New Zealand places named by James Cook

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Chart of New Zealand explored 1769 and 1770 by Lieut. James Cook, commander of his majesty's bark Endeavour

This is a list Aotearoa  / New Zealand places named by James Cook. James Cook was the first European navigator to circumnavigate and chart the archipelago. He chose names from dull to droll to descriptive, from metaphorical to a narrative of events, or to honour people and, more humanly, to record the fine Maori language names many bays, capes and other geographic features, obviously, already had.[1] The list below is in the order described in Cook’s journals of his first and second voyages to the Pacific.[2]

First voyage[edit]

The first voyage was in New Zealand waters during late 1769 and early 1770.

Name (and today’s name)[a] Date Reason for naming[b] Coords[c] Notes
Poverty Bay

(Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay)

11 October “because it afforded us no one thing we wanted” 38°42′00″S 177°58′00″E / 38.7°S 177.966667°E / -38.7; 177.966667 (Poverty Bay)
Young Nicks Head / Te Kuri o Pāoa 11 October After the 11 year old boy who won a gallon of rum for being the first to sight land[3] 38°45′25″S 177°57′49″E / 38.757°S 177.9636°E / -38.757; 177.9636 (Young Nicks Head)
Table Cape

(Table Cape / Kahutara Point)

12 October Shape and flat top 39°06′54″S 177°59′42″E / 39.115°S 177.995°E / -39.115; 177.995 (Table Cape)
Isle of Portland

(Portland Island)

12 October “on account of its very great resemblance to Portland in the English Channel” 39°17′00″S 177°52′00″E / 39.283333°S 177.866667°E / -39.283333; 177.866667 (Portland Island)
Cape Kidnapper

(Cape Kidnappers / Te Kauwae-a-Māui)

15 October For the attempt to kidnap Tupaia’s young acolyte, Taiata[4] 39°38′41″S 177°05′36″E / 39.644693°S 177.093258°E / -39.644693; 177.093258 (Cape Kidnappers)
Hawkes Bay 15 October Sir Edward Hawke 39°20′00″S 177°30′00″E / 39.333333°S 177.5°E / -39.333333; 177.5 (Hawkes Bay)
Cape Turnagain 17 October Cook sailed the Endeavour south to this point, where upon meeting adverse conditions he turned and headed north again 40°29′30″S 176°37′02″E / 40.4916°S 176.6173°E / -40.4916; 176.6173 (Cape Turnagain)
Gable End Foreland Head 20 October “on account of the very great resemblance the white cliff at the very point hath to the Gable end of a House” 38°31′39″S 178°17′33″E / 38.5275°S 178.2925°E / -38.5275; 178.2925 (Gable End Foreland Head)

(Anaura Bay)

22 October “hath nothing to recommend it I shall give no discription of it” 38°14′51″S 178°18′57″E / 38.247552°S 178.31593°E / -38.247552; 178.31593 (Anaura Bay)
Tolaga Bay 23 October The crew mistook the local name for this bay as Tolaga. It was actually Uawa[4] 38°22′00″S 178°18′00″E / 38.366667°S 178.3°E / -38.366667; 178.3 (Tolaga Bay)
East Cape 31 October Eastern most point of land on the whole coast 37°41′34″S 178°32′59″E / 37.6927°S 178.5497°E / -37.6927; 178.5497 (East Cape)
East Island

(East Island / Whangaokeno)

31 October Off East Cape
Cape Runaway 31 October Five Māori waka frightened away by grape shot fired over their heads[4]
Hicks's Bay

(Wharekahika / Hicks Bay)

First sited by Lieutenant Zachary Hickes The lieutenant spelt his name Hickes; Cook wrote it without the "e" and it's stuck
White Island

(Whakaari / White Island)

1 November Appeared to be white in colour White Island is an active volcano. It was evidently asleep at the time
Bay of Plenty (Bay of Plenty / Te Moana-a-Toi) In contrast to Poverty Bay The name and its connotation endures, despite being made from the deck of a ship out at sea[5]

(Moutohora Island or Whale Island)

2 November
Mount Edgecumbe

(Mount Edgecumbe / Putauaki

2 November
Mayor Island

(Mayor Island / Tuhua)

