The best way to explore is by car. Most roads are well maintained and clearly signposted, and a car gives you the freedom to explore hot pools and waterfalls along side roads. The Pacific Coast Highway is popular with cyclists.
From Auckland take the Southern Motorway, following signs to Hamilton. Just as you get over the Bombay Hills, turn left onto State Highway 2; then take the turnoff to State Highway 25, signposted between the small towns of Maramarua and Mangatarata. Follow the signs to Thames. Allow 1½ to 2½ hours for the 118-km (73-mi) journey. State Highway 25 is the peninsula's main loop, and though winding, the road is in good condition.
To reach the Bay of Plenty from Auckland, take the Southern Motorway, following signs to Hamilton. Just past the narrowing of the motorway, turn left onto State Highway 2, and travel through Paeroa. Stay on Highway 2 all the way to Tauranga, driving through Waihi and Katikati on the way. The driving time between Auckland and Katikati is around 2 hours, 40 minutes. Between Auckland and Tauranga, it's at least 3 hours, 15 minutes.
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