The one where QM2 returned James Cooks’s treasures to New Zealand…

A handwritten letter penned by Captain James Cook. Image: Cunard

A handwritten letter penned by Captain James Cook. Image: Cunard

Queen Mary 2 arrived in Auckland yesterday with some extra precious cargo.

Possessions carried by Captain James Cook on his 18th century voyage to the South Pacific, including the handwritten account of his first days in New Zealand, are currently on display aboard the Cunard liner.

“Our guests are fascinated to be able to view these items as Queen Mary 2 retraces part of Cook’s course around New Zealand,” Cunard president and managing director Peter Shanks said.

The collection includes: Cook’s tea caddy and a spoon which he carried with him on his voyage to New Zealand; signed 1768 correspondence about his preparation for his first voyage to New Zealand aboard Endeavour; and Cook’s handwritten journal from his first voyage to New Zealand.

Drawn from the Cook Collection held at the State Library of NSW, Emeritus Curator Paul Brunton is travelling with the collection and said that this voyage marks the first time the letters in particular have left the library.

“Personal letters written by James Cook are exceptionally rare; there would be less than a dozen of them in the world,” Mr Brunton said.

Recently-named New Zealander of the Year, Dame Anne Salmond, Distinguished Professor of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland and New Zealand’s foremost expert on Cook’s three voyages to the South Pacific boarded Queen Mary 2 in Auckland to view the collection.

“New Zealand’s shared history began with the meetings between Cook and his companions and Maori in different parts of the country,” Dame Anne said.

“Cook visited New Zealand a number of times during his three epic voyages of discovery. His journals show he developed a deep respect for Maori, writing that he had always ‘found them of a brave, noble, open and benevolent disposition’.”

Queen Mary 2 is currently continuing her circumnavigation of New Zealand as part of her 106-day world voyage.

Click here to view entire photo gallery.

I love the concept of having such rare artefacts aboard a cruise for passengers to enjoy and learn from.

This inaugural circumnavigation of New Zealand by QM2 was always going to be special but, having these pieces of history onboard has really added to what I am sure will be a memorable cruise for all sailing on her.

Here is yet another reason why cruising can be a creatively different vacation choice.

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