Waipapa Lighthouse / Shipwreck
The Best "Land's End" Spot To Visit
NZ Gps: 46° 39' 33.0192" S 168° 50' 55.9968" E
The Waipapa Point Lighthouse is the southernmost lighthouse on the South Island, and even though it’s not quite as south as Slope Point, it’s more interesting to visit Waipapa than the no-frills no-interest Slope Pt*. The Waipapa Lighthouse is also a good bit more south than the way-touristy signpost at Bluff’s Stirling Point*.
At the Waipapa Lighthouse you may also see some beached Sea Lions and some of those classic windswept Catlins trees. There’s also a newly-created wind shelter info-kiosk that displays a bunch of interesting historic panels. The panels and historic photos detail the history of the lighthouse and its keepers as well as the tragic 1881 shipwreck of the “Tararua” in which an incredible 131 out of 151 passengers died just 1km offshore. If you enjoy a bit of history, then read the panels and then also visit the “Tararua Acre” cemetery which is signposted a couple kms back on the gravel road at the turn. You’ll need to walk a couple minutes across the paddock to the fenced “Acre” where you’ll find an info panel describing an even better account of the torturous wreck and a scattering of some lonely gravestones.
FYI: If you’re further interested in shipwrecks, the Catlins coast had many, but the ONLY visible remains are of the SS Ino, still visible at low tide inside the Fortrose estuary. Immediately south of Fortrose there’s a road sign pointing the way, and inside the Fortrose info-pub there’s a shipwreck booklet that has the details.
In Okawa, at the i-Site museum, there are also shipwreck videos played in the theater.
*FYI: If you’re wondering if the long drive to see Bluff’s Stirling Pt is worth it…I don’t think so. Stirling Pt is not even near the southern tip of Bluff, let alone the southern-most point of NZ. Simply Google-Image “Bluff” and you’ll see all the tourist pics of the tourist signpost that you need to see. As for Slope Pt, it’s not too interesting either. If you’re “killing time” waiting for Curio’s penguin march, then maybe have a look at Slope, but be warned that there’s nothing there of interest but a signpost. Just Google Image it, then get to Curio and look for some Hectors surfing the waves!!