6 km
2 hours 30 min
No cycling on this trail
No dogs on this trail
Information for this trail was last updated June 2024
There is currently 1 information alert for this trail:

Seasonal restrictions

Seasonal restrictions - the closure period for the lambing season varies with the DoC Walkways (Cooks Cove, Te Kuri Farm, Anaura Bay, and Otoko) being closed each year from 1 August until the start of Labour Weekend (late October), while Te Aratia Walkway and Mapiri Walkway are closed from July and reopen late September.

Last updated: Mar 3, 2024, 1:42 PM

The history-rich Cooks Cove Walkway, at the southern end of Ūawa Tolaga Bay, is full of interest from a much-photographed hole in the wall, open grassland and regenerating bush to a safe swimming cove and dramatic sculpture overlooking the township and river.

The bold 12m-high Te Pourewa (Beacon of Light) commemorates Tahitian ancestor, navigator and priest Tupaia and his arrival at Ōpoutama (Cook's Cove) on the Endeavour in 1769. This beacon on Hoturangi Maunga is brilliantly lit at night. 

On the descent to Cook's Cove, a lookout platform gives views of the sheltered inlet. A diagram of the inlet helps with picking out the weather-beaten Mitre Rocks to the left of the entrance and Pourewa Island rising on the right.

The track winds down through regenerating bush then enters the cove's coastal flats with its hole-in-the-wall (Te Kotore o te Whenua). New Zealand Historic Places Trust's 1966 memorial commemorates the visit by Lieutenant James Cook in October 1769 as part of his circumnavigation of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Information panels along the walkway tell some of the stories of local iwi Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Cook and the crew of the Endeavour's visit to Cooks Cove (Ōpoutama), and the archaeological excavation of a site at Ōpoutama once occupied by Māori. These panels are the result of a joint partnership between DoC and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti. Link to DOC Website

History of the trail

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

At that time, the area had already been inhabited by Māori for many centuries. The main iwi (tribe) living at the bay and using the cove for fishing and gathering other seafood was Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, who made their homes around the rich, coastal land of Ūawa Tolaga Bay and the alluvial flats of the Ūawa and Mangaheia rivers.

From signboard at Ōpoutama: Te Aitanga a Hauiti is the iwi of Ūawa-nui-a-Ruamatua (Ūawa or Tolaga Bay). Hauiti was the 16th century chief after whom the tribe is named. The many descendants of the area trace their whakapapa back to this land. They also trace their whakapapa back to Hauiti and even further back to the famous ancestor Paikea. Ōpoutama (Cook's Cove) was an important site for fishing and gathering of seafoods. They made their homes around the rich coastal land and flats of the Ūawa and Mangaheia Rivers.

The visit of Cook and the crew of the Endeavour was well remembered by local people and there are many stories. Tahitian high priest Tupaia, who came with Cook, was a great favourite.

Cook recorded that there were large cultivations on the flats and the low hills and pa on prominent ridges and high points, both inland and along the coast itself. The cove provided safety and was surrounded by cliffs for fortifications. The area was teaming with food, fresh water and other resources for the hapū.



Tips & Logistics

Toilets are available near the wharf and at the cove. Use of this walkway over Hauiti Farm has been made possible through the generous permission of the landowners, Hauiti Incorporation.

A shelter with information panels welcomes you at the start of the Cooks Cove Walkway. Follow the yellow walkway post markers as the track climbs through kānuka bush and across open grassland, keeping mainly to a farm track near the cliff tops.

From DOC website: The walkway is suitable for medium levels of fitness as there is some hill climbing required. Good, comfortable walking shoes are recommended, and you should carry some water to drink. Sections of the track cross sloping farmland and can be muddy and slippery in winter. Please respect Hauiti Farm and stay on the track. Take care where the track is near the coastal bluffs.

Do not disturb or approach farm animals and leave gates as you find them. 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 and no mountain biking.

Getting there

Cooks Cove Walkway is 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 200m beyond the entrance.