Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands comprises around 140 sub tropical islands, known for undeveloped beaches, big game fishing, and Maori cultural artefacts.

It is home to the 19th century port of Russell, with a waterfront promenade lined with remnants from its days as New Zealand’s first colonial capital.

To get to this area from Oakura means a lot of hills and today did not disappoint, with an 18 percent climb from our overnight accomodation…..again!! Around the corner, and again, climb out of the village. Nice views looking back towards Oakura Bay.

I have had to stop riding many times for various animals, but never for pigs! These guys must have escaped knowing the inherent dangers for them, particularly at Christmas time.

Climbing gives great perspective to the surrounding landscape. This first one is looking south.

From the same viewpoint is this boat…waiting for the tsunami action plan? It is about 75 metres above sea level and not in the greatest condition either.Looking north towards the Bay of Islands.

I quite liked the campsite chosen by these people. Highly unlikely to have many others join, as to get there you need to clamber down a steep bank with your gear.

We liked this view, just before a descent, looking at the boats in the harbour.

A few more coastal views before we headed towards Russell.

I could not resist taking a photo of this sign. 😂🙈

Arriving in Russell we headed straight to a cafe I had been to before for an iced coffee….but they gave us iced chocolate. Ho hum, but for the first time in 5 days we had more than two bars reception.

We met a father and daughter (Dave and Annelise), who had just ridden into town. They are on holidays in the region, but live in Whakatane, near White Island volcano. Lovely to have a chat before they headed off for a family lunch.

Russell was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand. A small population of 720 in the last census, numbers are swelled by significant tourism.

Before European settlement, Russell was inhabited by the Maori, attracted to the area by its climate, and the abundance of fish, food and fertile soil.

In the early 1800’s the indigenous Maori recognised the advantages of trading with the Europeans, and started to supply food and timber to the Europeans using the Bay of Islands for safe anchorage.

In return, Maori sought respect, firearms, alcohol and other goods of European manufacture.

However, whilst Russell (then known as Korarareka) blossomed, it quickly earned a bad reputation for a town with no laws and rife with prostitution. It became known as the “Hell hole of the Pacific”.

The Main Street today is colonial and quite sedate, bearing no resemblance to its former reputation.

Nevertheless, we headed out of town via the ferry to cross over the harbour to Paihia.

Nice views whilst crossing.

Farewell Russell.Looks like funHello, or Hi ya Paihia and the big marlin. You can see me pushing my bike through here.

Paihia is very touristy. There are less colonial looking buildings, replaced by many modern accomodation businesses. There are some little gems though, such as this ‘wee’ toilet.

Camp Gregory also appealed to me. I think this is a sign in a private home garden….I do like their sense of humour.

Nice views from a lookout, just above the ‘wee’ toilet. The first one you can see Russell on the far shore.

This one is looking South.

The local ferry terminal with requisite tourist activity businesses selling everything from parasailing, helicopter tours, kayaking, artisan arts and crafts to plastic junk.

Tomorrow 3,500 Australians arrive on a large cruise ship!! Horrid!! Glad we’ll be on the road out of town!

In town earlier I had noted this stall promoting a Maori made product for eczema and dermatitis. I have both skin conditions and I have a spot of eczema on my arm currently driving me nuts. So we went back to check it out. I met two lovely local Maori sisters, Karina (left) and Judy (right).

I have purchased a small tub of the Taiamai balm made from the kumarahou plant, used by indigenous Maori for the treatment of bronchial, kidney infections and topical remedy.

The best value tub size was the large one but given my ceramic purchases yesterday, space is now ultra critical! Fortunately Karina can post to Australia. Check out her Facebook page, as I can tell you now, the itching has already stopped, so that should allow the skin to heal. ( Facebook….Taiamaiheritage).

Heading back to our accomodation, we passed an interesting stone church with an information plaque.

In 1831, thirteen Maori members of the northern tribes petitioned the King of England, William IV for a representative of the English Crown to be sent to New Zealand to establish law and order and give protection to all Maori people.

In response, the King appointed James Busby the first British resident, who in 1833 landed on the beach nearby. He was accorded a naval salute of seven guns and greeted by 600 Maori’s with a ceremonial haka.

Both Maoris and Europeans then assembled in the church grounds to break the letter on the royal seal. This ceremony was the precursor to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi seven years later. This current church is the fifth built on the grounds.

Another day done and dusted. Route and elevation maps.

A shorter ride today, but plenty of climbing to keep us ‘honest’. We have been lucky with the weather, and hoping that continues.

Thanks for reading


6 thoughts on “Bay of Islands

  1. calwalkies

    Wonderful day, Sharron! Loved al the background, and the weather still looks blissful. Couldn’t agree more about cruise ships. After dad died, my mum took the family on a massive one to Alaska. Other than being with my mum and sibs, it was probably the worst 13 days of my life. Even the (admittedly horrid) spin classes didn’t help! Keep on rolling. Catching up on your last few days now ;^)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou, yes cruise ships appeal to many I know, but 3500 people? Eek! Riding like we did we are solo for so long…we like little villages and towns, but have grown to dislike cities…..thankyoumfor your positive thoughts.


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