The charming, seaside village of Russell is just a quick ferry ride across the water from Paihia. The town is rich in history with many attractions and activities for tourists. Russell is historically significant being the first European settlemen... Show More
Tourist Information About Russell
The charming, seaside village of Russell is just a quick ferry ride across the water from Paihia. The town is rich in history with many attractions and activities for tourists. Russell is historically significant being the first European settlement in New Zealand. This peaceful town was once known as "the hell hole of the Pacific" when it was the shore leave destination for sailors, whalers and traders during the 19th century and there are many historic buildings to visit. Russell is primarily now a tourist destination filled with great things to do with boating, fishing, restaurants, wineries, local art and many attractions all encompassed in a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere. Passenger ferries operate continuously to the tourist town of Paihia filled with more things to do located just across the bay, within the sheltered calm waters of the Bay of Islands.
Tourist Attractions in Russell
1. Take a Russell Mini Tour
Russell is one of New Zealand’s main historic places of interest with some exquisitely restored historic buildings and interesting history to learn about. The absolute best way to experience and lean about all this amazing history is with Russell Mini Tours. Take a guided tour of New Zealand's most historic town once known as "the hell hole of the Pacific" on-board a comfortable coach. Spend an interesting and relaxing hour with an informative commentary while taking in ‘Pompallier House’ and ‘Christ Church’ New Zealand’s oldest existing church and be taken back in time with the telling of stories going back to the earliest settlers. Visiting places of significant historical interest around the Russell area not easily covered on foot, the tour drives up to Flagstaff Hill one of the best vantage points in the Bay of Islands, offering 360 degree panoramas taking in views of Russell, Opua, Paihia, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the islands of the Bay of Islands. The tour takes in other vistas such as Tapeka Point, Queens View and the golden sandy beach of Long Beach. Discover why Russell has played such an important role in the history of New Zealand and why locals love it so much. Bus tours depart regularly from Russell Wharf.
2. Take a boat cruise to the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’
There are a many excellent options to choose from to visit the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ out in the stunning Bay of Islands with different types of activities and things to do along the way. Visit this stunning natural feature in the Bay of islands with a traditional Cream Trip Day in the Bay where you can also view dolphins or boom net alongside the vessel and is also known as the most extensive historical cruise in the Bay of Islands. Discover the Bay with Explore NZ has a nature guide on-board, or you can take a fast boat for a trilling Ocean Adventure and have the option of stopping at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka island on your way back. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space of the Hole in the Rock!. You can also visit the Hole in the Rock by helicopter and several other boat tours. The Hole in the Rock is located right out at the entrance to the Bay of Islands and you will usually see dolphins and marine wildlife attractions along the way and enjoy the stunning scenery.
3. Go for lunch on an Island!
Jump on a quick ferry transfer to Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island from the Russell Wharf. With multiple departures daily you can spend just a few hours or a full day exploring this island paradise at your leisure. Relax - grab a bean bag and relax on the beachfront to the soundtrack of waves and bird song or get busy with a day of activities. Swim at safe secluded beaches, hire a kayak for some on the water activity, explore the many walking tracks on foot or visit our island conservation centre to learn more about the history of the island and the current conservation efforts of Project Island Song. Join us for lunch or dinner on the beach front at our fully licensed café or enjoy a drink in the bean bags as you watch the sunset. Otehei Bay with its wharf and excellent facilities offers a unique opportunity to explore an island just a short ferry ride from Paihia or Russell.
4. Go Sailing in the Bay of Islands
With an incredible 144 Islands filled with stunning beaches, clear water for diving, excellent fishing, dolphins and wildlife this is the best thing to do for water lovers. The Bay of Islands is a maritime adventure playground with an abundance of activities that can show you wildlife including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, gannets and more. Many of the islands here are conservation areas and have walking track attractions showing beautiful natural habitat and native birds. Vigilant Yacht Charters - Day Sailing - Bay of Islands carries kayaks and snorkel equipment for you to take full advantage of during your magical Bay of Islands boat charter experience. You have the option to spend your afternoon strolling along the sandy white shoreline, relaxing on the beach or, if you prefer, taking your pick of the water activities offered. Lunch, enjoyed on the yacht deck or as a picnic on the beach, is hand prepared for you by Chef and Skipper Nik.
5. Fishing Activities in the Bay of Islands
Take one of the excellent fishing charter boats to catch Snapper or Kingfish in one of the best fishing locations in New Zealand. Fish with calm seas right in the bay of Islands, further out you may encounter a huge array of sea and bird life which in itself is a major attraction and in turn attracts the game fish that we are so privileged to be able to catch in New Zealand. Big Game Fishing is a great activity in New Zealand and plentiful here out from the Bay of Islands. From the stripe marlin to black and blue marlin you just never know what can jump on your lure or bait. With a huge amount of deep water reefs the Hapuka is another fish that is a must do and try in New Zealand. For bookings: Days Out Fishing Charters and Wildblue Bay of Islands Fishing for highly professional fishing guides – with all the local knowledge on where to catch fish!
6. Make Your Own Jewellery
Russell has a unique activity for visitors looking for fun things to do – a Make your own Jewellery art workshop! This is a half day workshop where you make your own copper or silver jewellery, take your own creation home and learn a new skill. Workshops are available year round with your own local sidekick artist Tui Slater helping you learn something new! Small private groups of up to four ensure you have all the attention you deserve. Ideal as a bonding activity for families or businesses, wedding party leadup activities, or something to do that doesn’t involve a boat, fishing or walking. All materials and tools are included. Based in the outskirts of Russell with plenty of parking on site, it’s an easy 15-min walk, 5-min bike ride or 3-min car trip from the Russell wharf. Complimentary pickup from Okiato to Tapeka including all of Russell included if you want to make it even easier. Can be booked by solo travellers or a group of four friends or family.
7. Go on an Historic Tall Ship!
An amazing thing to do in Russell is a tall ship sailing adventure out in the Bay of Islands! Join R Tucker Thompson for a Day Sail or a Sundowner Sailing at the end of the day. Help set the sails, ride on the bowsprit, climb the rigging, or alternatively you can sit back relax while our crew does the work. Day sails include freshly baked scones and cream tea from our galley! An island stopover in sheltered bay where you can relax, swim, or explore ashore. A delicious BBQ lunch served on board and there is a licensed cash bar on board with local wines and beers. If you are short on time, or just want a taste of sailing, then the Sundowner sailing is perfect with a shared antipasto platter and plenty of room to relax. Operated by a charitable trust with profits supporting youth sail training programmes, the R Tucker Thompson day sails and tourism activities operate between the beginning of November and Easter holidays, after which time we revert to our youth development voyages.
8. Visit Waitangi, New Zealand’s most significant historical place
Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds just a quick ferry trip across the bay in Paihia. Discover Waitangi’s contemporary museums, Māori cultural performances in an authentic Meeting House, informative guided tours, native forest, carving studio, the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe, and a quality café, all with stunning views over the Bay of Islands. Engage in a variety of educational activities. Embark on a 50-minute guided tour, which run every hour on the hour. You'll find a copy of the treaty in the Visitor Centre, see an authentic ceremonial war canoe, and even stand in the spot where the treaty was signed. The Treaty of Waitangi, was created between the British Crown and the North Island’s Māori chiefs. Don't miss a 30-minute cultural performance outside the meeting house where Te Pitowhenua, a resident performing arts group, welcomes you inside with a traditional Māori welcome (powhiri). Expect to spend about 4 hours exploring New Zealand's most historic site; you can use your admission ticket for two consecutive days.