GoNOMAD DESTINATION MINI GUIDE
Russell, Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand >
By Jacqui Knight
For heritage and history, natural landscapes and seascapes, a sense of community, and real people.
WHEN TO GO
At all times of the year, Russell is a great experience. In mid-summer the pohutukawa are awash with their red blooms, dripping onto the beach below, but it’s dramatic even in the stormiest weather.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
You can come by car ferry – three hours’ drive from Auckland, or passenger ferry from Paihia (also three hours’ drive from Auckland). Buses come to Paihia. Or you can drive up the peninsula, but allow another hour for the spectacular views en route.
Russell has NZ’s oldest church, first factory, first Police Station. Russell was NZ’s first capital and first European settlement. You’ll feel the history wash over you.
BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTION
Russell’s unique attraction is its romance. Everyone’s impressed with Russell, and from here you can have so many adventures – on the sea, in the air, fishing, diving, horseback riding, cruising around the beautiful Bay, sailing… so many things to do – or not to do.
BEST ACTIVITY OR GUIDE
So many to choose from on land and sea. Take a look at www.russell.gen.nz Look for Kiwi Eco-tours – they come highly recommended, but so do so many others.
The Russell Peninsula has now become a sanctuary for NZ flora and fauna, with a vermin-proof fence at the bottom of the peninsula, and kiwi recovery operation in full swing. We found a live kiwi running around town the other day – and the other night one was standing in the middle of the road. So please be careful when you’re driving at night.
Russell has a hotel – the first licensed premises in NZ – many B&BS, a few peaceful motels, farmstays, and homestays. Luxury lodges… we’ve got it all.
There are some wonderful restaurants in Russell — some are extravagant, it’s luxury eating — but there are some perfectly adequate budget-priced eateries too. Try the fresh fish dishes and the chowders.
There’s a wide variety of entertainment, differing according to the weekend. Try and come at Oyster Festival time (our second largest industry) or during the Jazz Festival. Then there’s the Country Rock, or the BOI Arts Festival, or the Wearable Arts…
BEST LOCAL HAUNT
Ah! Try them all.
Russell has a wide range of shops and facilities – an Internet cafe, a great hairdresser, beautiful florist and gifts – in fact several gift shops, all with a unique range. Try the local shoemaker’s wares or our own fantastic dyed silk creations.
MONEY AND COMMUNICATIONS
$New Zealand – we have EFTPOS cards (debit cards) in 90% of the businesses, so that makes trading easy. We all speak English – and understand foreigners, so it’s easy to get around.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world – there are no dangerous animals here. You can walk quite freely in the bush (native forest). The worst enemy is often ourselves – when we don’t think – like going off into the bush and not telling people where we’re going.
NZ’s climate can go through four seasons in a daytime – especially in the South Island – so some people don’t go out into the bush prepared for every contingency.
Listings for lodgings, tour guides, attractions, etc.
Our community economic development site.
Read more GoNOMAD stories about New Zealand
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