On a lazy, sunny weekend in Auckland, Michael and I decided that we wanted to get out of the city and explore a bit. I am really into chasing waterfalls around New Zealand, so we had to find a one we hadn’t been to. Enter: the perfect day trip from Auckland, Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls.

Piha Beach & KiteKite Falls: The Perfect Day Trip from Auckland

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls: The Perfect Day Trip from Auckland

We packed a lunch and drove the 45 mins to the falls first. Spoiler alert: it’s super hard to find the falls on Google maps. Especially since you’ll lose service when you get close. If you search for KiteKite Falls car park, instead of just KiteKite Falls, you’ll get proper directions. This way you can park your car and take the path to the falls.

We did a short 30 minute hike to the falls, and then settled in on the side of a hill. There isn’t much room to sit for a relaxing picnic at the bottom of the falls, but the view makes it worth it. Keep your eyes peeled in the water for eels!

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

After a couple hours of chatting and eating, we continued the hike up to the top of the falls. Holy moly! The top of the falls is so much more friendly for those looking to stay a while. There is room to sit, a swimming hole that you can jump into, and amazing views. It’s not the easiest hike to get to the top, but it’s short and a good workout.

After the falls, we headed to Piha beach to watch the sunset. I am so happy that we did this – it was the best sunset I’ve seen in New Zealand so far!

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

Piha Beach & KiteKite Falls: The Perfect Day Trip from Auckland

Piha Beach & KiteKite Falls: The Perfect Day Trip from Auckland

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

Piha Beach and KiteKite Falls

This is just one of so many great day trips from Auckland. For more posts on New Zealand, see the following:

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Known for the best snorkeling in New Zealand, Goat Island Marine Reserve is just a short drive North of Auckland, and the perfect destination for a day trip.

Goat Island Marine Reserve

Goat Island Marine Reserve

If you’re traveling through New Zealand and looking for something to do near Auckland, consider packing your swimmers and heading to Goat Island Marine Reserve for a day. There are tons of day trips you can take from Auckland, and if the weather is right, Goat Island is a fabulous choice.

Goat Island Marine Reserve is a little cove filled with all kinds of fish. There are no goats on the island. But, there are loads of booths renting out snorkel gear, and plenty of room on the beach.

Goat Island Marine Reserve

Bring a picnic, because as is the case with most beaches in New Zealand, there are no restaurants around.

Goat Island Marine Reserve is the perfect place to spend a day in the sun and the water. Rent snorkel gear from the storage container at the edge of the beach for $15 (mask and flippers). Throw in a pool noodle for an extra $5 if you’re worried about swimming. Pro tip: the rental company at Goat Island is less expensive than the ones on the way. Don’t bother trying to find them cheaper while heading there.

Goat Island Marine Reserve

Flop into the ocean on a clear day, and you’ll be able to see the coral below, swarming with multiple varieties of fish.

Bring your camera, because it’s beautiful! There’s a little waterfall at the far end of the beach that most people don’t see. The little island is a great spot to spread a towel and bathe in the sun. Rent a kayak to head over there.

Goat Island Marine Reserve

Goat Island Marine Reserve is a great spot for the budget traveler, as the snorkel rentals are cheap, parking is free, and it’s a great spot to mark off of your bucket list.

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Auckland, New Zealand, is a great city to live in because there is lots of work, heaps of good coffee shops, and the city is surrounded by beaches. But New Zealand is made for adventure seeking, traveling, and exploring. These are the best day trips from Auckland.

Best Day Trips from Auckland

Piha Beach & KiteKite Falls

Head west for just under an hour to bathe in the paradise that is Piha Beach. One of the most stunning beaches in New Zealand, Piha is a great spot to escape the city for the day. KiteKite Falls is on the way to the beach, and is a fab stop off for a cool down and some great instagram photos.

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Best Day Trips From Auckland

McLaren Falls Park

About three hours from Auckland, this is one of my favorite places in all of the North Island. McLaren Falls Park makes the list of Best Day Trips from Auckland for it’s rugged wilderness, climbable rock formations, and fresh water to swim in. It’s a great spot for a relaxed day in the sun. It’s also super instagrammable. Bring a picnic and stay for the sunset!

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Owharoa Falls

Just a little over an hour from Auckland, these falls are a great spot for a picnic and a relaxed picnic. Spend the whole day here, or head to Karangahake Gorge on the way back to the city for an adventurous tunnel walk through old gold mines. Make sure to bring plenty of food & water!

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Best Day Trips From Auckland

North Shore

If you aren’t in the mood to drive, head over the bridge to Auckland’s North Shore. Browns Bay is a popular spot, surrounded by beautiful beaches and filled with cute little cafes. For all my fellow vegans, check out Soulshine for loads of vegan food.

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Rangitoto Island

Take the ferry across the water for a day of adventuring over the volcano of Rangitoto. Hike to the top for an incredible view of the city, or sit down at the bottom and soak up the sun for the afternoon. There is no water or food on this island, so pack everything you need, plus more.

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Bethell’s Beach

Piha’s little sister, Bethell’s Beach is less of a tourist attraction, but another popular beach for the surfers. Check the weather before heading out, as it gets super windy.

