Island Bay lighthouse

PHOTO: The lighthouse at 326 The Esplanade, Island Bay, is for sale.

The iconic Island Bay lighthouse is now on the market, and its unique characteristic has been revealed – it has never emitted a beam of light. Crafted by Wellingtonian Bruce Stockell, a former teacher and sports consultant, in the early 90s, this whimsical folly mirrors its sister structure, the Keep, located around the corner in Houghton Bay.

SPECIAL OFFER: Looking to advertise online but finding the ‘BIG BOYS” too expensive?

Originally envisioned as a surprise art studio for Stockell’s wife, Rosemary, the lighthouse has, in recent years, served as a holiday rental. Stockell purchased the steep and seemingly unbuildable section in the late 80s, determined to make his vision a reality despite initial warnings. Inspired by the desire to capture a view of the South Island, Stockell settled on the idea of a lighthouse, the only tall structure with integrity by the sea.

Working with architect Callum McKenzie, Stockell brought his amalgamated vision of various lighthouses to life. The design process involved research at Maritime NZ, sketching ideas, and quickly turning them into plans. The element of surprise was crucial, necessitating a public notification filed with the council that explicitly requested friends to keep the project under wraps.


Of course, there’s a great sea view from most angles.


The top floor of the lighthouse has never housed a light. It was meant to be a studio, and is now a bedroom with a stunning view. TOMMY’S / SUPPLIED


The lighthouse’s construction remained shrouded in secrecy, with the front-page feature in The Evening Post adding to the mystique. Today, while Stockell is open about many of his projects, there remains a veil over some, including a current undertaking involving a “Greek temple” and a “wind gate.”


The lighthouse appeared on the front page of The Evening Post in 1993.

Proceeds from the lighthouse’s sale will contribute to Stockell’s undisclosed future project on his property. Despite parting with his creation, Stockell hopes the next owner will embrace the same spirit of playfulness and joy that inspired its construction. The Island Bay lighthouse is currently up for tender, with the deadline set for February 15, 2024, and a rateable value of $940,000.

The listing is with David Vaughan for Tommy’s real Estate.