East Cape Lighthouse

East Cape Lighthouse, Gisborne Overview

East Cape Lighthouse is the easternmost lighthouse of New Zealand and is the perfect place to witness the first sunrise of the world from New Zealand. The lighthouse is managed by computers directly from Maritime New Zealand's office in Wellington. East Cape lighthouse is a cast-iron cylindrical tower, that has a balcony and lantern. The tower is white coloured with a black lantern roof. The height of the tower is 15 metres (49 ft), though it is at an elevation of 154metres (505 ft) above the sea level.

This lighthouse is the right place to watch the early rays of the sun casting a blurry tone over the dried grasses and the Manuka trees. The lighthouse is located on the eastern coast of New Zealand and is closest to the Date Line, making it the best place to witness the first light of the day without the date changing.

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Accessibility of the Lighthouse

The base of the East Cape Lighthouse is accessible by the public, although entering the Lighthouse is not permitted. One can reach the Lighthouse only by a walking track from the car park at the end of East Cape road. The track steeply ascends the Cape. Handrails and about 700 + steps are provided for ease of track. The steps are made of wood and in the early morning may be slippery because of the morning dew. The steps are easy and should be cleared, taking your own time. It is an easy walk of about 2 to 3 kilometres and the time taken is about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Things to Do

  • At the base of East Cape Lighthouse, visitors can have a look at the old lights that were removed on the installation of the new illuminating beacon.
  • You can get a glimpse of the East Island- the original location of the Lighthouse.
  • The main attraction is the sunrise and so visitors should reach there before dawn.
  • To make the task easy one can rent the former keeper's house for the night, which will enable them to be on time.


The east Cape Lighthouse was constructed in 1900 and was also lit for the first time in 1900. It was originally located on East Island, which was very unstable and faced a pretty good erosion problem. So the lighthouse was closed in 1920 and the tower along with all buildings was relocated to the mainland. After relocation to the Otiki Hill, the East Cape lighthouse began its operation in December 1922. The light originally was illuminated with a paraffin-oil burning lamp and later an incandescent oil-burning lamp. Diesel generated electricity was introduced in 1954, in 1971 it was connected to the main power and finally, in 1985, it was automated. The new light powered by mains power is a modern rotating beacon, illuminated by a halogen bulb. It also has a backup battery in case of a power failure.

How To Reach East Cape Lighthouse

East Cape Lighthouse is 21 kilometres eastward from Te Areroa. It is about 30 minutes drive on East Cape road to the car park of Eastern Cape Lighthouse. The road is not very bad, although most of the portion is unsheltered. At the car park starts a short climbing track of 700 to 800 steps to the Lighthouse.

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