Considering that New Zealand is a country of islands, it shouldn’t surprise you that its shores are scattered with lighthouses. Maritime New Zealand alone manages 23 lighthouses, and there are more that are maintained by harbour authorities. While the practicality of lighthouses makes them an essential feature for coastal regions, it’s also impossible to deny that they add something appealing to the scenery. They provide a touch of old-fashioned romanticism that gives aesthetic pleasure to a view or photo. 

So where can you find New Zealand’s most photogenic lighthouses? Grab your Auckland hire car and head out to these six locations.

1. Cape Reinga

Starting at the top of the North Island, Cape Reinga’s lighthouse is an isolated beauty. Probably the most popular of its kind in NZ, not only does this beacon mark out the top most place of the North Island that you’re able to visit, but beyond it the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean crash in an unending battle. 

2. East Cape

Drive down to the easternmost point of the North Island for your next lighthouse fix. Look forward to a classic beauty, with an unexpected bonus – if you can roll out of bed early enough you can huddle up at this location and be the first in the world to watch the sun rise. It might be just worth it to give up your sleep in for the morning.

3. Cape Egmont

Cut across the country to reach Cape Egmont and get two iconic views for the price of one. Don’t expect to see much water in the lighthouse photos of this location. Even though the sea is there, when Mount Taranaki sits in the background how can you not pair lighthouse and mountain together in a striking image? 

As much as lighthouses are always a major draw, you might find yourself distracted from the structure by the rest of your surroundings. 

4. Pencarrow Head

Wellington is a lighthouse haven. With four to be found in this region, we’ve narrowed your choices down to our favourite four. Okay, we didn’t manage to cut any from the list, but for good reason. Each of these lighthouses is sure to claim a special place in your hearts. 

Take Pencarrow Head for example. If you want to visit New Zealand’s original lighthouse this is the place to visit. The history doesn’t stop there – not only is it the oldest of its kind, but it was home to the first and only female lighthouse keeper in 1855, a woman called Mrs Mary Jane Bennett. 

Settled in a wild and rugged landscape, you’ll be blown away by the vista stretching out in every direction around you. 

5. Baring Head

Baring Head is the second of the four options in the Wellington region. Once inaccessible to the public, this lonesome lighthouse is set to become a popular location with tourists. Soon it might be the only place in the country where you get to experience staying a night in the old keeper’s accommodation and get a feel for the history behind lighthouses and the people that manned them. 

6. Castle Point

Elegant and lithe against the headland of the Wairarapa coast, Castle Point’s lighthouse is the tallest in New Zealand at 23 metres high and is our third choice. A wooden pathway blends in with the grasses and sands along the hills leading to the proud building. Sea meets rocks meets sky here, and looking back over your pictures you’ll almost feel the ocean winds stirring your hair. 

Once you’re saturated with salt, views and sand between your toes, head back along the boardwalk which carries you over a reef and is lined by rocks that hold fossilised shells. 

7. Cape Palliser

Cape Palliser is the fourth and last of the options for the Wellington region. The southernmost point of the North Island is marked out by a traditional lighthouse, its red and white stripes bold and brilliant against the scenery. This guiding beacon found its home here for a good reason – over 20 ships rest in the waters below. 

Part of what makes Cape Palliser a great road trip, other than the views that just keep rolling by outside your hire car’s windows, is the fur seal colony that call this wild spot their own. If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot pups playing together along the coastline! Just be wary of their watchful mothers who are protective of their young. 

New Zealand’s lighthouses aren’t only worthwhile visiting in their own right, but they also mark out coastal locations you’re likely to fall in love with. So what are you waiting for? Book your Auckland hire car today, and begin planning out your lighthouse road trip around New Zealand‘s North Island.