3 November In recognition of the Lord Mayor's Day to be held in London a few days later
Aldermen Islands 3 November A cluster of islands and rocks reminiscent of the Court of Aldermen
Mercury Bay 16 November Transit of Mercury observed from here The long sandy beach in Mercury Bay where Cook landed in now called Cooks Beach
Opoorage (Purangi Estuary) 16 November Some scholars argue that Opoorage applied the whole of Mercury Bay[6][7] 36°51′45″S 175°42′19″E / 36.862592°S 175.70529°E / -36.862592; 175.70529 (Purangi Estuary)
River of Mangroves 16 November “As we did not learn that the Natives had any name for this River, I have called it the River of Mangroves, because of the great quantity of these Trees that are found in it”
Thames River

(Waihou River / Firth of Thames)

21 November “on account of its bearing some resemblance to that River in England”
Cape Colvill

(Cape Colville)

24 November “in honour of the Right hon'ble the Lord Colvill” Cook served under Rear Admiral Lord Colville in Newfoundland
Barrier Isles

(Great Barrier Island)

24 November a chain of islands lying across the mouth of the harbour now known as Coromandel Harbour
Point Rodney

(Cape Rodney)

24 November
Bream Bay 25 November "we caught between 90 and 100 Bream (a fish so called)" It is thought these fish were snapper. In a jovial mood, he called the two headlands of the bay, Bream Head and Bream Tail[8]
Hen and Chicken Islands 25 November A group of islands shaped like a hen and her chickens
Poor Knights

(Poor Knights Islands)

25 November Possibly for a resemblance to a kind of dessert[9]
Cape Brett

(Cape Brett Peninsula /Rākaumangamanga)

27 November After Peircy Brett “At the very point of the Cape is a high round Hillock… with a hole pierced thro' it like the Arch of a Bridge, and this was one reason why I gave the Cape the above name, because Piercy seem'd very proper for that of the Island”
Point Pococke

(Cape Wiwiki)

27 November
Cavalle Isles

Cavalli Islands

27 November After the cavally fish sold to the crew from a passing Māori waka
Bay of Islands 5 December “on account of the Great Number which line its shores”
Whale Rock

(Te Nunuhe Rock / Whale Rock)

5 December A sunken rock hit by the Endeavour with no perceptible damage
Doubtless Bay 9 December “the wind not permitting us to look into this Bay”
Knockle Point

(Knuckle Point)

10 December Juts out from a Doubtless Bay headland
Mount Camel

(Tohoraha / Mount Camel)

10 December A large hill with a small dip in the top, standing upon a barren desert-like shore[10]
Sandy Bay

(Rangaunu Bay)

10 December “nothing but white sand thrown up in low irregular hills” From here the Endeavour tacked out to the Three Kings Islands and back to Cape Maria van Dieman named by Abel Tasman
North Cape 19 December Northern most point of land on the whole coast
False Bay


8 January "the appearance of a Bay or inlet, but I believe it is only low land"
Woody Head 10 January Lushly wooded
Gannet Island

(Motutakupu Island / Gannet Island))

10 January “on account of the Great Number of these Birds we saw upon it”
Albetross Point

(Albatross Point)

10 January After the birdlife
Mount Egmont

(Mount Taranaki, or Mount Egmont)

13 January After the Earl of Egmont, First Lord of the Admiralty from 1763 to 1766 Today, the volcano has two official names
Cape Egmont 13 January At the foot of Mount Egmont
Sugar Loaf Isles

(Sugar Loaf Islands / Ngā Motu)

13 January Sugar Loaf Point on the mainland "riseth to a good height in the very form of a Sugar Loaf"
Entry Isle

(Kapiti Island)

14 February A high remarkable Island guarding the entrance to Cook

s Strait

Queen Charlotte's Sound

(Queen Charlotte Sound Tōtaranui)

15 January Queen Charlotte, the wife of the reigning British monarch
Ship Cove

(Meretoto / Ship Cove)

16 January Here the ship Endeavour was careened “(she being very foul)” Cook returned here numerous times, using it as a base on his second and third voyages
Isle Hamote

(Long Island)

31 January An island in the outer Queen Charlotte Sound
West Bay

(Endeavour Inlet)

A placeholder name until someone came up with a better one[11]
Cannibals Cove

(Cannibal Cove)

A bay, possibly called Anahou, was labelled by Cook and several others as ‘Canibals Cove’ on their maps[12]
Motuouru Island

(Motuara Island)

31 January An island in the outer Queen Charlotte Sound where there was a pa After gaining permission from Topaa, an elder from the pa, Cook and his men erected a post on the highest part of the Island, and hoisted the British flag[4]
Eahei no Mauwe

(North Island or Te Ika-a-Māui)

