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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, August 1976

Glossary of Coastal Names

page 22

Glossary of Coastal Names

This glossary is included to assist in identifying places referred to by more than one name, and to inform readers of matters of interest in the origin and evolution of these place names.

Early explorers, pioneers and surveyors sometimes used (and occasionally even fabricated) Maori names and sometimes named points and bays when they were being surveyed or mapped. At a later date, local settlers made use of casual names for easy identification and these were frequently adopted by common usage.

This coast has now several "strata" of place-names; those of Maori origin; those from Tasman and Cook which have been so overlaid they are no longer in use; D'Urville's 1827 exploration; the 1851 Acheron marine survey by Captain Stokes; pioneers and settlers; and subsequent survey and chart work. The Park Board will always be pleased to have further information.

Names change. For example, the Geographic Board recently ruled that Onetahuti is now the correct spelling for a bay, which had been referred to as Onatahutu (with variations in spelling) and Tonga Bay.

The names in light type are on the map included with this book.

Abel Head:

D'Urville and the N.Z. Pilot use this for the whole headland from Awaroa Head to Reef Point, but on some maps it is used only for the point SE of Awaroa Head. It is known also as Whitestone Point.

Adele Island:

Named by D'Urville as a compliment to his wife.

Adolphe Point:

A D'Urville name being the Christian name of the Astrolabe's surgeon, Lesson. The Maori name was Te Karetu, given by Peart as "the sweet scented grass."

Akerston Point:

See Yellow Point.


Peart translates this as "a good cave."

page 23

Anchor Bay:

Lies to the north of Adolphe or Te Karetu Point, but is not a good anchorage.

Appletree Bay:

Is a local name for the beach north of Guilbert Point. D'Urville's name was Grande Plage, and it is also known as Orchard Bay.

Ballon Rock:

A D'Urville name for a picturesque rock in Torrent Bay …. "a round topped hill, or balloon."

Bark Bay:

So called because bark was gathered here for the Nelson tanneries. The Maori name was Wairima …. "the five streams."


See Hummock.

Blind Bay:

This is the name Captain Cook originally gave to the Coast between Cape Stephens and Cape Farewell. (i.e. it included what we now call Golden and Tasman Bays). On his second viewing, Cook seemed to restrict its use to what we now call Tasman Bay. There is no current official name for the original Blind Bay, and the name is not used now, except as an occasional alternative for Tasman Bay.

Boundary Bay:

This name derives from the boundary between Golden Bay and Waimea Counties.

Browns (Beach):

Also referred to as Long Beach, the beach on the south side of the Torrent Bay anchorage.


See Watering Cove.

Catamaran Reef:

This is a curious entry on Murray's 1889 plan, showing a reef so named just north of Brereton Cove or Whitestone Point.

Clare Island:

This is an older name for the larger of the Pinnacle Is., south of Bark Bay. The origin of this name is not recorded.

Coal Bay:

An early settler's name for Golden Bay, used from 1842 when coal was brought from the bay to Nelson.

Coquille Bay:

The bay west of Guilbert Point, recently so named after the original name of the corvette Astrolabe. She was called the

page 24

Coquille (Shell) on her first voyage to New Zealand under Duperrey, but did not then visit this area.

Cove Bay:

Shown on some maps as Cave Bay and on others as Cove Bay, but generally known locally as Stilwells Bay.

Cyathea Cove:

D'Urville named this, commenting in his journal on the species of treefern Cyathea, which is the silver fern emblem of New Zealand. Captain Stokes of the Acheron used this beach for his observatory in 1851 and renamed it Observation Cove, whereas D'Urville's Observation Beach was one bay to the northeast. This confusion was resolved by using D'Urville's original name.

Dolly Varden:

This is the large scrub-covered rock lying off Pitt Head, the south headland of Torrent Bay. Dolly Varden was a very popular English actress about 1900. Also, it is known that a small sailing boat, called the Dolly Varden, was about this coast. What, if any, is the association with this place-name is not known.

Deepwater Point:

Is no longer rightly named. It is the point between the anchorage and the lagoon in Torrent Bay, but has shoaled seriously since it was named by the Acheron in 1851.

Fairy Cove:

The upper part of Sandfly Bay inlet …. Murray in his map of 1889 calls it the Falls River Basin.

Fisherman Island:

Was named by D'Urville as Isle des Pecheurs (in the plural).

