Russell Christ Church

This charming and peaceful 19th-century church is a prominent historical landmark, while the surrounding cemetery is a good spot for a stroll.

Russell Christ Church is one of the oldest standing churches in New Zealand. Originally built by European settlers in the Bay of Islands, the historic building has been wonderfully restored and is fully operational. Attend a Sunday service here and admire the attractive interior.

Missionaries purchased the land in 1834 and built the church in the heart of Russell, a rough seaport at the time. The church was a site of early contact between the Māori and Europeans, and was later damaged by stray musket and cannon fire during the Battle of Kororareka in 1845. Study the exterior and find chips and holes dating back to this battle.

Several community events, including small markets and car boot sales, are occasionally held at the church. Check the schedule to see if any are happening during your visit. The church also hosts Māori services and special happenings for religious holidays, including Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Advent and Christmas.

Don’t leave without exploring the old cemetery outside. Look for memorials commemorating prominent local figures. Among the most famous memorials is one dedicated to the Ngāpuhi chief Tāmati Waka Nene, who was instrumental in persuading other Māori chiefs to sign the pivotal Treaty of Waitangi.

To discover more about the history of this battle and the town, head to the nearby Russell Museum. The museum is less than 5 minutes’ away on foot. Exhibits here also include whaling artefacts, such as harpoons, oars and whalebones.

If you are looking for something to eat, walk over to the main beach, which is less than 300 metres (1,000 feet) from the church. The waterfront area has restaurants that serve freshly caught fish as well as an excellent range of local wines.

The historic church is fully operational and welcomes visitors when the schedule permits. Join worshippers at a Sunday service or check the official website for upcoming events. The church is located in the centre of Russell, about 230 kilometres (140 miles) from Auckland.

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