On 29 January, Cook climbed to “the Top of a pretty high hill” on Arapaoa Island, and later after consulting with Topaa[4], he determined that the land he had seen to north…
T’avai Poenammoo

(South Island or Te Waipounamu)

31 January … and to the south (from where he had stood) was not part of a continent, but rather two islands separated by a strait
Cook’s Strait

(Cook Strait)

“some of the Officers had just started, that Aeheino Mouwe was not an Island… For my own part, I had seen so far into this Sea the first time I discover'd the Strait, together with many .other Concurrent testimonies of its being an Island, that no such supposition ever enter'd my thoughts; but being resolved to clear up every doubt that might Arise on so important an Object, I steer'd North-East” until all the officers were satisfied While this name appears on Cook’s chart, it is worth noting Cook is not known for naming places after himself, and it is speculated that Joseph Banks bestowed the name of the strait (or as Banks spells it in his dairy “Cooks streights”)[13][14]
Cape Teerawhitte

Cape Terawhiti

31 January A cape to the east on the North Island side of Cook Strait Some scholars have pointed out that Topaa may simply have pointed out "east" rather than a particular headland[15]
Cape Koamaroo

Cape Koamaru

7 February Southeast head of Queen Charlotte Sound "called by the Natives, Koamaroo" Similar to Cape Terawhiti, this name may have been misinterpreted
Cape Pallisser

(Cape Palliser)

7 February After Hugh Palliser Palliser was captain of the HMS Eagle (1745), Cook's first ship in the Royal Navy
Cloudy Bay

(Te Koko-o-Kupe / Cloudy Bay)

7 February Weather cloudy
Cape Campbel

(Cape Campbell / Te Karaka)

8 February John Campbell[16], who introduced Cook to the Royal Society[6]
Castle Point
11 February A remarkable hillock

(Kaikoura Peninsula)

14 February The occupants of four waka gazed in wonder, but could be tempted to paddle closer[17] 42°25′54″S 173°42′39″E / 42.43167°S 173.71083°E / -42.43167; 173.71083 (Kaikoura Peninsula)
Flat Point 11 February An unremarkable hillock
Gore's Bay

(Gore Bay, New Zealand)

16 February Presumably to flatter Lieutenant Gore following a fruitless search for land that Gore saw, or thought he saw out to sea east of Banks Island. Cook was certain it was clouds[6]
Banks Island

(Banks Peninsula)

17 February After Joseph Banks Cook mistook Banks Peninsula for an island – one of his few mistakes[18]
Cape Saunders 25 February Charles Saunders
South East Bay

(Foveaux Strait)

"we could not see this land join to that to the Northward of us, there either being a total seperation, a deep Bay, or low land between them" Along with Sout East Bay and Bench Island, Cook initially draw Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island / Rakiura on his chart; however, he later amended it to depict Steward Island as a peninsula, in accordance with instructions from the Admiralty to hide strategic off-shore islands from hostile powers
Bench Island

(Ruapuke Island)

6 March "low land, making like an Island"
The Traps

(North Trap and South Trap)

9 March Ledges of rock, that lie "such as to catch unwary Strangers", from which the Endeavour had "a very fortunate Escape"
South Cape

(South Cape / Whiore)

10 March Southern most point of land on the whole coast
Solander's Isles

(Solander Islands / Hautere)

11 March Daniel Solander
West Cape 14 March Western most point of land upon the whole Coast
Dusky Bay

(Dusky Sound)

14 March Cook wanted to go in but found the distance too great to run before dusk
Five Fingers Point 14 March “5 high peaked rocks, standing up like the 4 fingers and thumb of a Man's hand”
Doubtful Harbour

(Doubtful Sound / Patea)

14 March "it certainly would have been highly imprudent in me to have put into a place where we could not have got out" "I mention this because there was some on board that wanted me to harbour at any rate, without in the least Considering either the present or future Consequences"
Mistaken Bay

(in vicinity of Big Bay)

16 March "appearance of an inlet into the land; but upon a nearer approach found that it was only a deep Valley" 44°17′11″S 168°04′01″E / 44.28639°S 168.06694°E / -44.28639; 168.06694 (Big Bay)
Cascades Point

(Cascade Point)

17 March “deep Red Clifts, down which falls 4 Small streams of Water”
Open Bay

(Jackson Bay / Okahu)

17 March 43°58′48″S 168°37′55″E / 43.98000°S 168.63194°E / -43.98000; 168.63194 (Kaikoura Peninsula)
Snowey Mouintains

(Southern Alps)

