Just a short car or passenger ferry ride from Paihia is the elegant town of Russell.
This sleepy little place was New Zealand's largest town before 1840 and once known as 'the hell hole of the Pacific' due to the rough behaviour of whalers, traders and sailors who settled there.
Now better known as Romantic Russell, with waterfront restaurants and cafes that are the perfect place to catch the evening sun.<inline type="photogallery" id="12327" align="outside" embed="yes" />
Visit New Zealand's oldest licensed pub and Christ Church, which is the country's oldest church and still scarred with musket ball holes from the 1845 fighting.
The Catholic mission building of Pompallier, built from rammed earth, hand-printed 40,000 bibles in Maori and you can still see how they traditionally cured the tans for the covers and printed the pages of these beautiful pieces of art.
Russell is the gateway to the Cape Brett Tramping Track (8 hours), and the Okiato to Russell Walkway, which is a full circle walk with many start and end points.
You will find a wide range of accommodation available and you can also arrange sightseeing, adventure or fishing activity from the Russell waterfront.
If you're planning to do any island or bush hiking, be sure to call into the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre.
Opua is an attractive port settlement with a marina, yachts for charter, chandlery, cafe and general store.
The view from the top is spectacular, as you follow the windy road onto the car ferry bound for Russell.