Best Day Trips From Auckland

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.

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Best Day Trips From Auckland


Cornwall Park

After spending some time in the city of Auckland, surrounded by stores and supermarkets, I was craving some serious sun and outdoors time. Luckily, my friend Natalie has been living in Auckland for a bit longer than I have, and she suggested we head to the lovely Cornwall Park. I jumped at the chance, and on an overcast Saturday in Auckland, we grabbed a coffee and headed to the park.

Cornwall Park

Cornwall Park, Auckland

We parked near the cafe and nearly dove out of the car, cameras in hand (Natalie is into photography as well). As soon as I spotted cows, I picked up my pace. Once we located the walking trail, we headed into the pasture using the rocky pathway.

Cornwall Park, AucklandCornwall Park, Auckland

My excitement to pet a cow came to a plummeting halt as soon as I noticed signs to stay away from the cows. We did notice a slight gap in the rules, as some of the cows were positioned near the walkway, making it impossible to stay on the walkway and away from the cows at the same time. I took my chances with a baby calf first, hoping that I would have a magical Snow White moment.

Cornwall Park, Auckland

I had no such luck. The adorable little calf ran away from me. My vegan powers did not appear to work on this animal. Next, I made a move on a more experienced four legged creature.

Cornwall Park, Auckland

I had even less luck with that one. As soon as I got closer, the cow went to get up. I wasn’t taking any chances at getting charged by a cow today, so we decided to make a move.

Cornwall Park is massive and filled with grass, trees, cows, and sheep. It’s the perfect place to walk around with a friend for a good chat. Or just sit down and have a picnic with a nice bottle of white and enjoy the day.

Cornwall Park, AucklandCornwall Park, AucklandCornwall Park, AucklandCornwall Park, Auckland

I highly recommend going in the spring, when the flowers are in bloom and the grass is bright green. Spring also appears to be mating season, so you may accidentally spy on some intimate animal moments.

After the narrow escape from the cow field, we wandered over to the sheep pen. The sheep were even less friendly than the cows, but they were extra fluffy and rather cute.

Cornwall Park, AucklandCornwall Park, AucklandCornwall Park, Auckland

Cornwall Park Cafe

After some intense sheep watching, we decided to get our relaxing on at the cafe.Cornwall Park, Auckland

We ordered up some drinks and chips and had a good catch up.

Cornwall Park, Auckland

One Tree Hill

Before heading home, we made sure to make a stop at One Tree Hill. The views from the top are nothing short of spectacular, though the wind chill did make me want to put on a scarf and beanie, pronto.

Cornwall Park, Auckland

Cornwall Park, Auckland

Cornwall Park is one of the best places to take a break from the energy of the city to just relax, have a coffee, and catch up with a good friend. I definitely look forward to going back many times during my stay in Auckland.

Interested in New Zealand? Make sure to check out how I got a one year visa to New Zealand, how expensive Auckland is, and my New Zealand North Island Bucket List!


The Famous Figure 8 Pools in Sydney

Instagram Famous Figure 8 Pools: A Must Visit in Sydney

One sunny day, I hopped in the car with Natalie and Michael, and we headed into the Royal National Park to visit the insta-famous Figure 8 Pools. My au pair family had highly recommended it, and after seeing the instagram photos, we knew we had to check it out.

Figure 8 Pools & Burning Palms Beach Figure 8 Pools Sydney Royal National Park

After we parked, we took the trail to Burning Palms Beach. The hike is a moderate and hilly. It’s just about 45 minutes to the beach. Make sure to bring your water!

Figure 8 Pools Royal National Park HikingFigure 8 Pools Royal National ParkFigure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach

Once we got down to the beach, we had to do some minor rock climbing to get to the pools.

Figure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach RocksFigure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach

We finally made it to the Figure 8 Pools and they were astonishing. Each little pool looked like it’s own little world, full of different types of colorful plants.

Instagram Famous Figure 8 Pools: A Must Visit in Sydney Figure 8 Pools Sydney: A Must Visit Figure 8 Pool Sydney: A Must Visit

We had such a fun day checking out the pools. Some people were swimming in them, but the water was freezing! Figure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach Sydney

Figure 8 Pools Instagram Famous Sydney

We even saw a rainbow on our walk back – pure magic. While walking through the beach and the forest, I couldn’t help but become awestruck at the beauty that surrounds us. This is truly a magical place. Rainbow over Burning Palms Beach, SydneyThe figure 8 pools were such an incredible sight, and it was even better that Michael and Natalie were there with me. Natalie is a photographer and she is amazing at it – check her out. She took some of the photos above! Famous Figure 8 Pools Sydney

The total cost of this trip was $12 for parking. If you’re visiting Sydney, I’d highly recommend checking out these pools and a few other hikes in the Royal National Park.

When you visit the Figure 8 Pools, make sure to bring your bathers (that’s Australian for swimsuit), a picnic, and plenty of water. We also had a bit of rain, so make sure you’re prepared for all types of weather.


Best Hikes in Sydney: Manly To Spit Bridge Hike

Best Hikes in Sydney: Manly to Spit Bridge

After many months of procrastination, I’ve finally completed the Manly to Spit Bridge hike. I was looking forward to this one incredibly, but I’d been procrastinating on it because it’s a 3-4 hour hike…. EACH WAY. I originally wanted to do the full hike round trip, but ended up doing just one way. Here are the best tips I’ve picked up from this experience. Manly to Spit Walk Best Hikes Sydney

Manly to Spit Bridge Hike

Pro tip 1: Start at Spit Bridge and go toward Manly. This way, you’ll start out all fueled up, hydrated, and ready. Spit Bridge is located on the highway, not really close to any restaurants or shops. I’d recommend starting there, so that you can end the hike at Manly beach and wharf, where you’ll have endless options for food, lots of beautiful beach, and plenty of places to regain your energy. Manly to Spit Walk Best Hikes Sydney

I started at Manly, which is a beautiful beach that you may want to spend some time at. The walk is full of lookouts and wildlife at the beginning.

