding footpaths and fencing in addition to substantial timber repairs and a fresh coat of paint by The Akaroa Lighthouse Preservation Society Committee, who fundraised and completed the works through volunteer effort. The result is outstanding.
Our Christchurch team recently enjoyed a visit to the lighthouse. Highlights included inspecting the incredible hand-crafted glass lenses up close and winding up the clockwork rotation mechanism driven by a descending weight. Any building requires regular maintenance and upkeep to stay in tip-top condition, regardless of its age or status, but it’s especially true for those in coastal locations. It’s pleasing to see one that is so recognisable cared for in this way.
The Akaroa lighthouse was built in 1878-1879 on the Akaroa Head and remained in use until the 1970s. The lighthouse was recognised as a Category 2 Historic Place on the New Zealand Heritage List Rārangi Kōrero in August 1981.
Rather than see the iconic building destroyed, a keen group of volunteers arranged to move the Akaroa Lighthouse to a new site, its current position on the waterfront.
The moving operation required ingenuity. The lighthouse’s precious handcrafted lenses were removed, section by section and carefully transported to a secret location in the old Takamatua Dairy Factory. As the lighthouse was gradually stripped, all the inside fittings were stored so they could be reassembled later. In early October 1980 the Akaroa Lighthouse was cut into pieces, craned onto trucks, and carefully driven over the rough roads to its new site on Beach Road.
The lighthouse today contains all the original fittings and machinery as well as excellent historical interpretation. The Akaroa Lighthouse is open for visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-3pm over summer.