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Day trips

Raglan day trips to Kawhia and Aotea Harbours inland route

  • 3 minutes

Waikato, North Island

Bridal veil waterfalls, coastal scenery and quite backwaters with heritage highlights

For visitors wanting to explore the area find beaches framed with orange tinted reefs, beaches with natural hot springs and a quiet town where fish n chips on the jetty is a great way to soak up the quiet. For visitors wanting to explore beyond Raglan this is the day to immerse yourself in native bush, farmland and panoramic views of countryside stitched together with harbour inlets and glimpses of the roaring ocean. This day trip is possible from Hamilton, choose your highlights and enjoy a day on the North Island west coast.

A day trip through the countryside part and parcel of summer vibe. The dramatic gravel Whaanga Coast Road swings through farmland and then through the interior transverses quiet bays and small settlements. From Raglan the initial stop is the well known Bridal Veil Falls then a drive characterised by lush farmland, sweeps of inlets and sheltered bays as you dip and dive over the rolling hills. Aotea Harbour with its imposing black dunes then its onto Kawhia. Kawhia is a great place for fish n chips, a natural spa treatment at hot water beach then it’s a return to Raglan return via coastal route. Your return passes the magnificent isolated majesty of Ruapuke beach

Your return coastal route loops through native bush and lush farmland to Ruapuke Beach, past the signposts for Mt Karioi track then along the coastal road past Manu Bay, to Whale Bay. Throughout there are vistas of the Tasman Sea, quiet bays and tiny settlements.

High Jungle Waterfall in Lush Rain Forest near Raglan, New Zealand
Bridal Veil Falls


Bridal Veil Falls is a stunning single sheer sparkling drop of water. The walk is very popular with excellent signage describing flora and fauna. There is roadside parking which in the summer months can be full. For visitors parking on the roadside verges take care walking towards the scenic reserve.

The falls walk involves several hundred steps which is humorously marked encouraging visitors to go further. Along the walk are several resting places with views and seating.

The falls is a popular instagram location due to the proximity visitors have to the dazzling display of water. The contrast between the deep emerald bush setting, the misting water and the rock faces is definitely worth the visit for dedicated waterfall fans.

  • Duration: 1 hour
Bridal Veil scenic walk, New Zealand Bridal Veil scenic walk
Bridal Veil Falls, New Zealand Bridal Veil Falls


Aotea Beach is approximately 15 minutes (one way) from Kawhia town / hot springs beach. The road is sealed although narrow and winding. The community is well signposted. For visitors wishing to spend more time in Kawhia simply continue on the route towards Kawhia settlement.

Aotea Beach access at low tide, New Zealand Aotea Beach access at low tide
Aotea Beach landscape and reef, New Zealand Aotea Beach landscape and reef

Aotea’s extraordinary orange tinted reef and rocky shores is best viewed at low tide with the backdrop of black dunes offering photographers a wealth of scenic locations for the perfect holiday shot.

  • Duration: 1 hour at low tide
Aotea Beach low tide orange tinted reefs and rock pools, New Zealand Aotea Beach low tide orange tinted reefs and rock pools
Aotea Beach orange hue reef rock exposed at low tide, New Zealand Aotea Beach orange hue reef rock exposed at low tide


Kawhia is a quiet town seeped in Maori history as the final resting place of the voyaging Tainui Waka (ocean canoe). The local museum, situated on the waterfront is a pocket gem packed with stories and local history. The museum is managed by volunteers who check opening hours to avoid disappointment.

Kawhia Harbour signage, Waikato, North Island, New Zealand.
Kawhia Harbour in the town of Kawhia
Kawhia hot water beach, New Zealand
Kawhia hot water beach

Kawhia highlights:

  • February the town is packed to the rafters with attendees of Kawhia Ka Indigneous Food Festival
  • Fish’n chips on the jetty
  • Kawhia Hot Water Beach
  • Museum
  • Off the beaten track vibe



Photographers loving the landscapes of raw uncrowded spaces this is worth the detour down to the beach.

Ruapuke Beach is a detour off Whaanga Road adding approximately 1 hour driving time to your day.

Ruapuke Beach isolated zen spirit, New Zealand
Ruapuke Beach isolated zen spirit

For visitors who wish to spend the maximum amount of time exploring Kawhia skip Bridal Veil Falls and the beaches. Spend the day pottering around Kawhia with the low tide appointment with a spade, swimming gear and the chance for a natural spa Kawhia style.

Route map for devotees of all things hot springs Raglan to Kawhia return

Return to Raglan with a promise of a return. Check out the article top 10 things to do in Raglan for inspiration on what to do on your second visit. Horse riding at Ruapuke Beach or perhaps Raglan Rock Canyoning. Raglan is home to several picturesque walks and there is always a waterfall for a repeat visit.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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