First of all, happy birthday to our granddaughter Polly who is two years old today (even though I know this is being posted after the fact). We wish we could be there to share the day with you.
We sailed into the The Bay of Islands, a marine playground with hundreds of boats and almost 150 islands. We dropped anchor and tendered to the village of Paihia, although our itinerary said we were going to Waitangi. All of these towns and villages are only a small distance apart. Waitangi is one of New Zealand’s most significant historic sites. It’s the place where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British Crown and more than 500 Maori chiefs. The treaty agreed the terms by which New Zealand would become a British colony. We never actually made it to Waitangi, instead electing to explore on foot Paihia and then taking the ferry to Russell where many walking trails are found. We had originally booked a tour with Holland. A “scenic bus tour” with stops at a glow worm cave and mission house. We decided to cancel since the tour did not start until 9:00 AM and lasted 4 hours, which would not have given us any time to explore the area on our own. We are just not the type of tourist want to spend hours on a bus to just watch the countryside pass. We want to FEEL the countryside!
Our arrival at Paihia, one of the several villages in the Bay of Islands. We were on the first tender with passengers this morning.
Our wonderful Dining Room Assistant Manager, Presty, doing double duty as all the crew does. Here he is at the pier to greet everyone as they left the tender.
Early morning light illuminating the bay as as we were getting ready to cross to Russell.
The gang waits on the top deck of our ferry as it finishes loading. The ferry cost $12 NZ/pp round trip, a little less than $9 US.
Here we reach our terminus at Russell. Nothing fancy here, just functional.
The bay view as we hiked the tracks above Russell.
After a 20 minute hike we were above Russell and had a great view of our ship and also a Celebrity ship also at tender.
We were actually closer to the Amsterdam at Russell than we were at our tender.
One of the “tracks”.
We arrived at this isolated beach where we found a few shells and rocks. We were unable to continue around the bay and had to backtrack.
We were truly in a tropical rain forest.
This gentleman, Andrew Frankum, is a local wood turner. He was set up in the village community center with about a dozen other craftsmen. His skill is turning Kauri wood. The Kauri trees are ancient trees which still grow in New Zealand but are now protected and illegal to timber. The wood Andrew works with is “swamp” wood or what the Irish refer to as “bog” wood. Some entire trees up to 40 feet in diameter have been reclaimed and cut into lumber. The amazing thing is this wood has been carbon dated up to 40,000 years old. In fact I have actually turned some pens from Kauri wood.
I was pleased to purchase this bowl from Andrew. It is made from a beautiful piece of quarter-sawn wood.
Andrew’s mark and signature.
We visited Christ Church, New Zealand’s oldest church which is still scarred with musket ball holes from the 1845 fighting.
Russell was New Zealand’s largest town before 1840. Russell was once known as ‘the hell hole of the Pacific’ due to the rough behavior of whalers, traders and sailors who settled here. Today Russell is still a favored spot for boaters who seek safe anchorage. At first we thought this sign was for real, then we realized there was a reenactment of the rougher years of Russell.
The return ferry we took back from Russell was smaller than the one coming over and it was packed. Although it was a short ride, I couldn’t help but think about the news stories of ferries going down with hundreds of passengers aboard…
Last tender was at 2:30 PM. The ship sponsored a Complimentary Food, Wine & Beer Sail away. Kay, Janet & Carl had gone to the thermal spa and I was working on the blog so I decided to check it out. The crowd was huge and I wasn’t interested in jostling for food, but I did snag a couple of beers. I got a Monteith’s Summer Ale which was nice. It was an amber ale flavored with ginger and honey, not a beer I would drink on a regular basis but not bad. For Kay, I picked up a Morton Corutts Export Gold, a light beer which she enjoyed. Both are brewed in New Zealand.
The entertainment tonight was dancers Sriani & Craig who have been performing internationally for 15 years. They have a long list of titles including the Japan Open and the Australian Championship. They were quite entertaining and we were lucky we attended the 8:15 performance. The sea has been rough as we came around the horn of upper NZ, and it got so bad they had to cancel the 10:00 PM performance. It was just too risky.
I like the rough seas, I expect to sleep well tonight.