Foul Point:

The southern entrance to Tonga Roadstead.

Frenchman Bay:

The Maori name was Potikitawa. This could mean a boat (poti) at or against (ki) a tree (Bilschmeidia tawa) or, more likely, boat towards the entrance (tawaha) in which case the correct spelling should be Potikitawaha.

George Point:

See Jules Point.

Gibbs Station:

This was included as a landmark on the Admiralty Chart published in 1865. It was at Totaranui.

page 25

Glasgow's Bay:

See Northwest Bay …. a bay in the northwest corner of Torrent Bay.

Golden Bay:

This is the last and current name of the four used for this bay. It dates from the discovery of gold in 1857.

Grande Plage:

See Appletree Bay, Orchard Bay.

Guilbert Point:

Southwest extremity of the Astrolabe Roadstead ……

Lt. P. E. Guilbert was D'Urville's officer-in-charge of the hydrographic work in the area. The name first appears on the Acheron charts of 1851.

Hapuka Reef:

DUrville called this Brisant de l'entree, or Rocky Entrance. This is marked by a buoy.


The north end of Tonga Island is known as the Hummock, also as the Beehive.

Island Bay:

See Mosquito Bay.

Jules Point:

Is the eastern point of Adele Island, and is sometimes known as George Point. Jules was one of D'Urville's christian names.

Landing Bay:

West of Tonga Roadstead or Island, where there was a jetty for loading granite.

Lesson Creek:

Is the creek flowing into Stilwell Bay. Named after Adolphe Lesson.

Long Beach:

See Browns Beach.

Massacre Bay:

Tasman's Murderer's Bay was changed, perhaps unintentionally by D'Urville to Massacre Bay. D'Urville wrongly implies that the new name was given by Cook.

Mosquito Bay:

Or Island Bay …. north of Bark Bay.

Murderer's Bay:

This is first European name given on this coast; by Tas-man in 1642 to what we now call Golden Bay.

page 26

Mutton Cove:

Coastal vessels sheltering in westerly weather are believed to have revictualled on local mutton.

Northwest Bay:

See Glasgow's Bay.

Observation Beach:

See note under Cyathea Cove.

Orchard Bay:

See Grande Plage, Appletree Bay.

Pitt Head:

Named after Colonel Albert Pitt who owned the section. Now the name is used in the New Zealand Pilot together with D'Urville's Jetty Point.

Point Percee:

This is a D'Urville name for a headland just west of Yellow Point. The tunnel he described still pierces the point, although parts have collapsed.

Prospect Reef:

The ketch "Prospect" was wrecked on this reef to the east of Fisherman Island.

Reef Point:

The southern portion of Abel Head.

Result Rock:

In 1917 the 23 ton ketch "Result", carrying coal from Golden Bay, struck this rock in Torrent Bay and sank.

Simonet Creek:

Flows into Appletree Bay, named after one of the hands who landed with D'Urville and Lesson at Watering Beach.

Stilwell Bay:

See also Cove Bay and the Three Streams Bay.

Tasman's Bay:

This name was given by D'Urville to that portion of Blind Bay east of Separation Point. He thought, wrongly, that Cook had so named it. It has been shortened since to Tasman Bay. It is the only nautical name that commemorates Tasman's visit.

Te Karetu Point:

See Adolphe Point.

Te Pukatea:

Is occasionally known as Minnie Pitt's …. she was the daughter of Albert Pitt, see Pitt Head.

Three Streams Bay:

See Stilwell Bay, see Cove Bay.

page 27

Tinline Bay:

Is the second bay to the west of Guilbert Point. John Tinline had property here.


This an older name for the scrub covered rocky islands to the south of Kaiteriteri. This could be a corruption of the name Torlesse, who was a surveyor.

Tonga Island:

D'Urville calls this Ile Tagui.

Watering Cove:

Is where D'Urville watered his ship in the Astrolabe Roadstead, and is also called Bully-O.


This name which appears on some charts, is a corruption of Wharewharangi, the bay west of Separation Point.

Wharf Rock:

This is an Acheron name for a wharf-like rock south of Shag Harbour.

Whitestone Point:

See Abel Head.

Yellow Point:

This is given on the Acheron chart, 1851, to the point east of Stilwell Bay. It is also known as Akerston Point, after a colourful and prominent settler who lived in the bay north of the point.