“Walk to Cooks Cove where Captain James Cook stopped in 1769 as part of his circumnavigation of New Zealand - with information panels, a hole-in-the-wall, and a safe cove to swim in, this walk is a good option for children.”
On the way to or from Anaura Bay, hike the scenic two-and-a-half hour (return) track to another historically-significant location, Cook’s Cove at Tolaga Bay.
British explorer Captain James Cook and the crew of the HMS Endeavour came ashore at this sheltered cove, named after the captain himself, and dug a well to collect fresh water. There was a great deal of friendly contact between the local tribe and the visitors while the ship was anchored in the bay, with Maori taking fish and kumara to the crew by waka (canoe).
Joseph Banks, the botanist on board, collected 20 new plant species, some of which the sailors sampled. One of the crew described the landscape as ‘agreeable beyond description’. They were very impressed with the Hole-in-the-Wall (Te Kotere o te Whenua) rock formation, an archway carved by the sea which these days, creates a perfect frame for photographs.
Excellent information panels at the cove explain the history of local iwi, Te Aitanga a Hauiti, and the excavation of an archaeological site once occupied by Maori.
Nearby, there’s a New Zealand Historic Places Trust memorial commemorating Cook's visit.
From the carpark, climb steadily uphill across farm paddocks dotted with sheep, staying well away from the cliff edge which is highly unstable. This section of the track is exposed to the sun so set off early in summer and wear a hat, apply sunblock and take water.
Stop on the way up to appreciate the magnificent views of Tolaga Bay and the Uawa River. Just beyond the summit (120m high) there's an excellent viewing platform looking out to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Cook's Cove and Pourewa Island.
The descent to the cove is down many flights of well-constructed steps in the shade of kanaka trees. It's a flat walk across grassy farmland to the cove, where, depending on the tides, you can walk through the Hole-in-the-Wall and over rocks to the water's edge. Clamber up on the highest boulder for a great selfie and stunning views of the historic Tolaga Bay wharf.
If time permits, take a picnic lunch and swimsuit for a dip in the sheltered cove. Walk across the sandy flats at low tide or around the edge of the cove at high tide to get a closer look at the dramatic Mitre Rocks which jut up steeply from the sea to the left and Pourewa Island to the right.
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Cooks Cove Walkway
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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