Round Russell (Again)

Thursday was supposed to be an OK day weather-wise so we planned on this one to explore Russell. It started clear and misty – the camp is in a valley with the river running through. It was only 4 degrees outside at 6.30am.  We had an early-ish start – driving to Paihia. We got the same free park outside the Police Station in the zone that is P60 from Labour Weekend to Easter – it’s good to get perks for visiting in the off-season. We took the ferry over to Russell, putting on spare clothes for the short trip as it was cool in the breeze.  Once there we started with the coffee shop for those in need, Wyn and Michael. Then we hurried to the DOC office while it was open to see their audio-visual presentation of the history of Russell. It was 11.10am so we caught them open between morning tea and lunch. The 11am showing of the video hadn’t quite started, I think they might have been the Department of Conversation that morning. It was a good background to Russell and the Bay of Islands, including the Marsden Cross and the mission at Oihi Bay we had visited the day before. So, kick-started on caffeine and history we set off around Russell. We took the same route as we’d taken with Laura back in July, along the waterfront and up the track to the flagstaff and the lookout/sundial/plane table thing. We had lunch there, working out where we’d been and what we could see. There was a cold breeze so we didn’t stay too long.

We descended to the town again, and wandered along the street to Christ Church with the musket holes in the walls. There is something very romantic and historic about musket holes. But judging by the holes in the wood there was nothing romantic about stopping one personally although it probably made one rapidly historic. Looking around the cemetery we found headstones for some of the children from the first mission at Oihi and also for James Clendon from Rawene – we’re starting to put some of the pieces together now. The Duke of Wellington hotel on the waterfront has the first liquor licence issued in NZ – it’s not the same building but the same licence. So we were duty-bound to have a drink there – in the name of history. After a beer in a sunny spot on the veranda we spotted a ferry coming in so made for that one and were soon back at Paihia. We headed along to Waitangi and the treaty grounds. We started there with the video as well – again a good historical background. The breeze was definitely cool by this stage, so it was a brisk walk to the flagpole and on to the meeting house and the mission house. The mission house is getting a new roof and not a coloursteel one. Replacing kauri shingles looks like a bit of a mission. We had a brief look at Haururu Falls on the way back, and that was it for touristing for the day.

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