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

The Evidence for Whareatea Bay as the Anchorage

page 37

The Evidence for Whareatea Bay as the Anchorage

Although earlier Nelson historians A. N. Field (1942) and Ruth Allan (1965) have discussed Cook's visit they have made no attempt to define which bay on D'Urville Island's east coast was used by Cook. Beaglehole places the anchorage in more definite terms as "off D'Urville Island just south of Old Mans Point" (1955 vol. 1:271).

However, more recently it has become generally accepted that Whareatea Bay was the anchorage although often little argument has been given in support.

Cook's statement that he anchored in "the second cove within the fore mentioned islands" (ibid:271) seems to clearly indicate the second bay below the Rangitoto Islands. A careful study of a map of the east coast of D'Urville Island suggests that this is likely to be Whareatea Bay given that the two coves are those formed by Sampson Point bisecting the coast between Old Man's Point in the north and Halfway Point in the south. There is little doubt that Whareatea offers the most protected anchorage on this coast north of Catherine Cove. It also offers a suitable beach and landing at the northern end under Simpson Point and several good fresh water streams flow into the bay.

However the clearest evidence that Whareatea was the anchorage is found in the 'Chart of Cook's Straights' drawn by James Cook from surveys made at the time of his visit (Skelton, 1955: xviii). A tracing from this is shown in Fig. 1.

On this chart Cook has marked his D'Urville Island anchorage in 12 fathoms. When a comparison is made with the modern map of the coastline in Fig. 2 there can be no mistake that the bay is Whareatea with its distinctively square outline.