Cook Strait

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Cook Strait is the strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It connects the Tasman Sea on the west with the South Pacific Ocean on the east.

To the south the coast runs runs 30 kilometres (19 mi) along Cloudy Bay and past the islands and entrances to the Marlborough Sounds. To the north the coast runs 40 kilometres (25 mi) along Palliser Bay, crosses the entrance to Wellington harbour, past some Wellington suburbs and continues another 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to Makara beach.

The strait is named after James Cook, the first European commander to sail through it, in 1770. In Māori it has the name Raukawa or Raukawa Moana. Raukawa may mean "bitter leaves".[1]

Cook Strait is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world. In good weather one can see clearly across the strait. At its narrowest point 23 kilometres (14 mi) separate Cape Terawhiti in the North Island from Perano Head on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds.[2] Counter-intuitively, at this point the South Island coast lies further north than that of the North Island.

Contents

History

In Māori legend, Cook Strait was discovered by Kupe the navigator. Kupe followed in his canoe a monstrous octopus called Te Wheke-a-Muturangi across Cook Strait and destroyed it in Tory Channel or at Pātea.

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