Russell is a little sea port was the first settlement of New Zealand by Europeans in the early 1800s. Found on the northern part of the north island in the Bay of Islands, the bay offered a good sea port and the indigenous Maori wanted to trade food and timber for firearms and alcohol. The British were quick to make themselves at home and it wasn’t long before the debauchery and raunchous behavior soon earned Russell the nick name “Hell Hole of the Pacific”. In 1840 the British governor convinced the Maori to sign a treaty, the Treaty of Waitangi, which gave the Imperialistic British sovereignty over New Zealand. The Maori thought the the British were offering protection and didn’t understand the repercussions of complete sovereignty the British had bestowed upon them which has caused problems right up to recent times with the Maori people.
Lou and I visited the site of the Waitangi treaty, it is worth a quick look around but don’t pay for the guided tour, it is expensive and a waste of money. The show they have is mediocre so don’t waste your time, worth visiting but take a quick view around the property and move on. We headed out for a full day tour of the north end of the North Island and loved the scenery. Steep cliffs and a mixture of sand, foliage and rock the come together to make a palate of black, grey, tan and every shade of green and blue that is imaginable.
Each town seemed to have its own personality, little Mayberrys dotted the coast many only accessible by car ferry’s. New Zealand is a country characterized by small windy little roads with little or no advertising, route marking or services. You can drive for hours without seeing a sign, gas station or a McDonalds. So refreshing.
At one point we got out of the car and walked around a rocky point where the waves were crashing. As we walked around the point away from any civilization, romantic thoughts were swimming around in my head until I turned around and noticed a speed limit sign. I was trying to wrap my head around a speed limit sign out on a rocky point where the waves were crashing, a place that would be underwater at high tide, when a car came driving around the corner making its way across the rocks. Then here come four wheelers coming the other way, oh well another clue about New Zealand, people do things here you wouldn’t find in the uptight US of A.