There are three Northland airports: Whangarei, Kerikeri, and Kaitaia. Air New Zealand Link (tel. 0800/737-000 in NZ, or 09/357-3000; www.airnewzealand.co.nz) offers daily service from Auckland to Kerikeri, with a shuttle bus to Paihia, and daily service from Auckland to Kaitaia. Charter flights are available with Salt Air Bay of Islands (tel. 0800/472-5824 in NZ, or 09/402-8338; www.saltair.co.nz) or Skylink Air Charter (tel. 09/422-7018; www.skylink.co.nz).
By Coach (Bus)
Both InterCity (tel. 09/623-1503; www.intercity.co.nz) and Northliner Express (tel. 09/583-5780; www.northliner.co.nz) have daily service between Auckland and Paihia, Kerikeri, and Kaitaia. Both offer discounts to VIP backpackers and seniors. There’s no local bus service in the Bay of Islands, Doubtless Bay, or Kaitaia.
If you plan to spend a few days in this area, pick up the free Twin Coast Discovery Highway map from any visitor center. It’s an easy drive however you do it, with beautiful coastal views and rolling farmland all the way and usually very little traffic. Rather than going straight to the Bay of Islands (about a 3-hr. drive), you might want to explore the area known as Whangarei. The drive from Auckland to Kaitaia via the east coast takes about 5 hours. Northland’s west coast is also worth a visit if you have the time. The best plan is to go up the east side and drive back to Auckland via the west coast. If you arrive via plane or bus, rental cars are available through Pegasus Rental Cars (tel. 0800/354-512 in NZ, or 09/402-8491; www.carrentalsbayofislands.co.nz). Help keep Northland roads clean by getting the official Northland visitor guide from information centers, which maps all recycling drop-off locations. Prepaid recycling bags are sold throughout Northland at service stations, supermarkets, camping grounds, and information centers for NZ$1.50 each.
If you stay in Russell but want to eat in Paihia, you’ll need to take the passenger ferry that connects the two. It’s the only inexpensive means of getting from one shore to another, and it runs hourly beginning at 7am and ending at 7:30pm. In summer, crossings are extended to 10:30pm. Fares are NZ$7 each way or NZ$11 round-trip for adults, NZ$3.50 or NZ$5.50 round-trip for children 5 to 15. If you miss the last boat, you can take the slightly more expensive water taxi. Note: The ferry from Paihia carries pedestrians only. If you’re driving to Russell, take the car ferry at Opua. No reservations are needed; the ferry shuttles back and forth every 10 minutes, daily from 7am to 10pm, and costs NZ$12 one-way for a car and driver and NZ$1 per extra passenger. Campervans cost NZ$15 and motorcycles NZ$5 one-way. The car ferry lands at Okiato, which is about 10 minutes’ drive from Russell township.
By Water Taxi
The Island Water Taxi (book at the visitor center) offers 24-hour service; fares depend on the time of day and the number of passengers.
Several companies in Auckland offer 1-, 2-, and 3-day tours to the Bay of Islands and beyond. For good value and personal service, contact Great Sights (tel. 0800/653-339 in NZ; www.greatsights.co.nz). Northliner Express (tel. 09/307-5873; www.northliner.co.nz) also has a range of packages and good-value backpacker passes. Kiwi Experience (tel. 09/366-9830; www.kiwiexperience.com) offers well-priced 1-, 2-, and 3-day tours to the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga. Tours to Cape Reinga operate from Bay of Islands, Doubtless Bay, and Kaitaia.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.