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Exploring New Zealand

Russell Area Guide

The town of Russell - ©
Russell -- Maori name Kororareka -- is a small town across the water from Paihia, with a strong historical and artistic feel to it. A former whaling community, it houses such treasures as the first Catholic mission to New Zealand and the oldest church, where the British first declared their ownership of the country.

The waterfront boasts various restaurants and cafes, and you can browse the local art galleries and shops. Those looking for a more laid back stay can enjoy the beaches, particularly Long Beach on the other side of the promontory.

Like all towns around the bay, Russell is also a launching pad for fishing trips, yacht cruises and boat charters, not to mention guided walks to park areas like Cape Brett. Or if you prefer staying closer to home, there are coastline walks to enjoy and great views from Flagstaff Hill above the town.

While there's no shortage of all types of accommodation in Russell itself, there are plenty of other places to stay in the surrounding area too.

You'll find luxury estate accommodation and holiday homes further south at places like Okiato (New Zealand's first capital!), Orongo Bay (home to the oyster farms), Te Wahapu Bay and Pipiroa Bay. All are but a few minutes by car from Russell.

Incidentally, visitors could be forgiven for thinking the Russell area is more island than mainland; the preferred access route from the rest of New Zealand is via car ferry from Opua and Paihia.