French Pass

Following recent Waitangi Treaty Settlement agreements the strait between Rangitoto kit e Tonga / D'Urville Island and Te Waipounamu now has a dual name Te Aumiti French Pass

Inspect the nautical charts and the tide tables thoroughly before commencing a journey through the pass. It is also recommended to obtain local knowledge before passing through here.

The main navigation channel is between Channel Point light and the light mounted on the rock in the pass. It is dangerous to attempt to travel against the stream unless the boat is easily capable of at least eight knots under power.

Lower powered vessels may be able to push through at neap tides, but the strength of the current tends to be unpredictable.

Prudent mariners will plan their approach for slack water, especially at spring tides. Even if travelling with the stream there can be problems controlling a boat, because of the eddies. When the flow is south-west a line of eddies appears from Channel Point to the south-south-west until abreast of Rock Cod Point.

To the south-east of this line of eddies, the water stream is slower and at times a counter current occurs. If travelling south-west, with the tide, it is advisable to keep in the mid channel, to avoid these eddies, as the bow of the vessel can swing into the counter current and the boat be slewed in to the shore. A big whirlpool called Jacobs Pool also forms about 300 metres to the south-west of the mid channel light.

If attempting to negotiate the pass against the south-west flow, it is best to head straight for the mid channel light until 40 metres from it, as the rock causes an eddy with less strength of current.

During the north-east tide flow there is a corresponding line of eddies to the north-east, with a counter current form Collinet Point to Channel Point. These eddies are not as dangerous as those formed by the south-west flow.

The streams do not change at the same time as high and low water. The tide table should be consulted. Slack water usually lasts for about 20 minutes.

Yachts should not rely on the wind to remain steady through the pass and are advised to start engines before entering the pass in order to maintain steerage way.

Fisherman or Coutre Pass should only be attempted with local knowledge.

Diving in the pass is extremely dangerous and is not recommended.

No anchoring in the channel
Deep (>10m)
No swimming
Rocks/reef/sand bank warnings
Beware of rocks