Funny, This Doesn’t Look Like the Hellhole of the Pacific…

Up near the top of the North Island, about two-thirds of the way from Auckland to the Cape Reinga lighthouse, is the Bay of Islands, famous for many things: its natural beauty, its celebrity and hotshot holiday homeowners, its history (Cap’n Cook hung out here for a spell) and its expense. It’s not quite Rotorua, where sitting in a pile of hot mud can set you back by triple digits, but to really see the bay you have to get out on a boat and they’re not cheap.

Fortunately, I had a coupon.

The discount took some of the smart out of the price, and the gorgeous weather helped. After cruising about the bay for a few hours, I headed for the town of Russell, the “Hellhole of the Pacific.” At least, that’s what it was called in the 19th century, when the street gutters ran red with blood and rum. Arrrrr, matey. As a major pit stop on the South Pacific whaling circuit, Russell attracted assorted Captain Ahab sorts, drunken sailors and other rough types… as in, starts with “P,” ends in IRATE!! Arr!

Now, however, it’s a picturesque little habor town that seems to do a brisk trade in fudge and ice cream.


Fog on the bay in the morning across from my campsite; several views of the Bay of Islands including a few of the famous “Hole in the Rock,” which we went through on the boat (I like the way the photo of people taking photos turned out…); Karl chillin’ on the Bay of Islands; shots from the town of Russell, including a close-up with a gravestone noting the wife “fell asleep” (am I the only one who finds that expression creepy? I’ve seen it before and always think “did she fall asleep and die or just fall asleep long enough that she could be tossed in a grave and buried alive…”), some cool flowers growing in the churchyard, the oldest church (Christ Church), hotel and licensed pub (Duke of Marlborough) and police station (uhm, Police Station) in New Zealand.


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