Events in Russell and the Bay of Islands


Russell Tall Ships

This is the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere tall ships race, they come from all over to participate in this outstanding event. A spectacle of sail and a light hearted race of classic vessels organised by the Russell Boat Club, Bay of Islands. Followed by a prize giving and traditional hangi at the Russell Boat Club with bands and dancing till late.


Millennium Cup

The only super yacht regatta in the southern hemisphere which is held in conjunction with Bay of Islands Sailing Week.

The dates of the 2018 Bay of Islands Sailing Week have been confirmed, with registration on Tuesday 24 January and three days of racing from 25 to 27 January.


Waitangi Day Celebrations

Whilst this event is not in Russell, it is our national day and there is no way you should not go to this at least once in your life! Ferries leave Russell direct to Waitangi from early in the morning. See excellent displays of wakas, food stalls, rides for all ages, so grab your camera and get your nationalism on!

6 February

Russell Short Ships

Registration starts at 8am,Race Briefing at 9:15, and a 10am start for the first race. This a race for anyone in a HUMAN powered craft. Solos, doubles or groups, men, women, boys & girls are all invited. Last year we even had a paddle-boarding dog. The Boating Club Bar will open at noon and a light meal will be available for purchase, or bring your own picnic to enjoy after the race. We've got lots of prize draws for entrants as well as category winners. Registration forms available at the Russell Boating Club, and at Wood 2 Water at 22 York Street & Bay of Islands Kayak Hire just next door on Cass Street.


Russell Birdman Festival

Come and see the local loonies take a leap of faith off the end of the wharf. Russell Birdman is a three day event, with the emphasis on fun and enjoyment for the kids. Last year we had an estimated three thousand enjoying a spectacular day of sunshine and light hearted entertainment.


Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival

Held every year in Paihia, Russell, Kerikeri and Haruru Falls. See international and local bands play on the street for free! In Russell it coincides with the Classic Car Show. You buy a badge and enjoy all the jazz and blues you can handle, all weekend long.


Bay of Islands Snorkel and Scuba Race

The 32nd annual Bay of Islands Underwater Club Snorkel Scuba Race is on again. This is something for the whole family, it's not only great fun but will also raise money for all of our local volunteer services, Russell Radio, Russell Coastguard and the Paihia Fire Service. All these people do a great job of looking after everyone when they are in the Bay of Islands on sea and land, so join us in helping support them in their work.


Coastal Classic

Grab yourself a warm jacket & binoculars then head for Flagstaff Hill to watch as the fleet race into the Bay. Division One is going to welcome, for the first time, Kia Kaha to the fleet. Kia Kaha is the TP52 formerly known as Valkyrie, Lexus and Bigamist, and sailed by Russell Coutts and some of the then young breed of Team New Zealand sailors in 2005.


Bay of Islands Walking Weekend

After great success in 2017, the Bay of Islands Walking Weekend is back for 2018. Based in Russell, the walking weekend has 20 walks to choose from, ranging from a Cultural History tour around the Russell village to an Island Ramble. There are options for heading out on the famous R. Tucker Thompson to Otehei Bay, so there is something for everyone who loves to walk!


Te Rima & E Rua Multisport

The five-part 110km+ challenge will see athletes start at Kororāreka, (Russell) with a run to Okiato Bay where they will swim the channel to Ōpua. A kayak/waka ama/SUP paddle up the Taumārere River to the Tirohanga bridge just east of Kawakawa.


Russell Annual Flower Show

Held in the town hall each year, a great way to spend the day. Stalls on the village green, kids having fun etc. This year we have a scarecrow competition for the kids. Bake your own cake or braed to enter in a competition too. Just stay out of the neighbour's garden when getting your entry together!


Russell Santa Parade

Every year, the Russell Santa parade delivers quintessential, home grown goodness.  Santa's parade will finish at the Duke of Marlborough Tavern where Santa's Grotto will be open to all, for Christmas cheer. Last year was a blast, don't miss it. Bring a kid and good vibes.


Christmas Buffett at Otehei Bay

Celebrate Christmas this year at Otehei Bay. Bring the family and spend a special day with us in the stunning surrounds of Otehei Bay with our Christmas buffet lunch.

Buffett from 12.30pm – 2.30pm

Ferrys at: 09:30 11:30 13:00

Xmas Day

Adult $99

Child $55

Departs Russell

Fireworks on New Years Eve!

Watch the fireworks from Russell Wharf and ring in the new year with a bang! The above water display is outstanding and seems to get better every year. There are few places in the world as friendly as Russell on the evening of 31st dec! See you there.

 31 December 2019

New Years Eve at Otehei Bay

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style with the best of both worlds.   Board the Explore boat from Paihia or Russell and enjoy a scenic cruise to Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island for an evening of entertainment.  Then bring in the New Year under the dazzling Paihia fireworks display out on the harbour – the best view in town!

Your ticket includes:
– Return cruise to and from Paihia/Russell
– Entry to Otehei Bay New Year’s celebrations including entertainment from ‘Fifth Element’ covers band and ‘DJ Josh Leys’
– Buffet dinner at Otehei Bay
– View of the fireworks to bring the new years in

5.30pm Paihia departure
5.40pm Russell departure

New years eve

Adult $149

Child $90

Departs Russell

Event Entry Only

(Perfect for Boaties and Campers)


If you’re  camping on Urupukapuka Island or have your own boat – this is the perfect option for you.

Entry is open from 6.00pm and the event ends at 1.00am.

First release tickets purchased prior to 31st October:
Adults and Children  $20

Second release, tickets purchased up to the 30th Dec:
Adults and Children  $30

On the day (31st December):
Adults and Children  $45

Event videos for Russell attractions

While you are patiently waiting.........

  •   Stroll The Strand, which runs along the waterfront. People watch and cheekily peer through the gate at Pompallier Mission.
  •   Take the new walking track from Russell to Okiato, about a two hour walk through oyster farms and pristine native forest.
  •   Walk up to majestic Flagstaff Hill and take in the spectacular 360 degree views over the Bay of Islands.
  •   Tapeka Beach is an excellent spot to take a picnic, especially at sundown. Tables are available on the grass reserve.
  •   Visit the old church.  Stick your finger in the bullet hole - a must have photograph.
  •   See the whaling boats in the shed outside the museum & get a photo sitting on the cannon, with the wharf in the background.
  •   Talk to a local - allow an hour.
  •   Walk to and swim at Long Beach; explore the excellent coast line.
  •   Go fishing off the wharf or rocks.
  •   Book a tour with Colette at the end of the wharf, it’s free to book all the tours at Russell Information Centre.