Discovering gardens and hidden gems in Rapaura Falls

I adore those happy accidents where you discover something magical, a true fortuitous stroke of luck. Rapaura Falls was one such garden. Located near Whatatete Bay on the North Island of New Zealand. and we spent a truly lovely morning wandering the grounds, full of delight and wonder.

The gardens

We drove past the previous day, but these gardens were already closed, so we made plans to double back. On our way back, we drove through Whatatete Bay once again. Although it was breathtakingly beautiful, we couldn’t find a spot to pull over and take some photos. We finally stumbled upon the stunning Rapaura Watergardens again, which were peaceful, serene, and refreshing in the early morning light. The gardens boasted beautiful oriental and ornamental designs and were filled with lily pads, although the lotus flowers had not yet bloomed during our walk.

These gardens were created by the Loennigs, who had a vision and used their creativity to transform the 64-acre scrubland into the oasis it is today. The Loennigs have been working on the gardens since the 1960s.

The waterfalls

There is a lovely walk through the bushland area at the back of the property that goes for quite a while maybe 1.5km, all natural native bushland, tree ferns and native trees and grasses, little bridges over softly running creek, that leads to a waterfall named, The Seven Stairs to Heaven. It really was lovely.

When we finished we had a lovely breakfast at the onsight cafe and wandered through the gallery. A very enjoyable morning indeed.

We took tripods and my 18-200mm lens, planning on taking some long exposures at the waterfalls. Sadly did not have my ND Filters so my settings were ISO125, 42mm, f/25 (to get the shot dark enough for a slightly longer exposure), and a shutter speed of 1/6 second. I did not feel like the long climb carrying ALL my camera gear, so made the decision to only carry my camera and my tripod.

so many beautiful flowers
so many beautiful flowers


  • Sometimes we must make the decision to carry everything or only what we think we may require. When you have never been somewhere and may not get the chance to go back, I probably should have put on my big girl panties, sucked it up and taken everything!
  • Slow down and enjoy being out in nature as well as capture beautiful photos.
  • Remember to look for pleasing compositions and contrasting images.
  • If you want silky waterfalls, you need to slow your shutter speed down, you will need a tripod or something to steady your camera to avoid camera shake.