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Auckland's maritime landmarks



The In-Port Races and Departure course on Auckland’s sparkling Waitemata harbour are bordered by some of New Zealand’s most famous maritime landmarks.


At the top of the In-Port Race course, next to the eastern turning-mark for the races, stands the Bean Rock Lighthouse. The lighthouse was constructed as a wooden cottage lighthouse with a wrap-around veranda and stands on wooden stilts 30ft above the Waitemata Harbour.


Bean Rock is known by Maori as Te Toka a Kapetawa and the legend is that a chief named Tara marooned his brother-in-law there. The lighthouse replaced a day marker used from the 1840s. The 1867 gold rush had caused a large increase in traffic which necessitated a more substantial navigation beacon that could be used at night. Construction took two years before the light was finally lit in July 1871.


In 1985 the lighthouse underwent major repairs which involved removing the cottage structure and the replacement of the wooden stilts with Australian jarrah wood. The cottage was replaced atop the stilts after five months refurbishment ashore.


Today the lighthouse guides marine traffic into Auckland harbour down the Rangitoto Channel and up the Waitemata Harbour and is protected by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Along the waterfront to the east of the Race Village is another Auckland landmark, the historic Auckland Ferry Terminal. The building was constructed between 1909 and 1912 in the Edwardian baroque style and cost £67,944; a significant sum for the time.


The original intention was to build an imposing structure at the hub of an extensive ferry network and to form part of a major re-organisation of the waterfront which also involved the construction of the Viaduct Basin, where the Volvo Ocean Race is now hosted. The ferry terminal also enjoys protection by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.


At the mouth of the Waitemata Harbour stands the almost-conical Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto is part of a network of volcanoes that make up the Auckland Volcanic Field and was formed through a series of eruptions between 550 and 600 years ago. This makes it the most recent eruption in the field that has an estimated age of 250,000 years.


Rangitoto is Māori for 'Bloody Sky', with the name coming from the full phrase Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua which means 'the days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua’. Tama-te-kapua was the captain of a waka (canoe) involved in a battle about the time of the eruption.


The island is a Department of Conservation reserve and is administered in partnership with local tribes Ngāi Tai and Ngāti Paoa and can be accessed by ferry departing from the old Ferry Terminal.


At the western end of the In-Port Race course is the Auckland Harbour Bridge which links central Auckland with the North Shore. The Auckland Harbour Bridge was opened to traffic in 1959. A harbour crossing was first mooted in 1860 by North Shore farmers who wanted to herd cattle to the markets in Auckland City.


The construction is of steel box-girder design and took four years. The technique involved the partial construction of the girder sections before they were floated into place on barges for final assembly atop the pylons.


Due to the expansion of the North Shore subsequent to the opening of the bridge, traffic volumes increased and the bridge was widened in 1967 by the addition two box truss clip-on sections. The sections were manufactured by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries of Japan, which led to the nickname 'Nippon clip-ons'.