Stunning Russell New Zealand, Once the Hell Hole of the Pacific

We opted to take a passenger ferry from Paihia to Russell New Zealand as a day trip while we traveled around the top of the Island. It’s quick, comfortable, and I love being out on the water. On our last visit we opted for the car ferry, however it’s a small town that can easily be walked, so unless we are spending the night we see no reason to bring our car.

Russell New Zealand is a small, stunning, seaside town that was once considered to be the Hell Hole of the Pacific.

Take a look at Russell, New Zealand today:

The Hell Hole of the Pacific . . . Today

View Across the Bay:

Hell Hole of the pacific
Christ Church – New Zealand’s Oldest Church, established 1836:

Hell Hole of the pacific
Duke of Marlborough Hotel – New Zealand’s First Licensed hotel, established 1827:

Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell New Zealand
Old Whaling Pots:

Russell, New Zealand

Hard to believe that back in the lawless days of the early 1800s, it is here that some of the first American and Europeans ships arrived in New Zealand. More specifically they were whaling boats, and when they needed a break, they came ashore to the safe and protected harbour of Russell to rest and trade their firearms, alcohol and more. Reading the history I am not sure that safety or trade were their primary motivation, but rather to partake in this town loaded with liquor, prostitution and limited, if any, laws.

Honestly, it’s difficult to stand in stunning Russell New Zealand and imagine it was once referred to as the Hell Hole of the Pacific. It’s a town loaded with bizarre history, like this story:

A Sewing Machine in a Tree?

A story told to us by our waiter at the famous Duke of Marlborough Hotel. About 170 years ago (he didn’t have an exact date) a fire broke out in the hotel. As the hotel burned, someone tried to save a big heavy sewing machine by throwing it out the window. Unfortunately it landed in the tree outside, which is where it stayed. The tree continued to grow up around it. Now you can only see little bits of the metal.  Take a close look, can you spot the metal bits of a sewing machine? . . . Neither can I.

Hell Hole of the pacific

Have you visited the Bay of Islands? Did you cross over to Russell New Zealand?

All photos on this page ©Rhonda Albom 2013

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    • Rhonda Albom says

      LOL – Do you remember about eight years ago when Dad came to visit, and I climbed into the pot – He called it “Sachs stew.”

  1. says

    Great photos, and I’m sure that your niece is having a blast with you as her tour guide! I didn’t see the sewing machine, but love the story behind it.

    • Rhonda Albom says

      LOL – I didn’t see the sewing machine either when I first looked at the tree, but I agree I love the story.

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