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Walks | From RussellKororareka Reserve | Flagstaff Hill | Fladgate Reserve

Russell's Kororareka beach

The Strand runs along Russell's waterfront, Kororareka beach, separated by a grassy strip lined with pohutakawa trees. On the other side of the road are historic commercial, public and residential buildings.

At the southern end is the historic rammed-earth Pompallier printery, where French Catholic missionaries installed New Zealand's first printing press in 1842.

Walking north you pass the Department of Conservation HQ for the Bay of Islands, Russell Museum, Town Hall, the old "General Store" (pictured) now a grocery, the wharf and ferry terminal, Duke of Marlborough hotel, Russell Police Station and finally the boat ramp and the old houses of Wellington Street.

Location, Grade and Duration

Location, Grade and Duration

You can walk along the beach, its grass verge or along The Strand which is a narrow sealed roadway restricted to one-way traffic.

Much of the beach is stony and sloping. The full length is about 750 metres (half a mile).

Shade is provided by the long row of pohutakawa trees, covered with crimson blossoms at Christmas time. (These were planted 70 years ago by pupils of Victor Lindauer, son of an artist famous for his historic Maori portraits: Gottfried Lindauer.)



Dogs must be on leads in the Cass Street area and on the beach during the day in the summer months.

There is no parking along The Strand and it is One Way for vehicle traffic. (The direction changes at the wharf. Both north and south flow away from Cass Street.)

The beach is normally safe for swimming and there is a swimming pontoon south of the wharf. However the beach slopes fairly steeply and can be rough in westerly or southerly winds.

There are public toilets behind the Town Hall (on the York Street side, one block back from the beach).



Pompallier has regular visitor tours. DoC and the Museum have information displays and sell books and maps.

There are excellent cafes, restaurants and gift shops.

Frequent ferries to Paihia and Waitangi as well as many tourist and fishing cruises operate from the wharf. Tourist information and booking services are on the wharf and adjacent to it.

The Russell waterfront is packed with history as the first major settlement and port of call in New Zealand and where "pakeha" and Maori have lived together for two hundred years.

The Weekly News of 27 May 1876 reported: "The air of Russell has a sleepy effect; the appearance is sleepy and the inhabitants take things very easy. This is not a matter for wonder. The pretty little township, with its wide, curved stretch of sea beach in front, and still, somber-looking range of hills behind, shut the place in, and the only look-out"¦ is away across the harbour"¦
The travelling tendencies of the Russellites lean strongly to the marine. Boats and boating are the main means of locomotion, and hauled high and dry on the beach, and moored to one of the wharves, numbers of these can always be seen from the fleet, sharp-prowed whaleboat to the colonial flat-bottom and 'dingy'."
Little has changed since.



The first European settlers were escaped prisoners or deserting sailors but colonists and missionaries soon followed. Captain Hansen, who brought Rev Samuel Marsden here on his brig the 'Active' bought land here in 1814.

Russell's waterfront is where much of NZ's early history was made. Fittingly for the "Hell-hole of the Pacific", as Russell was labeled in its wild early days, the oldest link is the Duke of Marlborough hotel. Its liquor license dates to July 1840 granted then to a convict who had run a grog shop since 1827. The actual building has been destroyed three times. The present one was originally a cable station (for the undersea international telegraphic cable) and was relocated 100 km south from Cable Bay in 1931.

Alongside the hotel is a huge Moreton Bay fig tree which survived the fire that destroyed the third "Duke". It was planted by the Collector of Customs who built and occupied the Customs House next door in 1870, now the Police Station.

At the north end of the beach is the beautifully restored Cavalli House (pictured) built for fish factory managers in 1889.

The old "General Store" beside the wharf was built in 1880 on the site where the harbourmaster previously had office and home. Heading south, first is the Swordfish Club (1924) for Bay of Islands gamefishing popularised by American writer Zane Grey after the first recorded swordfish was landed here in 1913.

Further south is 'The Gables', parts of which date to 1847. Now a restaurant, it has been a bakehouse, a Salvation Army boys' home, a private hotel and a residence. Some of the original piles were massive whalebones.

Beside the Town Hall is an old cannon brought as ballast on the 'Surabaya' with some of the first horses from Chile in 1841. The ship was reportedly scuttled in Matauwhi Bay but the cannon defended Te Maiki against Hone Heke in 1845.

South past Hanunui Lodge, Tamati Waka Nene, a Maori warrior who protected the missionaries, is commemorated by a brick seat made from his chimney.

Nearby is an iron crane Samuel Stephenson used to unload coastal shipping on his wharf. In 1880 it was moved to a 'new wharf' to unload larger shipping. You can see the remains of the 'new wharf', opposite the crane. In the 1920s the crane was welded to lift gamefish for weighing - the joins are still visible - and it was retired in 1972.

In a shelter outside the Museum is an old American whaleboat. These were the main means of local transport in the early days of settlement.

Walks | From RussellKororareka Reserve | Flagstaff Hill | Fladgate Reserve