Cooks Cove Walkway

Cooks Cove Walkway

Cooks Cove Walkway


19 Rankers Reviews

14 Face-to-Face

2 Tolaga Bay

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Viewpoint on the way to Cooks Cove
looking out over the walk
Looking down on Tolaga bay wharf


5.8 km return | 2 hours 30 minutes return

It’s all about Captain Cook here. After Endeavour departed, Cook felt that some form of connection had been made with the ‘natives’ and gave him more optimism that future encounters might be civil.

If you have time it's well worth exploring the rocky coastline around the corner of the cove.


The walkway is close for lambing from 1st August to start of Labour Weekend. No dogs are permitted.


From Tolaga Bay, cross the bridge over the Uawa River and turn left into Wharf Road. This leads to a grassed parking area on the right.

The nearest public toilets are 300 metres further on at the wharf.


The track is well-formed and climbs through a tea-tree canopy before crossing a stile. Follow the marker posts over open farmland, cross another stile and continue to the wooden lookout (25 minutes).

The views from the 125 metres above sea level lookout take in the splendour of the small bay.

The track then descends through the low canopy of kanuka via a winding track with steps, before reaching the flats behind Cooks Cove, where there are toilets.

Once you’ve crossed the stile, turn left to the hole in the wall (5 minutes) or right to the monument (15 minutes). Or continue to Cooks Cove and its northern headland (from the end of which you can glimpse the Mitre Rocks).

European History

Endeavour anchored here between 23rd and 29th October 1769 and because the week was so refreshing and successful, Captain Cook’s name lingers in its European title. Previous encounters with Maori at Anaura Bay had led Cook to believe water and wood could be easily collected. Local fishermen often sheltered behind Mitre Rocks (so named because they resembled a bishop’s mitre) hidden from the easterly swell that often pounded the shores.

Cook was keen to establish some form of contact with Maori, as before departing England, Cook’s instructions from the Admiralty had been supplemented by James Douglas, president of the Royal Society. The enlightening advice included hints on the best methods for establishing trusting relationships with native peoples. These included patience, minimal use of firearms and the avoidance of bloodshed. He urged Cook to remember the ‘natives’ had the right to occupy their country and that defence of it would be likely by whatever weaponry they possessed. Indigenous peoples should be treated with “distinguished humanity”, he warned.

Earlier on the voyage, the natives of Tierra del Fuego and Tahiti had been friendly, in part because they were already aware of European’s superior weaponry. However the Maori were a fearsome and proud people, uninitiated to the devastating power of firearms, and prepared to defend their territory to the death with any weaponry at their disposal. Forging close relations was not proving to be easy. Cook’s previous encounters with the ‘natives’ in Poverty Bay had been less than cordial, although the meetings at Tolaga Bay and Anaura Bay had been more civil. Moreover the Admiralty’s instructions had explicitly stated that any territorial claim was to be made only with ‘consent of the Natives’.

At high tide on Tuesday 24th, the crew came ashore for water and wood. Trading took place with fish being exchanged for cloth, beads and nails. Cook’s men were able to load 12 tons of fresh water and 3 boatloads of wood.

On 25th October Cook made various astronomical observations of the sun and moon to determine his latitude and longitude. His armourer set up set up a forge to repair the tiller braces and Cook’s men dug a well to cool the iron worker’s forge. It remained for over 100 years after Cook’s visit and was named Te Wai Keri a Tepaea, and by later visitors as ‘Cook’s Well’.

Banks and Solander collected plant specimens and conducted a series of botanical experiments, including the boiling of manuka to make tea (tea-tree). A ti kouka was felled and the cabbage-like head apparently ‘ate well boiled’. Hence the ‘Cabbage tree’ received it’s European name. Bunches of scurvy grass were collected to aid the crew’s health.

Nearby Pourewa Island was also explored by Banks and Spöring, who examined the prow and stern of a war canoe. They were equally impressed with the carving on a large house.

On another trip Banks described ‘a most noble arch or cavern through the face of the rock’. Today there are still views of Tolaga Bay through the opening. Strata of sandstone glow in the sun and the amplified sounds of the breakers echo through the cavern. To Maori this hole in the wall was known as Te Kotere-o-te-Whenua and was used as a shortcut to commute between the two bays.


Feature Value Info


DOC East Coast

Central government organisation


North IslandTairāwhiti GisborneTolaga Bay


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 18.

Alice's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

Nice walk in the bush you’ll meet sheeps and cows before reaching the cove. Don’t forget to stop by the Hole in the Wall and pack extra water on a warm day.

Reviewed over 1 year ago

Kat's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Nice walk with lots of sheep.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Mia Kuch's avatar

Mia Kuch


Ranking: 8/10

Nice hiking track to Cook's Cove, few people, not a heavy walk.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Anais Roux's avatar

Anais Roux


Ranking: 10/10

Very beautiful walk. Quiet place.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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Flo and Frieda's avatar

Flo and Frieda


Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful walkway over the hills through sheep and cows. Not so many people. Stunning lookout over the sea, well groomed track.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Lisa's avatar



Ranking: 8/10

Great views, easy to walk.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

George's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful walk of two hours to Cooks Bay through forest, cows and sheep herds. Amazing scenery and easy track even on a sunny weekend. Not too crowded.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Jean Soudre's avatar

Jean Soudre


Ranking: 9/10

Very cool afternoon walk through nice hills, cliffs, native bush. 'A bay in the bay'.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

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Susi's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Very nice walk - great lookout! Little hills, beautiful forest and the hole in the rock..... and the water at the bay is perfect for swimming. We have been there completely naked - no one there!

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Simone De Angiou's avatar

Simone De Angiou


Ranking: 9/10

Beautiful walk leads to a beautiful 'Hole in the Wall' and finally to Cook's Cove beach. Nice farmland with sheep around.

Reviewed about 6 years ago

Eila's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful track!

Reviewed almost 7 years ago

Lukas Dost's avatar

Lukas Dost


Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful lookout points and a feeling like in the past when James Cook arrived.

Reviewed about 7 years ago and experienced in January 2015

Lukas Lehmeyer's avatar

Lukas Lehmeyer


Ranking: 7/10

Nice lookouts.

Reviewed about 8 years ago

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick