This was an Awesome trip! Our tour guide, Kia, was so knowledge and did not hurry us along. Kia's knowledge of the flora and fauna was impressive. He gently suggest ways to improve my photos. His timing for the beach sunset photos was spot on. I have shown my photos to many people since we returned and have had nothing but WOW's.


07. June 2017

It’s hard to think of anything to suggest for improvement for this photographic tour of the Auckland West Country, it was all that I expected and more!
It’s hard to say what I liked best, it was all so good. I enjoyed discussing the different aspects of photography with Kai who freely shared his knowledge, views and passion for photography.
I especially liked his teaching methods, challenges to do a bit better with each shot and showing me the tweaks that made a good shot better. Reviewing at home each the shots taken to get to the best shot, is a tutorial in itself. The stream, waterfall and beach tutorials were particularly excellent, and it was great fun hiking and occasionally getting wet. Made me feel like a real photographer!

Sydney, Australia

28. May 2017

Kai has taken me into a wonderful journey of New Zealand west coast and also provided a professional photography lessons. Kai turned me from a novice photographer using auto mode into a a photo enthusiast capable of taking great picture. He has taken me into waterfalls, streams, forests with rare trees and finally to the sea shore, where we spent more time exploring landscape and how to include creative elements into photography. I very highly recommend this tour to everyone. He picked up from Hotel and luckily, I happen to be the only tourist, He engaged me throughout the tour giving valuable information.

Kamaraj S

27. May 2017

Kai was great. Although we are both experienced photographers, he showed us some new methods and tricks of the trade. The shooting locations were great but Kare Kare Beach at sunset was truly spectacular. Can't wait to return to New Zealand!

South Florida, Florida

21. May 2017

What a great day! It was my idea to do this, but all 4 of us enjoyed it immensely. We went to three great locations and had lots of helpful photography tips for our different types of cameras. Would do it again in a heartbeat.


18. April 2017

I was a great tour. The organizer loves his works. Participants have to be prepared for some degrees of hiking / trail walking for this tour.

Chi Ming T T

22. March 2017

The tour is led by Kai. He obviously loves what he does, photography, and the beauty of New Zealand. He is patient with beginners and spends much of his time coaching and instructing his passengers about how to properly use their camera. Great locations! Long tour, but doesn't feel that way. If you want to see New Zealand wilderness and enjoy taking pictures, this is a must do tour. Group size is no greater than 5.

David S

10. March 2017

The tour is led by Kai. He obviously loves what he does, photography, and the beauty of New Zealand. He is patient with beginners and spends much of his time coaching and instructing his passengers about how to properly use their camera. Great locations! Long tour, but doesn't feel that way. If you want to see New Zealand wilderness and enjoy taking pictures, this is a must do tour. Group size is no greater than 5.

Prescott, Arizona

07. March 2017

I was in Auckland for 2 weeks and barely had the time to travel out of the city. Two days before heading back to Europe I found this trip on TripAdvisor and decided it was my last chance at discovering more about the Auckland area and NZ in general from someone who lives and works there as a photographer. I was right! I booked the trip last minute by phone, and though I was the only one booked for that day Kai kindly took me on a tour anyway. I learned so much, and the places we saw were beautiful! Kai has an amazing knowledge of nature and guides you as you're taking photos. He had brought filters which I gladly used while shooting Bethells Beach. In just a few hours I learned a lot about the history of NZ, Auckland, the rainforest and photography. Kai will even bring lunch and everything you need to spend a great day. He offered me a Ginger beer. He's genuinely interested in getting to know you so he can make the tour best fit your interests.
Kai picked me up from the place I was staying at and dropped me back in the city at night, which was very convenient. I was gone from 1pm to pretty much 9pm. The tour involves a bit of hiking, make sure you bring walking shoes. I highly recommend this trip! Worth every penny!

Marie A
Lille, France

14. February 2017

There are lots of Waitakere Ranges tours on Viator. For me it was important to join a tour which is more active. As a special treat for myself, I decided to combine the Waitakere Ranges tour with something else I love - taking pictures. I only have a compact camera and wasn't sure if it would be good enough but was amazed with the result. I learnt quite a lot, for example what filters are for and when to use them, the different camera modes, how to make water look silky... Kai's a very patient and laid-back tour guide who is not only there to help you with photography but also to tell you more about the Waitakere Ranges.

Sabrina M
Auckland, New Zealand

11. February 2017

This is an awesome tour! Great spots, interesting information about the nature, esp. Kauri trees. Nice climbings to hidden places. Kai provided sandwiches, drinks and chocolate and also an extra camera/tripod (we had only one). You will be picked up at your hotel.
Useful information about camera settings and how to find the best photo subject.

Raphael M
Hannover, Germany

31. January 2017

Found this tour through the reviews of TripAdvisor. It was great.

There were some degrees of hiking involved, better to have a pair of hiking shoes for this tour; if without, at least having a good pair of sport shoes, and be expected to get a good exercise.

In term of photography, Kai - the tour organizer - is passionate in this, and he knows the spots for good photos.

Terence T
Hong Kong

04. January 2017

Decided to take first ever photographic tour , and I am glad to say that we did it . Kai is excellent guide , knowledgeable , enthusiastic and very friendly. He took time with us as we are slow hiker and out of shape , he showed us parts of Auckland we would have missed . He even lended his filters for my lens . I have included some of the pictures. I will recommend him without any reservations.

naishadh m

28. December 2016

I feel horrible that it has taken me so long to review, especially because this was such an amazing tour. I was looking for a tour that would give me some range of activity for the one day I'd be in Auckland. The problem was almost every trip required a couple to register. As a solo traveler, most Auckland tours just excluded themselves. I was very lucky to find this one and even luckier that Kai still offered the tour when I was the only one registered for my day. The sights on this trip! I will give the warning that this is not a tour for people who have health issues that create difficulty walking. There is climbing, slippery mud and rocks, and crossing riverlets involved. I suggest wearing shoes and clothes you don't mind getting dirty, or, in my case, I just threw them out when I was done. Kai is friendly, knowledgeable, welcoming, and fun. I had a great day learning about and experiencing some of his favorite places in the Auckland area, and after you've seen them, they will likely be among your favorites, too. Because Kai knows the land and water of these areas well, I could trust him to make safe decisions of where we would walk and how we would approach certain areas. You will definitely return home with impressive photographs of New Zealand--forests, waterfalls, beaches. A lot of people asked me what my favorite part of the trip which included bits of Australia and the South Island as well. There was so much diversity on the trip that I cannot choose a favorite. However, I guess with how I go on about how wonderful this photography tour was, people make their own assumptions about my favorite part. A Thank you, Kai!

Victoria J

01. December 2016

It has been said before but is worth all of the repeat mentions - Kai is an absolute pro with a huge passion for the outdoors and landscape photography and has tons of knowledge in both areas that he loves to share.

I thoroughly enjoyed my tour and would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in photography and would like to see some of the true off the beaten path outdoors.

I was picked up and dropped off at my CBD Airbnb and once we got out there I was provided with drinks (even hot choices!), snacks, lunch and use of Kai's filters to compliment what I brought with me and was taught how to use them and new techniques that I didn't know beforehand.

Well worth it and I wouldn't hesitate to go out again if I ever make it back to Auckland!

New York City, New York

23. November 2016

I have to agree with the other reviewers, Kai is excellent and knows his craft. I'm an amateur digital photographer who has taken a few digital classes but putting it all to practice with a knowledgeable photographer makes it a truly wonderful experience with the natural beauty of New Zealand. I probably needed more assistance than some of his past clients and he was patient and kind in helping me set up my shots to get optimum results. He also provided background on the Maori people and the culture and told me about the conservation efforts to save this paradise. After I took a shot we would review the composition and discuss how it could be improved. I'd retake the shot and get wonderful results. I also attached my GoPro to the front of his SUV to record the scenery as we traveled about. If you are debating on whether to take this tour or not, take it. You won't regret it! If you 're over age 55, take a hiking pole along. You won't regret that either!

Sue W

06. November 2016

I thought I've seen everything in Auckland until, on impulse, I decided on booking The Laughing Chestnut for my very last full day in the city. Kai showed me a face of the city that I would never have seen and never imagined existed if not for his guidance and his own passion for nature - magnificent stands of Kauri trees in Cascade Kauri that I thought only existed far North in Waipoua, waterfalls that rival that of Fiordland and the most magnificent sunset mirrored on the black sands of Bethells Beach! And Kai is not just a very knowledgeable nature guide but also a great photography mentor and an extremely charming host. Every moment was enchanting!

