Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


Ship Cove is situated on the west shore of Queen Charlotte Sound near the entrance and directly opposite Motuara Island. It is part of the drowned-valley system of the Marlborough Sounds. Captain Cook named the cove after anchoring his ship Endeavour there on 15 January 1770. He hoisted the British flag at the cove and on the high point of Motuara Island. Cook made this spot his headquarters, establishing vegetable gardens, landing pigs, and distributing seeds to the Maoris. He visited the cove five times altogether and spent about 100 days there. In 1820 Thaddeus Bellinghausen also landed there; in 1827 d'Urville, and in 1839 Colonel Wakefield in the Tory also visited the bay. A monument at the cove and another at Motuara Island commemorate Cook's visit. A scenic reserve of 1,700 acres (created by statute in memory of Captain Cook) encloses the area. Together with a number of scenic and historic reserves, it is administered by the Ship Cove Scenic Reserves Board. The Maori name for the spot is Meretoto, and on several maps the name Totaranui (“the big totara tree”) is given.

by Susan Bailey, B.A., Research Officer, Department of Industries and Commerce, Wellington.

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