Cook’s Cove Walk

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Where: Cook’s Cove, Tolaga Bay, East Coast
Distance & Time: 1 hour 45 mins, 5.8km
Take: Sunscreen and water
Amenities on route: .Bathroom at the end of the walk. Carpark at the beginning of the walk.
Cost of the walk: Free


This is a popular walk and for good reasons. It’s free, has stunning views, great picnic spots, has historical significance, and takes less than two hours to do! Cook’s Cove Walk is in Tolaga Bay, home of a famous wharf, and enormous ice creams from the dairy (seriously, their single scoop icecreams were double scoops!)

The walk can be shortened depending on how energetic you are feeling. A short 10 minute uphill walk will take you to a great lookout point over Tolaga Bay. Carry on for a further 20 minutes to another lookout point facing south. From here you can keep walking for 30 minutes to Cook’s Cove, where Cook landed.

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The waharoa at the start of the walk in Tolaga Bay

Knowing you’re never far from the beach (and it’s a gorgeous coastline) is such a wonderful feeling when hiking. Even when we were at the top of cliffs looking down on the ocean, or exploring the shoreline, it’s just so nice to be close to both water and bush!

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Walking up to the sculpture on top of the hill with a stunning view over Tolaga Bay

The walk is over farmland for the first part of the walk where you will no doubt spot a few goats (unsure whether they are wild or not) before heading down into native bush on the way back down to sea level. The track through the bush is super easy to navigate with wide trails and well-maintained stairs.

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Tolaga Bay

The view down to Tolaga Bay is glorious and and on a clear day you can see for miles in all directions. This part of New Zealand is absolutely stunning and if you have the time, I highly recommend exploring it further!

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Looking towards the bay where Cook first landed

One thing that did occur to me with this walk is that it would be nice if there were more Maori stories included in the information boards. I think it’s in the pipeline, but it will be great when guided walks in this area are available with Maori storytelling of how Cook’s arrival impacted them, and how those impacts are still being felt today in the area.

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Stairs leading down through an eerie forest

There were loads of people doing this walk at the same time as us but it never felt too crowded, or that we were all just traipsing along like ants. I hope it stays that way!

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Honestly, the hole in the rock was cooler than Cook’s Cove!

After making our way downhill we eventually emerged back out into farmland (and a bathroom for those who needed it!) I don’t know about other walkers, but we headed to the hole in the wall before Cook’s Cave, and I can say without a doubt that the hole in the wall was much more interesting!

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Ready to explore the other side of the hole in the rock

We were there at low tide so there was plenty to explore – lots of giant rocks to climb and things to look at. I wasn’t quite game enough to swim but I’m sure there will be some that are! I’m not sure how accessible it would be in high tide though.

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Rock climbing

We went further along to Cook’s Cove and the end of the walk. There were quite a few people here having their lunch and others just sitting in contemplation as 2020 is the 250 year anniversary of the arrival of Cook in Aotearoa. It’s poignant to think just what has occurred and the changes we have seen in New Zealand over that time.

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Cook’s Cove

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the East Coast, make the effort to go and spend a decent chunk of time there. It requires a lot of driving but holy moly it is worth it. The beaches, the people, the stories, the wilderness – it’s all absolutely sublime. Get there, now.

The photos of me were taken by Paul, and I took the others!

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