Although it is possible to drive along the peninsula to this town I took the small slow ferry for about 20 mins ($10 NZ return) to get across the bay from Paihia, but it was enjoyable sitting there watching the bigger cruise boats rocking us on the water as they passed. Once off the jetty the waterfront houses and buildings are mainly white and quaint. There are a few restaurants along the waterfront where you can sit and watch the boats coming and going.
The huge garlic sea scallops and salad and a glass of the local wine were so tasty that I had to outstare and outsmart the seagulls, who swooped around me.
The oldest church in NZ, Christ church is around the back street and has an interesting cemetery. One can buy a small booklet ($1NZ) from inside the church or at the museum over the road to explain the occupants.
Russell, was one of the first European settlements in NZ. It was once a rowdy small town where the whaling ships came from as far as Canada. It was also once considered for the first capital of NZ. The first European families who arrived from Sydney with missioneries in 1814, lived in the area of the Bay of Islands and bought the first registered parcels of land in Russell. There are interesting books of early life in the area for sale in the museum.
Today it holds it's old world charm very well and has a few arts and craft shops along the small streets and a pleasant amble along the waterfront in December would show the beauty of the white buildings and the famous red flowering Xmas trees.
Now where is my last scallop!