One sunny Saturday, Michael and I set out with coffee, snacks, and a full tank of gas, to head to the surf town of Raglan. To be honest, we were actually headed to Bridal Veil Falls and Hobbiton, with a stop for lunch in Raglan. Though it was a lot of driving, this was one of my favorite day trips from Auckland so far. This was our Raglan road trip.

Raglan Road Trip

Raglan Road Trip

Raglan Road Trip

The first stop on our day trip was Bridal Veil Falls. Just an hour and a half outside of Auckland, this easily makes my list of best waterfalls in New Zealand North Island. There are four viewing platforms to see these falls from, starting at the top. These falls are absolutely stunning, and the four different viewing locations just shows them from every gorgeous angle.

Raglan Road Trip

After a good sit down and a while of staring, we hiked up the stairs and continued on our way. We were getting a bit hungry, so we steered toward Raglan.

I was so happy to find a restaurant that caters to vegans and non-vegans in Raglan. Our little Raglan road trip wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Raglan, and lunch was the perfect time to stop in. We spotted this adorable little cafe called The Shack in the heart of the little town.

After parking, we rocked up and grabbed the last table outside. After browsing the menu, I decided on their vegan bowl and Michael ordered a burger ( #oppositesattract ). A good, hearty meal was just what we needed after all that driving!

Raglan Road Trip

Raglan Road Trip

I picked up a raw snickers bar on the way out for a little snack on the way to our next destination – Mata Mata.

The one reason every tourist goes to MataMata is to see one thing – Hobbiton! The drive from Raglan was about an hour and a half. It was a sweet drive (that raw snickers bar really helped out), and when we arrived in Hobbiton, we were full, hydrated, and ready to photograph some hobbit holes.

Raglan Road Trip

I am embarrassed to admit at this point that I’ve never actually seen any of the Lord of The Rings movies. Even though I’ve never seen them, Michael has, and I was excited to see the little hobbit homes with him. They are so cute and a photographers dream.

The tour started off from The Shire, and after a short bus ride across the street and down the hill, we arrived in Hobbiton.

You must book a tour to go through Hobbiton, and it isn’t the cheapest thing you’ll do in New Zealand. It is so worth it though! I absolutely adored it.

Raglan Road Trip

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

We went through the full tour and took soo many photos. 

The tour ended with a drink in the Green Dragon. You get a free drink just for finishing the tour! Sounds like the perfect tour to me. I toasted Michael, and we enjoyed our drinks.

Raglan Road Trip

Raglan Road Trip

The three hour drive home was even made enjoyable with the sun set and listening to my audiobook – I get so much “reading” done during road trips with my audible app! I nearly finished my book of the month for the book club.

(Did you know I have a book club?? Sign up here if you want to join!) 

All in all, we had a lovely day. This last minute Raglan road trip was one of my favorite day trips in New Zealand so far.

 

 

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After exploring New Zealand for months, I’ve discovered a lot of both hidden and well-known gems. This is the best waterfalls in New Zealand North Island.

Best Waterfalls in New Zealand North Island

Auckland is one of the best places to live in New Zealand – not only is it the biggest city in the country, but it’s super central to the North Island. You can visit most of these waterfalls in a day trip from Auckland.

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

Omanawa Falls

The most remote (it’s actually not open to the public), Omanawa Falls (pictured above) was by far my favorite of the best waterfalls in New Zealand North Island. I love a little adventure, and that is exactly what you’ll get with a trip to Omanawa Falls. If you can manage to find the exact location where the path starts, you’ll need to hop a fence and climb under another to get to the path.

Best Waterfalls in New Zealand North Island

It doesn’t get easier from there – the 45 minute trek to the falls is complete with rock wall climbing, steep slopes, and incredible views of the waterfall from above. I have an entire post with all of my photos from this amazing day. 

Pro tip: Bring a change of clothes! That water is beautiful but ice cold.

KiteKite Falls

KiteKite Falls easily make the list of best waterfalls in New Zealand North Island. These falls can be enjoyed from below or above (take a short hike to swim in the pools at the top), and are a great place to spend a day. Watch out for eels in the water!

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

Though this triple-tiered fall is stunning, my favorite part about it is it’s proximity to Piha Beach. One perfect way to spend a sunny New Zealand day is to head to KiteKite Falls with a picnic, then take the short drive to Piha Beach for the sunset.

Bridal Veil Falls

Another stunner, Bridal Veil Falls is just outside of the beachy town of Raglan. Though the falls are beautiful, the crown of this beauty is the four viewing locations, spread from the top to the bottom of the falls.

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

See the falls from the very top, then take a five minute walk to see them from the side just a but further down from the top. Next you can check them out from the halfway point, before making your way down to the bottom.

