Suitable for all ages although see below
There are actually 2 lighthouses at Pencarrow heads, one old and up high, the other one is new and still operating. Both have helped guide boats around the rocky outcrops at the entrance to Wellington harbour since 1859.
It’s an almost 7km trip out to the new lighthouse, about a 13km or so round trip depending on where you get to. The path is shingle but subject to the elements so after a big storm, it can be covered in sand and debris from rough seas. Even on a calm day, the trip in one direction can be difficult as you battle your way into a head on wind. It’s a very exposed piece of coastline but well worth the effort. Take extra layers including a wind proof jacket and all food and water that you might need as there are no provisions past Eastbourne.
Whether you’re walking or cycling, it might be best to not set out to go all the way to the lighthouse and just see how far you get. The first bay you come to (Camp Bay – about 500metres from he car park) is a popular spot for building driftwood huts and you might decide that this is far enough. If you do make it all the way, don’t forget that in a northerly, the journey back will be far more challenging. While the track is fairly flat, you’ll need to take care of little ones as you’re going round corners as the wind gusts can literally knock you off your feet or bike.
For those that are looking for something more, carry on past the lower lighthouse until the sewerage outlet and there’s a track going to Lake Kohangapiripiri and the old lighthouse to complete the ‘Lighthouse Loop’. Alternatively, you can stop on the way to Pencarrow Head, dump your bikes if you have them and walk up to the old lighthouse (just under 1 km return). There are information boards about the families who operated the old lighthouse along this walking track and 360 degree views over Wellington and towards the Wairarapa.
There are no toilets past the public loos in Eastbourne. The Bike Shed hires all kinds of bikes including kids’ bikes and E-bikes and has a few supplies like cold drinks and ice creams.