Being Awesome at Bridal Veil Falls

Today we are stopping off at the must-see Bridal Veil Falls on the way to the must-visit surf town of Raglan. (Ok, everything is a must in New Zealand). We have a few things to do this morning, such as work, because, we work sometimes. But by lunch, we are on the scenic State Highway 23 on our merry way to the quirky surf town of Raglan! Chur, bro!

Like most New Zealand roads, things start off pretty straight but before long we are navigating the side of extinct volcanoes turned farmland on a winding road. Every time we hit the road we are literally exclaiming: “Ohhh. Ahhh. Eeee!” when each downhill turn reveals a landscape more dramatic than the last. It’s impossible to get bored on a New Zealand road trip.

Winding up at a wind farm

Halfway to Raglan, we notice signs for a wind farm viewing point. We have no idea how we are meant to feel about this viewing point, but Robin’s mind is made up when he pulls the van into the viewpoint and says: “We’re having lunch here. I’m so hungry!” Standard.

So the Te Uku Wind Farm “viewing point” is literally a car park at the side of the road. Our view is slightly obstructed by road signs. Nevertheless, we always appreciate the renewable energy effort. The wind farm supplies power for around 30,000 New Zealand homes.

An epic 10-minute walk

After eating our sh*tty sandwiches on the side of the road, it is back to the drive. We took a 10km(ish) detour from State Highway 23 to the extremely well-signposted Bridal Veil Falls. This huge waterfall is particularly popular in New Zealand because: a) it’s only a 10-minute walk from the roadside, and b) it is freakin’ stunning!

There’s plenty of space to park at the Bridal Veil Falls walk, even for our massive campervan. However, we kind of wish the walk would last longer than 10 minutes! Although we have only been out of the wilderness setting for a few days, we have missed hanging out in dense New Zealand forest. The Bridal Veil Falls track is particularly pleasing to the eye as we follow a small stream leading to the epic waterfall. It’s crazy how such a peaceful forest suddenly disappears into a 55-metre drop, along with a thin waterfall which fans out the closer to the ground it gets. It looks kind of like… a bridal veil?

A cool photo of a crappy backpacker lunch A cool photo of a crappy backpacker lunch
At the base of Bridal Veil Falls At the base of Bridal Veil Falls
Goddamn stunning sunset, gah! Goddamn stunning sunset, gah!
Gather around for the pizza show Gather around for the pizza show

261 steps

The first viewing point is literally a step to the side of where the water tumbles off the cliff – pretty scary if you are afraid of heights. Apparently, this hasn’t put people off jumping into the pool below, because someone felt the need to put a sign up asking people not to jump into the pool below because there is a massive boulder that will kill you.

We are capturing the grand waterfall from all angles as we take a track that leads all the way to the base. The descent is 261 steps. (Don’t worry, the signs installed around the track only seem to have the purpose of taunting us). Every step we take down, we know we will have to get back up again.

The bottom of Bridal Veil Falls is the grand finale of just another beautiful place in New Zealand. There is a long viewing platform with benches so you can really end up spending more time than necessary here. We don’t know if it was the allure of the majestic waterfall that kept us at its base for so long, or the fact that when we decide to move we would have to climb 261 steps.  Laura is hating herself right here, and Robin is hating her too as she breathes heavily behind him on the way up.

Epic sunset roadie

On the road again! We time the rest of the journey to Raglan perfectly with the sunset. (Obviously on purpose because we are knowledgeable travel writers who knew exactly this would happen). The sun rays burst from behind Mt Karioi! It’s such an epic scene we have to pull the van over to take photos and watch the sun disappear behind the mountain.

The quirkiest hostel

The final leg brings us to Raglan and Raglan Backpackers. Despite finding it really difficult to park this stupid fat campervan (which is our fault more than anything), we are blown away by the personality of this hostel. Stu, the hostel manager for this evening, is showing us around the spa pool, sauna, surf board hire, skateboards, hammocks, BBQ, pizza oven (we’re using that later), common area with board games, books, guitars and arts and crafts, internet corner, the hostel cat… And that’s only what we are shown by Stu. We discover more and more about this hostel the more we look around, such as the weekly timetable with all the socialising activities, the surf school, SUP and kayak hire deals, the board where you can help name the new hostel puppy they’re getting (we suggested Smeagol the Beagel). Ah, we’re going to like it here.

We abuse the pizza oven and have a couple of beers with the fellow hostel dwellers. Nice night!

Tomorrow, we are going to go save the eels in some eel conservation! See you then!

Laura and Robin

Those Bridal Veil views
Those Bridal Veil views Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

We thought so. Apparently Raglan is full of free and cheap events for backpackers, so check out our event recommendations on HerePin! We also have to show you that Mt Karioi at sunset on Instagram! Post #BackpackerGuideNZ for us to share your pictures too.

If, like us, you like New Zealand landscape marvels such as the Bridal Veil Falls, check these out:

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