Captain Cook's Endeavour: Explorers reveal evidence they have located the famous ship

It's a discovery that would make Captain Cook himself proud - modern-day explorers believe they have found his famous ship, the Endeavour.

With the ship's historical significance stretching across so many countries, the exciting discovery has everyone wondering, where does she belong?

Almost 250 years since she sailed into New Zealand waters, explorers have worked out where her final resting place is.

"We've been at this 25 years, and this is the first time we've been really willing to say we think we're closing in on having the Endeavour," says marine archaeologist Kathy Abbass.

Below the surface, at an American holiday hotspot in Rhode Island, a group of marine archaeologists have been working for decades to pinpoint the famous ship.

"When we find that vessel the whole world will pay attention."

They were right - New Zealand among those taking notice, including Vincent Lipanovich of the Maritime Museum.

"It's hugely exciting; these kinds of discoveries only come very rarely, and Endeavour is such a massive piece of history for so many places in the world."

That may just prove to be the next big question - who actually owns her? The UK, US, Australia and New Zealand are all likely claimants.

"I'm not going to get my hopes up but it would be amazing," says Mr Lipanovich.

In 1768 Captain Cook set sail from the UK on a scientific expedition to the Pacific and hit the jackpot a year later. He became the first European to circumnavigate New Zealand.

In 1770 the Endeavour became the first ship to reach Australia. It then returned home and was sold, and was then hired as troop transport during the US war of independence.

It wasn't long before she, along with four other ships, was scuttled by the British in a desperate attempt to defend Newport harbour in Rhode Island, exactly where she's been found now.

The Prime Minister says she's following the discovery with interest and will be receiving updates from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage about when and how New Zealand could get involved.

But there's still a lot to do before then. Excavations and testing could take months, and salvaging her could take years.

Ms Abbass of the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project says it is science, not a documentary.

"It's not something that will be over in 50 minutes, and we've got a lot more work to do."

New Zealand already has one small piece of the Endeavour, a lump of her ballast. The possibility of adding to that collection could give historians a chance to celebrate, 250 years on.

Newshub.