Lighting the Coast: A history of New Zealand's coastal lighthouse system

Lighting the Coast A history of New Zealand's coastal lighthouse system

Helen Beaglehole

(Out of Print)

October 2006
356pp, Hardback
200 x 270mm, Colour & B&W photos & illustrations
ISBN 978-1-877257-43-8

To nineteenth-century New Zealand, a small colony in the vastness of the South Pacific, shipping was a lifeline to the rest of the world – yet a lifeline too often placed in peril by the ferocity of the weather and a long, hazardous coastline.

Lighting the Coast is the first comprehensive history of New Zealand’s system of ‘well-placed and effective’ lighthouses that were essential for ‘the great maritime future’ the country’s government envisaged.

This authoritative and highly readable book reveals the fascinating story of the siting, design, construction, operation and eventual demanning of those nineteenth- and early twentieth-century monuments of engineering. It reveals much of the lives of the lighthouse keepers – practical, independent men who took their families to live in remote parts of New Zealand – and raises critical questions about the future of the historic structures.

This handsome tribute to an enthralling aspect of New Zealand’s history features more than 250 black and white and colour illustrations, including early photographs, paintings, diagrams, maps and charts.

"Helen Beaglehole succeeds on every level...I cannot praise this book too highly.."
Helen Oldham, The Ensign

"It's a book to dip into for the sheer pleasure of its well-written text and excellent photographs, or to read from cover to cover for its comprehensive and fascinating history."
Arthur Toms, Greymouth Star

Helen Beaglehole, a Wellington writer and editor, has weaved together years of solid research and informed the narrative by her knowledge of coastal sailing. Since she and her husband began decades of sailing in the Cook Strait region with their children, they have done numbers of other coastal traverses and, in their yacht Cape Resolution, have circumnavigated New Zealand. Helen has visited most of the lighthouse sites by foot, yacht or bike. Her novel, War Zones, was published in 2006.