Kenepuru – Raetihi

Our next trip along the Kenepuru took us to another lodge – Raetihi. This is a popular site and often it is closed for functions like weddings. Best to ring beforehand. They have a wharf but given the tidal ranges we anchored off and took the tender in.

The lodge from the sound


A close up of the lodge, we had a nice lunch. It is accessible by road. Lovely grounds with native birds.


Looking out at Kapowai, the southern side of the sound in the background.



Kenepuru Sound – Portage & St. Omer

As you approach Havelock off to port is Kenepuru Sound. Some 16 Nm long it’s eastern end runs close to the Queen Charlotte Sound with a narrow ridge between them.



A convenient bay in Queen Charlotte is just on the other side of the ridge. Catch a boat to Torea Bay and then walk over the hill to the Kenepuru. The place on that side being known as Portage.

The day after we arrived in Havelock we took some of the family to Portage and had lunch at the hotel. Kapowai alongside a somewhat run-down marina.


The hotel where we had a pleasant lunch. They have a bus that runs over and picks people up on the Queen Charlotte side. No hard work on this portage anymore.


Some early roads and easy access by water made this area a summer holiday area.

After lunch we headed back toward Havelock and stopped off at St. Omer for a swim. This used to a beautiful lodge run by a family but they sold a few years ago and the new owners couldn’t make it work.


Looking the other way.


Off to one side in the bay is a wreck, I had to enlarge.


This is the Amokura which was towed here in 1953 as a storage hulk and jetty. Prior to that she had been a coaling hulk in Wellington. However she had a much more exciting start as HMS Sparrow, a 3 masted barque, she saw active service in the Persian Gulf and around Africa suppressing the slave trade. She then ended up in NZ as a training ship for young boys prior to them going to sea. This proved too expensive so she was sold.




Our home for the next two months is going to be Havelock, a port at the head of the Pelorus Sound where the Pelorus River meets the sea.

Kapowai moored in Havelock Marina at sunset.


Looking down on Havelock with a good view of the Pelorus Sound.


Havelock is the centre of the ‘greenshell’ mussel industry with over 60,000 tonnes of mussels passing over the wharf each year.  A lot of logs also come in by barge as well.

The port is interesting with a narrow channel winding through the mud flats. First time we came in an hour before high water and made note of the depths. The next time we came in an hour after low water and touched bottom a couple of times and then ran aground on the last leg into Havelock – a common grounding point especially if you take the turn too tight round the last point (above and to the left of the blue roof).

The next time we came in right on low water and made it all the way without problem.


After a lot of cruising we eventually arrived at Kapowai Bay. This is where Lois’ maternal grandparents lived and where she spent many school holidays. It is on the east coast of D’Urville Island just across from French Pass

This is the only photo I have of the house as it was, unfortunately any attempt to enlarge ends up a mess.


Here it is on the day we visited. A flood took out the old house. There are two creeks running through the property but it must have been some down pour.


Lois’ Grandfather was a launchman who did water taxi, fishing trips, scenic tours, moving freight and anything else he could do in his boat. His boat was called ‘Alamo’.

They had two children both born in Nelson, the first being my mother in law. Mother to be was run down to Nelson in the Alamo at a convenient time prior to the big day.  Must have been a fun ride.

French Pass – Village

After clearing the pass we went and had a look at the village of French Pass. Lois went to school here for a bit and her Mum was the Postmistress.

The road from Rai Valley was put through in 1957 and is reported to be one of, if not the best, scenic routes in new Zealand.


Closer look at the wharf.


Town Centre, mostly a holiday destination now but there are still farmers in the area plus fishermen. Pohutukawa flowering nicely.


French Pass

French pass is between D’urville Is and the mainland of the South Island. Tidal streams of upto 8 knots run through here and the passage is about 100m wide. You only go through with the tide although fast planing hulls do go through at any stage of the tide.

Approaching the pass from the south, running with the NE setting tide.


Getting closer, the beacon at the edge of the reef showing up


The tide starting to speed us up, kept the RPM at 1350 for a speed of about 8.2 kts


Getting a good look now


And the tide having a bit more of an influence


Almost there, at this stage I’m doing it by eye rather than the chart. Aiming to run into that smoother water. Sometimes, especially when the flow is at maximum, that smooth water is a very distinct V shape and you run straight into the V.


A series of photos as we go through. Looking to starboard.


To Port


Through, max speed observed was 14.1 kts. Note the variation from the heading (green line) and the course made good (red line). The Pilot Book warns about being set to starboard and running aground on the mainland by Collinet Pt.  but that wasn’t a problem.


The whirlpools to port on the down tide side of the reef, kept away from that area.



Looking back


That was fun.


Heading North

For a couple of reasons, such as no berth at Nelson Marina, we had to move round to the Havelock Marina in the Pelorus Sound. After departing Nelson we sailed passed Mackay Bluff. This is the source of the rocks and gravel that make up the Boulder Bank.


Looking up into Current Basin, South Island on the right, D’urville Island on the left and at the top is French Pass.


The next two photos are of Okuri Point. This is Lois’s Dads first farm which he farmed with his brother, Uncle Alan.

First is looking from the south.


Mustering sheep on this farm meant carrying a rifle. Any sheep that looked at though it was going to lead a mob over the bluffs was quickly shot. Pour encourager les autres.


A lot of land in the Marlborough Sounds has been purchased by people from the Northern Hemisphere. Some are rumoured to be survivalists who intend to flee here when mushroom clouds are expected up north.

A lot of the other farmland has proved uneconomic and been put into pine trees but at the top of the sounds there are a number of sheep farms still looking good.