The warmer months from September to April are the best time to visit as it can get chilly in winter, when many tour companies close down.
Auckland (www.aucklandairport.co.nz) is the main international gateway for travel to Northland. Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com) operates daily flights from there into Kerikeri Airport (www.bayofislandsairport.co.nz). There are also a number of charter operators offering helicopter and fixed-wing transport into the region (see www.saltair.co.nz; www.mountainair.co.nz; www.skylink.co.nz; www.skywork.co.nz; and www.airnational.co.nz).
The drive from Auckland to the Bay of Islands is just over 200 kilometres and takes about three and a half hours. State Highway 1 goes to Paihia, where you can continue on to Kerikeri or hop to Russell on the ferry, which departs every 20 minutes.
Local hubs Kerikeri and Paihia have taxis but they are usually run by tour operators and can be expensive. Dial-A-Ride offers a taxi and shuttle service between Kerikeri Airport and the Bay of Islands (www.dial-a-ride.co.nz). Water taxis are also available, but again are used mostly for private tours and start from NZ$130 for up to six people (www.islandshuttle.co.nz).