We need to fill up on water so we headed back to the marina where we started. You usually have to pay for water and sailors are cheap, and since we knew it would be free, why not.
After filling up, we set our sights on a small town called Russell. It used to be called the Hell Hole because all the whalers and drunken sailors hung out there. Seems that excitement is long gone in these 3 small blocks of town, but it is charming with all the amenities you could want. It is located at the end of a peninsula in the Bay of Islands and is a very popular tourist area.
We anchored a bit far from town, but we were able to dink in and tie up at a small sailing club dock. The ride over was very entertaining as we had to steer through a mooring area and there were a lot of…shall we say…interesting boats. Too many looked like they had been there for far too long while others were clean and new. Typical for a saltwater area where you can leave your boats in the water all year long. My favorite was a pink and yellow catamaran. Do not see many boats like that!
The walk from the dock was only about 10 minutes through a residential neighborhood. The homes were all neat and tidy and had a mixture of rentals and permanent residents.
Before we hit town, we did stop to visit the local historical church. It is the oldest church in NZ and comes complete with musket and canon holes from an 1845 battle. We stepped inside to check it out, and all the seats in the pews have cushions that are scenes from the area and they were all done in needlepoint! Hundreds of hours were invested in those cushions and they were beautiful.
The gravestones are all prominently placed outside the front of the church. The headstones are still readable, and the first white woman born on the island is buried here, Hannah King Letheredge, as noted on her headstone, who lived to be 91. It is interesting that her granddaughter was buried with her. I love to read the old headstones as there are many unique poems sending loved ones off with. Not all of them are nice, but we did not find that here. the headstones for the children are always the saddest.
Walking through town, we stopped at the grocers to stock up and continued down towards Newport Chocolates while we walked towards dinner. We met the owner who was from Argentina. She told us that there is something here in the Bay of Islands and New Zealand that traps you! She came here for the America’s Cup and never left. She has had her wonderful chocolate store, Newport, for four years and just opened another store in Auckland. When Shawn asked why Newport for a name, she commented on the fact that it was an easy-to-pronounce English name and that it was a new port for her as well. Her chocolates were awesome!
They did have a shop that I just had to stop in. It was called an Opportunity Shop. Who can resist the lure of an opportunity? A typical resale shop with lots of books from the 80’s, crocheted items, and various clothes from different decades. Plenty of household goods to keep a small apartment fully furnished and a free box outside.
We meandered down to the Duke of Marlborough Hotel which opened in 1827 and holds NZ’s first liquor license with a lovely bar overlooking the bay. The hotel has been well maintained and still holds the original ambiance. We ate our dinner on their deck and there is a dock just outside the hotel where the ferries are coming and going, creating a hub of activity to view. It was an okay meal but not anything of distinction.
On the ride back to the boat we saw the parasailors gliding through the air. They are fun to watch, but no, I have no interest in going up in one of those.
Some fun signs from town.
On the way back to the boat we were happy to see that the clouds and sun have gathered to give us a show. Great end to the day.