There are a number of ways you can get to the Bay of Islands including flying, driving, or catching public transport. How you travel to the Bay of Islands largely depends on where you're travelling from. If you're travelling from a city on the South Island such as Queenstown or Christchurch then flying is easily the best option. If you're travelling from a location that's closer to the Bay of Islands then you might want to consider driving for an epic road trip or catching public transportation in the form of a bus.
Catching a plane to the Bay of Islands
Flying is one of the most popular ways to get to the Bay of Islands and is generally the quickest. The Bay of Islands has a small airport, Kerikeri Airport, that connects to various airports within New Zealand including Auckland International Airport and Queenstown Airport with several flights per day serviced by 4 major airlines. These airlines include Air New Zealand, Air Nelson, Salt Air, and Eagle Airways.
Flights to the Bay of Islands can cost anywhere between NZD$40 - NZD$400 depending on what time of the year you're travelling in. The total flight time is anywhere between 40 minutes to just over 1 hour from Auckland and up to 2 and a half hours for those travelling from the South Island.
Once reaching the island, travelling to your accommodation is easy enough with transportation options available in the form of a car rental (can be organised from Kerikeri Airport upon arrival), shuttle bus or a taxi.
Driving to the Bay of Islands
Driving to the Bay of Islands is more suitable if you're travelling from a location on the North Island such as Auckland, Wellington or Rotorua. Driving to the Bay of Islands is one of the cheapest options but will take you longer than if you were travelling by plane. Below is how long the journey to the Bay of Islands will take by car from these popular North Island destinations:
- Wellington is 878km away from the Bay of Islands with the car journey taking just under 13 hours.
- Travelling between Rotorua and the Bay of Islands will take you around 8 hours by car as the total kilometres travelled are 481.
- Auckland is the closest of the North Island's larger cities to the Bay of Islands but the journey by car will still take you 4 and a half hours.
If you want to drive from a city or region in the South Island then you will have to catch the Cook Strait Ferry at Picton which will deliver you to Wellington, ready for your road trip to continue.
Taking public transport to the Bay of Islands
Similar to driving, taking public transport to the Bay of Islands is more suitable if you're travelling from a destination on the North Island and comes in the form of a bus. Known as one of the more budget-friendly options, taking the bus to the Bay of Islands is a reliable form of travel with New Zealand's bus network, InterCity Coachlines, being extremely efficient. With routes from a number of locations on the North Island, tickets start at just NZ$27 for a non-refundable fare from Auckland to Kerikeri and can be as much as NZ$122 for a Wellington to Kerikeri route.
Depending on where you're travelling from, the bus journey can take as little as 5 hours (Auckland - Kerikeri) or as long as 17 hours (Wellington - Kerikeri).
Similar to driving, while you can technically travel from various locations on the South Island to the Bay of Islands via bus, you'll still have to catch the Cook Strait Ferry from Picton to Wellington in order to continue your travels.