Getting Here

Self Drive

If you have your own transport there are two main ways to get to Russell, depending on how much time you have and your sense of adventure.

Using GPS
Some GPS’s don’t recognise the car ferry at Opua as the direct route to Russell and may direct you via the longer (although very scenic) coastal road instead. So make sure your GPS has the latest software programme but if you are unsure and don’t want to take the coast road then set your GPS for Beechy St, Opua, which is where the ferry wharf is.

The most direct route is to take State Highway 1 from Auckland to Cape Reinga. About 45 minutes north of Whangarei at Kawakawa take SH11 to Opua, Paihia and Russell (via vehicle ferry). Although the road is windy, it is fully sealed and well signposted. At the top of the hill leading to Opua, turn right and head down to the vehicle ferry which operates a continuous service during the day and a reduced service at night. Bookings are not required and you pay on board. For first and last departure times, see below.

On the other side (called Okiato) keep following the main road for approximately 7km to Russell. The road is fully sealed but not recommended for walking as there are no footpaths currently, although a walkway is under construction.

For a more scenic journey, take the Old Russell road, which turns right off SH1 at Whakapara, approximately 20 minutes north of Whangarei. Following signs for Oakura, take your time and enjoy the fully sealed road as it meanders around the coast. There are plenty of beautiful beaches and places to stop for a leisurely break.

If you find yourself arriving late at night and the last ferry has gone there is a back road through the Waikare forest. The turn-off is approximately 5 minutes after Kawakawa (Opua side) and is signposted ‘Waikare’. Please note, this is a narrow, unsealed and very windy road and not recommended for overseas visitors unused to driving on New Zealand’s wilder backroads.


There are a number of operators who run coaches from downtown Auckland to downtown Paihia. Once in Paihia, head for the wharf, which is only 100m away from the coach terminal, and catch one of the passenger ferries to Russell.

Once in Russell, many places are only a short walk away and accommodation providers will usually collect guests from the wharf if you let them know you are coming. However the locals are friendly and will often offer a lift if they see someone weighed down with bags.

More Information on Coach Services:
Auckland ph 09 307 5873
Whangarei ph 09 438 3206
Paihia ph 09 402 7857
Reservations ph 09 583 5790
Reservations ph 09 583 5780

Reservations ph 09 366 9830

Car Ferry Facts

Mainland departure location: Opua
Russell peninsular location: Okiato
First ferry: Okiato 0600, Opua 0650
Last ferry: Okiato 2200, Opua 2150
Tickets:Purchased on board, cash, EFTPOS or credit card facilities available
Price: $13 one-way includes car and any passengers, walk on passengers $1.00 one-way

Passenger Ferry Facts

Mainland departure location: Paihia Wharf
Russell peninsular location: Russell Wharf
First ferry: Russell: 0700, Paihia 0730
Last ferry Oct-May: Russell: 2200, Paihia 2230
Last ferry June-Sept: Russell: 1900, Paihia 1930
Tickets: Purchased on board, cash, EFTPOS or credit card facilities available
Accompanied children travel free on the white and blue ferries (Waimarie and Waitere).
Three scheduled services (every 20 minutes) one unscheduled service – (2 services in winter months go every 30 mins)

There are three airports in Northland with connecting services from Auckland, New Zealand’s main international airport.

The closest airport to Russell is Kerikeri Bay of Islands, approximately 45 minutes by road and ferry. The airport at Whangarei is approximately 95 minutes by road and at Kaitaia approximately 2 hours by car.

Flight Services:

Auckland – Kerikeri
Kerikeri – Auckland

5 flights per day Monday to Friday
3 flights per day Saturday & Sunday

Auckland – Whangarei
Whangarei – Auckland
7 flights per day

Auckland – Kaitaia
Kaitaia – Auckland

1 flight everyday

There are a number of taxi shuttle operators who will be available to transport you from the Kerikeri airport to Russell and a local taxi company meets all scheduled flights. Rental cars are also available.

Shuttle Services:

Fernz Ecotours & Taxi
Phone: 64 403 7887

Kororareka Backpackers 
Phone: 64 9 403 8494

Air New Zealand Link
Reservations +64 9 357 300

The Bay of Islands, with its beautiful coves and anchorages is within easy access from Russell and for centuries, Russell Kororareka has been a safe haven for people arriving by sea. Its deep-water anchorage in Kororareka Bay and sheltered bay round the corner at Matauwhi Bay provides an excellent spot for visitors and their boats.

Many visitors use Russell Kororareka as their home base as supermarkets, medical centre, pharmacy, hardware store (not to mention cafes and restaurants) are all within easy walk. In Matauwhi Bay, the Russell Boating Club provides a friendly welcome and taking out a summer membership is well worthwhile in order to use their facilities.

Russell Radio, a local volunteer radio station, provides excellent an excellent service for visiting boats, including logging trip reports, interpreting the weather reports and providing assistance for boats (whether it be for broken freezer parts, location of the nearest fuel pumps or booking hair appointments). They are entirely funded through membership fees of $50 per annum or donations, so feel free to pop in and say thanks or become a member if they have helped you out – they are at 8 Church Street. Russell Radio operates on Channel 63 from 0800 to 2000 daily, 365 days a year and broadcasts local weather reports at 0800, 0930, 1330 and 1750. The Northland Coastguard Service provides a continuous weather report on channel 21.

International arrivals

The Bay of Islands’ port of Opua is the international port of entry for the Northland region and cruising yachts should report to New Zealand Customs for customs clearance as well as Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries inspection using Channel 16 on the VHF radio. Normal paperwork (valid passport and visa) will be required.

VHF Channel 63
SSB for offshore vessels
Phone/Fax 64 9 403 7218
8 Church St, Russell
P O Box 108, Russell

Cape Brett Lighthouse
Latitude: 35º 10′ South
Longditude:174º 20′ East
Northland Coastguard Weather:
VHF channel 21.

New Zealand Customs: Opua Marina

Russell Boating Club: Summer membership $25.00
Phone: 64 9 403 7222

final white bird of paradise

Motel Russell

16 Matauwhi Road Phone: +09 403 7854
Russell, Northland 0202 Email:
New Zealand


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