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Monday, December 14, 2015

Russell -- New Zealand's "Hellhole" Turns Charmer

Russell's ancient 1880s Morton Bay Fig tree, whist nostalgically
reminded Wayne of the equally massive one in 
his hometown 
Santa Barbara, California.  That "little person" 
underneath 
the tree is Wayne.  He's 5'10."  Russell, New Zealand.
Russell, New Zealand (aka Kororāreka in Maori-- 'Rum and women were top priority for visiting sailors, who had often spent months at sea. Fights, abduction, murder and no law enforcement made it a fearful place. Its reputation strengthened by such names as "The devil's playground" and "The Hell Hole of the Pacific".
 

Now a charming and elegant township, the white picket fences, craft galleries and weather board architecture belies the village's violent history.' Bay of Islands website

In fact, these days, outside a restaurant or private space, you'd be hard-pressed to find places where you're allowed to drink alcohol. Not on the beach, not in parks, not on the streets.  







Territorial view from Russell New Zealand's historic Flagstaff Hill.  I found view from the sundial, a very short walk away offered a much better view of the town of Russell.

Christ Church, Russell New Zealand and its intriguing cemetery.
Image pilfered from Wikipedia.
The rebel (and modern day irreverent visiting sailor) in me made it hard to resist ordering an "extra foamy latte" (discovered eons ago in Ashland Oregon from a delightful deli that sold both coffee and beer). "Extra foamy lattes" are the perfect disguise for discretely consuming alcohol where disallowed in public (watched some Ashland youngsters getting busted just a few feet away whilst I contentedly sipped my "extra foamy latte" undisturbed).

But I digress....
Wayne checks  the Russell sundial against his watch.  Spot on!

Russell New Zealand is the perfect place to 
  1. stroll the picturesque Strand
  2. people-watch families and frolickers on Russell's adjacent pebbly beach (though Russell's sandy and aptly named Long Beach is far better swimming and body surfing)
  3. tour the restored Pompallier Mission, site of an early tannery and print production house ($10 NZ)
  4. soak up the Maori and local European history at the Russell Museum* ($10 NZ) or at Christ Church, new Zealand's oldest surviving church, built in 1836*
  5. hike up to the historic Flagstaff Hill and enjoy the territorial view (be sure to read the plaque)
  6. check your watch's accuracy at the nearby sundial atop a beautiful mosaic map
  7. admire Russell's lovely cottage gardens and quaint well-kept homes
  8. eat and drink in style at vintage and hip restaurants*, drops some change at Russell's galleries* and bric-a-brac shops*
  9. provision from the eclectic selection at indy 4-Square markets
  10. arrive or return via the R. Tucker Thompson tall-ship* or ferry or explore points further from a plethora of charters*

*we did not do this

Cutest propane tank I've ever seen.
Russell, New Zealand.
Much as there is to do, Russell's primary highlights can easily be covered in a day, though you may find it so pleasant, you'll linger longer, like we did.  If your visit's virtual, this was one of my favorite online Russell reads.

Russell sundial mosaic map portion showing Russell and Paihia, New Zealand.
Location Location
We're leaving Opua (S35.18.784 E174.07.471), this afternoon to venture forth into the Bay of Islands and beyond.   Our wifi will be off and on over the next month as we cruise outside traditional wifi range but close enough to civilization and other cruisers we've turned off our expensive ($125/month) satellite wifi hotspot.  We're also checking out Whangarei as a potential haul-out site for more serious boat work in mid-January for at least a few weeks.

R Tucker Thompson Tall Ship,
image pilfered from 
www.russellnz.co.nz
Cruising By the Numbers
We left Jacksonville Florida in December, 2014.  We've sailed over 10,000 miles since then, in less than a year.