The Kaipara North Head Lighthouse is one of only a small number of remaining timber lighthouses in New Zealand. Constructed in 1883-84, it was erected to guide shipping across the treacherous Kaipara bar. The Kaipara, on the west coast of Northland, is New Zealand's largest natural harbour and became the focus for the widespread exploitation of kauri timber around its shores in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such timber was a major construction material, exported throughout New Zealand and overseas.
Erected on a sandstone outcrop, the structure lay some 8 km from the nearest settlement at Pouto, in an area dominated by large drifting sand dunes. It was part of a larger complex, which included residences for the two permanent lighthouse keepers and their families, as well as a signal station and other ancillary buildings. Earlier Maori occupation had occurred in the immediate vicinity, reflecting an ongoing relationship between human settlement and the maritime environment.