15 August 2012

Cook Strait lighthouse

I crossed Cook Strait from the South Island to Wellington yesterday, and drove back to the valley today. Partway across the Strait, I wandered out onto the observation deck to look for seabirds, but the ocean seemed strangely devoid of life. No albatrosses, no shearwaters, not even a gull. The sight of this lighthouse leaning against a faint row of Jacob's Ladders partly compensated, though.

Maritime NZ tells me this is the now-decommissioned Karori Rock Beacon. Engineer Jim Foye says, "Karori Rock was decommissioned in 1996 and replaced with a light call Tongue Point on the mainland, the main reason was to enable the site to be safely accessed. Karori Rock was left in place and still acts as a visual mark."

The beacon is the subject of a 1918 paper (Holmes, R. W. (1918). The Karori Rock beacon, Cook Strait, New Zealand. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 206(1918), 331–337. doi:10.1680/imotp.1918.15868). Work on the beacon was completed in October 1915.

The lean in my photograph is an illusion: the tower itself is vertical but slopes on the landward side to increase stability.

[14 August 2012, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 300 mm, ISO 100, 1/640 at f8]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor


Zhoen said...

So stark and lonely.

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

the first thing that popped to mind was, 'i can't cook straight!' aside from the humor, this is a beautiful, haunting image. lovely work, pete!

robin andrea said...

I love the mood of this photo, Pete. For some reason it made me think of Odysseus strapped to the mast, leaning out to hear the Sirens song.

Anne-Marie said...

Hmmmm. I've never seen this lighthouse before, and I can't even identify it. Depending on its location in Cook Strait, it's most likely to be a light beacon, somewhere like Ninepin Rock. I love its lean! Great capture of it too, Pete.

This page has a link to a map of all lighthouses and beacons in NZ:
http://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/Commercial/Shipping-safety/Aids-to-navigation/Lighthouses-of-New-Zealand.asp - you'll be to identify its location better than me.

That's enough lighthouse geekiness for now!

pohanginapete said...

Zhoen, yes — not much too it.


Robin, I'm sure some of the currents in Cook Strait would have tested Odysseus. The sea at the entrance to Tory Channel, where the inter-island ferries reach the South Island, is usually spectacularly scary, even in good weather.

Anne-Marie, I thought you might like this! Thanks for the link to the Maritime NZ website; I checked it and it's not shown, so your guess about its being a beacon sounds on the mark. I've emailed Maritime NZ, so when I get a response I'll update the post.