Introduction: The Bay of Islands, three to four hours’ drive north of Auckland, on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, is one of the jewels of the North Island. This beautiful east coast bay, with its 144 islands, forms a haven where dolphins and other sea species come to feed and play – being on and in the water is a way of life for many of the local inhabitants. Long balmy summer days have a euphoric effect on those who visit, and the region is steeped in history, being known as “the birthplace of the nation”.
is the primary base for the many tours you can take in this region. From here, you can explore by sea, sky or road, enjoying the Bay’s many charms, or venturing further a field on day tours to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach in the Far North, or to the West Coast’s Hokianga Harbour and Waipoua Kauri Forest.
though, is our preferred township in the bay. Walking The Strand along Russell’s foreshore, you will be reminded of bygone days, and staying in one of the many converted villas will convince you of the aptness of its new title - ‘Romantic Russell’. With many fine restaurants and cafes, galleries and historic buildings to explore, Russell is the place to go to indulge your cultural cravings. Most of the water-based tours can pick you up at Russell, and regular passenger ferries run between Russell and Paihia.
If you have a car and are going to stay in Russell, take the car ferry, which runs regularly between Opua (4km south of Paihia) and Okiato (9km from Russell).
View from Flagstaff Hill
Russell Car Ferry on its way to Opua
Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa (12km South of Paihia)