The morning of the 30th was foggy and unfavourable, but it suddenly cleared up, and exhibited the entrance of Hokianga right before us, and a light breeze came to our aid to carry us in. The entrance to this river is very remarkable, and can never be mistaken by mariners. On the north side, for many miles, are hills of sand, white, bleak, and barren, ending abruptly at the entrance of the river, which is about a quarter of a mile across. Where the south head rises abrupt, craggy, and black, the land all round is covered with verdure; thus, at the first glimpse of these heads from the sea, one is white, the other black.
The only difficulty attending the entrance (and, indeed, the only thing which prevents Hokianga from being one of the finest harbours in the world) is the bar. This lies two miles from the mouth of the river, its head enveloped in breakers and foam, bidding defiance and threatening destruction to all large ships which may attempt the passage. However, we fortunately slipped over its sandy sides, undamaged, in three-fathom water.
After crossing the bar, no other obstacle lay in our way, and, floating gradually into a beautiful river, we soon lost sight of the sea, and were sailing up a spacious sheet of water, which became considerably wider after entering it; while majestic hills rose on each side, covered with verdure to their very summits. Looking up the river, we beheld various headlands stretching into the water, and gradually contracting in width, till they became fainter and fainter in the distance, and all was lost in the azure of the horizon. The excitement occasioned by contemplating these beautiful scenes was soon interrupted by the hurried approach of canoes, and the extraordinary noises made by the natives who were in them.
[Footnote 1: The Dutch and Spanish had discovered N.E. Australia as early as 1606, and the Dutch had on several occasions visited the N.W. and South coasts of the Continent before the date of Tasman’s voyage.]
[Footnote 2: The name given by Tasman was Staten Landt. The name New Zealand was bestowed in 1643 by the States-General of the United Provinces.]
Reception by the natives.
As the arrival of a ship is always a profitable occurrence, great exertions are made to be the first on board. There were several canoes pulling towards us, and from them a number of muskets were fired, a compliment we returned with our swivels; one of the canoes soon came alongside, and an old chief came on board, who rubbed noses with Captain Kent, whom he recognised as an old acquaintance; he then went round and shook hands with all the strangers, after which he squatted himself down upon the deck, seeming very much to enjoy the triumph of being the first on board. But others very soon coming up with us, our decks were crowded with them, some boarding us at the gangway, others climbing up the chains and bows, and finding entrances where they could. All were in perfect good humour, and pleasure beamed in all their countenances.