Ship Cove, in Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand was a favoured base of Captain James Cook during his three Pacific voyages.
The famous British navigator and explorer, Captain James Cook, made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, contributing valuable information about places that had previously been unknown. He was the first European known to have stepped onto New Zealand soil, when he landed at what is now known as Gisborne, in Poverty Bay. In January 1770, Cook looked for a suitable anchorage for his ship, the H.M Bark Endeavour, as it was in need of repairs. Sailing into Totaranui, or Queen Charlotte Sound as he later called it, Cook found a small bay that was to become his favorite New Zealand anchorage throughout his three southern journeys. He made five visits, spending more than one hundred days in Ship Cove during his three Pacific voyages of exploration.
HMS Endeavour off the coast of New Holland, by Samuel Atkins c. 1794 - Wikipedia. New Holland was Australia.
The Endeavour and Ship Cove
On his first journey and circumnavigation of New Zealand, Cook journeyed doen the west coast of the North Island, looking for a safe anchorage for the Endeavour. He needed to make repairs to the ship and take on fresh supplies for his crew. On January 14 1770, the Endeavour entered a large inlet, known at that time as Totaranui. Passing the inhabited island of Motuara, they reached Ship Cove, where Cook established base and stayed for three weeks.
The site became a favorite with Cook. It provided safe anchorage and plenty of food and fresh water, as well as plenty of timber for spars. By this time Cook had been in New Zealand waters long enough to enable him to establish friendly relations with the Maori people. The Tahitian high priest, Tupaia, travelling with Cook on board the Endeavour, was able to communicate successfully with the local people.
There is now a memorial to Cook at Ship Cove, with one of Cook's cannons presented by the British Admiralty.
Motuara Island and British Sovereignty
While in Ship Cove, Cook visited Motuara Island. On 31 January 1770, he climbed the short but steep walk to the top and raised the British flag, taking possession of the South Island in the name of King George 111. The surrounding water he named Queen Charlotte Sound, in honour of the King's consort.
On 31 January 1920 a cairn was erected on Motuara Island by the Captain Cook Memorial Committee. The island is now a wildlife reserve.
Cook sailed from Ship Cove, continuing his circumnavigation of New Zealand on 7 February 1770.
Cook and the Resolution at Ship Cove
Cook returned to Ship Cove four more times, during his second and third Pacific voyages aboard the HMS Resolution. On his second voyage the Resolution visited twice in 1773 and on the third voyage it was again his base during February 1776.
On the second voyage the Resolution was accompanied by the HMS Adventure, in the command of Tobias Furneaux. Before the second visit in 1773, the Resolution and the Adventure were separated and the Resolution had departed by the time the Adventure reached Ship Cove. Unfortunately, conflict arose between local Maori and the Adventure's shore party and some of Furneaux's men were killed.
When Cook and the Resolution returned in 1776, accompanied by the HMS Discovery, there was initial tension as it was expected that Cook would retaliate over the deaths on the previous visit. However, this didn't happen.
Cook finally departed from Ship Cove for the last time on 24 February 1777.
Other Cook related articles:
Captain James Cook: First Landfall in New Zealand
Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand
An Introduction to Cook Strait New Zealand