Natural Attraction

Waipapa Point & Lighthouse

Waipapa Lighthouse Road, Otara

Alongside the often-photographed lighthouse on the point, sweeping golden beaches and snoozing sea lions are highlights of the area.

The Waipapa Point Lighthouse was first lit on 1 January 1884. With its sibling, the retired Kaipara North Head lighthouse, this was one of the last two wooden lighthouses built in New Zealand.

It was constructed in response to one of New Zealand's worst shipping disasters and its worst civilian shipwreck; the wreck of the passenger steamer Tararua on rocky reefs off of Waipapa Point on 29 April 1881. The ship was on one of its regular trips between Otago and Melbourne, via Bluff, when it struck the reef. 131 lives were lost - all but 20 of the 151 people onboard.

In 1975 the lighthouse was automated and the keepers withdrawn. The site was converted to solar power and a modern filament lamp beacon was installed in 1988. In December 2008 a new LED beacon was installed externally on the balcony and restoration work was conducted to ensure the lighthouse remained weatherproof and secure from vandalism. The light is monitored remotely from Maritime New Zealand’s Wellington office.

Check out more lighthouses in Southland


Note: Dog access is allowed if the dog is on a leash. Go here for more dog friendly walks and areas in Southland.

Great South
Last modified
Tue 2 Jun 2020
  • Activities
  • Natural Attraction
  • Culture & Heritage
  • Free Things to Do
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Sightseeing
  • Less than half day
  • Family Friendly
  • Wildlife Spotting
  • Scenic Photo Point
  • Scenic Attraction
  • Self-Guided
  • Walking & Tramping
  • Dogs on leash