Bay of Islands backpackers
Staying in a backpackers hostel in the Bay of Islands
gives you a cheap and fun base to explore from. Everything from small wooden buildings with hidden areas to explore to modern spacey constructions. There's usually some kind of choice of room, based around how many people you're willing to share with, and with what facilities. Most hostels offer some free or cheap extras for guests, like bikes, tennis gear (there's a good tennis court right behind most of the backpackers in Kings Road), and even kayaks. Some come with a swimming pool or spa, but hey with the sea a minute or two walk from most hostels, it's not a big deal!
Hostels tend to be centred around Paihia town, probably because thats where most in- and on- travel options turf people out, and also where most of the 'things-to-do' leave from. There's also the liveliest nightlife in the bay of course, and easy access to beautiful beaches. People who stay in backpackers tend to be up for meeting new people and getting out there, so be ready to meet your new travel-companions, hitching partners, or drinking buddies!
The managers of the Bay backpackers tend to be a relaxed and fun lot, and are usually easily persuaded to come out for a beer - well worth getting them a 'handle' or two in exchange for the extra 'local knowledge'. You'll probably find them keener if there's an All Blacks rugby match on...
Good rooms go quick, so don't forget to book ahead of time (you'll usually need a visa card)