A little gem called Russell
January 12, 2016
“Romantic Russell” lives up to its name, a small, picturesque town (population around 800), which is nestled in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Time can sit still as you drive off the car ferry and take in a deep breath of peace.
During the summer months the town can be bustling with people from all walks of life soaking up the tranquil waterfront at one of the cafes or sitting on the grassy banks by the beach. People stroll with dripping ice cream cones and children scamper up Pohutukawa trees and swim in the sea. The town boasts a handful of great restaurants and summer nights are filled with live music and warm salty air.
Russell is also quite a historic place, formerly known as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific”, Russell saw much of the early history of New Zealand. The Treaty of Waitangi between the Maori and the British took place just across the bay, Captain James Cook arrived here when he settled New Zealand for the British and Russell was one of the first European settlements, so there is plenty of history to soak up. Since I’m not really a history girl I won’t bore you with the details but if one day you are lucky enough to find yourself in Russell make sure you visit the sweet primary school, old church, perhaps even the museum or Pompallier Mission house. Short walks lead you to breathtaking views and there are a few beautiful, sandy beaches to explore.
The Russell wharf is a hive of activity with local kids bombing into the water, people fishing and boats coming and going. It is the launching point to see the beauty of the Islands with the Paihia ferry, sailing (link to Vigilant) + fishing charters and fun excursions to see dolphins or a few of the many hidden wonders. Living in Russell you are pulled out to sea with a deep longing as you quickly realize to truly experience this unique place, getting out on the water is how to see it for all it has to offer. So, being without a boat can make you feel as if you’re missing the big picture and the majestic surroundings of this enchanting seaside village. Luckily, we have amazing friends that help fill the void and add to this idyllic Russell lifestyle.
The locals are made up of warm spirits from here and all over the world. When the “swallows” leave, the winter months slow down and there is a charm that settles in with the sleepiness. There is support that is felt and everyone has an input. There are artists, world renowned photographers, writers and chefs. Every Friday we order bread to be picked up the next day at the baker’s house, you can order the crunchiest ciabatta, sweet buns, and rye bread…the list goes on!
So, now the question is: Too good to be true? I think so… yet I just pinched myself and yes, still here, listening to the Tui bird singing in the Pohutukawa tree.