The adventure continues! Saturday we had a lazy morning just hanging out then we got the ferry to Russell after lunch. Its the oldest European settlement in NZ and was the countries first capital. They used to call it the 'Hell-Hole of the Pacific' because that's where whalers in the South Pacific would stop. Drinking, murder, prostitution, and violence were all common, with the police, Catholic and Anglican missions all unable to contain the problems. The problem was men who would be stuck on ships for a long time would get off, party and fight. The sailors could buy 8 gallons of whisky for UD$4 (I think thats today's money, allowing for 200 years of inflation) and they also introduced prostitution the the local Maori tribes, whos men profited from selling the women. Russell had 24 brothels back then too and it wasn't untill the late 1830's when it was cleaned up and made the first capital. It was referred to as hell and Paihai, just across the bay, was refered to as heaven by the missionaries. It almost reminds me of the town in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie where Johnny Depp goes to find a crew for the Black Pearl, Tortuga. After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, when the British and Maori agreed to share the land, with lots of conditions, war broke out between some of the tribes and the capital was moved to Auckland in 1841. It stayed there until 1865 when Wellington became the capital due to the Gold Rush on the south island.
Today Russell is the cutest, smallest town with only 816 inhabitants (2006 census) and has mostly expensive holiday homes and retired people. It also has NZ's oldest pub, the Duke of Marlborough There are 2 streets with gift shops and cafes, the pub, and a kayak rental place, small museum and NZ's oldest church. Thats about it. So we had a drink, sat on the beach and then got the ferry back for dinner. The police station there is the most pretty white wooden building but the police have very little to do there nowadays.
Today we went to the market, mostly arts and crafts, then the beach. There's a few small islands close buy so we swam to one of them, it took about 20-25 mins to swim there which was tiring and the water wasn't to clean. We rested there for a few mins then swam back. I've never done any open water swimming before but as we were in a bay there was very little current. It was a bit scary cos I couldn't just stop, like in a pool or on a run, you have to keep going until you get home. Most of my friends who I met on the bus coming back here left this afternoon so there is one girl let tonight then I'm on my own tomorrow night and Tuesday. I've booked myself on a cruise/ swim with dolphins trip tomorrow so I'll meet people in that. I can't wait, I'm so excited!!!!