Point Venus, Tahiti
In 1766, the Royal Society commissioned James Cook
to sail to the Pacific to record the second transit of Venus in 1769. He made the observations from Tahiti, but they were not sufficiently accurate to be of great use. Much more valuable was his subsequent mapping of the entire New Zealand coastline, and it was on this first voyage that he “discovered” Australia, as the first recorded European to reach its eastern coast. He claimed the whole eastern coastline, from Botany Bay to the Torres Strait, for Britain.