Pro tip 2: Bring plenty of water and definitely bring snacks. There are limited water refill stations (I spotted 2 in 4 hours) and you will definitely be hungry halfway in. We stopped a few times to catch our breath, hydrate, and make some friends. Manly to Spit Walk Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk Best Hikes Sydney Turkey

The walk is mostly forested trails, and some parts go through residential areas. Wear layers, bring a backpack, and don’t forget your camera because there are some insane views.Manly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes Sydney

Look for the famous ocean pools that are scattered around the path (and throughout the beaches of Sydney).

Manly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes Sydney

If you forgot to bring snacks (like I did), and have a really low tolerance for having low blood sugar (like I do), stop off at the little cafe at Clontarf beach for some refreshments! There aren’t loads of options, so I ended up with fries and a bottle of orange juice. There is no photo of this because I had 0 patience and scarfed it down to regain energy asap. But here is a photo of the beautiful Clontarf beach:

Best Hikes in Sydney: Manly to Spit Bridge The Manly to Spit Bridge walk was one of my favorites so far – but next time I’d make sure to be a bit more prepared with snacks.

Are you going to Sydney (or dreaming about it)? Check out some of my favorite vegan places to eat in Sydney, a guide to the working holiday visa in Australia, or some of my favorite hikes in Sydney!



How Much I Spent for A Weekend In The Blue Mountains

How Much I Spent For A Weekend in the Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia

I recently got asked how much I spent for a weekend in the Blue Mountains. In this post, I’ll break down my entire expenses for a weekend away in the Blue Mountains. To see more on the Blue Mountains, see my itinerary and my photo diary.

How Much I Spent for a weekend in the blue mountains

All in all, I calculated that we each spent about $100 (there were just two of us – me and a friend). This includes all of our food, gas, accommodation, and parking fees. We spent most of the weekend hiking and taking photos, both of which are free, so we were able to make this trip pretty budget friendly. It’s crazy to add up how much I spent for a weekend in the Blue Mountains – it was such an easy budget-friendly trip!

Day 1: grand canyon hike and evans lookout

We had to get off to a good start – aka I NEED CAFFEINE – so our first stop was for coffees.

How Much I Spent for a Weekend Away in The Blue Mountains

Two soy cappuccinos: $10 

Next, we made a quick stop to the Coles (an Aussie grocery store) for some lunch supplies. We picked up pita bread, sweet potato and cashew spread, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a liter of coconut water. We also got some apples and chips.

Total Spent at Coles (for lunch & car snacks): $26 

How Much I Spent on a Weekend in the Blue Mountains

After stop at the petrol station, we were fueled up and ready to go. Note: it cost $45 to fill up the tank, but we only used half the tank for this trip. Michael drives a two-door Barina, which is a small, super gas efficient car.

How Much I Spent for A Weekend in the Blue Mountains

Total Spent on Petrol: $20 

When we got to the Blue Mountains, we went straight to our first destination: the Grand Canyon trek. Parking was free, and we ate lunch in the car before heading out with a full bottle of water and the liter of coconut water (and lots of layers because it was SO COLD).

Blue Mountains Evans Lookout

Four hours of (free) hiking and photo – taking later, we were back at the car and starving. On our way to the airbnb, we scrapped our plan of stopping at the shops to pick up veggie burgers to make at the airbnb, and instead opted for a fancy Thai dinner out (#lazy).

Thai dinner out: $45 

We then headed to the airbnb, which I’d arranged the week prior. The airbnb had a great setup; we had a private room, a massive bed, and even electric blankets! We had our own bathroom to boot. (PS I LOVE AIRBNB SO MUCH and I highly recommend trying it out! Use my link to get $25 off your first trip;) ).

One Night At Airbnb: $45 

Day 2: Three sisters and wentworth falls

How Much I Spent For A Weekend in the Blue Mountains

The next day, we woke up feeling rested and *almost* alive again. To feel fully awake, alive, and aware, I needed that soy capp. We got ready and headed out to find coffee and shops on the way to the Three Sisters.

We found a cute coffee shop right next to an IGA. SCORE. We had our coffee “for here,” as that is my new favorite thing.

Dan's Coffee Hause Blue Mountains

Two Soy Cappuccinos: $10 

After enjoying a quiet coffee, we picked up the pace and rushed into IGA with a plan. We picked up wraps, mixed greens, tomatoes, hummus, and bananas. Michael picked up an extra bottle of water, and I grabbed a juice. We also picked up a couple personal sized sourdough loaves for breakfast.

Breakfast/Lunch Supplies from IGA: $25

We headed to the Three Sisters and parked on the road. There was a minimum parking fee of $4, so we scrounged up some change and headed to the rock formation.

How Much I Spent For A Weekend in the Blue Mountains

Parking Fee: $4 

We spent about 40 minutes here, walking around and taking some photos. It was super cold and windy, so we decided to head to the next destination – Wentworth Falls.

We got to Wentworth Falls, still freezing, and decided it was time for a second coffee. There was a food truck parked outside the falls selling coffee, so we grabbed two soy capps to go.

Two soy capps: $8

We drank those and then spent the next four hours hiking around the falls, eating bananas and filling up the water bottle under the waterfalls.

How Much I Spent for A Weekend in the Blue Mountains

Once we got back to the end of the trail, we ate our lunch and headed home. All in all, the total cost of this trip (for two people) came to $193 AUD. We split everything, so we each paid about $100. Not too shabby for a weekend away, eh?