Take in the sights of Russell on an intimate one-hour coach tour combining historical knowledge and local insight. Learn about significant sites like Pompallier House and Christ Church and stand atop Flagstaff Hill for stunning Bay of Islands views.
Experience New Zealand’s past and present on a mini-tour of Russell. Known until the early 1840s as Kororāreka, Russell was the first permanent European settlement 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.
See Christ Church (the oldest church in New Zealand, famed for the bullet-holes in its walls); historic Pompallier House, home to Bishop Pompallier’s Catholic Mission and the oldest industrial building in New Zealand; and even the country's oldest licensed pub! You'll also hear more about the world's second oldest game fishing club – the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club, made famous by American author Zane Grey.
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.
The Russell mini-tour visits areas which cannot be easily covered on foot, like Flagstaff Hill (Te Maiki). On this spot in the 1840s, Māori cut the signal flagstaff down four times in protest against the British government, leading to war. Hear about the battle that ensued as you enjoy stunning 360-degree views of the whole Bay of Islands.
BRING: Hat, sunscreen, walking shoes and your camera. HEAR: A full commentary is provided by your local tour guide. DEPARTURE POINT: Tour departs from the end of the wharf in Russell. If you're travelling from Paihia, catch the Bay Belle ferry across to Russell in time for your tour's departure. See ferry timetable.