Welcome to the home of New Zealand Encounters and the Historic Town of Whitianga, once called "Te Whitianga a Kupe" named by Kupe and being the original place name of our town, meaning Kupe's crossing place. It is one of the few places in New Zealand to commemorate Kupe and his Voyage which arrive here in 950AD. Kupe left his people here in the safety of bounty of food and water from the land and went onto explore more of New Zealand.
Following Kupe's visit around 950AD, with his tribe being left with bountiful supplies of food and water from the land, Kupe went onto explore New Zealand, sadly loosing his life in Picton at the top of our South Island. Due to this his tribe and their ancestors today Whitianga can lay claim to over 1,000 years of permanent inhabitants. There was a European settlement located on the other side of the River and known by the name of Ferry Landing in the years between 1836 and 1881.
Captain James Cook arrived he in November 1769 to observe the transit of Mercury in the Nights Sky and named this place: Mercury Bay. From Cooks journal it said "my reasons for putting in here were the hopes of discerning a good harbour and the desire I had of being in some convenient place to observe the Transit of Mercury, which happens on the 9th instant and will be wholly visible here if the day is clear between 5 and 6 o'clock." There is a commemorative Cairn of Granite at the far end of Cooks Beach which tells the story ; "In this bay was anchored 5 Nov 1769, HMS Endeavour, Lieutenant James Cook RN, Commander. He observed the transit of Mercury and named this bay." Captain James Cook.
The Main industries of yesteryear in Whitianga was Kauri Milling, Boat Building, Gium Digging and Gold Mining as well as Flax Milling. Whitanga was a main Port in the export of Timber, especially Kauri that were used for their long and strong wood as main masts for ships of the day. There where regular ships from United Kingdom, France, Italy, Sweden and Norway to name but a few.
Today Whitianga's main income is from Tourism, Farming and Fishing