East Cape Lighthouse

East Cape Lighthouse

East Cape Lighthouse


25 Rankers Reviews

19 Face-to-Face

2 Hicks Bay

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Sunrise at East Cape
Counting steps...
Handy signage


1.2 km return | 1 hour return

The chances are you may be attempting this walk before dawn to witness the sunrise. If you conveniently forget about the Chatham Islands and Mount Hikurangi, then East Cape Lighthouse is the first place in the world to see the new day. This aside, it is a powerful place to watch the early fingers of dawn cast a misty tone over the parched tussock and manuka scrub. Flax leaves grate against each other with every breath of wind. In the distance below the constant shimmers of rolling waves stroke and pummel the shoreline.


From Te Araroa, follow East Cape Road 21 km along the coastline to the roadend, where there is parking and toilets (although the doors may be locked). The start of the track is signposted 150 metres before the carpark on the left.


The track climbs the cape steeply with the aid of handrails and several hundred steps. These wooden steps can be slippery when wet in the morning dew and patches in between may be muddy.

European History

East Cape Lighthouse is New Zealand’s easternmost lighthouse at longitude 178 degrees 33 minutes East. The tower is constructed from cast iron sections bolted together and is 14-metres-high. It has remained on this site since 1922, having been removed from East Island due to frequent landslides. It stands 154 metres above sea level and the light flashes once every 10 seconds. The 1000-Watt lamp is mains powered with a diesel alternator for standby. Like all New Zealand lighthouses it is controlled by computer from Wellington.


Feature Value Info


Umbrella Organisation

Non-profit organisation


North IslandTairāwhiti GisborneHicks Bay


  • Landmarks
  • Walking
  • Scenic Attractions
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 25.

Alice's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Nice 360 view from atop. Around 800 steps to climb first though ;) it’s a scenic road to get there but there a few sections of gravel road though..

Reviewed over 1 year ago

Geertje and Rein's avatar

Geertje and Rein

Ranking: 10/10

We wanted to be the first to see the sun rise on our earth. For that you have to go to the East Cape. We spent the night seven kilometers from the lighthouse. It was raining and storming. Got up early. Made the walk with 800 steps to the lighthouse. EIt was 11.2.2019 and almost 6.31. The rain stopped and the sun slowly rose above the horizon. A special experience that we experienced with three others. For gourmets!

Reviewed about 3 years ago and experienced in February 2019

Amul's avatar


Ranking: 8/10

Worth a trip up to the lighthouse. I was there in winter so didn't manage to get a decent sunrise but was still worth the climb of about 700 steps. Didn't see any signs indicating where the track actually started so took me a minute to find. It's an easy short climb to the top but can be slippery after rain

Reviewed about 4 years ago

Tom Teuber's avatar

Tom Teuber


Ranking: 10/10

The East Cape is the second best area in New Zealand. Very quiet, beautiful landscape. The sunrise is a must do there. The lighthouse is on top of a hill and you will get a nice view.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Thank You - to the thousands of travellers that have contributed to our Top Voted NZ Activities Map - it's free from Rankers.

Sylvain Schiber's avatar

Sylvain Schiber

Ranking: 9/10

Nice short walk after a gravel road. Almost nobody in October.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Bong Chin Fung's avatar

Bong Chin Fung

Ranking: 9/10

Definitely worth the drive. Well maintained stairs. Suggest to do some stretching before start the walk. Allow yourself 30 - 60 minutes for the climb according to your fitness level.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Mia Kuch's avatar

Mia Kuch


Ranking: 7/10

Very steep steps to the top of the hill where the lighthouse is situated. Great view, especially during the sunrise.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Gregor's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

You can be one of the first people in the world to salute the new day. Enjoy great light in the morning.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

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Jan's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

We have been there for sunrise. The colour of the sky was beautiful. You have to get up pretty early but it is worth it!

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Marlene Buchwald's avatar

Marlene Buchwald


Ranking: 7/10

Beautiful view from the top but really windy. Not a lot of people there, which was nice.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Julie Miehling's avatar

Julie Miehling


Ranking: 8/10

The drive was not so nice, too rocky but the views in the morning are so beautiful.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Matte Stemkowitz's avatar

Matte Stemkowitz


Ranking: 8/10

A very nice coastline and some good short walks, cool view from the lighthouse over the coastline.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Kilian Obst's avatar

Kilian Obst


Ranking: 7/10

Nice, little walk to the lighthouse, cool drive along the way.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner