Captain James Cook is credited with being the first European to make contact with the Hawaiian Islands and the eastern coast of Australia, and the first European to circle the island of New Zealand. As a member of the Royal Navy, he claimed many of these areas for England.
Cook's first voyage led him to Tahiti where he observed Venus passing across the face of the sun. After his visit to Tahiti, Cook journeyed to New Zealand and Australia, where he charted the area before traveling to the West Indies. On his second voyage, Cook was sent to explore the waters south of the equator in search of new landmasses. During this journey, he circled the southern waters around Antarctica and also discovered island chains in the Pacific Ocean. The third voyage led Captain Cook on a search for the Northwest Passage. After sailing past the southern tip of Africa and through the Indian Ocean, Cook sailed along the northern coast of North America and through the Bering Strait. After stopping in Hawaii, Cook died after a fight with native islanders.
Captain James Cook was a skilled cartographer who created maps that increased general knowledge of the layout of the world at the time. His travels also encouraged further exploration of the unknown areas.