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Paihia - A travel report by Molly
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Paihia,  New Zealand - flag New Zealand
2080 readers

mollyj's travel reports

Russell - just a ferry ride across the Bay

  5 votes
Although all the 'action' in the Bay of Islands is in Paihia, for those wanting a more peacful stay and lots of 'character', Russell is a great option.

View over Russell from Flagstaff Hill
View over Russell from Flagstaff Hill
Russell is just across the Bay from Paihia. You can get there by passenger ferry from the Paihia Wharf, or take the car ferry from Okiato (on State Highway 1 before you get to Paihia).
Russell is a small waterfront town which was the first capital of NZ and therefore includes many heritage buildings, including the Duke of Marlborough Hotel which boasts the first liquor licence in NZ. There are many nature reserves around Russell with lovely walks, among the best is the track to Flagstaff Hill, where you can get an amazing view of the whole Bay of Islands. A 10-minute walk from town will lead you to one of the best beaches in the Bay - Long Beach.
There is a range of accommodation places: 2 campgrounds - one right in town and another on the way to the car ferry. Two backpackers, and lodges, motels, a hotel and many Bed & Breakfasts. Good eating spots on the waterfront and cheaper (but just as good) on the main street. Cheapest options are the local clubs which welcome guests - the RSA (returned Servicemen's Assoc.), Sworfishing Club, and Russell Boating Club. All boat trips to the bay will pick you up from the Russell wharf - see below: my sailing trip on the boat Freewind.

Favourite spots:
Long Beach - take the track at the back of Russell to a lovely, long sandy beach. We walked past the rocks at the far end (at low tide) and discovered our own little private beach!

What's really great:
The relaxed atmosphere and the feeling that here you can really get away from the crowds.

The dolphins swimming along Freewind
The dolphins swimming along Freewind
Go for a sail in the Bay of Islands. We took an ovenight trip on the yacht Freewind.
We sailed all around the bay, saw the different islands. Only 6 people on board, very relaxed atmosphere. The captain, Ron is local who knows everything about the Bay.
We saw dolphins that swam alongside the boat as we were sailing! Later we ancored in one of the islands and had a swim and did kayaking. We stayed up talking on deck half the night, full moon - real magic.
If you stop at Roberton Island, don't miss the hike to the lookout. It's a steep track but well worth it for the amazing views at the top.

Paihia: the Pickled Parrot. away from the crowds, friendly staff.
Russell: Russell Top 10 campgrounds. Good value right in town,

Russell: the Bounty Bar on York St. Try the seafood platter.
The Russell Boat Club - walk to Matauwhi Bay. Nothing fancy, just good, down-to-earth food + bar at great value and lots of atmosphere. Open for dinner: Wed, Fri, and Sun.

Other recommendations:
Many good walks along the coast from Paihia or the Russell Peninsula. See

Published on Sunday August 7th, 2011

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Fri, Sep 09 2011 - 12:34 PM rating by christianj.

We visited Russell in 2007 and enjoyed it very much, too. In my opinion you discribed it very well. Thank you!

Fri, Aug 12 2011 - 04:40 PM rating by krisek

Not a bad first report. An interesting read. I think it is missing a little more personal touch and pictures. I am planning to go to NZ next year, so I will keep this one saved. Many thanks for sharing.

Mon, Aug 08 2011 - 05:38 PM rating by mistybleu

An interesting report. I've never heard of Russell, so it was nice to read about a 'new' town.

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