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Bay of Islands (Russell)

Russell is a pleasant 15 minute ferry ride from Paihia. The town is a quaint and very quiet place with just a few shops, cafes, restaurants and a range of fine accommodation. That hasn't always been the case though as its 19th century nickname will testify. "The Hell Hole of the Pacific" was a renowned spot for whalers and traders to enjoy their shore leave! Following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Russell briefly became the capital of New Zealand, but during the Northern Wars the town was virtually destroyed and the capital subsequently shifted to Auckland.
The Christchurch is just a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal and is New Zealand's oldest house of prayer. It still has bullet holes sustained during the Northern Wars! Marlborough Hotel sited on the waterfront proudly holds New Zealand's oldest liquor licence. Incredible views of the Bay and its islands can be enjoyed from Flagstaff Hill. This is the site of the Nga Puhi chief Hone Heke's notorious flag-pole protests. The current flag-pole is the fifth to be placed there after he had ordered destruction of the previous four to protest the hanging of Maketu and broken treaty promises.
Russell is also home of the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club. It's the oldest game fishing club in New Zealand and home of the world's largest striped marlin ever caught with rod and reel at 243 kg (536 Ibs). Many big game fishing and sightseeing charters operate and pickup from Russell.

R. Tucker Thompson Full Day Sailing with Fullers GreatSights

R. Tucker Thompson Full Day Sailing with Fullers GreatSights

Experience the Bay of Islands the old-fashioned way with a cruise on the R. Tucker Thompson, a traditional gaff-rigged schooner with her own unique history. On the Full Day Sail, be as active as you like – take the helm, help set the sails, ride the bowsprit and climb the rigging – or simply relax while the crew command this impressive ship as she sails across the Bay. During your sail, the crew will share some of the rich history of the area with you. Step ashore and explore a secluded island or take a swim while your barbeque lunch is prepared.
About the R. Tucker Thompson - Built from 1970-1985, the R. Tucker Thompson’s design is based on the halibut schooners of the North West American coast. With a lofty rig of varnished oregon spars, Kwila decks and bulwarks and brasswork features, she looks the part of a 19th century working ship: purposeful and square-shouldered, but fast enough to out-run the law!

Russell Mini Tour with Fullers GreatSights

Russell Mini Tour with Fullers GreatSights

Known until the early 1840s as Kororāreka, Russell was the first town and sea port in New Zealand. The Bay of Islands offered a safe anchorage and by the 1830s Russell had become a lawless trading centre where whalers, seafarers and merchants mixed with adventurers, deserters and escaped convicts from Australia. Today the town once called the “Hell Hole of the Pacific” is a charming and tranquil spot. This intimate one-hour coach tour visits many of Russell’s iconic locations that make it so significant in New Zealand’s early history. Your tour will be led by an engaging guide whose combination of historical knowledge and local insight will bring the culture and history of the area to life.

Christ Church, Russell

Christ Church, Russell

Christ Church in Russell is New Zealand's oldest surviving church. Built in 1836 it still bears bullet holes it received during the fighting and battles in the 1840's. The building itself is very well cared for and is open to view most days of the year.

New Zealand touring ideas

A popular style of touring is to take a preplanned self drive road trip.  After a thorough consultation with you we expertly plan and create your self drive tour around New Zealand allows you the freedom to explore at leisure with the comfort and security of pre-booked activities and accommodations. Route suggestions, GPS and APP guidance plus local support mean you are in safe hands. See self drive ideas here

If you prefer to let someone else do the work then an escorted small group tour or a private guided tour might be for you. Our range of hand picked small group itineraries are ideal if you prefer to travel in the company of like minded people. These tours limit the number of participants which means different accommodation options, exclusive activities and of course a knowledgable guide ensures you get to see the best of New Zealand. See our small group tours here. 

A private guided tour offers true flexibility and the security of a knowledgable local guiding you all the way. Well planned itineraries ensure you see exactly what you want to see but with your own driver-guide you can adapt to suit the day or your preference. 100% tailor-made to suit you a private tour is a great option when travelling as a small group. all our self drive itineraries can be replanned and priced using a private driver and guide. Just contact us to discuss your needs.

All North Island touring ideas - explore the diverse North Island with these itinerary suggestions. See here

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