18 March Cook did not sight (or name) Aoraki / Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand; however, he did describe the range of snow covered alps that runs down the island almost from one end to the other
Cape Foulwind About 21 March Foul gales for days on end
Rocks Point 23 March Many dangerous rocks awash
Admiralty Bay 31 March Seeking a promotion?
Stephens Island

(Stephens Island / Takapourewa)

31 March Philip Stephens
Cape Stephens 31 March Northern most point of Rangitoto ki te Tonga / D'Urville Island
Blind Bay

(Golden Bay / Mohua and Tasman Bay / Te Tai-o-Aorere)

31 March A deep dead end bay


Now recognised as two bays divided by Separation Point / Te Matau
Cape Jackson 31 March George Jackson
Cape Farewell 31 March He made his farewells, and sailed away, steering west on his long voyage home

Second Voyage[edit]

Cook’s sketch of Dusky Bay in New Zealand, 1773
An engraving that describes James Cook and the Resolution's visit to Astronomer Point, in Pickersgill Harbour, 1773

In the autumn of 1773, Cook and the crew of Resolution recuperated in Dusky Sound / Tamatea, after 122 days at sea in the Pacific and Southern Ocean.[19][20][21][22][23]

Name (and today’s name) Date Reason for naming Coords Notes
South Point 26 March Point of land at the southern entrance to the fjord 45°48′48″S 166°27′18″E / 45.81333°S 166.45506°E / -45.81333; 166.45506 (South Point)
Anchor Island 26 March The first place the Resolution anchored 45°44′38″S 166°30′29″E / 45.743808°S 166.508102°E / -45.743808; 166.508102 (Anchor Island)
Pickersgill Harbour 27 March A convenient Harbour discovered by Richard Pickersgill where the Resolution moored for after 122 days at sea in the Pacific and sub-Antarctic waters 45°47′38″S 166°34′50″E / 45.79382°S 166.58060°E / -45.79382; 166.58060 (Pickersgill Harbour) Astronomer Point, where William Wales established an observatory, was named later on
Indian Cove (Cascade Cove) 2 April After a Tamatea family who “seemed rather afraid when we approached the Rock with our Boat, he however stood firm”
Luncheon Cove 2 April Ate their lunch
Supper Cove 2 April Ate their dinner 45°42′31″S 166°56′56″E / 45.70874°S 166.94876°E / -45.70874; 166.94876 (Supper Cove)
Resolution Island 6 April The ship that brought them there[24] 45°38′35″S 166°35′03″E / 45.643148°S 166.584063°E / -45.643148; 166.584063 (Resolution Island)
Duck Cove 6 April “In this Cove we shott fourteen Ducks” 45°43′41″S 166°36′20″E / 45.728053°S 166.605606°E / -45.728053; 166.605606 (Duck Cove)
Indian Island 6 April Cook befriended the indigenous people here[25] 45°46′41″S 166°35′14″E / 45.77818°S 166.58723°E / -45.77818; 166.58723 (Indian Island)
Places named in vicinity of Anchor Island:
  • Shelter Cove
  • Seal Islands
  • Many Islands
  • No Mans Island
  • Stop Island
  • Thrum Cap  
  • Passage Islands
  • Prove Island
  • Seal Rock
  • Anchor Point
  • Useless Island
  • Little Harbour and islands
  • Anchor Island and Harbour
  • Petrel Islands
12-17 Apr Thrum caps are the unspun raw wool hats worn by sailors
Places named on western side of Resolution Island:
  • Fixed Head
  • The Bason
  • Earshell Cove
  • Boat Passage
  • Pigeon Island
  • Facile Harbour
  • Parrot Island
  • Cormorant Cove
  • Goose Cove
  • Shag River
12-17 Apr
Long Island 20 April A very long island 45°45′55″S 166°38′09″E / 45.765248°S 166.635904°E / -45.765248; 166.635904 (Long Island)
Other places named in vicinity of Long Island:
  • Curlew Island
  • Small Creek
  • Narrow Creek
  • Detention Cove
  • West Point
  • Station Island
  • East Point
  • Front Islands
  • Cooper Island
  • Shag Islands 
  • Sportsman Cove
  • Two Sisters
20 April Cook Channel lies between Long Island the mainland, but needless to say Cook did not this after himself
Goose Cove 23 Apr Released five geese they brought with them from Cape of Good Hope
Lake Forster 23 Apr Georg Forster Cook Stream runs from the lake into Pickersgill Harbour, but Cook did not name that after himself either
Passage (Acheron Passage) 5 May 45°39′24″S 166°43′29″E / 45.65680°S 166.72465°E / -45.65680; 166.72465 (Acheron Passage)
Passage Point 5 May
Occasional Cove 6 May
Wet Jacket Arm 8 May Richard Pickersgill coped a downpour[26]
Places named in inner Breaksea Sound / Puaitaha:
  • Sunday Cove 
  • Harbour Island
  • Beach Harbour
  • First Cove
  • Second Cove
  • Third Cove
  • Apparent Island
  • Nobody knows what (Broughton Arm)                 
9 May Sunday Cove was visited on a Sunday.

