Things to do Russell Tours & Attractions

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Things To Do In Russell Bay of Islands

Russell is a quaint and historic town in the Bay of Islands, with lovely accommodations and an excellent range of restaurants. It is isolated on a narrow peninsula giving it an island ambience.

At the turn of the 19th century, Russell, then known as Kororareka, was the first permanent European settlement and served as a shore station for whalers, a swashbuckling town full of whalers and sealers with a reputation as the ‘Hell Hole of the Pacific. It was renamed Russell in 1844 in honour of the British Colonial Secretary of the day.

Today Russell offers one of the most romantic holiday experiences in the country, with its range of top-class restaurants and cafes, abundant fresh local produce and seafood, exquisitely restored historic buildings and excellent galleries.

Pompallier Mission is on the ‘Must Visit’ list whilst visiting Russell. The only surviving building of the French Catholic mission headquarters and made of rammed earth, it is the only building of its type in Australasia. As Russell New Zealand’s oldest industrial building, Pompallier Mission was built in 1842 as a printing works. Visitors can experience hands-on fun in the only surviving pioneer printery in New Zealand and enjoy the stunning heritage gardens with beautiful views over the bay.

Russell’s only other building surviving from the same era is the prim, white, weatherboard ‘Christ Church’ built in 1836 and New Zealand’s oldest surviving church.

The Russell Museum, Te Whare Taonga o Kororareka shows videos telling the town’s history and contains well-laid-out exhibits and an impressive scale model of Cook’s Endeavour that was anchored here in 1769.

Russell is also the base for the many water activities in the Bay of Islands, including fishing, sailing, and dolphin encounters. There are also beautiful choices of walks from Russell. Flagstaff Hill has magnificent views overlooking the Bay of Islands. It played a significant role in early relations between the local Maori and early British colonials, Tapeka Point Historical Reserve on a headland at the end of the peninsula. Oneroa Bay, also known as Long Beach, is a gently shelving beach sheltered from the wind and safe for swimming.

Grab A Bay of Islands Special Deal

Hole in the Rock Cruise

Half day cruise + Island Stop Over & Wildlife viewing
Book online & save 10%


Local Restaurants & Bars

We have selected our top picks for the 
“Best restaurants in Paihiaand Russell.” 


Cape Reinga & 90 Mile Beach

90 Mile Beach, Sand Dunes, Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Book Online & Save 10%


Russell offers some great accommodation to suit all budgets “Click Here”

Things to do in Russell