Russell, New Zealand Cruise Port
Within the sparkling Bay of Islands near the South Pacific Ocean is the cruise port of Russell, New Zealand (formerly known as Kororareka, which literally means "How sweet is the penguin"). Located on New Zealand's North Island about four hours north of Auckland, the town was originally inhabited by the indigenous Maori people, who began trading with Americans and Europeans in the early 1800s. The resulting settlement of Kororareka gained a notorious reputation as being a somewhat lawless place, but eventually became an important mercantile center and supply ports for whale and seal hunters. By 1844, Kororareka was designated as part of Russell Township and completely renamed as Russell within the next two decades. Today, this town of fewer than 900 residents is a popular spot for tourists, featuring cafés, gift shops, and quaint lodging options. Here are a handful of our favorite experiences when cruising to Russell, New Zealand:
The 19th-century Pompallier House once served as the headquarters to the Western Pacific's French Catholic mission. Intriguing for both historical and archeological reasons, Pompallier House is both the country's oldest Roman Catholic building and oldest rammed earth building (an ancient method that employs natural materials). The Gaveaux printing press downstairs is watched over by a statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
Overlooking the bay (and providing a lovely panoramic view of the area) is Flagstaff Hill, which isn't a terribly long walk, but it is all uphill. Rich in history, the hill played a part in relations between British colonists and the Maori. Considered a historic reserve, you might also spot the cute kiwi bird if you're sharp-eyed enough.
Built in 1835, Christ Church is the oldest surviving Anglican church in New Zealand. Its lovely yet simple structure and accompanying graveyard will appeal to anyone interested in religious history.
Long Beach at Oneroa Bay is on the other side of the peninsula from Russell, but it's better for swimming and water sports than the town beach. With a long stretch of sand and breaking swells popular with bodysurfers, it's a perfect place for fun in the sun.