Activities in Russell
We are more than happy to give advice and book any tours you might like to do, and base our recommendations on feedback from guests.
If possible your minimum stay should be 3 nights, there is so much to do in and around Russell as you can see below.
Full Day Cruises
The Cream Trip
"Cream Trip" (previous guests have really loved this trip): This is an historic cruise which started in 1927 dropping supplies to the islands and bringing back their cream. While delivering mail, the cruise includes looking out for dolphins (it is also possible to swim with the dolphins), going to the Hole in the Rock, boom netting and an island stopover for lunch. Informative commentary will give you the history of the Bay, including who is staying on which island today.
R. Tucker Thompson – Sailing
Come sailing in the Bay of Islands! Regardless of age or ability the R. Tucker Thompson has created memories and friends for thousands of travellers. Tourism sailings run from November until Easter, providing the chance for visitors to experience a working tall ship.
You don't often get the opportunity to sail on a working tall ship, help set the sails or take the helm. But on the Tucker, you are welcome! There are harnesses if you want the challenge of climbing the rigging or climb out on the bowsprit and ride the waves. If you'd like to relax, that's fine too – enjoy the delicious food and chat with the friendly crew. Profits made from tourism activities help keep the ship in good condition as well as supporting the youth sail training programmes.
Dolphin Eco Experience and Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock
a. Dolphin Eco Experience. This is a purpose-built boat and geared to finding the dolphins and giving you a chance to swim with them. All gear included in the price.
b. "Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock". A half-day cruise passing many of the islands on Dolphin Seeker, a purpose-built catamaran looking for dolphins and whales. Enjoy the scenery and the commentary on the history of the islands while cruising the sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands. If conditions permit the Dolphin Seeker will go through the Hole in the Rock. There is an island stopover. This is a great opportunity to explore Paihia, so do not get off in Russell but travel to Paihia and get a free ticket back to Russell.
R. Tucker Thompson – Afternoon Sail
A perfect way to end the day!
This short late afternoon sail on board the tall ship R. Tucker Thompson is perfect if you don't have time for a full day in the Bay but still want a unique tall ship experience. Departing from Russell Wharf at 4pm, the trip is a relaxing sail through the inner bay around the area of Paihia and Waitangi.
Full day bus tours
a. The ever popular fun day "Cape Reinga Wanderer Tour" with interesting commentary, takes you to the very top of North Island. Experience the thrill of driving along 90 Mile Beach and sand boarding the giant dunes. Visit the Cape Reinga Lighthouse and enjoy the wild beauty of this untouched area, rich in Maori culture and tradition.
b. "Hokianga Day Tour". Visit the 2.8-million-year-old Wairere Boulders, the Waipoua Forest and the highlight of the day, see a national icon, Tane Mahuta, a mighty kauri tree estimated to be 2000 years old. The trip includes lunch at picturesque Hokianga Harbour.
Join Salt Air for their breathtaking flights over the Bay of Islands or a quick trip to the northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga.
A great day can be spent on one of many sailing charters, Gungha, Phantom or Kingfisher, amongst others.
Fishing is one of the main attractions in the Bay of Islands. Go big on an all-day trophy game fishing trip or half day for snapper, with one of the following fishing charters:Edge Fishing Charters,Spot X Fishing Charters, Earl Grey or Blue Sea Charters.
Dive the wrecks, Rainbow Warrior or Canterbury or explore the marine life at Tutukaka – an hour's drive from Bellrock Lodge.
For a thrilling shorter time on the water, consider parasailing with Bay of Islands Parasail or Flying Kiwi Parasail.
Russell Hair Company, Revive Wellness and Day Spa
Culture and Heritage
A full day in Russell:
Take the Russell Mini Tour (1 1/2 hours) – and good value. The tour gives you an overview of Russell, historic facts, interesting titbits of the locals past and present, and on this trip you can decide what areas you would like to explore on your own. Pompallier Mission is a must do (minimum 2 hours), Christ Church (oldest church still in use in NZ – survived the war between the British and Maori – as did the Mission), Russell Museum, Swordfish Club (a must for fishermen, the mounted trophy fish in the club will be fascinating for non-fishermen as well); all these well worth a visit. Drive to Maiki Hill (5min from Bellrock Lodge) to see the Flagstaff, this is of great historical value and an interesting story. If you are a walker this is a good walk from Bellrock Lodge. There are a few interesting walks in and around Russell, some dependent on the tide.
A full day in Paihia:
Take the passenger ferry to Paihia, explore this village and take a 20min flat walk along the coastline to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – this is where the treaty between the British and the Maori was signed – you need 3 hours at the treaty grounds, as it includes a Maori cultural show, historic tour and a newly opened museum.
Take a trip to one of 2 vineyards within a 15 minute drive. Omata Estate, serves platters and pizza from lunch till 4pm. Sage, at Paroa Bay Winery, serves lunch and dinners.
We have a number of golf courses within easy driving distance – Waitangi, Kerikeri, Kauri Cliffs.
Try a half day horse trekking.
The Gables (an intimate dining experience in what was previously a brothel during Russell's Hell Hole years). The Duke of Marlborough, good menu and also of historic value. We have a number of takeaways, curry, fish and chips and good pizza.
For light meals and breakfasts, York Street Café, Butterfish, The Grazing Table and Swordfish Club.