Settle into your seat and let our private jet crew offer
you a delectable lunch accompanied by fine wines, as our
flight from Sydney heads over the Tasman Sea to Auckland.
After a short stop for immigration formalities, we continue
north to the subtropical charms of the Bay of Islands,
where 144 islands and sparkling sandy beaches promise
a most delightful start to the journey.
We base ourselves in historic Russell, New Zealand's first
sea port and European settlement. In the early 19th century,
it attracted convicts fleeing New South Wales, drunken
sailors and whalers. Today, cafes, shops and bed & breakfasts
characterise the town. Its streets retain their original layout,
and its buildings have been beautifully preserved. Our home
for two nights is the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, New Zealand's
first hotel with a past as colourful as that of Russell's. It was
founded by Johnny Johnston, an ex-convict who made good
and became fluent in the Maori language, which led locals
to trust him enough to sell him the land on which he built the
hotel. This evening, we savour a delectable welcome dinner
and reception at the Gables, set prettily on the waterfront.