The Bay of Islands is approximately 3 hours from Auckland by car and there are several options including self drive car hire, coach services or campervan.
The fastest route is a toll road which is mostly four-lane, features clearer sight lines, smoother turns and reduced road gradients, making for a safer drive. The State Highway 1 route between Orewa and Puhoi, is very picturesque but contains winding, narrow sections of road. A toll charge of $2.30 charge is levied each way. There are a variety of ways to pay the toll one of which is electronic tolling or else at a Caltex Service station.
State Highway 16 and State Highway 17 provide an alternative route down the West Coast which enables you to travel back using a different route.
Car hire services:
The Bay of Islands airport at Kerikeri is approximately 30 minutes by road from Paihia and there are two commercial operators flying from Auckland. An Airport Shuttle service can be booked to meet your flight and transfer you to Paihia ferry and coach terminal.
Private planes can also land at Bay of Islands Airport.