Pencarrow Coast, lighthouses and lakes

Pack a picnic for a day trip to New Zealand's first permanent lighthouse and coastal lakes located within the East Harbour Regional Park


Lower Hutt


Pencarrow Lighthouse
Pencarrow Head

The Pencarrow Lighthouse was New Zealand's first permanent lighthouse and was run by New Zealand's only female lighthouse-keeper, Mary Jane Bennett, who took over the post for ten years - when her husband George, the former keeper, tragically passed away.

She lived alone with her six children in this rugged and spectacular coastline from 1855 to 1865.

The cast iron tower was made in England and then erected on Pencarrow Head, at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. It was first lit on New Year's Day 1859 and beamed its cautionary message for 76 years, until it was decommissioned and replaced by the Baring Head lighthouse.

Located within Wellington's East Harbour Regional Park, the lighthouse makes for a pleasant day-trip. Walk or cycle the 8km gravel track to the lighthouse from Burden's Gate, at the south end of Eastbourne (8km walk). 

Eastbourne is located 40 minutes drive from downtown Wellington or 30 minutes aboard the East By West Ferry.

Wilfinder Pencarrow is Eastbourne’s local bike shop, with everything you need to explore Pencarrow Coast and the Parangarahu Lakes and beyond!

Book your bike hire

Pencarrow Lighthouses

Follow an easy gravel road out to the two lighthouses. it's 8km out to the lighthouse built in 1906 on the shoreline. To get up to the top lighthouse you can take the easy long way entering through the gate to the lake another 1km further on or take the harder shorter track up the hill signposted before the lower lighthouse.

Distance 16km return
Cycle 1.5 hours return
Walk 4 hours return

Parangarahu Lakes

Carry on past the lighthouses to wetlands and ride or walk the lake loops.

Distance 22km return
Cycle 2 hours return
Walk 5 hours return

Looking for a lunch with a difference? Book in for a gourmet platter at Pencarrow Lodge. This rustic, wild and unique location has spectacular views of Wellington Harbour and the Kaikōura ranges, plus is a perfect location for your next function.

Getting there

Catch the number 83 bus to the Eastbourne bus terminus, then walk for 5 minutes to Burdans Gate, or simply park up at the road end. While this is an easy ride, plenty of food, water, warm clothes and sun protection are required as there are no facilities and little shelter on the way. Take a jacket - it can get windy!

Know before you go

Public access between Lake Kohangatera, Parangarahu Lakes to Baring Head/Ōrua-pouanui (Fitzroy Bay) is managed by the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Check out the know before you go information for East Harbour Regional Park.

Explore more of Eastbourne and Days Bay

Discover beaches, bushwalks, biking and the many cafes for brunches and more in and around Eastbourne and Days Bay.

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