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Hard to image as you step onto Russell’s wharf, that it was once known as the “hell hole of the Pacific”. Russell (in its heyday), had up to 36 grog shops and 24 brothels! Dark and violent in its past, there were enormous amounts of lawless sailors and rowdy whalers ashore. Russell had the first pub license, as well as the first police station (sounds like they needed it).
Russell (originally Kororareka) is so picturesque with its old world charm...You will delight in the history, even if bygone eras aren’t your thing, as Christ Church is still sporting musket ball holes from the Maori Wars, and the inscriptions in its graveyard, reflects the life-and-death stories.
The stories of those who lived here and forged New Zealand are alive in the stone tablets of Christ Church:
- Ironically, the first resident to occupy the cemetery in 1835 was a grog-seller – his burial fee was applied to building the church he had opposed.
- A 28-year-old whaler, George Sherman, had been left aboard as lookout while his ship (Lancaster), was fumigated for rats, and it is thought he may have been sleepwalking when overcome by smoke.
- Thomas Garrighty, a whaling ship fourth mate, stabbed by his drunken crewmates on shore leave.
- Captain Christie who died after a fall at sea is buried beside the six children of the surgeon who was unable to save him. Captain Bell of HMS Hazard, the ship involved in defending the famous flagpole, died after falling overboard while ill with malaria.
- Children are part of the story, and you should stop at the moving poem inscribed by Janey Deery’s parents. You’ll also pass Hannah Letheridge, the second white girl to be born in NZ.
With its abundant seafood (local Orongo Bay oysters), legendary fresh produce, and renowned chefs, Russell is bound to give you one of the most romantic dining experiences in the country. Russell is a quaint village of exquisitely restored character buildings that has more than its fair share of top-quality eateries.
Romantic evening itinerary:
- Board the ferry for a cruise across clear waters to Russell from Paihia
- Disembark at the historic wooden wharf for a moon-lit stroll to a romantic dinner destination and feast on local oysters and Northland wine
- Enjoy the ambience of waterfront dining whilst capturing the splendour of a Northland sunset
- Walk off your dessert by wandering down the pohutukawa-lined lane watching the lights of Paihia twinkling across the moonlit sea
- Hear the sound of waves lapping gently at the pebbled shore and the creaking timbers of visiting yachts enjoying the bay...
Eagles Nest has been voted the `World's Best Luxury Coastal Hotel’ in an exclusive competition, so if you have any spare change left after dinner (upwards of $1300 or so), you may want to indulge! Otherwise Russell has a wide range of accommodation from luxury lodges through to modest B&B’s.
A world-renowned game fishing port; Zane Grey famously described New Zealand as ‘an angler’s El Dorado’ (an imaginary place of great wealth and opportunity) when he caught his first marlin here in 1926. New Zealand boasts the biggest Striped Marlin & Yellow Tail Kingfish in the world!
Just a wee bit famous: Birthplace of a nation’ (Russell was New Zealand’s first capital), ‘World’s Best Luxury Coastal Hotel’, biggest Striped Marlin & Yellow Tail Kingfish on the planet, and site of the `Flagstaff War’ or ‘Hōne Heke’s rebellion’ (chopping down of the British flag)
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