“Do just once what others say you cannot do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”

Views from the top of Motuarohia
Motuarohia Island
The beach on Motuarohia Island

Capt. James Cook was on his way to Sydney when a major weather system blew him off course and to New Zealand in 1769. His first stop was Motuarohia island in the Bay of Islands. He disembarked his ship to discover a tribe of Maori arrayed on the beach in all their fierce glory. After what I imagine were a tense few minutes, Cook had a member of his crew who spoke some Polynesian communicate their peaceful intentions. Cook drew a line in the sand – yes, a literal line in the sand – and through his interpreter promised his people would stay on one side of it. The Maori agreed to stay on their side. This worked out great until Capt. Cook got it in his head to send a peace offering across the line, which unsurprisingly was not well received.

Motuarohia Island
Motuarohia Island
The beach on Motuarohia Island
Our boat skipper let us get off and walk the track on the island

All was well in the end this time, and Cook ended up exploring this area of New Zealand for some time in which he did his rather generous survey of the islands. Cook would later be killed in the Hawaiian Islands by natives – you can see the spot on the Big Island near Kona. The monument to Cook and the little strip of land on which it sits have been gifted to Great Britain in memoriam to Cook, the only such example in the U.S. of land gifted to another sovereign nation. I did some snorkeling there in 2009, and it’s worth a visit. The landscape is remarkably similar to this part of New Zealand.

Hawaiian monument to Capt. Cook on the Big Island in Hawaii – image taken in December 2009
Another part of Motuarohia
Motuarohia Island
Motuarohia Island

On Motuarohia Island today, there is a walking track through a bit of forest to a viewpoint that provides amazing views of the bay and surrounding islands. It was a surreal way to spend Christmas Eve.

Title quote: Capt. James Cook

Forest track on Motuarohia
Walking track on Motuarohia Island
Motuarohia Island
Views of Motuarohia on the way up to the viewpoint
Views from the top of Motuarohia
Motuarohia Island
Views from the top of Motuarohia
Views from the top of Motuarohia
A boat moored off Motuarohia Island
Motuarohia Island
Motuarohia Island

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