James Cook 16 October, 1769
On 16 October, 1769, James Cook wrote “made sail along shore to the Southward…
Seeing no likely hood of meeting with a harbour and the face of the Country Visibly altering for the worse I thought that the standing farther to the South would not be attended with any Valuable discovery, but would be loosing of time which might be better employ’d and with a greater probabillity of Success in examining the Coast to the Northward… we tacked and stood to the Northward… The Bluff head or high point of land… I have called Cape Turnagain because here we returned”.
Joseph Banks wrote “Mountains covered with snow were in sight again this morn so that there is probably a chain of them runs within the country. Land makes in smooth hills like downs with little or no wood in sight; after breakfast white cliffs again look as barren as ever.
Vast shoals of fish were about the ship, pursued by as large flocks of brownish birds a little bigger than a pigeon Nectris munda.
Their method of fishing was amusing enough, a whole flock of birds would follow the fish who swam fast along: they continually plunged themselves under water and soon after rose again in another place, so that the whole flock vanished sometimes, at others a large part of it and rose again often where you did not expect them, and in less than a minutes time they were down again and so alternately as long as we saw them.
Before dinner we were abreast of another cape which made in a bluff rock, the upper part of a reddish couloured stone or clay the lower white; beyond this the Country appeared pleasant with little smooth hills like downs. The Captain thought it not necessary to proceed any farther on this side of the coast so the ships head was again turnd to the northward and the cape from thence call Cape Turnagain.
At night we were off Hawks bay and saw two monstrous fires inland on the hills: we are now inclined to think that these and most if not all the great smoaks and fires that we have seen are made for the convenience of clearing land for tillage, but for whatever purposes intended they are a certain indication that where they are the country is inhabited”.
Source: Captain Cook Society