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Parangarahu Lakes Area

Parangarahu Lakes Area

Updated 6 December 2021 11:58am

Park Notices

Find all current park notices on the new Greater Wellington website.

Pencarrow Coastal Trail

Pencarrow lighthouse and Lake Kohungapiripiri

From Burdan's Gate carpark at the end of Muritai Road follow the metal Pencarrow Coast Road south along the rugged windswept coast. Watch out for the occasional quarry truck on weekdays. Vehicle traffic is restricted for other than park management or access to private property. The Pencarrow Coast Road is owned and managed by Hutt City Council.

Dogs must be on a leash to protect wildlife nesting habitat and grazing livestock. Dogs are not allowed south of the hill track to the lighthouse. Please note that from 1 August to 30 October each year (lambing season) dogs are not allowed on the Pencarrow Coast Road.

At low tide beds of kelp seaweed float on the rocky shore. You will often see black backed and red billed gulls, shags, white fronted terns and oyster catchers.

As you near Pencarrow Head, if you are walking you can climb the path up the hill promontory for spectacular views from the historic Pencarrow Lighthouse. You pass a child's grave surrounded by a white rail fence. Evelyn Violet Amy Wood, the daughter of one of the lighthouse keepers, died in March 1896.

If you are cycling continue along the coastal road past the lower Pencarrow Lighthouse and turn left through the bike access to the Lake Kohungapiripiri outlet. Follow this trail uphill to the historic Pencarrow Lighthouse.

It takes about 2 hours to walk from Burdan's Gate to the base of the Lighthouse Track.

East Harbour track update

The boardwalk at Lake Kohangatera that crosses Gollans Stream wetland as part of the Lakes Block circuit walk has been removed. This is due to flooding from storms pushing a large mat of vegetation against the boardwalk which may have caused more flooding.

The Cameron Ridge track has been closed from Cameron Ridge lookout and the Lakes Block circuit does not extend past its loop.

A new Cameron Ridge to Lake Kohangatera wetland loop is proposed, allowing visitors to continue to enjoy that part of the Parangarahu Lakes area.

Walking times from base of Lighthouse Track to:

Old Pencarrow Lighthouse

15 mins

Bluff Point Lookout

30 mins

Lake Kohungapiripiri

20 mins

Cameron Creek Wetland

45 mins

Lake Kohangatera Lookout

1 hour 30 mins

The hilltop lighthouse, built in 1858, was the first in New Zealand. The first keeper, Mary Jane Bennett, was New Zealand's only woman lighthouse keeper. She stayed in this position with her children for 10 years before returning to England.

Owing to occasional fog obscuring the light, the low level lighthouse was built in 1906 and still operates today.

From the hilltop you can head down to the secluded inland Lake Kohungapiripiri. Follow the lakeside track out to the beach and a little further along the coast to reach Lake Kohangatera.

Both lakes are dammed by gravel and sand banks that are old earthquake raised beaches.  The lakes were once popular eeling grounds for Taranaki Whānui however few eels remain and the aim is now to restore fish habitat and migratory paths to support the return of eels to the lakes. The two lakes (the waterbody) are Scientific Reserve managed by DOC and this status recognises that the lakes are unique and worthy of protection and ongoing research.

Now that livestock no longer graze the lake surrounds and the area is actively managed to control pests, you can expect to see significant increases in birdlife.

Beyond Pencarrow Head and the sewer outfall you reach the true shores of Cook Strait. Ahead is Fitzroy Bay and the rolling farmlands of Baring Head/Ōrua-pouanui. Away to the south on a clear day you see Mt Tapuaenuku (2885m) on the inland Kaikoura mountain range.

On the wild coast between Eastbourne and Baring Head/Ōrua-pouanui at least 40 shipwrecks are recorded. Traces of most have long since disappeared.

Please note:

There is no public access along the coast road (Fitzroy Bay) between Lake Kohangatera, Parangarahu Lakes to Baring Head/Ōrua Pouanui without the permission of the two private landowners. If you require access, please contact the Park Ranger Jo Greenman at

Parangarahu Lakes Area