Apparently, Apparent Island was an apparition, because it does not exist.

Cook call Broughton Arm “Nobody knows what” because he did not have time to explore it. In 1791, George Vancouver did have time renamed it “Somebody knows what”[26]
Places named in outer Breaksea Sound / Puaitaha:
  • Entry Island
  • Gilbert Islands
  • Disappointment Cove
  • Woodhen Cove
  • Breaksea Island 
11 May Breaksea Island is so named because it protects the western entrance (now called Breaksea Sound / Puaitaha) from the violent and predominant southwest swell[26] From here Resolution set sail for Queen Charlotte Sound


  1. ^ Over time the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa has implemented naming conventions and set about agreeing dual or alternate place names that remember both the Māori and European heritage of New Zealand; hence, where appropriate, today’s name is shown in brackets
  2. ^ Unless otherwise cited, all reasons come Cook’s journals. Direct quotations are shown in double quotes
  3. ^ The shown coordinates are the actual latitude and longitude; although it is worth noting that Cook’s coordinates were accurate more often than not


  1. ^ Land Information New Zealand (2019). "Tuia – Encounters 250". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  2. ^ Cook, James (1893). "Captain Cook's Journal During His First Voyage Round the World Made in H.M. Bark "Endeavour" 1768-71". Project Gutenberg. London, 62 Paternoster Row: Elliot Stock. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  3. ^ Wilson-Anastasios, Meaghan (2011). In the Wake of Captain Cook, With Sam Neill. Sydney, NSW, Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 82. ISBN 9781460756393.
  4. ^ a b c d e Druett, Joan (2011). Tupaia: Captain Cook’s Polynesian navigator. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger an imprint of ABD-CLIO. pp. 155–6, 163, 173, 174. ISBN 9780313387487.
  5. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia - Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Bay of Plenty". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Beaglehole, John Cawte (1974). "The Life of Captain James Cook". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. London: A. and C. Black. ISBN 9780713613827. Retrieved 4 August 2019.
  7. ^ "The Endeavour Journal Of Joseph Banks — Account of New Zealand| NZETC". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  8. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Paepae-o-Tū / Bream Tail, Bream Head, Bream Bay". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  9. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia - Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Poor Knights Islands". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  10. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia – Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Tohoraha / Mount Camel". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  11. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia – Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Endeavour Inlet". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  12. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia – Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Cannibal Cove". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  13. ^ "South Seas - Voyaging Accounts". southseas.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  14. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia - Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Cook Strait". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  15. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia – Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Cape Terawhiti and Cape Koamaru". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  16. ^ Phillips, Mark (28 November 2009). "Cape Campbell". NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  17. ^ Cook, James; Banks, Joseph; Dr. Hawkesworth (1821). "The Three Voyages of Captain Cook Round the World. Vol. II. Being the Second of the First Voyage". Project Gutenberg. London, Paternoster Row: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  18. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Banks Peninsula mapped as an island". teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Cook's Second Voyage". pacific.obdurodon.org. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  20. ^ Kippis, Andrew (2003). Narrative of the Voyages Round the World, Performed by Captain James Cook: with an Account of His Life During the Previous and Intervening Periods. Project Gutenberg EBook.
  21. ^ Begg, Alexander Charles (1975). Dusky Bay. Christchurch, NZ: Whitcombe & Tombs. ISBN 9780723300120.
  22. ^ "The Second Voyage (1771-1776)". The Captain Cook Society (CCS). Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  23. ^ Cook, James. A Voyage Towards the South pole.
  24. ^ Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia – Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Acheron Passage and Resolution Island". Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Tamatea 'Dusky Sound' revisited". Te Papa’s Blog. 23 April 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  26. ^ a b c Beneath the Reflections: a user’s guide to the Fiordland (Te Moana o Atawhenua) Marine Area (PDF). Fiordland Marine Guardians, the Ministry for the Environment, MFish, the Department of Conservation, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, and Environment Southland. 2014. pp. 105–107.