Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 1, Issue 5, October 1985

The Historical Record

The Historical Record

James Cook and the bark Endeavour had sailed from England in August 1768 and after rounding the Horn had visited Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus, one of the principal objectives of this voyage. The other principal objective was to assess the coastline charted by Tasman (New Zealand) and determine whether or not it had any connection with the hypothetical 'Great Southern Continent'.

Endeavour" arrived off the New Zealand coast in October 1769 and spent six months carefully circumnavigating the country. Thus by the time the circumnavigation of what he was later to call Stephen's Island was completed Cook and his men had been away almost three years. It was time to consider the return voyage to England and to replenish the ship's supplies of wood and water.

"…knowing that there is a Bay between the abovementioned island (Stephens Island) and Queen Charlotte Sound, wherein no doubt there is anchorage and convenient watering places. Accordingly in the P.M. we hauled round the island and into the bay (Admiralty Bay) leaving three more islands (Rangitoto Islands) on our starboard hand which lay close under the west shore 3 or 4 miles within the entrance. As we run in we kept the lead going and had from 40 to 12 fathoms. At 6 o'clock we anchored in 11 fathoms of water. A muddy bottom under the west shore in the second cove within the forementioned islands. At daylight A.M. I took a boat and went to look for a watering place, and a proper birth to moor the ship in, both of which I found convenient enough. After the ship was moored I sent an officer ashore to superintend the watering, and the carpenter and his crew to cut wood, while the long-boat was employed carrying ashore empty casks". (Beaglehole 1955, vol. 1:271).

page 35

The journal records that they encountered strong westerly winds and rain on the 27, 28, 29 March but despite this the replenishing of supplies of wood and water continued.

On 30 March the wind had swung to the south-east and the weather cleared. The shore parties finished their work and Cook took the opportunity to go exploring in the pinnace.

"I landed upon a point of land on the west side, where from an eminency, I could see this western arm of the bay run in S.W.B.W. about 5 leagues farther yet did not see the head of it". (ibid:272).

Cook's vantage point is generally supposed to be what was later called the D'Urville Peninsula on the northern side of Catherine Cove. Cook could clearly see down through French Pass (note the reef marked in Fig. 1) but could not distinguish that he was standing on an island. Cook noted the rugged nature of the land covered with "wood, shrubs, ferns, etc., which renders travelling both difficult and fatiguing" (ibid:272).

He also remarks that no inhabitants were seen although several huts were found "all of which appeared to have been at least twelve months deserted (ibid:272).

Joseph Banks also spent time ashore botanising. He too noted the difficulty of walking in high fern and saw the several deserted whare. His scientific interests were satisfied by finding three plants that neither he or Solander had seen before. He also noted the mineral content of rocks on the beach although not of a metallic nature. (Beaglehole, 1962:475, 476).

On the evening of the 30 March all being ready for departure, Cook held one of the few recorded conferences with his offices to determine their homeward course.

"To return by way of Cape Horn was what I most wish'd, because by this route we should have been able to prove the existence or non-existence of a southern continent which yet remains doubtful; but in order to ascertain this we must have kept in a high latitude in the very depth of winter, but the condition of the ship in every respect, was not thought sufficient for such an undertaking. For the same reason the thoughts of proceding directly to the Cape of Good Hope was laid aside as no discovery of any moment could be hoped for in that route. It was therefore resolved to return by way of the East Indies by the following route: upon leaving this coast to steer to the westward until we fall in with the east coast of New Holland, and then follow the direction it may take until we arrive at its northern extremity; and if this should be found impractical, than to endeavour to fall in with the lands or islands discovered by Quiros" (New Hebrides) (Beaglehole 1955, vol. 1:272, 3).

Thus at daylight on 31 March Endeavour was got under sail and with a strong south easterly behind her set out on her homeward voyage. She returned to England in June 1771.

page 36
Cook's Map 1770.

Cook's Map 1770.

Department Lands & Survey Map 1983.

Department Lands & Survey Map 1983.