Sip drinks at charming oceanfront cafés, relax on picturesque sandy beaches and visit historic buildings in this popular town in the Bay of Islands.
Swimming, nature walking and fishing charters are just some of the many outdoor activities on offer in the seaside town of Russell. This pretty waterside settlement has excellent attractions, such as a 19th-century church and a museum, as well as historic hotels. Book a whale-watching charter for the chance to see the giant mammals breaching the water and taste excellent New Zealand wines at a nearby winery.
Russell was one of the first permanent European settlements in New Zealand. A safe anchoring place, it frequently attracted Europeans on whaling expeditions. European and American ships visiting here stimulated trade with the indigenous Māori. Learn about Russell’s remarkable Māori heritage and early European history at the town’s small historical museum.
See fascinating objects, such as scale model of the British Royal Navy research vessel, HMS Endeavour, at Russell Museum. The museum aims to preserve the history of Russell through exhibits on Māori heritage, European seafarers and settlement. The museum also showcases fascinating Māori items, including traditional weapons, fishing equipment and weavings.
Wander along the jetty at Russell Beach and watch fishermen cast into Kororareka Bay. Browse the antique stores and shops that line the beach and sip drinks at cafés and restaurants, some of which have outdoor seating. If you need a change of scenery, walk from here over to Long Beach in about 20 minutes. This sandy beach is a great place to lie out, swim and picnic.
Don’t miss Christ Church, one of the oldest standing churches in New Zealand. The historic building was completed in the 19th century. Now wonderfully restored, the church and the adjoining cemetery are a peaceful and tranquil place to visit.
Discover the historic town in the Bay of Islands, located in the north of New Zealand’s North Island. Russell is about 230 kilometres (140 miles) from Auckland. Visitors who plan on driving will have to take the car ferry from Opua to Okiato to reach here. Russell is also connected to the popular tourist town of Paihia by frequent sea ferries.