New Zealand: Russell

Russell is a historic town located on one of the islands in the Bay of Islands and it takes a ferry ride to get to it. Russell is the first European settlement in New Zealand dating back to the early 1800s when whaling ships started making calls into the protective harbors of the Bay of Islands for resupply and women (the area was densely populated by the indigenous Maori people). At some point, Russell or Kororareka as it was known back then became infamous as the “Hell Hole of the Pacific” prostitution capital (“whales and sex” – could be a good movie title for a timepiece Hollywood action flick). After the proclamation of New Zealand’s independence in 1840, Russell became the country’s capital but was quickly moved to Auckland to shake off the bad reputation. New Zealand’s oldest church is located here, a beautiful building with a cemetery full of old crosses. The town is tiny with just a couple beachfront streets filled with boutique hotels, restaurant, and several magnificent historic mansions.