Tour of Historic Russell

From NZD $175.00
  • Duration: 4 Hours (approx.)
  • Location: Paihia, Northland
  • Product code: PGL11D
Russell, also known by the Māori name Kororāreka, is a town in the Bay of Islands, in New Zealand's far north. It was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand.


European and American ships began visiting Russell in the early 1800s, the indigenous Māori quickly recognised there were great advantages in trading with these strangers, whom they called tauiwi.[7] The Bay of Islands offered a safe anchorage and had a large Māori population. To attract ships, Māori began to supply food, timber and prostitution. In exchange, the Māori population traded for firearms, alcohol and other goods of European manufacture.


Our first stop is Christ Church- New Zealand's oldest church.

The land for the church was purchased from the local Maori chiefs in 1834 on the understanding both Maori and Europeans would have equal burial rights. The building was completed in January 1836 and sermons were delivered in both Maori and English.

Captain William Hobson used the church in January 1840 to deliver three proclamations (including his appointment as Lieutenant  Governor), which led to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi the following month.

The church was also involved in the Battle of Kororareka (March 11th 1845) which pitted  British forces and Maori dissatisfied with British rule against each other, the church was hit by stray musket and cannon balls, evidence still visible today. There are a number of headstones in the cemetery, commemorating both British solders and Maori Chiefs who took part in the battle.  

Our second stop is Flagstaff Hill:

Enjoy stunning 360 degree views of the Bay of Islands from this important historic site - the Union Jack was first flown here in 1840, then chopped down four times up till 1845 as a symbolic gesture against British rule.

Our third stop is the Russell Museum

The Russell Museum shares the stories of Kororāreka Russell. It tells the stories of the first Polynesian arrivals in the Bay, through to the development of Russell / Kororāreka, from a small Māori fishing village, to a port of call for visiting ships and whalers to today's tourist town. 

Among the museum collections is Māori taonga including a small waka (canoe), a one-fifth scale model of Captain Cook's Endeavour, an original whaleboat and mementos of game fisherman, Zane Grey. Enjoy watching the DVD of historic Russell and see the exhibitions that are on display in the gallery. 

Our final stop is Pompallier House

Pompallier House is a nineteenth-century building located in Russell, New Zealand which once served as the headquarters to the French Catholic mission to the Western Pacific. 

The building housed a printing press to ease the printing of religious literature in the Maori language, and a tannery for the production of leather items. It was a large structure of two storeys with an additional attic floor lit by dormers. Its French identity was proclaimed through its distinctive hipped roof and vernacular construction techniques that included a rammed earth (or 'pise de terre') lower storey and timber-framed ('pan de bois') upper floor with earth panels. 

At the end of the tour clients can either enjoy lunch (not included in the ticket price) at one of Russell's many excellent cafes and we will provide a ferry ticket back to Paihia. Or we will transport those clients not wanting lunch back to Paihia in the tour van.