Russell is essentially isolated, and though you can get there by road, it's a very roundabout route around the bay which looks as though it could take about an hour....so you have the choice of the little passenger ferries which run from the wharf in the centre of Paihia, or the car ferry which leaves from the ferry ramp about 3 kms further around the bay. The ride is only about 8 minutes (return price with 1 passenger is about $17).
The car ferry is a flat metal platform which you just drive your car onto, and during the ride you can get out and stand at the little railing, or watch the scenery from your car. Then at the other end when it docks, you just drive straight off again and you've a 5 or 7 minute drive to the centre of Russell.
The quickest way to get to Russell is by ferry from Paihia. There is a road, but it is long and windy and probably quite exhausting. The AA in New Zealand classifies it as a dangerous road.
The ferries from Paihia, across the Bay run roughly every twenty minutes up to about 10pm in the summer. All of the companies charge $NZ5 one way, and that is the best ticket to buy as you may decide to come back when ever you like on whatever company. You can save $1 if you get a return ticket on the same company's boat - hardly worth it.
The Red Ferry is the fastest and can give you a thrilling ride!
Russell is only 3Km across the bay from Paihia and ferries cross the harbour frequently.
The blue and white ferries slowly cross the harbour, but if you are in for a bit of fun then jump on the red ferry, this ferry is smaller and im sure the driver is a speed freak. With the amount of water traffic in the Bay all you need is some wake of a passing boat and you end up airbourne jumping over the waves.
Ferry crossings cost NZD$5.00 and are an easy way of travelling between Paihia and Russell.