Russell is a lovely seaside town, known for its friendly community. It is fantastic for a holiday destination and has an interesting history behind it too.
James Cook discovered Russell in November 1769 when his ship anchored off Motuarohia Island, just off the Russell peninsula. He noted that the Maori seemed to live in friendship with one another and was a green and pleasant place.
Flagstaff Hill is worth visiting for its history and scenic views – it is where Maori rangatira chief Hone Heke chopped down the flagpole carrying the British flag in 1840, due to discontent with the Treaty. You can look out to Waitangi from here too, and take a short ferry ride to the Treaty Grounds. New Zealand residents now get free entry to the Treaty Grounds with guided tours offered from October to April each year, so it’s worth making a stop over whilst in Russell.
A feat of nature, the Hole in the Rock, is also an exciting scenic trip by boat and highly recommended! Take a catamaran past Russell before heading out to the ocean and slowing near Motukokako Island to sail through the hole in the rock. You also get to take in the Grand Cathedral Cave and watch for bottlenose and common dolphins as you pass!
Russell is also known for its nice seafood restaurants too. Try Kamakura for casual waterfront dining, Sally’s Restaurant for a Russell icon or the Waterfront Café for delicious coffee and snacks.
You might even want to browse local art and purchase something to remember your trip by. Just Imagine specialise in glass, wood sculpture and jewellery; South Sea Arts offer original art from local artists and picture framing; while Mudflats Pottery offer hand-built and wll-thrown pots in earthy colours.
Make sure you visit Russell when you next travel to Northland and book accommodation on Yellow Maps!
Editorial by Holly Roberts