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Captain Cook's Voyages of Discovery

Young Navigators



Captain James Cook in New Zealand

The James Ford Bell Library has the original materials used in this unit as part of its collection.

Captain James Cook sailed around the world three times before he was killed in Hawaii. He visited New Zealand twice, charting the coastline and meeting both friendly and hostile natives. He was the first European navigator to sail around the islands and through the strait that separates them. Captain Cook was one of the finest navigators in history.

On the first voyage, 1768-1771, he guided two scientists, Banks and Solander, on a trip to view the transit of Venus from Tahiti. Enroute, he explored many islands in the Pacific, as well as New Zealand and parts of Australia. He did not have a camera for his voyages, so an artist went with him and drew pictures of the people, the animals and plants and the landscape. Capt. Cook made maps of coastlines and took soundings [depth measurements] regularly.

Suggested Activity

Select an excerpt from Captain Cook's journal. Read it carefully. Imagine you are on the ship with Captain Cook. Draw a cartoon or write a story or a play. Students may create their projects individually or as a team.

Cook's Journal

The following sections include quotations from Captain Cook's journal. Everything except the headers and the editor's notes is excerpted from the journal.

As you read Captain Cook's journal, you will notice that some of the words are spelled differently from the way we spell them now and some sentences have an old-fashioned structure. The excerpts are taken from an original journal published in 1771, so these elements are left as they were written in the 18th Century.