After leaving Waitangi, I caught the ferry across to historic Russell. What a fanastic old settlement. Each of the historic buildings have been carefully restored and maintained. It is a peaceful town, relaxed. Although only there a short time, I made sure of a visit to Pompallier Mission which was built in 1842. I have been fascinated by the rich heritage in these parts of Aotearoa.The Mission was built under the direction of architect Louis Perret, in the traditional Lyon rammed earth style, and is the only building of it’s kind in Australasia. This was the printery, tannery and storehouse for the French Marist Mission of Bishop Pompallier and has been restored to it’s original function as New Zealand’s oldest factory. Bishop Pompallier and the Marist Brothers printed almost 40,000 religious texts in Maori here in eight years – a staggering achievement. The Mission is now a working museum, where tanning, printing and bookbinding are demonstrated.

A visit to the Russell School was a highlight. The pupils were enthralled to hear about the Victorian Precinct in our fine town of Oamaru, and to learn about penny farthings. During my riding demonstration, I carrered off the end of the ashpalt play ground and down a grass bank, much to the amusement of the pupils. I got one very big fright as I went down the hill, smiling and making it look part of the act. It was’nt, but ended well. As I left the school, the OOCC (Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club) chant I had taught them , devised by Oamaru Bookbinder Micheal OBrien,  could be heard ringing out through the town. I was deeply moved to have all the boys perform a most serious and professional haka upon my departure.

Since leaving Stewrat Island, I had been curious to know what the all up weight of Pioneer Spirit is with her full saddle bags, so I arranged with the Russell Big Game Fish Club to utilise their crane and scales to find out what I was grappling with each day. The bike was duly hoisted in front of a large crowd of curious tourists on the wharf, and she weighed in at just over 57 kilos.

The next leg is onto Kerikeri.


Photo; Russell School,
Photo  Pioneer Spirit weigh in Russell Wharf.


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