GUIDE TO BRIDAL VEIL FALLS PHOTOGRAPHY IN RAGLAN NEW ZEALAND
Bridal Veil Falls / Waireinga Falls near the small town of Raglan in the Waikato New Zealand is one of those places where you can't quite believe it exists and has you feeling like you've stumbled upon paradise in the middle of nowhere. Situated within the Waireinga Scenic Reserve, the falls were created when a volcanic vent erupted about 2 million years ago and blocked the valley.
This absolutely stunning horse tail shaped fall drops over Basalt cliffs an incredible 55 metres from the top to the bottom into a punchbowl pool. When standing there watching nature creating this magical scene, you can hardly believe you're less than an hour away from one New Zealand's biggest cities (Hamilton) and it feels more like you're in some tropical jungle paradise elsewhere in the world.
I first visited the Bridal Veil Falls in Raglan back in 2015 when I had just started out in photography and had been travelling around closer to home visiting the most epic landscape photography locations I could find. Raglan was just over a 2 hour drive for me from the Bay of Plenty so a friend and I decided we had to visit this magical waterfall we had only seen pictures of.
It's safe to say there was absolutely zero disappointment at all visiting Bridal Veil Falls and if you're going to visit any location in the Waikato, or any waterfall in New Zealand for that matter, definitely add this one to your list.
In this blog I share all the information you will need on your visit to Bridal Veil Falls New Zealand and the photography tips I have learnt from shooting this location.
WHERE IS BRIDAL VEIL FALLS AND HOW TO GET THERE
One of the best things about Bridal Veil Falls is its easy location and the drive doesn't encounter any unsealed roads or hard to navigate areas.
From Hamilton the drive out to Bridal Veil Falls only takes 45 minutes and when you arrive there are plenty of parking spaces to leave the car and head to the falls.
From Auckland the drive is 2 hours on the dot and from Tauranga its 2 hours 15 minutes over the Kaimai Ranges.
When driving from Hamilton along State Highway 23 turn left onto Te Mata Road. Follow Te Mata Road and take Kawhia Road and then you arrive at the Bridal Veil Falls carpark (approx 12km in total). The falls are sign posted from the turn off so they are easy to find.
WHAT CAMERA GEAR TO TAKE
In my experience the best way to photograph Bridal Veil Falls is with your wide angle or mid range lens. Because the falls are so tall and there is a lot of scenery to take in, the wide angle lens (16-35mm or similar) is the best way to capture the entire scene.
I took the following gear with me:
ND Filters (for long exposure and smoothing out the water)
Tripod (low light conditions in the shade)
Wide Angle Lens (eg. 16-35mm lens or mid range 24-70mm)
BRIDAL VEIL FALLS PHOTO LOCATIONS
There are three separate viewing points along the Bridal Veil Falls track and in this blog I will share information on all of them and which one is my favourite.
In total the complete track from top to bottom takes around 20 minutes one way, but on the way back up from the bottom I would say allow for 25-30 minutes as you'll need to come back up all those stairs!
THE UPPER VIEW POINT
Just a few minutes into the track you will come across the Upper Viewing Platform which is where you will see the Bridal Veil Falls in all its glory.
I took this shot with my 17-40mm lens and used a 10 stop ND filter to smooth out the water for 20 seconds. I wanted to create a silky smooth effect with the water and really capture the whiteness of the falls.
When I visited the falls with this image the sun was out under a bright blue sky which isn't the best for shooting conditions, however the falls were in shade for most of the time which helped with the exposure of the image.
If you can order some cloudy weather on your visit you will find the falls much easier to photograph!
THE MIDWAY VIEW POINT
This was my favourite viewpoint out of the three that are available on the Bridal Veil Falls track and I think I liked it the most because of the surrounding bush that creates a frame around the waterfall. As you continue down the stairs from the first lookout, this viewpoint is about 3 minutes to your left on a platform.
I took these shots with my 17-40mm lens and used the 10 stop filter again to create a smooth water effect.
THE LOWER VIEW POINT
Continuing down the steps to the bottom of the falls brings you to the Lower viewing platforms and bridge. The scenery from here is absolutely amazing and you can really feel and see the rush of the water flowing from 55 metres above!
Again I used the 17-40mm lens for this shot and the 10 stop filter to smooth out the water.
BRIDAL VEIL FALLS SUMMARY INFO
Getting there: From Hamilton drive along State Highway 23 and turn left onto Te Mata Road. Follow Te Mata Road and take Kawhia Road and then you arrive at the Bridal Veil Falls carpark (approx 12km).
Facilities: Picnic area and toilets at the top of the falls
Walking the track: It takes approximately 20 minutes to get to the bottom of the falls, however the hike back up might take a little longer with all those stairs. Unfortunately no wheelchair access at the moment due to recent weather. Keep updated here .
Photography options: There are 3 viewing points along the track, the Upper, Middle and Lower Platforms. Take your wide angle lens, tripod and ND Filters if you have them.
Best time to photograph: If you can arrange it, try get there on a cloudy day during daylight hours.
I hope this info helps you plan out your next trip to the Waikato area and especially when you visit Bridal Veil Falls one of the best waterfalls in New Zealand!
If you are interested in prints of any of the New Zealand Landscape Photography seen in this blog, please feel free to head on over to my New Zealand Photography Print Store and have a little look around.