Story: European discovery of New Zealand

Early Pacific journeys

Early Pacific journeys

In the 16th and early 17th centuries the central Pacific Ocean became well known to Spanish and Portuguese navigators. This map shows the paths travelled by Fernão de Magalhães (Ferdinand Magellan, 1521) and Pedro Fernandes de Queirós and Luís Vaz de Torres (1605–6). The first Englishman to cross the Pacific was Francis Drake, who sailed around the globe between 1577 and 1580. His path in the Pacific is also shown. It was not until Abel Tasman’s voyage (1642) that European explorers encountered two islands in the far south-west of the Pacific – today’s New Zealand.

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How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'European discovery of New Zealand - Before Tasman', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 29 February 2024)

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