Getting there & around
There are two main routes heading north: SH1 on the east coast, and SH12, which branches off at Brynderwyn and follows the west coast to the Hokianga before rejoining SH1 near Kaikohe. You should choose your direction based on your interests and the prevailing weather.
Whangarei, Kerikeri and Kaitaia all have domestic airports, connecting through Auckland to international flights. Northland has no passenger train service, but InterCity (09-623 1503; www.intercity.co.nz) and associated buses ply SH1 from Auckland to Kaitaia. Other areas are poorly served, with only Main Coachline (09-278 8070; www.maincoachline.co.nz) heading from Auckland along SH12 as far as Dargaville (six services per week).
Only tourist buses head to Cape Reinga, the Hokianga and Waipoua Kauri Forest. The Magic Travellers Network (09-358 5600; www.magicbus.co.nz) has a useful service from Paihia to Auckland (in that direction only) via the Hokianga and Kauri Coast on SH12. The fixed fare ($55, four buses weekly) allows you to stop anywhere along the route, as often as you like.
See the end of each town section for detailed bus options.