Haruru Falls

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

Take a trip just three hours north of Auckland to Paihia to see the rushing Haruru Falls. Rent a kayak and paddle up to the bottom, or take a short drive out of town to park right by the top. There isn’t much space to hang out, and it gets crowded, but it’s definitely worth stopping by for a few photos.

Huka Falls

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

Though I couldn’t see much of the actual falls, Huka Falls is a turquoise rushing river just outside of Rotorua. Take the very short detour to see these falls if you’re passing through – you won’t regret it. This was the brightest water I’ve ever seen.

Owharoa Falls

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

After you find parking on the road, a quick 5 minute walk will take you to these falls. A great spot for picnicking or swimming, Owharoa Falls is located in Waikino, just about an hour and a half from Auckland. Make sure to stop off at the Karangahake Gorge if you head out there, and take the windows trek to walk through old railroads and gold mines.

 

McLaren Falls Park

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

Filled with waterfalls, McLaren Falls Park is one of my favorite places to spend the day around Auckland. It’s a bit of a drive from the city (about 3 hours), but well worth it. The biggest waterfall is in the actual park. Just take a short 10-minute walking loop from the car park to get to the falls.

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

Stop off at the bridge as well, where you’ll be able to climb the big boulders, sun bathe like lizards, and watch the sun set through the trees.

Kerosene Creek Waterfall

Best Waterfalls New Zealand North Island

Take the budget route to the hot springs with one of the few remaining free geothermal pools – Kerosene Creek. Find it just outside of Rotorua using Google maps.

It’s relatively untouched, so bring snacks and water, as you won’t find any here. Just a short walk away from the parking lot will bring you to the river. The small falls smell of kerosene, hence the name. Ease in to the warm water for an afternoon of relaxation.

New Zealand is filled with waterfalls – there are so many I haven’t even seen. Sadly, I found one of the best New Zealand waterfall resources online a bit too late. I’d highly recommend giving that site a go if you are coming to New Zealand & love waterfalls.

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Every time I think I’ve seen all of the best waterfalls in the North Island of New Zealand, I find another magical one that I must visit. Bridal Veil Falls was one of my more recent finds. Being just outside of Raglan and close to Matamata, I was able to conjure up the perfect day trip – a visit to Bridal Veil Falls, lunch in Raglan, and then on to Hobbiton for the afternoon.

Bridal Veil Falls, New Zealand

Bridal Veil Falls

We woke up early (ish) on a Saturday, grabbed a coffee from Auckland, and hightailed it straight to Bridal Veil Falls. Good thing we brought snacks, because the 2 hour estimated drive time turned into a nearly three hour drive. We may have taken a wrong turn.

When we arrived at the falls, we had no idea what to expect. I’d just seen photos of it on Instagram and knew I had to visit. I didn’t bring hiking shoes or anything of the sort. Luckily, when we got there, the sign from the carpark estimated a ten minute walk to the falls.

After a trek down the wilderness path, we arrived at the top of Bridal Veil Falls. What a sight! This waterfall is 180 feet high (or 55 meters) and is seriously stunning. There are four viewing platforms to admire this one from, and they are all so incredible, I couldn’t choose a favorite.

At the beginning, you’ll be able to see the waterfall from the very top. It’s hard to see the magnitude of it, but it’s a cool and weird viewpoint.

Bridal Veil Falls, Waikato, New Zealand

Next, you’ll go down a bit and see the falls from the side. Here, you get to see the falls in their entirety, and it’s a bit more impressive.

Bridal Veil Falls, New Zealand

To get to the third viewing platform, you’ll need to walk down a few steps. It isn’t far, and it’s much easier going down than up.

Bridal Veil Falls

The third viewpoint is a little bit further, about half way down the falls. It offers a great viewpoint because you can get the whole fall in one incredible shot.

Take the stairs a bit further, and you’ll come to the bottom, which is the fourth viewpoint.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

I attempted my first ever long exposure shot (a style of photography where the water looks smooth). I still have some work to do, but it was an exciting moment.

Bridal Veil Falls exceeded my expectations. Photos don’t do it justice! I highly encourage a visit in real life to these falls.

New Zealand is full of insanely beautiful waterfalls – Bridal Veil Falls is just one of them!

 

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This weekend, Michael and I decided that it was finally time for a trip to Hobbiton. One of the most visited tourist attractions in the whole country, Hobbiton, New Zealand is the filming location for the little Hobbit village in Lord of the Rings. I was ready to see all of the little hobbit homes, and planning to find the cutest one to live out the rest of my days.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand

We booked a tour for 4:50 PM on a Saturday. I figured this would be a good time for lighting, plus it was one of the few time slots still available when we booked the day before. We decided to make a day of it. Waking up early, we got a coffee and hit the road, heading first to Bridal Veil Falls. After admiring the falls, we had a quick lunch in Raglan, then booked it to Hobbiton.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

We arrived right before our tour time. It is absolutely necessary to book a tour if you want to see Hobbiton, and most tours sell out a few days in advance. If you’re particular about time, try to book more than one day in advance. Tickets will set you back $80 each.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

We drove up to The Shire, checked in, and hopped on a bus to head to Hobbiton. The bus ride was educational; we were shown a film which explained how the land was found and how it was chosen to be part of the movie series.

