Events in the Bay

What's On in the Bay of Islands


January 2017
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.


6th February 2017
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!


April 2016
Duke of Marlborough Tavern – Downhill Derby

After an awesome first year, the Duke of Marlborough Tavern will provide more fun and hilarity as the best of the boxcar and trolley racers set the pace in a fantastic community event. Great fun and great prizes. Everyone is welcome to enter, more details here.


13, 14, 15 May 2016
Bay of Islands Country Rock Festival

For country music lovers, this is nirvana. Street acts from all over the nation play, all in glorious sunshine of course! Each year the festival features more than 50 acts from New Zealand, USA and Australia performing at multiple venues.

10, 11, 12 July 2016
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.  Here's an article from the Northern Advocate for you.



12, 13, 14 August 2016
Classic Car Show

Hot rods, classic and custom cars meet at the Duke of Marlborough Tavern (the back pub) for a day devoted to petrol heads and shiny chrome. You can drool near, but not touch these beautiful cars. This event just gets better every year.


12, 13, 14 August 2016
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.


17th September 2016
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.


7, 8, 9 October 2016
Bay of Islands Walking Weekend

“Bay of Islands Walking Weekend is a new walking weekend to the calendar and is based out of Russell in the stunning Bay of Islands. Over two and half days there are 22 walks to choose from, all walks leave from Russell and for the more adventurous among us, take a trip on a boat out to some of our fabulous islands where some of the walks are based....   Need accommodation? The Duke team will look after you (we're not promising foot rubs!) and provide the perfect spot to relax and refuel after a hard days walking...”

22nd October 2016
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.


October 2016
"It" Festival

This Boutique Food and Wine Festival is in its 7th year in the Bay of Islands! This is “it!!” - the event not to be missed - Love it! Cook it! Drink it! Bite it! Sing it! A successful recipe of fantastic food, wine, entertainment and friendly locals all mixed up together in the Bay of Islands.  Along with mouthwatering food, award winning vineyards, beer and cider - we have lots of fun going on around the place - there are real kiwi competitions such as “Kina Sucking”, “Oyster Shucking and Eating” and of course “Pie Eating!” - we are in Pai-hia after all! 


5th November 2016
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!


26th November 2016
Bay of Islands Classic Ocean Swim

Nestled in the stunning Bay of Islands, Paihia and New Zealand’s first capital Russell set the scene once again for the Bay of Islands Classic – the first of seven events in the New Zealand Ocean Swim Series. Consisting of three different swim events, the Bay of Islands Classic provides an ocean swim event for all ages and abilities: ‘I’m Going Long’ – a 3.3km swim across from Russell to Paihia. ‘Give It A Go’ – a 300m swim taking place off Paihia Beach, a great introduction to open water swimming. ‘OceanKids’ – a swim for children aged between 7-13 years old, consisting of a 200m shallow water swim along the Paihia beach shore line, lined with Surf Life Saving N.Z. guards.


 Saturday 19th December 2015
Russell Santa Parade

The Russell Christmas Parade will be featuring a Christmas Market for 2014. The parade will finish at the Duke of Marlborough Tavern where out the back “Santa’s Grotto” will be open to all for some fun and Christmas cheer. Last year was a blast, don’t miss it. Oh, bring a kid.


Fireworks on New Years Eve!
Russell Waterfront

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.


Fishing Tournements

So many fish – so little time. Russell and the Bay of Islands are hosts to a wide variety of fishing tournaments. From the Zane Grey one Base to the International Yellow tale there is one to suit all fisher-people.

Click here for more information.



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Thank you so much for making Claire and Malcolm's wedding day so memorable and special. We were so lucky with the weather and the Duke was everything we had hoped for. There were many compliments about the venue, the food and the accommodation. As the parents it was great to know we didn't have to worry about a thing at the reception and really enjoyed it ourselves. Please pass our thanks onto all the others involved on the night.

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