New Zealand places named by James Cook
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. The list below is in the order described in Cook’s journals of his first and second voyages to the Pacific.
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||11 October||“because it afforded us no one thing we wanted”|
|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|
|Table Cape||12 October||Shape and flat top|
|Isle of Portland||12 October||“on account of its very great resemblance to Portland in the English Channel”|
|Cape Kidnapper||15 October||For the attempt to kidnap Tupaia’s young acolyte, Taiata|
|Hawkes Bay||15 October||Sir Edward Hawke|
|Cape Turnagain||17 October||Cook sailed the Endeavour south to this point, where upon meeting adverse conditions he turned and headed north again|
|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”|
|Tegadoo||22 October||“hath nothing to recommend it I shall give no discription of it”|
|Tolaga Bay||23 October||The crew mistook the local name for this bay as Tolaga. It was actually Uawa|
|East Cape||31 October||Eastern most point of land on the whole coast|
|East Island||31 October||Off East Cape|
|Cape Runaway||31 October||Five Māori waka frightened away by grape shot fired over their heads|
|Hicks's 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||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|
(Moutohora Island or Whale Island)
|Mount Edgecumbe||2 November|
|Mayor Island||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|
|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||21 November||“on account of its bearing some resemblance to that River in England”|
|Cape Colvill||24 November||“in honour of the Right hon'ble the Lord Colvill”||Cook served under Rear Admiral Lord Colville in Newfoundland|
|Barrier Isles||24 November||a chain of islands lying across the mouth of the harbour now known as Coromandel Harbour|
|Point 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|
|Hen and Chicken Islands||25 November||A group of islands shaped like a hen and her chickens|
|Poor Knights||25 November||Possibly for a resemblance to a kind of dessert|
|Cape Brett||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||27 November|
|Cavalle Isles||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||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||10 December||Juts out from a Doubtless Bay headland|
|Mount Camel||10 December||A large hill with a small dip in the top, standing upon a barren desert-like shore|
|Sandy 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|
|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||10 January||“on account of the Great Number of these Birds we saw upon it”|
|Albetross Point||10 January||After the birdlife|
|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||13 January||Sugar Loaf Point on the mainland "riseth to a good height in the very form of a Sugar Loaf"|
|Entry Isle||14 February||A high remarkable Island guarding the entrance to Cook
|Queen Charlotte's Sound||15 January||Queen Charlotte, the wife of the reigning British monarch|
|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||31 January||An island in the outer Queen Charlotte Sound|
|West Bay||A placeholder name until someone came up with a better one|
|Cannibals Cove||A bay, possibly called Anahou, was labelled by Cook and several others as ‘Canibals Cove’ on their maps|
|Motuouru 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|
|Eahei no Mauwe||On 29 January, Cook climbed to “the Top of a pretty high hill” on Arapaoa Island, and later after consulting with Topaa, he determined that the land he had seen to north…|
|T’avai Poenammoo||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||“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”)|
|Cape Teerawhitte||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|
|Cape Koamaroo||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||7 February||After Hugh Palliser||Palliser was captain of the HMS Eagle (1745), Cook's first ship in the Royal Navy|
|Cloudy Bay||7 February||Weather cloudy|
(Cape Campbell / Te Karaka)
|8 February||John Campbell, who introduced Cook to the Royal Society|
|11 February||A remarkable hillock|
|Lookers-on||14 February||The occupants of four waka gazed in wonder, but could be tempted to paddle closer|
|Flat Point||11 February||An unremarkable hillock|
|Gore's Bay||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|
|Banks Island||17 February||After Joseph Banks||Cook mistook Banks Peninsula for an island – one of his few mistakes|
|Cape Saunders||25 February||Charles Saunders|
|South East Bay||"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||6 March||"low land, making like an Island"|
|The Traps||9 March||Ledges of rock, that lie "such as to catch unwary Strangers", from which the Endeavour had "a very fortunate Escape"|
|South Cape||10 March||Southern most point of land on the whole coast|
|Solander's Isles||11 March||Daniel Solander|
|West Cape||14 March||Western most point of land upon the whole Coast|
|Dusky Bay||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||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"|
(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"|
|Cascades Point||17 March||“deep Red Clifts, down which falls 4 Small streams of Water”|
|Open Bay||17 March|
|Snowey Mouintains||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||31 March||Philip Stephens|
|Cape Stephens||31 March||Northern most point of Rangitoto ki te Tonga / D'Urville Island|
|Blind Bay||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|
|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|
|Anchor Island||26 March||The first place the Resolution anchored|
|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||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|
|Resolution Island||6 April||The ship that brought them there|
|Duck Cove||6 April||“In this Cove we shott fourteen Ducks”|
|Indian Island||6 April||Cook befriended the indigenous people here|
|Places named in vicinity of Anchor Island:
||12-17 Apr||Thrum caps are the unspun raw wool hats worn by sailors|
|Places named on western side of Resolution Island:
|Long Island||20 April||A very long island|
|Other places named in vicinity of Long Island:
||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|
|Passage Point||5 May|
|Occasional Cove||6 May|
|Wet Jacket Arm||8 May||Richard Pickersgill coped a downpour|
|Places named in inner Breaksea Sound / Puaitaha:
||9 May||Sunday Cove was visited on a Sunday.
||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”|
|Places named in outer Breaksea Sound / Puaitaha:
||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||From here Resolution set sail for Queen Charlotte Sound|
- 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
- Unless otherwise cited, all reasons come Cook’s journals. Direct quotations are shown in double quotes
- The shown coordinates are the actual latitude and longitude; although it is worth noting that Cook’s coordinates were accurate more often than not
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- Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia - Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Poor Knights Islands". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
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- Phillips, Mark (28 November 2009). "Cape Campbell". NEW ZEALAND LIGHTHOUSES. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
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- Land Information New Zealand. "Tuia – Encounters 250: Cook's place names around New Zealand - Acheron Passage and Resolution Island". Retrieved 6 August 2019.
- "Tamatea 'Dusky Sound' revisited". Te Papa’s Blog. 23 April 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
- 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.