A newly restored lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Baring Head/Ōrua-pouanui has been unveiled by Greater Wellington and the Friends of Baring Head charitable trust; the first of two cottages to become modern accommodation for overnight visitors.
The cottages are part of a complex that includes Aotearoa New Zealand’s first fully-electric lighthouse, built in 1935. Earlier this year, the complex was added to the New Zealand Heritage list as having ‘outstanding historical significance’.
Greater Wellington deputy chair Adrienne Staples says the restored cottage will provide a rare opportunity for visitors to stay at the unique, heritage-listed lighthouse complex from 2024.
“We are opening the door to a glimpse of life as a lighthouse keeper,” says Cr Staples.
“The renovation of the cottage is a testament to the devoted members of Friends of Baring Head, who saw the opportunity to breathe new life into the complex.
“As a council, we are proud to be one of the many guardians of Baring Head. We look forward to welcoming visitors from home and abroad to this stunning stretch of coastline, where they can immerse themselves in a place rich with history and memory.”
Revenue generated by the accommodation will go towards maintaining other buildings in the complex and renovating the second cottage.
Paula Warren, chair of the Friends of Baring Head, remembers the late Colin Ryder who was a driving force in arguing to protect the cottages and secure $400,000 in funding for the restoration.
“Sadly, Colin passed away in 2021, and I know he would have loved to see the outcome of his vision and efforts. It was Colin who led the campaign to have the Baring Head land bought and protected in 2010.
“The Friends of Baring Head continue to champion the protection of the park and lighthouse complex, and provide funding and volunteer work to make the restoration possible. We are helping to create an asset that will be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The Tupoki Takarangi Trust are the land block neighbours of the site, and ahi kā at Parangarahu and Ōrua-pouanui as part of Te Āti Awa.
“The Trust is pleased to see Greater Wellington restore the lighthouse keeper’s cottage and surrounding buildings,” says Lee Hunter, chair of the Tupoki Takarangi Trust.
“We have a strong relationship with Greater Wellington, who share our ahi kā values as we care for our coastline and whenua.”
Greater Wellington East Harbour park ranger Jo Greenman says the most significant parts of the restoration are unseen, with the installation of fresh and wastewater management systems.
“We needed to modernise the cottage while preserving its heritage features,” Ms Greenman says.
“The cottage has been furnished with antique and second-hand furniture to create that lovely 1930 to 1940s feel. However, the luxury of running taps and flushing toilets on a remote site shouldn’t be underestimated.
“We also stripped the 1980’s lino to reveal native timber floorboards, uncovered the original 1930s shiplap interior, and repainted the cottage in historic colours.
“It’s a joy to see people exploring Baring Head, and very soon they will be able to extend their visit in a cottage on the edge of the world.”
For more information about Greater Wellington’s focus on Ōrua-pouanui Baring Head, visit: www.gw.govt.nz/parks/east-harbour-regional-park/