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Russell
Travel Guide

Russell showing a coastal town, night scenes and a bay or harbour

Discover colonial charm, a colorful history and picturesque oceanfront scenery when you visit New Zealand’s oldest town. 

Stroll through Russell’s charming narrow streets to find historic architecture, gift shops and relaxing oceanfront cafés. Visit some of New Zealand’s oldest buildings and discover the town’s history as a Maori settlement and European whaling port. Walk along the nearby cliffs for stunning sunset views before returning to the town for a dinner of locally caught fish in one of the town’s superb restaurants.

Russell, formerly Kororāreka, was first settled by European whalers in the early 19th century and is the oldest “pākehā” (European) town in New Zealand.It was once known as the “hell hole of the Pacific” due to the debaucherous antics of the whalers and seamen that settled here. Today, Russell’s charming colonial buildings, pleasant restaurants and peaceful ambience have given it a reputation for being one of the most desirable destinations in New Zealand.

Learn about the antics of the sailors and the early battles between the local Maori people and the European settlers that took place here when you visit Russell Museum. This intriguing museum also contains a scale model of Captain Cook’s ship, The Endeavour. If the town’s history interests you, visit New Zealand’s oldest industrial building, Pompallier House. This historic building was built in 1841 and contains an original printing press and tanner, both of which are still operational today. Nearby, you’ll find New Zealand’s oldest church, built in 1836.

Notice the pretty colonial architecture throughout the town as you wander along the streets. Find souvenirs in the gift shops or enjoy a coffee break in a café.

The best way to get to Russell is by ferry, as driving there requires a considerable detour. Take a short ferry trip from Paihia and keep an eye out for dolphins as you cross the water.

Russell is located in the Bay of Islands and has a mild year-round climate, making it a pleasant place to visit in any season. Indulge in luxury accommodation in peaceful and historic Russell or find budget lodgings across the water in Paihia.

The Duke of Marlborough Hotel
The Duke of Marlborough Hotel
4.5 out of 5
35 The Strand, Bay of Islands, Russell
The price is NZ$135 per night from 2 May to 3 May
Situated on the waterfront, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Russell Beach, Russell Museum and Russell Christ Church. Tapeka Point and Flagstaff ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (474 reviews)
"This is the second time we have stayed in a waterfront room. What a lovely spot. Spacious room with veranda overlooking the water. Big spa bath. Lovely"

Reviewed on 21 Apr. 2021

The Duke of Marlborough Hotel
Bellrock Lodge
Bellrock Lodge
3.5 out of 5
22 Chapel Street, Russell
The price is NZ$274 per night from 23 Apr. to 24 Apr.
Located in the heart of Russell, this luxury bed & breakfast is within a 10-minute walk of Russell Christ Church, Russell Beach, and Russell Museum. Tapeka Point ...
5/5Exceptional! (72 reviews)
"The hosts are fantastic and the place was exceptionally clean. A very short walk to town and we actually preferred this location to being right in the centre as it much more quiet and chilled out, and a lot cheaper! Would definitely recommend and stay again."

Reviewed on 9 Apr. 2021

Bellrock Lodge
Donkey Bay Inn
Donkey Bay Inn
4 out of 5
38 Long Beach Road, Russell
The price is NZ$694 per night from 3 May to 4 May
Situated in Russell, this beach guesthouse is within a 5-minute walk of Tapeka Point and Long Beach. Russell Christ Church and Russell Beach are also within ...
5/5Exceptional! (23 reviews)
"Handrail needed on steps to the beach. Maybe a Spa Pool. Lock on room door would be nice."

Reviewed on 3 Dec. 2020

Donkey Bay Inn
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Russell Cottages
Russell Cottages
4 out of 5
16 Chapel Street, Russell
The price is NZ$486 per night from 4 May to 5 May
This family-friendly Russell aparthotel is located near the beach, within a 5-minute walk of Russell Christ Church, Russell Beach and Tapeka Point. Russell Museum ...
4.8/5Exceptional! (229 reviews)
"Great room. Clean and spacious. Pool was fantastic. All amenities were included."

Reviewed on 2 Feb. 2020

Russell Cottages
Russell Top 10 Holiday Villas
Russell Top 10 Holiday Villas
3 out of 5
1 James Street, Russell, Northland
The price is NZ$134 per night from 2 May to 3 May
Situated by the sea, this eco-friendly villa is within a 10-minute walk of Tapeka Point, Russell Beach, and Russell Christ Church. Russell Museum and Pompallier ...
3.8/5Good! (6 reviews)
"Great value for money. Awesome for families. We stayed in one bedroom villa was great little place for a night or two."

Reviewed on 30 Aug. 2020

Russell Top 10 Holiday Villas
Fantail Mill Accommodation
Fantail Mill Accommodation
3 out of 5
8 Toi Track, Russell, Russell
Situated near the beach, this apartment building is within 3 miles (5 km) of Russell Christ Church, Russell Museum and Pompallier Mission. Russell Beach and ...
5/5Exceptional! (9 reviews)
Fantail Mill Holiday
"Wonderful hosts, Tracy & William.Very obliging. made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. Unit was very well fitted out. Excellent bed . Best flat floor shower we have ever experienced. Water was well contained within shower area. Decor of room created by Tracy, was very ..."

Reviewed on 18 Jan. 2021

Fantail Mill Accommodation
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Russell

Top activities in Russell

Reviews of Russell

4.8

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
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5 - Excellent 82.66666666666667%
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4 - Good 16%
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5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

1 Mar. 2020

Russell is a beautiful, good vibe place. I love it there ❤️

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

22 Jan. 2020

This visit we opted for smaller tour operators and rate them very highly: Sea Shuttle - a 4-5 hour adventure to Roberton Island and Urupukapuka Island for snorkeling, paddle-boarding and nature walks. Russell Nature Walks for Kiwi spotting at night.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

31 Dec. 2019

Wonderful place to spend time.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

17 Dec. 2019

Russell is a beautiful destination and will surely return. Having accommodation that was clean and the owners ever so helpful was a bonus.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

3 Nov. 2019

Oh it is just beautiful .One of the BEST places in the WORLD

5/5 - Excellent

Tru

3 Nov. 2019

The Pompallier mission and printers is very interesting. The Russell Boat Club served an awesome steak

Cities near Russell