The Beef Barrels (Kahikatoa)

The Beef Barrels (Kahikatoa) are notorious for having caused many wrecks. They are frequently very difficult to see and usually seem to be further seaward that would be expected from their charted positon. Other rocks, some awash at low water, surround the three main rocks. At spring high water, all rocks are often covered. The area is approximately half a mile in diameter, extremely dangerous and should be given a wide berth. The safest passage is to stay close to Okuri Point.

The light on Okuri Point has a red sector covering the Beef Barrels and some of the dangers to the east of Sauvage Point. The light on Channel Point is also sectored and its red sector will lead safely to the south of the Beef Barrels. This can also be confusing and is one of the few areas where, if the red sector of two lights can be seen, the boat is in safe water.

The passage between the Beef Barrels and Lebrun Island is clear, with sufficient depth of water. If using this passage to head north from the Current Basin, it is best to close within 40 m of the reef off Lebrun Peninsula and then head straight for Chicot.


These rocks are also known by the French name, Les Pieges, which means trap or snare.1

Kahikatoa is a native shrub with aromatic prickly leaves and many small, white, pink or red flowers. It is possible these shrubs once grew on the rocks and became associated with them.


1. Olive Baldwin, Story of New Zealand’s French Pass and d’Urville Island (Plimmerton: Fields Publishing House, 1979) 135.