Story: European discovery of New Zealand

Page 7. Explorers after Cook

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Because James Cook had done such a thorough job of charting New Zealand, explorers and navigators who came to New Zealand after him tended to use the country as a base or way station to other more challenging destinations.

George Vancouver

The next explorer to visit Dusky Sound after Cook was George Vancouver, commander of the Discovery. The Chatham sailed with it, commanded by William Broughton. In the three weeks Vancouver spent in Dusky Sound on his way to examine the north-west coast of America, he surveyed the Vancouver Arm of Breaksea Sound. Departing from Dusky Sound, the two vessels independently discovered the group of islands that Vancouver would name the Snares. On 29 November 1791 Broughton, on his way to meet up again with Vancouver in Tahiti, discovered the islands which he named the Chatham Islands, after his ship.

Malaspina and Bellingshausen

A base for polar exploration

When Bellingshausen visited New Zealand in 1820 he was in command of an expedition sent south to explore towards Antarctica. This began a long association between New Zealand and polar exploration. In 1837, the French explorer Dumont d’Urville revisited New Zealand after exploring Antarctica. Later, the English polar explorers Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott sailed south from Lyttelton and Port Chalmers. Later again, the American pilot Richard Byrd used New Zealand as base for his Antarctic flights.

In February 1793 the Italian explorer Alessandro Malaspina, leading a Spanish expedition of two ships, Descubierta and Altrevida, called at the northern entrance to Dusky Sound, but did not enter. Although Malaspina and his cartographer Felipe Bauzá y Cañas explored parts of Doubtful Sound, the voyage made little contribution to knowledge of the New Zealand coast.

In 1820 Fabian von Bellingshausen, in command of two Russian ships, the Mirny and Vostok, was sent to continue the work of Cook by exploring the southern polar regions. He visited Queen Charlotte Sound for a week, using it as a base as Cook had half a century before.

How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'European discovery of New Zealand - Explorers after Cook', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 July 2024)

Story by John Wilson, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 May 2016