Tyrwhitt Peak, Lake Wanaka

The First World War through place names. Tyrwhitt Peak, Lake Wanaka.

Sketch of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt (1870-1951) by Francis Dodd (1874-1949)

The New Zealand Dawn Service, Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension 2015 - Sketch of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt (1870-1951) by Francis Dodd (1874-1949)

In 1924, Sir Frederick Chapman, a former Supreme Court judge and member of the Honorary Geographic Board of New Zealand, suggested new names for two features on Lake Wanaka. He proposed that the body of water on ‘Pigeon Island’ should become Arethusa Pool and that the Island’s highest point should be titled Tyrwhitt Peak. When the time came to seek official approval for these changes, the Governor-General, Admiral John Jellicoe, further moved that ‘Pigeon Island’ be renamed ‘Harwich Island’.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt was placed in command of the Royal Navy’s Harwich Force. This squadron was largely composed of destroyers, together with some light cruisers and flotilla leaders. Harwich Force had three main objectives: to protect the approaches to the English Channel; to monitor German activities in the North Sea; and to escort ships between Britain and the Netherlands.

Tyrwhitt and his men successfully carried out these tasks. Although it was absent from the largest naval engagement of the War at Jutland, Harwich Force played an important role at the Battles of Heligoland Blight, Texel, and Dogger Bank. It also captured or sank 24 enemy merchant vessels, and escorted 520 eastbound and 511 westbound ships between British and Dutch ports.

The name Tyrwhitt Peak was first Gazetted by the Honorary Geographic Board of New Zealand in 1924, and was officially confirmed by the New Zealand Geographic Board in 1948.


  • Evening Post, 14 November 1924, p. 2.
  • Heathcote, Tony, The British Admirals of the Fleet, 1734-1995: A Biographical Dictionary, Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 2002.
  • Honorary Geographic Board of New Zealand: Correspondence, vol. 2, p. 19.
  • New Zealand Geographic Board: Minutes, 1948 (42).
  • New Zealand Geographic Board, ‘New Zealand Gazetteer’
  • Reed, A.W., Place Names of New Zealand, Rosedale: Penguin, 2010.