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A Manatū Taonga audio guide to Russell. Check out the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's audio guide in the image carousel above.

Today a picturesque tourist town, Russell was once a lawless settlement dubbed the ‘hellhole of the Pacific’. Then called Kororāreka, it was the site of the flagpole famously cut down four times by Ngāpuhi chief Hōne Heke, sparking the Northern War of the mid-1840s.


Ship-based whaling,

First Catholic missionaries,

‘Kororadika Beach, Bay of Islands’, 1838,

The Northern War,

Hōne Wiremu Heke Pōkai,

Roadside Stories is a series of audio guides that follow major road trips in New Zealand. The stories cover the places you’ll pass along the way – their people, their history, their cultural and natural significance. For more information about Roadside Stories visit

Map showing Pacific's Former Hellhole - Roadside Stories