Best Day Trips from Auckland

The Coromandel

Another favorite, Cathedral Cove, is easy to classify as one of the best day trips from Auckland. Scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia were filmed here, and it’s is easy to see why, given the magical formation of the cove and the towering rocks coming out of the water. If you have time, bring a tent and explore the Coromandel all weekend.

Best Day Trips from Auckland

Best Day Trips from Auckland

Omanawa Falls

Technically, Omanawa Falls is closed to the public, but it’s hard to stay away from something this magical. Jump the fences and climb a rock wall on the short but strenuous hike to the bottom of the falls. The icy cold water will cool you off quickly. Bring a picnic and lots of water, and relax like a lizard on the rocks surrounding the falls for the day.

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Best Day Trips From Auckland

Goat Island

Head North to Goat Island for a day of snorkeling and sun bathing. There aren’t any goats in sight, but Goat Island is known for some of the best snorkeling in New Zealand. Bring your swimmers and don’t forget your underwater camera for a day of exploring the sea.

Best Day Trips from Auckland

Have time for more than a day trip? Check out the Ultimate Three Day Road Trip from Auckland, the guide to Paihia, or my New Zealand North Island Bucket List.

Pin this photo to come back to this post later!

Best Day Trips From Auckland

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Paihia, Bay of Islands had been on my New Zealand bucket list for a long time. I finally visited and I could not be happier I did – it’s stunning! Paihia is definitely a tourist hub, filled with fancy restaurants, helicopter rides, boat tours, and upscale bars, but it’s a destination that even backpackers should make their way to.

Paihia, Bay Of Islands

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

If you’re visiting Paihia, Bay of Islands on a budget, check out the many campsites available. They usually run about $20 per person, per night. If you have a bit more to spend, there are some amazing spa resorts. If you’re looking for something mid-range, check out airbnb for some cute rooms or studio apartments (sign up to airbnb for a free $45 NZD credit!).

Paihia, Bay of Islands: Take A Boat Tour

We splurged on a Dolphin Discovery boat tour with Explore tours, and it was well worth the $100 NZD price tag. At 8 AM, armed with coffee and snacks, we hopped on the boat and headed out into the bay to spot wild dolphins.

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

We not only found dolphins, but they did a few little tricks for us, and swam right up to the boat. The tour guide taught us some fun facts about dolphins – did you know that they will live up to 60 years in the wild, but not usually more than 6 months in captivity?? That is why I try to avoid places that have dolphins in captivity (zoos, Sea World, etc).

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New ZealandPaihia, Bay of Islands, New ZealandPaihia, Bay of Islands, New ZealandPaihia, Bay of Islands, New ZealandPaihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

The boat took us all around the bay to see loads of little islands.

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New ZealandPaihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

We had such a great day!

Watch the Sunset

Paihia, Bay of Islands is also bustling with cute little bars and restaurants. We had to check one out to watch the sun set over the water. Charlotte’s Kitchen did the trick perfectly!

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

This view was from Charlotte’s Kitchen, which serves up amazing drinks and food. I tried the New Zealand Pale ale and the American Pale Ale – so drool worthy. We also split a margherita pizza for a little late night snack!

Chase Waterfalls

Another not-to-miss attraction in Paihia, Bay of Islands, is Haruru Falls.

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New ZealandPaihia, Bay of Islands, New ZealandPaihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

And don’t forget to have a walk along the coast line in Paihia.

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

I’d definitely recommend adding Paihia, Bay of Islands to your New Zealand Bucket List! It’s a magical place to relax for a few days.

Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

 

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I found the magical Omanawa Falls via Instagram while living in Auckland, and immediately knew I had to visit. Omanawa Falls is currently shut off to the public due to a dangerous entrance. I knew that it would be worth the trouble of getting through. One Sunday, we rounded up a group of friends and took a friends van on a 3 hour drive down to Tauranga.

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

Omanawa Falls

Because of it’s dangerous entrance, Omanawa Falls is sometimes monitored by security guards, telling people to turn around. I wouldn’t recommend going if you are in any way unable to hike or climb. To get to the falls, you’ll have to scale a rock wall.

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

The hike to the bottom is only about 30 minutes, but it’s dangerous. There are parts of the trek where I was holding on to tree branches to keep from falling down a rock face. Finally, we arrived at the bottom of Omanawa Falls.

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

Omanawa Falls could easily be the most beautiful waterfall I’ve seen in the 25 countries I’ve visited. The cerulean water, the cove right behind the falls, the rocks covered in moss – I’ve never seen such a perfect sight.

We spent the afternoon here, swimming in the toe numbingly cold water, and hopping from rock to rock, praying we don’t slip.

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

Our bags held water and snacks and towels and sunscreen. We found little spots of sun beneath the trees and stretched out like lizards to dry off and warm up after a bone-chilling swim.

Most of our group brought a change of clothes, which was a great idea. The water is so cold, and being in a little valley makes it hard to get warm. Having a change of clothes can make for a much more comfortable ride home.

Omanawa Falls, New Zealand

Omanawa Falls is one of the most magical places I’ve been in New Zealand. Keep an eye out, as rumor says that it will be open to the public again soon – with a new, safe path down to the falls.

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