Day trippin’ to Russell, Bay of Islands

As the boat rolls in I feel like I’ve stepped back a few decades, the shoreline is neat and tidy, a one street town appears with dotted little quaint colonial buildings along the edge of white picket fences. Beyond is green trees and vibrant waters.

I must be in Russell, in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand!

Buildings in Russell, Bay of Islands

Buildings in Russell, Bay of Islands

A short 15 minute ferry ride from Paihia will only cost you $12 return and you can have a lovely day in another little town, with a big history for New Zealand.

Russell beachfront

Russell beachfront

Russell was New Zealand’s first sea port and European settlement. In nearby Okiato we even had our first capital. The streets and many of the historical buildings still look the same, from 1843!

View of the Bay of Islands, Flagstaff Hill

View of the Bay of Islands, Flagstaff Hill

View over Russell

View over Russell

I loved wandering the streets and having a nice day off my diet – treated myself with a Kapiti Coast Ice-cream and a cranberry, chicken and brie bagel! YUM!

There’s all sorts of tours you can do within the Bay of Islands, but I was low on time and wanted to see the areas properly. Plus I was on a bit of a budget… still got to see plenty of lovely spots!

Flagstaff Hill

One of the best spots to view both Russell and the rest of the Bay of Islands. It’s a short 20-30min walk up (or you can drive), best done before it gets too hot I found!

View from Flagstaff Hill

View from Flagstaff Hill

There were some great viewpoints and a giant sundial too.

Sundial, Flagstaff Hill, Russell

Sundial, Flagstaff Hill, Russell

Bay of Islands, view from Flagstaff Hill, Russell

Bay of Islands, view from Flagstaff Hill, Russell

I was told before walking up to make sure I come back down to the town by 11am because there is a street theatre being performed, sounded exciting!

“Hellhole of the Pacific”

Street theatre, Russell

Street theatre, Russell

Russell was once known as ‘the hellhole of the Pacific’ because of it’s port and the various types of people who visited it – sailors, whalers and traders.

The street theatre was performed by a bunch of older locals. They were all dressed up, some appropriate for the time and others were dressed up as prostitutes (which to be fair was probably still appropriate for the time).

It was an entertaining skit to say the least, describing why Russell was seen as the hellhole of the Pacific. It dragged on slightly too long for my liking, but still entertaining nonetheless.

Street theatre, Russell

Street theatre, Russell

Post-lunch I decided to enjoy a bit of a swim in the clear warm waters before the clouds descended in to suggest I should head back to Paihia.

Russell beachfront

Russell beachfront

Russell beachfront

Russell beachfront

Russell was a great spot to get away from any big cities, it is calm and quiet, pretty and relaxing. You can take cars over on a car ferry too, so it’s definitely a nice little spot to visit if you’re ever travelling near the Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

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