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Cook's Dark Paradise

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Cook’s Dark Paradise

By Roderick Eime - World AdventurerWhen the world’s greatest navigator needed a break from the rigours of exploring, he headed to New Zealand’s lush South Island. But his idyllic sanctuary held a dark and terrifying secret that struck mortal fear into his men.

The land of the long white cloud was little more than a figment of the cartographers’ imagination when Lieutenant James Cook sailed into the eastern coastline on his way home from Tahiti in October 1769. Seizing the opportunity to further expand his realm of exploration, Cook spent the next seven months circumnavigating the two islands and created charts so accurate, it took the advent of satellite mapping to improve upon them.

In January, Cook had completed his charting of the western coast of the North Island and, whilst sailing due south, discovered what he mistook for a large harbour. In a rare moment of self-aggrandisement, Cook named the strait after himself, but the ferocious seas soon had him looking fo…