As New Zealand’s first seaport and earliest European settlement, Russell is steeped in history—not all of it flattering. The town, which dates to 1843, was once known as the "Hellhole of the Pacific" due to its popularity among drunken 19th-century whalers. These days, “charming” and “romantic” are more apt descriptions. Many heritage buildings remain, such as the circa-1842 Pompallier House, where Catholic brothers translated religious texts into Maori, and are joined by plenty of shops, galleries and restaurants.
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