After disembarking, we were led through the winding paths filled with hobbit holes by our guide, Kimberly. She told us some fun facts (did you know you’d have to be 5’4″ or shorter to be cast as a hobbit?!) and gave us plenty of time to get all the photos we wanted.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Michael and I found our dream home, complete with a round blue door and a flower garden.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: The Green Dragon

After one hour and too many photos, Kimberley gently steered us toward my new favorite pub: the Green Dragon. Pre-tour, I had no idea that we would get to enjoy an alcoholic beverage during the next two hours. Dreams came true on this sunny Saturday in Hobbiton, New Zealand.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

We ordered up two brews and found a sturdy table.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

The folks taking care of Hobbiton also brew the beer on site. They have a selection of four brews on tap. I went with the amber ale.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

Can you tell I liked it??

Even though it was a warm sunny day, the fireplace was burning, and the Irish music was blaring. The little pub was bustling, the tables were filled, and there was laughter in the air. Sorry Disneyland, I think I’ve found the new happiest place on Earth.

Hobbiton, New Zealand: What You Need to Know

As my time in New Zealand is coming to an end, I’m planning the last of my weekend trips around the country. Hobbiton had been on my New Zealand bucket list for a while, and I couldn’t be happier that I finally made it there.

What is the first place you’d visit in New Zealand?

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On the bucket list of things you MUST DO in New Zealand, is of course wine tasting in Hawkes Bay! About five hours South of Auckland, this trip can be done in a weekend if you’re short on time. This is all you need to know about wine tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

I did some research beforehand and knew which wineries I most wanted to visit. Being from Sonoma County, California, and having worked in the wine industry for 3+ years, I knew what I was looking for in terms of a winery. I wanted to visit a few stunning properties, and a couple tiny, family-run wineries. We found the perfect mix of both.

Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay : Black Barn Vineyards

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

The first winery we stopped at was Black Barn Vineyards. I was attracted to the gorgeous architecture, many award-winning wines, and I was also loving that they served food. We stopped in and had a quick tasting, where we were served by a knowledgeable staff member who even hand-picked us a fig from their tree outside to pair with the Sauvignon Blanc.

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

After our tasting, we felt like we needed to see more of the property. It was just so beautiful! We skipped through the restaurant to the outside patio, where we ordered rose and fries and soaked up the sun surrounded by vineyards. If it wasn’t such a warm day, I would’ve been all over the beanbag chairs – how cute are they??

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay : Te Mata Estate

After a good chill session and a lot of tramping through vineyards, we chose our next destination – Te Mata Estate.  This one was chosen primarily on recommendation and location. It’s the oldest winery in New Zealand, and it’s right across the street from Black Barn! We headed over.

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

After driving over their super-cute bridge, we were surprised to find a little office-looking building to be the tasting room. It wasn’t busy (we were only the second car in the parking lot!) so we headed in. The tastings were marked at $7.50 each, waived with a purchase. We had a quick tasting and bought a bottle of Merlot/Cab blend, which was our favorite.

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay

Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay : Akarangi Wines

We decided to head somewhere next that we could get some good, personalized service. Somewhere small and family owned. We came across Akarangi Winery on Google and drove down the street to the tasting room. Wine tasting in Hawkes Bay has been on my bucket list for a long time, and I was so excited to find a winery where we could sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with a winemaker!

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Akarangi Winery is a tiny little tasting room in an old church. When we pulled up, no one was in, so we just gave a shout out. The old man that emerged was the owner of the winery, and has been making wines for years and years. We had a long conversation with him over the course of our tasting, where he taught us about the wines he was producing. It was exactly what we were looking for, and ended up being our favorite winery of the day.

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

The wines at Akarangi were our favorite. The vibe of the winery is so relaxed and calm, exactly what a winery should be. No pretentious vibes here!

Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay : Craggy Range Winery

For our last stop, we chose Craggy Range Winery. A gorgeous property and tasting room, Craggy Range is filled to the brim with delicious wines. We tried a variety, my favorite being their Pinot Gris (I’m a sucker for a crisp white!).

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

We had a great tasting at Craggy Range, as the wines were fantastic. The staff was pretty busy, but we entertained ourselves by trying to pick out the flavours in each wine.

By the end of the day, we were happy, content little tourists, ready for a big italian feast in Napier and a cozy bed in rural Hawkes Bay. We’d had a successful day and couldn’t have asked for more!

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