Introduction

This 21-km track along the Ngaiotonga Saddle leads you through beautiful Russell Forest and provides an amazing view of the Bay of Islands and the Whangaruru Harbour.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

5-9 hr Advanced: Tramping track

Dog access

Dogs with a DOC permit for recreational hunting or management purposes only.

  • Kauri dieback
    Help stop kauri dieback

    Kauri dieback disease is killing our native kauri. It spreads by soil movement, but you can help prevent it.

    • Stay away from kauri tree roots.
    • Clean your gear before and after visiting kauri forest.

About this track

Description

The track is marked and goes straight up the hill through fern and open bush and meets up with the forestry road that runs to Papakauri. 

As you walk along the Ngaiotonga Saddle you will reach the Te Ranga Trig which provides an amazing view of the Bay of Islands and the Whangaruru Harbour.

The track is well marked and goes through fern and open bush and ends up on the Russell Forest Road.

Punaruku Track

Punaruku Road  -  Papakauri Road 

Time: 5 hr
Distance: 12 km  

Punaruku Road  -  the saddle on Russell Road (north) 

Time: 9 hr
Distance: 21 km  

Travelling north on the Russell Road, pull off at the Punaruku Road sign, and park in the rest area (we do not recommended leaving your car here overnight).   From this point walk down Punaruku Road. The track is marked and goes straight up the hill through fern and open bush and meets up with the forestry road that runs to Papakauri. The walk includes amazing views down the Whangaruru Harbour and the forest. 

Rahui (temporary closure) in place: Respect and avoid the Punaruku end of the track from Pukemoremore to the Punaruku car park to prevent further potential spread of kauri dieback.

Papakauri Track

Approximately half way along the Papakauri track there is an overnight shelter with an open area where you can spend the night. From this point, the track runs back inland towards Papakauri Road before heading along the Ngaiotonga Saddle. Most of this track is old forestry road.

Getting there

There are three entry points to the Russell Forest Walk: Russell Forest, Punaruku and Papakauri Roads.

Punaruku Road

Travelling north from Auckland, turn off SH1 at Whakapara, 15 min north of Whangarei. Follow the Russell-Whakapara Road, pull off at the Punaruku Road sign, and park in the rest area. From this point walk down Punaruku Road to the start of the southern end of the Russell Forest Track.

Papakauri Road

Travelling north from Auckland, turn off SH1 at Whakapara, 15 min north of Whangarei. Follow the Russell-Whakapara Road, pull off at the Papakauri Road sign, and park at the end of the road. This is the start of the middle section of the Russell Forest Track.

Russell Forest Road

You can reach the northern section of the Russell Forest Walk from either the north or the south.

Driving along SH11 towards Opua and the Bay of Islands, catch the Fullers vehicle ferry service from Opua to Okiato (6:30 am to 10:00 pm daily). Follow the main road from Okiato to Russell for about 4 km then turn right at the intersection signposted to Rawhiti. Continue along the Russell-Whakapara Road until you reach the turn-off on the right to the Russell-Ngaiotonga Forest. Drive along the Russell Forest Road – the northern section of the Russell Forest walk will be on your right.

When travelling north from Whangarei, turn off SH1 at Whakapara, 15 minutes north of Whangarei. Follow the Russell-Whakapara Road past the Punuruku and Papakauri Roads turnoffs for about 45 km. Take care - the road is winding and sections of the road are gravelled. Turn left into the Russell Forest Road through the Ngaiotonga Forest; the northern section of the Russell Forest Walk will be on your left.

Location map

Map of Russell Forest walks.

Contacts

Pewhairangi / Bay of Islands Office
Phone:   +64 9 407 0300
Email:   bayofislandsbooking@doc.govt.nz
Address:   34 Landing Road
Kerikeri 0230
Full office details
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