The best way to travel between Russell and Paihia - ferry!
Real Kiwi country here!
Russell as a town also hadn't really changed. It was still pretty and olde world-ey. But what had changed in the past 20 years beyond belief was me. No longer did I have any desire to spend hours lounging about in roadside cafes or mindlessly browsing shops full of hideously expensive 'stuff'. Sure, a lot of it was beautiful, but it was just stuff. Nobody needed it - nobody! Least of all a pair of nomads in a camper van who had just got rid of most of theirs. Russell was best suited to wealthy retirees and DINKY's (Dual Income No Kids Yet) and we were neither. Even the most mundane and everyday things were more expensive. Our visits to the local Four Square showed that on average items cost around $4 more in Russell than they did everywhere else, which resulted in us eating both little and vegetarian during our time there.
A choppy morning sea at Russell
Fortunately there was still Kerikeri to go and we both looked forward in anticipation to revisiting this lovely wee town. Until we realised how much sooner than before it took to get there; this being because it had grown so much it was now coming out to meet us. And there was the bloody McDonald's I had been joking about! Along with pretty much every other major chain store you could think of. The one main road we had fondly remembered was now such a maze of retailers that I actually lost my way a couple of times. We had planned to stay in Kerikeri overnight but we were both too disheartened and disillusioned to stick around. Come back Russell, all was forgiven!
There were a couple of good things to come out of our Bay of Islands experience however. For one thing, it made me realise how far I've come as a person and how my values and perceptions have altered over the years. I'm not saying any of these places are bad or not beautiful and I apologise if it comes across that way, I'm sure many people love them just the way they are. They're just not for me and I guess that's because I'm completely comfortable with having no stuff and no longer see or feel the need for it. Each to their own and now it was time for the other good thing - with the Bay of Islands now done and dusted it was time to venture into uncharted territory for both of us. The heart of the Far North!