Sunday, January 13, 2008

Russell, NZ

out the front door of the Duke of Marlborough
the fig tree next door
Somehow the choices of what to see in the South Island are a little clearer than what to see in the North. The guidebooks sing the praises of Cormandel and Rotorua. But a chance encounter with a Kiwi on our flight from LA to Sydney got us thinking about the Bay of Islands. He has a house here and spoke very highly of it.

We chose Russell over Paihia because it advertised itself as the non touristy town.
the dining veranda
It was one of the first permanent European settlements in NZ settled in 1827. Whaling ships ported here during the height of the whaling days causein gthe missionaries to nickname Russell "the Hellhole of the Pacific." The hotel where we are staying is called the Duke of Marlborough. It has wide open air verandas that flank either side of the entrance and it is a charming spot from which to watch the ferries come and go at the pier. The absence of traffic between the hotel’s veranda and the water, plus the lush trees that line the shoreline lend a quiet, laid back and timeless feel to this town.
The oldest church in New Zealand is also located here. It is called Christ Church. The graveyard is filled with English AND Maori names. Inside the church are pew cushions that have been needle pointed over the years by the women of the parish.

If you travel over the crest of this peninsula you come to Long Beach. It is a classic sandy beach with beautiful views to the ocean. Once you get here by car and ferry, travel FROM here is best done by boat. We have decided to stay on a few extra days and take a boat trip to see and MAYBE swim with some dolphins.

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