Cooks Cove

Image: Moira Lee | DOC


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.

Track overview

5.8 km return via same track

Walking and tramping

2 hr 30 min Easy: Walking track

Seasonal restrictions

The track is closed each year for the lambing season from 1 August until the start of Labour Weekend (late October).

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Cross a small, open paddock to begin the Cooks Cove Walkway. The track then climbs through light bush and across open grassland, keeping mainly to a farm track just below the cliff tops.

After about 20 minutes, you will reach a lookout point (120 m above sea level). This spot gives the first views of Cooks Cove itself. The cove consists of a sheltered inlet with the weather-beaten Mitre Rocks standing to the left of the entrance and Pourewa Island rising up on the right.

The track winds down through regenerating bush, and after 200 m passes a small pond and then enters the coastal flats of the cove. Here you can explore the hole-in-the-wall (Te Kotere o te Whenua) and inspect the New Zealand Historic Places Trust 1966 memorial, commemorating Cook's visit. Use the information panel shaped as a frame to take a photo. Grab a picnic lunch at the cove amongst the picturesque surroundings.

Information panels

The walkway is named after the Cove and the English sailor and explorer, Captain James Cook. He visited the area in 1769 as part of his circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Information panels along the walkway tell the story of Cook and the crew of the Endeavour's visit to Cooks Cove (Opoutama), the history of local iwi Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, and the excavation of an archaeological site at Opoutama first occupied by Maori.

These panels are the result of a joint partnership between DOC and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti.

Getting there

Cooks Cove Walkway is situated at the southern end of Tolaga Bay, 52 km north of Gisborne. On SH35 take the Wharf Road turnoff, 2 km south of Tolaga Bay township.

There is a small carpark adjacent to the walkway entrance. You can also park at the larger beach carpark adjacent to the motor camp 200 m beyond the entrance.

Know before you go

The walkway may not be used to gain fishing access to Pourewa Island or to fishing grounds (fishing equipment and firearms are prohibited).

No camping or lighting of fires.

No mountain biking.

Use of this walkway has been made possible through the generous permission of the landowners, Hauiti Incorporation. Respect the property, do not disturb or approach farm animals and leave gates as you find them.

What to expect

The walkway is suitable for medium levels of fitness as there is some hill climbing required. Good, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

Toilets are available near the wharf and the cove.

There is no drinkable water on the walk - bring your own.

Be prepared

Remain on the track at all times. The coastal bluffs are extremely steep and for safety reasons should not be approached.


Turanganui-a-Kiwa / Gisborne Office
Phone:   +64 6 869 0460
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   63 Carnarvon Street
Gisborne 4010
Postal Address:   PO Box 668
Gisborne 4040
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