According to tribal traditions, Pewhairangi (The Bay of Islands) was one of the very early sites of Māori settlement in Aotearoa (New Zealand). That ancestry traces back to Kupe, the Polynesian voyager credited with the first circumnavigation of the North Island.
Russell was originally named Kororareka by local Māori. A dying chief reportedly asked for soup made from the Little Blue Penguin caught in the area, and his remark was ‘how sweet is the penguin’, or ‘Ka reka te korora’.
The bay had been heavily settled by Māori for centuries before Europeans arrived. On sailing into the bay in 1769, Captain Cook reported: “The inhabitants of this bay are far more numerous than at any place we have yet been in and seem to live in friendship with one another”.
At the time of European settlement, Matauwhi Bay, where we are located, was the site of a Māori village and the pa (fortified village) of Ngati Manu chief Pomare.
The bay remained sparsely settled for most of the 19th century, until Reverend Boler, an Anglican pastor, built the house that is now Arcadia Lodge in 1902.
The floors, structural posts and beams are of local heart kauri and many of the components were salvaged from shipwreck and demolition timbers (totara, puriri and jarrah). Whale vertebrae were used to support the floor bearers, a piece of which you can find in the living room.
Arcadia Lodge became a guesthouse in 1924 and has seen many changes over the last century, adding to its unique charm and character. As owners of Arcadia we feel entrusted with it's care and carry on a legacy with commitment and pride .