The best way to travel in this region is by car. Rotorua is about three hours from Auckland, four if you leave Auckland during the rush hour or if there is a motorway holdup. Take Highway 1 south past Hamilton and Cambridge to Tirau, where Highway 5 breaks off to Rotorua. Roads in this region are generally in good condition.
The main route between Napier and the north is Highway 5. Driving time from Taupo is two hours, five if you're coming straight from Auckland. Highway 2 is the main route heading south; it connects Hastings and Napier; from Wellington, driving time is 4½ hours to the former, 5 hours to the latter.
The most direct route from the north to Gisborne is to follow State Highway 2 around the Bay of Plenty to Opotiki, Eastland's northern gateway, then continue to Gisborne through the Waioeka Gorge Scenic Reserve. The drive from Auckland to Gisborne takes seven hours. South from Gisborne, continuing on Highway 2, you pass through Wairoa, about 90 minutes away, before passing Napier, Hawke's Bay, and Wairarapa on the way to Wellington.