As a self-proclaimed coffee enthusiast living in New Zealand for the past four months, I’ve spent my time scouting out the best coffee in Auckland. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee In Auckland

Kokako Cafe

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

This little gem is hiding just South of the city in a barely labelled building. (What is it with Auckland cafes not having signs outside??) Step inside for bright, sunny Sunday morning vibes. The cafe is filled with tables, coffee drinkers, and smells of brunch. Kokako roasts coffee themselves, which is all brewed here at the cafe, to pair with your brekky. Not only do they have remarkable coffee, but their menu is incredibly vegan-friendly. Kokako should be a do-not-miss on your trip to Auckland, as this one tops my list for Best Coffee in Auckland!

Rad Coffee

Best Coffee in Auckland

My first stop was the hipster-friendly, Mount Eden cafe called Rad. The name says it all – this cafe is completely Rad. The coffee is amazing, the menu has a cheeky twist to it, and the decor is simple and modern. While living in Mount Eden, this was my go-to coffee spot. If you live nearby, make sure to get a coffee card, and you’ll get your 8th coffee free.

Atomic Coffee Roasters

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

Best Coffee in Auckland

Another favorite was Atomic Coffee Roasters. This modest cafe is simple on the outside, but bustling with hipster vibes on the inside. The employees rock mohawks and piercings, and are never nametagged. Michael and I enjoyed the coffee, ugly bagels, and free sparkling water. Unlike many cafes in Auckland, Atomic has free wifi as well.

Allpress Cafe

Ahhh, the famous Allpress. This little coffee roaster is brewed throughout New Zealand AND Australia at many a coffee shop. Known for their incredible array of beans and designed for flavour, Allpress is a well-known brand of coffee beans throughout Australia and the Shaky Isles. I was excited to head to their little cafe in Ponsonby for a coffee from the source. The cafe is tiny, as are their cups of coffee to be had on-site, but the flavor will hit you like the bright sun on a Sunday morning. If you need a wake-up, head to Allpress. It’s easy to see how Allpress made the list of Best Coffee in Auckland.

My favorite thing about this little cafe is the availability of specialty roasts, like Rangitoto & Ponsonby. What a great little gift to bring home!

Petit Bocal

Best Coffee Auckland

If it’s latte art you’re after, head to Sandringham to the adorable French cafe, Petit Bocal. Known to have the best latte art in Auckland, Petit Bocal will not let you down. In the instances I’ve been, I’ve had a kitten and a Santa Claus in my coffee (head there on Christmas Eve if you’re searching for Santa). They don’t have many vegan options on the menu, but if you’re hungry you can order a little sourdough baguette with avocado for a delicious brekky.

Best Coffee in Auckland

There is so much amazing coffee in Auckland. I feel like I’d have to live here for years to try it all! I love coffee and have thoroughly enjoyed all of these coffee shops.

What do you look for in a good coffee shop?

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One of the most popular day treks in all of New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4 km (12 mile) one-way hike that traverses over four different types of terrain. This is everything you need to know about hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The best time of year to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is between the months of December to March, when there is no snow. It still gets cold up there, so make sure to bring lots of layers and a warm jacket.

You’ll have to park at the end carpark (Ketetahi Parking Lot) and hire a shuttle to get from there to the beginning. Due to parking lot restrictions, you can’t park for more than 4 hours in the beginning lot. This means that it’s no longer possible to bring two cars and park one at the beginning and one at the end. The shuttle costs $30 NZD per person. I used Tongariro Crossing Shuttles, which was simple and easy.

It’s best to start the hike early. I opted for the 7 am shuttle. By the time we got to the start of the trail, used the restroom, and took photos, it was 7:40 AM. The sun was just coming up and it was COLD AF. I had all my layers on and was wishing I’d also brought gloves and a warmer hat.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

I’d done loads of research on what to bring to the crossing, and I’d packed the following:

Starting early turned out to be a great idea, as we got to watch the sun rise through the mountains. Though the shady bits were cold, watching the sun come up while hiking is an incredible experience.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

The beginning of the track is green and lush, filled with bushes and little streams. Keep an eye out for the tiny waterfall that looks just like a miniature Omanawa Falls. 

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

The trail is very well marked and maintained. Though the trek is long, the upkeep of the trails made it enjoyable. The hike will take about 7-9 hours (depending how often you like to stop for photos and snacks). It seems super long, but most of the terrain is flat and easy to trek. There are a few steep uphill climbs and one very steep downhill climb. It is recommended that you be in moderately good physical shape to complete this hike.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Trekking up and down a volcano, seeing Mount Doom and those beautiful emerald lakes, and slipping on mud in the valley is a must-do experience in New Zealand. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was definitely a highlight of my trip.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

After years of seeing those stunning emerald blue lakes all over Instagram, I finally trekked my way there myself. After Mount Doom, after the Red Crater, and after the most intense uphill and downhill climb, we finally arrived to the famous Emerald Lakes. This is the perfect spot to stop for lunch. There are no bathrooms here, so if you have to go, you’ll have to find a big rock and have your friends keep a lookout.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

The trek from the lakes to the end of the track is still about 10 km (6 miles), but it is flat, windy, and beautiful.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

You’ll finish off the last few kilometers in a shaded forest. Taking a break from the sun and finishing off the trek on a smooth, shady path, is the best ending to a long day.

Things to Know About the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

These are a few helpful tips I wish I would have known.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing : Everything You Need To Know

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is on many bucket lists – and should definitely be on yours!

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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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