En Route to Gisborne
There are two ways of getting to Gisborne from Rotorua. You can either drive along the Bay of Plenty route past Whakatane to Opotiki, and then cut through the Waioweka Gorge (St. Hwy. 2), or you can allow much more time and follow the East Cape Road (St. Hwy. 35), which takes in stunning scenery on the easternmost point of New Zealand.
The Cape drive will take 7 to 8 hours minimum -- more if you stop to take photographs. This is probably the least-visited part of the country. Take great care on this road; there is often wandering stock, and locals don't always obey the road rules.
The short route from Opotiki to Gisborne on State Highway 2 will take just 3 hours, but much of it is steep and winding through the Waioweka Gorge. It's faster, but it's boring compared to the East Cape Road.
En Route to Hawkes Bay
Head back to Taupo, where you'll turn onto the Napier-Taupo Highway, State Highway 5. The journey follows excellent roads and takes around 1 1/2 hours. That said, take care, as this stretch of road is notorious for fatal accidents.
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.