Russell Lights – Vol 7 Issue 21 – Updated

Alfred Ernest Fuller and his wife Maud Amy (nee Baker) began a small maritime cartage business, later expanding to excursion and game fishing launches and car ferries. By 1965 under sons, Norman and Neville, there were offices at Russell and Paihia to cope with the increasing number of tourists wanting to explore the Bay. In the offices a network of phones and radio phones kept in touch with launches and road, rail and air depots.

A party could charter a game fishing launch for about £12 a day – which included fishing gear and food. The Lady Doreen advertised Cruise as you fish and fish as you cruise the beautiful northland coast. Or they might take a boat trip calling at Otehei Bay or Deep Water Cove for lunch. Cape Brett trip $4 and Cream Trip $5 in 1967. Locals wanting to go “overseas” to Paihia could buy a 12-trip concession card for $1.75 in 1968.

These pictures of their sales premises show the growth of the business over the years. The first is of the Fullers “office” in Paihia during the 1950s, with L S Jefcoate in doorway. The second is a view of the Strand and Cass Street’s northern corner showing the modest office of A.E. Fuller and Sons Ltd beside the Marlinarooms (originally Ernest Ford’s and later Baker Bros shops), the Duke of Marlborough Hotel and the Police Station. The final photo shows the building in the 1970s, where renovations have added a second storey and awnings over the ground floor offices.

Times have changed and sadly since the COVID pandemic, local tourism businesses have suffered. Fullers is now owned by the Explore Group, but they have retained the Fullers name and the iconic Cream Trip Super Cruise is still available for visitors to enjoy the Bay’s beautiful islands. The office in Russell is still there, being refurbished for 2022 summer, now shared with a local real estate agent.

Fullers office in Russell in 1960s