All roads leading into the Tairawhiti and eastern Bay of Plenty are scenic — they're also often twisting and hilly, so allow plenty of travel time.
From Auckland to Ōpōtiki, drive through Tauranga, then from coastal Matata you can either stay on SH2 to Ōpōtiki (via Edgecumbe, Taneatua, Kutarere) or head to Whakatāne and Ōhope then Wainui road and back onto SH2 to Kutarere and Ōpōtiki.
From Wellington to Ōpōtiki, take SH1 to Taupo, then you have the option of going via Rotorua or Murupara to Whakatāne. Via Rotorua is a little slower but a prettier drive.
From Wellington to Gisborne, you're on SH2 up the east of the island.
From Gisborne to Matawai via SH2 is an hour's drive, though of course you could slow the pace significantly and drive Rere Falls Trail (includes 27km of gravel road).
Between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne is two hour's drive via SH2 Waioeka Gorge – the highway winds through the same mountains as Motu Road Trail, peaking at over 700m elevation. Hugely scenic, but a drive to take care on, with rocks often on the road after rain. Alternatively, you can drive 330km around East Cape on the iconic SH35, past remote settlements and stunning bays.
If you are flying in, Gisborne has an airport (Air New Zealand). Whakātane, which is 45 min drive from Ōpōtiki, has an airport served by Air Chathams. Tauranga and Rotorua also have airports (Air New Zealand).
Bus & Shuttle Services
Nationwide buses such as Intercity link Ōpōtiki and Gisborne with wider networks, and various local bus services operate too. Ask the i-SITEs for details.
For a convenient option for cyclists, the Motu Trails shuttle services in Ōpōtiki will do pickups for groups from Rotorua, Tauranga, Whakātane, Ōhope and Ohiwa (minimum numbers apply). Cycle Gisborne also offer tailored services for groups, including up SH35 to East Cape, which is perfect for bikepackers doing the Kōpiko Aotearoa, cape to cape.