Location: Russell, Bay of Islands
Access: From the car-park at the north end of Kororareka Beach, or anywhere along Wellington Street
Length: ca. 2 km (one-way)
Configuration: There-and-back (or can be made into a loop - with a stiff climb - by following the paper road back onto Oneroa Road)
Grade: Varied: flat beach sections with some moderate hills; stiff climb up to Oneroa Street via alternative return route
Status: on-leash (off-leash on beach)
Cafes and restaurants: numerous cafes in Russell
More information: http://www.terracottagardens.co.nz/longbeach_walkway.asp
Russell is a pleasing little town, with a real sense of history. As well as a number of well-restored early buildings, the town includes the site of Flagstaff Hill, where Hone Heke notoriously cut down the said flagstaff in protest about the dire economic circumstances of the local Maori population, in 1844. The act, which had to be repeated several times to get the point across, sparked off a brief and somewhat muddled war. This culminated in the British garrison being driven out of the town, which was then looted and razed to the ground.
Sadly, the bush through which one can walk up to the top of Flagstaff Hill has been declared a 'no dogs' area. As an alternative, however, there is a pleasant walk from the base of the hill over to Long Beach, on the eastern coast of the peninsula. This starts with a brief section on pavements along Wellington Street and Longbeach Road. But it then separates itself a little from the roadside, and for a kilometre or so wanders up through bush to the top of the ridge, next to Russell Cemetery. From there, we have another short roadside section (without any pavement) down to the beach.
The beach itself is sandy, and about one-and a half kilometres long, and offers good views of the Bay of Islands. At its south-eastern is a low, rocky headland, around which we could scramble at low tide (though I've never tried).
The return is by the same route, unless we're happy to take in a bit more road and some steeper hills. If we are, then we can climb up a track (an old 'paper road') behind a huge Moreton Bay fig tree, a couple of hundred metres south-east of where we came in. After a short distance, just round the bend, we can take the path on the right. This leads to a steep driveway that heads up onto Oneroa Road. We turn left on this, follow it until the corner, and then take a short path through bush onto Chapel Street, and thence back into town.