Lighthouse Cottage
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


After an extensive restoration, one of the oldest buildings at Christchurch’s Awaroa/Godley Head offers overnight guests affordable accommodation with an unrivalled view.

Date:  27 January 2021

Known as the Lighthouse Cottage, the space is in the old generator room which once provided back-up power to the lighthouse to ensure it could safely guide ships into the harbour during any power cuts.

It’s the only remaining intact building from the Godley Head Lighthouse complex and is thought to have been built in the 1930s. 

The accommodation is another option for those wanting to stay at the popular Awaroa/Godley Head Campsite. More than 4,400 people stayed at the family-friendly site last season (from July 2019 to June 2020).

The cottage sleeps up to four people (three on a sleeping platform with one on a bunk above) and will cost just $65 to rent the entire building for a night. Guests must bring their own sleeping bags.

It comes with a well-equipped kitchen including two elements, a microwave, jug, toaster, and cooking utensils, and will be serviced between guests.

DOC Community Ranger Vanessa Mander says it was important to save this historical building for future generations to enjoy. 

“The refurbishment has taken care to preserve the building’s unique heritage features, including the old electrical board, power points, light switches and the red generator plinth below the bed.”

“Although the cottage keeps its heritage feel, it has been fully insulated and double glazed, and has wall panel heaters added for those staying in the cooler winter months.”

A major advantage of the site is the ability see as far as the Kaikoura mountain range on a clear day, right from the front door. Very few accommodation options are this close to a main centre with these kinds of views.

The building was blessed by local hapū Ngāti Wheke in December to prepare it for guests to use.

Vanessa says the cottage is the perfect option for those who want to enjoy all that Awaroa/Godley Head offers but would prefer not to stay in a tent.

One of big attractions at Awaroa is the refurbished World War II gun emplacements next to the campsite and cottage, which reopened last February after earthquake-strengthening work. It is ranked as one of New Zealand’s top ten coastal defence heritage sites.

The popular walking tracks in the area, including the loop track connecting the heritage site with Taylors Mistake, are used by about 100,000 people annually. There is also mountain biking on offer, while paragliders launch from nearby when conditions are right.

The restoration is part of a wider suite of work to refurbish heritage sites across the Canterbury region. DOC recently restored the Balmoral Fire Lookout further afield in the Hurunui.

More information

The name Awaroa refers to the length and height of the entrance to Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour. The area is significant to Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke.

DOC worked with Heritage New Zealand and the Christchurch City Council on the design of the Lighthouse Cottage restoration. The building is listed as a heritage item in the Christchurch City Council’s district plan. It had fallen into disrepair and suffered from vandalism, so was given a complete overhaul to get it ready for visitors to enjoy.

The Godley Head campsite and complex is about a 45-minute drive from the centre of Christchurch.

A 9-metre-tall lighthouse and small house were built at Godley Head in 1865. In good conditions, the light could be seen from as far as 54 kilometres away.

A coastal defence battery was built at Godley Head in 1939 in response to World War II. The lighthouse and keepers house interrupted sightings for the guns, so the light mechanism was moved to a new tower perched partway down the cliff face in 1942.

The lighthouse was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake when large parts of the cliff face slumped into the sea. The cupola and glassed-in lantern room was removed and stored to preserve it.


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