We drove to Wilaea today to see the Cook statue and monument.

I’ve always looked up to Cook

For such a momentous event, it’s a rather modest piece of work: a marker to let you know where the statue is, the statue itself, and a plaque on the beach.

The sign for Cook’s monument

It turns out that this is “a replica of the original statue in Whitby, England by Sir John Tweed, R. A.” Cook learned to sail in Whitby, working the coal barge routes. In fact, the ships he used to sail to the South Pacific were from Whitby, and were designed to be relatively spacious (for their size, anyway), and capable of withstanding heavy weather (which the North Sea provides generously).

The plaque at the base of Cook’s statue

I understand that the Royal Navy visits yearly to care for the statue. They’d better bring bug spray the next time they come: several wasp colonies have built nests in Cook’s left arm!

I then went down to the beach where Cook landed.

The landing memorial: a piece of volcanic rock with a plaque. The plaque is on crooked

It was clear immediately why Cook would have chosen this as a landing spot: this is where a river empties out into the ocean, so his ships would have had access to fresh water, as well as a way to explore upland.

There aren’t many foreign visitors here now. I suspect there’s not much tourism here, except perhaps the “rough guide” visitorsthis is one of the few beaches where camping is allowed.

Note the tents just to the right of the boat

The site was declared a national historic landmark in 1963