Russell in the Rain

I’m starting to learn that the weather service here in New Zealand…isn’t always the most reliable. I’ll give them a bit of slack though – I can imagine that between being surrounded by water, the rolling and mountainous terrain and the quick moving winds, forecasting here is quite a bit more difficult than in North America, where much of the area is flat land and wide open. But this makes planning anything to be a little bit tricky.

I have a 4 day stay planned for here in Paihia, then I’ll be starting my next WWOOFing experience a bit further north from here come Wednesday. During my stay here I wanted to do 2 things – get to Cape Reinga, the Northmost point in New Zealand, and take a tour of the Bay of Islands by boat. Being winter time and quiet season here, it was remarkably easy to set those two things up – a combo 2 day tour was available for the price of typically doing one. So, I went ahead and booked those two for Monday and Tuesday – apparently the best two days of weather during my stay. Today, Sunday, was supposed to be a complete washout. But, on top of the combo pricing, I also got a return ferry ticket for free to Russell, a nearby cozy town across the bay from Paihia. I had plans to check it out today, weather be damned.

Waking up, the weather was suitably gray and drab. I decided to tour this side of the bay by car for a little bit to allow the temperature to warm at least. So imagine my surprise that, 15 minutes into my drive, the skies completely cleared.

You can see the Bay of Islands in the distance there. I actually ended up spending about an hour up here (top of farmers field accessible via dirt road) simply reading my Kindle. It was a great spot.

But, now I was excited to head off to Russell – there is a nice and fairly short hike up a place called Flagstaff Hill – it gives a great view of the rest of the Bay, back down to Russell and also over the water to Paihia. So I headed back to town, grabbed my bag, left my rain jacket and hopped on the ferry.

Arriving into Russell was suitably quaint – small, sleepy looking with older European style cottages/houses. And the music of jazz and blues – there was a Jazz and Blues Festival going on all around the Bay of Islands this weekend, so outdoor music popped up quite frequently. Pretty neat.

I then took off for my hike up Flagstaff hill. A fairly easy hike up paths and roads. My back was to Paihia the entire time – so the oncoming driving rain was a bit of an unfortunate surprise. Near the top of Flagstaff hill is this…thing. You can tell that the weather has changed slightly (time between previous photo and this one – 19 minutes).

I reached the top of Flagstaff Hill (which does indeed have a Flagstaff) and was just a little bit wet.

As you can imagine, the great view was quite obscured by the rain and clouds. Sigh. I think I should stop trying to climb things, I haven’t had much luck with great vistas from peaks lately! One of these times…

The rain shower was relatively brief – about 15 minutes, so as I was descending Flagstaff Hill the blue sky came out again and I started to dry off.

For consolation, I sought comfort in a typical place.

I enjoyed walking around the rest of Russell at this time. Skies were clear, the sun was out, there was good nearby music and even though it was Sunday, the shops were open. It took me about 30 minutes and then I jumped on the ferry back to Paihia.

When I departed the boat, nearly dry, the heavy rain returned. By the time I got to my car and my raincoat, I was soaked once again. A change of clothes later, I decided to make this an ‘indoor’ day at the hostel. It’s been suitably relaxing and much more enjoyable watching the rain from the inside. :)

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