French Pass

The swirling waters of the pass which severs D’Urville Island from the mainland make Dumont D’Urville’s feat as impressive today as it was in 1827 (described under The French at French Pass).

In legend, Kupe as he journeyed to New Zealand had with him on his canoe a fabulous shag, Te Kawau-a-toru, whose duty was to find tidal and river currents. None of the rips the shag found were strong enough to test his strength until he reached this point. At full tide Te Kawau-a-toru swooped down to dip one wing in the rip of French Pass. But the strength of the current was too great, catching the shag’s wing and dragging the fabled bird into the racing water. Had Te Kawau-a-toru won the struggle the channel would have been sealed. His loss allowed the canoes of the intrepid to paddle through the passage, and the shag himself was turned into a reef that for all time will withstand the racing waters of the pass. 60 km by road from Rai Valley; 124 km from Picton via Queen Charlotte Drive; 87 km from Havelock. Camping.

The road passes Goat Saddle (at 16 km from Rai Valley), previously known as Kissing Saddle. Observed officialdom in 1958: „It is held by some that, although the kiss has gone from the name, the ancient practice is still carried on with, if anything, increasing enthusiasm, and that the restoration of the original name would be in order.“