Barrett Reef

The cluster of rocks that is Barrett Reef (often known as "Barrett's Reef") is one of the most treacherous reefs in New Zealand.

It lies on the western side of the entrance of Wellington Harbour, on the approaches to the city of Wellington, at coordinates coord|41|21|9|S|174|50|6|E|. The reef is named after Richard (Dicky) Barrett (1807-1847), a whaler and trader. Its Maori name is "Tangihanga-a-Kupe". It is popular with recreational underwater divers.

Dangerous entrance

The reef, much of which is exposed even at high tide, is located to the west of the two-kilometre-wide channel that links Cook Strait with Wellington Harbour, close to the shore of the Miramar Peninsula. Due to the channelling effect of Cook Strait, which lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, the currents are strong and fickle and gales are common. Add to this the volume of traffic which uses the channel (including several crossings daily of the inter-island ferries to Picton), and it is not surprising that the reef has a lengthy roll-call of shipwrecks.

History of vessels damaged, stranded, or wrecked on Barrett Reef

* 1866 "Tui", iron steamer. Wrecked, north end of Barrett Reef
* 1871 "Lady Bird", schooner (3-masted), 303 tons
* 1874 "Earl of South Esk", wooden barque, 336 tons
* 1874 "Cynthia", schooner, 63 tons. Stranded; partial loss. Abreast of north end of Barrett Reef
* 1876 "Hunter", schooner, 90 tons. Stranded; total loss. Southernmost rock of Barrett Reef
* 1876 "Shepherdess", schooner, 38 tons, Stranded; partial loss
* 1921 "Polly Woodside", three-masted iron barque, 678 tons. Stranded; refloated and repaired.
* 1927 "Norma"
* 1936 "Rangatira", inter-island ferry, 6,152 tons [http://www.nzmaritime.co.nz/r301.htm]
* 1947 "Wanganella" liner, 9576 tons. Stranded; refloated and repaired.
* 1968 "Wahine", inter-island ferry, 8,948 tons, 53 lives lost. Wrecked; total loss.


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