Story: European discovery of New Zealand

Mt Taranaki in Cook's journal, 13 January 1770

Mt Taranaki in Cook's journal, 13 January 1770

In the following extract, transcribed and edited from Cook’s journal, he tells of seeing Mt Taranaki (pictured) and naming it Mt Egmont:

‘Saturday 13th Winds Variable, PM Clowdy weather. At 7 oClock sounded and had 42 fathom water, being distant from the shore between 2 and 3 Leagues, and the peaked mountain as near as I could judge bore East. After it was dark saw a fire upon the shore a sure sign that the Country is inhabited. In the night had some Thunder Lightning, and rain. At 5 AM saw for a few Minutes the Top of the peaked Mountain above the Clowds, bearing NE; It is of a prodigious height and its top is cover'd with everlasting snow. It lies in the Latitude of 39° 16' S and in the Longitude of 185° 15' W I have named it Mount Egmont in honour of the Earl of Egmont —

This mountain seems to have a pretty large base and to rise with a gradual assent to the peak and what makes it more conspicuous is, its being situated near the Sea, [and in the middle of] and a flat Country in its neighbourhood which afforded a very good asspect — — being cloathed with Wood and Verdure. The shore under the foot of this mountain forms a large Cape which I have named Cape Egmont it lies SSW1/2W, 27 Leag from Albetross point. On the NE side of the Cape lay two small Islands [or Rocks] near to a very remarkable point on the Main that riseth to a good height in the very form of a Sugar Loafe: To the Southward of the Cape the land tends away SEBE and ESE and seems to be every where a bold shore. At Noon had variable light airs and clear weather. Latitude Observe'd 39°..32' S Cape Egmont bore about NE and we were about 4 Leagues from the Shore in that direction. In this situation had 40 fathoms water’

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How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'European discovery of New Zealand - Cook’s achievement', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 May 2024)

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