Darwin hated his three-weeks in Russell so much he called it the “hell-hole of the Pacific”. Locals, and time, have proved him wrong – very wrong I left my rental car parked up for the day, caught the regular ferry to check his assertions.
I have just spent the day there – and like everything I’m doing and seeing in Northland, I wish I’d had more time. From the historic Pompallier Mission (where the French were – ‘teaching the Maori to pray the Catholic way”) through to a one hour mini-bus tour (with Fullers GreatSights) the day has been great … as shown by taking over 400 photos today ( bringing my total in less than a week to about three thousand pictures: actually I think that alone says a lot about Northland – Te Hiku o te Ika a Maui- the tail of the fish of Maui.
The ’hell hole’ is now a popular wedding destination, especially at the Duke. ‘The Duke’ is the local name for The Duke of Marlborough and where I had lunch today – a delicious Thai beef salad! I had a look around the hotel and the new owners have lived up to their goal of refreshing everything … more in another story of course.
My day was completed by sailing from Russell to Opua on the R Tucker Thompson – a fabulous replica tall ship where tourists can take a step back in time and sail the seas under canvas. Two young boys tell me that last time they went out with the ship they saw a hammer-head shark as well as dolphins: this ship will feature in a full piece when I get back to the ‘head of the fish of Maui’.
Finally, just for you golfers: the views of the islands of the Bay of Islands must feature as one of the best golf-course views in the world!
Many thanks as always, to Destination Northland for helping arrange my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealand for the vehicle for this road trip: I can recommend both!