Emmie A
Manila, Philippines

01. November 2016

Awesome trip with very personalised service. The guide Kai was excellent and extremely knowledgeable around both the best spots and provided good advice around photography. Thoroughly recommended

Jim H

01. November 2016

Kai is an amazing guide, i went solo on this trip to new zealand and i wanted to explore more on the north island and get some good shots to take home. And this tour was what i needed and it did not let me down! Kai was helpful and patient throughout the trip and taught me insides into improving my photography. I would definitely recommend this tour to any others who is interested to explore Auckland's Wild West! Oh yea, and you have to be moderately physically fit for this trip!

Brisbane, Australia

15. September 2016

I was planning to do a hiking trip in New Zealand but then I came across the photography trip from Laughing Chestnut. I think it would be a good combination to have both my favorite activities combine together as a one day trip.
Kai is a landscape photographer and also my tour guide. He is funny and knowledgable. He told me lots of things about life in New Zealand, history of New Zealand, the Kouroi trees, his view in photography and how passionate he is in his current business. Kai is well prepared for the trip and is a very approachable person. He is not just a tour guide but a very good company to go on a trip with. Besides, I learnt a lot from his advise in my photo shooting. I will definitely refer my friend to this tour and if I come to Auckland again, I will join his tour again too.

Tracy C
Hongkong, China

01. September 2016

My wife and I were planning a day out to explore the greater Auckland area when we came across the Laughing Chestnut tour on a 'things to do site'. We actually live north of the city, but have spent very little time in the ranges to the west. We're not masters in photography but we do manage to get some great shots when we travel. So, we decided to join our guide Kai last weekend for a photographic tour of our own backyard.

From the first greeting to the final good bye, the time we spent with Kai was top notch. As a "real" photographer, he was always willing to give us some very useful pointers without it feeling like we were in class. He also had a good grasp of the area's natural and cultural history. We were surprised to learn as much as we did about the geology of the ranges and the history of the indigenous inhabitants. His excitement and enthusiasm for showing off some very amazing scenery was hard to miss.

Everything went as advertised. Kai took care of all the details including beverages, snacks and lunch. In spite of a bit of rain, we still managed to get in a full day of exploring Kauri forests, hiking to a cool waterfall and visiting the rugged west coast beaches at Bethels and O'Neil bay. Decent footwear and protection from the weather are highly recommended as the conditions out west are not necessarily always a walk in the park.

Overall, this was a day well spent- one that went by too quickly. Proof that you don't have to be from out of town to enjoy great hospitality and awesome scenery as a tourist.

Jeff W
Auckland Region, New Zealand

15. August 2016

I was in Auckland for short conference. Having travelled from Perth Western Australia, I wanted to get to do some landscape photography before the conference started having heard about the natural beauty of the north island in New Zealand. Since I didn't have much time, I wanted to see if I could get to some scenic and out of the way locations that was a short distance from the Auckland CBD so that I could maximise shooting time. Not knowing the area I needed to find a local guide, who was also a landscape photographer, knew these locations well and would be willing to take me out to them without costing an arm and a leg. The only person that met all of these criteria was Kai Lenhberg from Laughing Chestnut Photography.

Based on what I wanted to photograph, Kai structured a series of locations that hit at the very heart of what I wanted to achieve; all in a day. He showed me panoramic views, kauri forests, forest streams, waterfalls, rolling farmlands, wetlands and beaches; all in the Waitakere Ranges which was about 40 minutes drive from the Auckland CBD. The most physically challenging part of the tour was the Cascade Kauri trail. As advertised on his website, you will need a moderate level of fitness to hike to the most scenic locations. Good hiking boots are a needed here. Don't worry, Kai is there helping you with offers of water and snacks, offers to carry some of your gear to lighten the load, frequent and short breaks so he can talk a little about the flora and fauna and also provide a some ideas on how so shoot the locations. Nonetheless, do talk to Kai if you have physical limitations. He is very accommodating and easy to get along with to discuss getting to the locations or other locations. Safety and making sure you get the most out of your photo excursion is very important to Kai.

One aspect that I really appreciated in the way that Kai structured the tour was these were locations that were a little off the beaten track and less frequented by tourists. So there was time to get set up and take a variety of shots without having to wait for tourists to move out of frame. Apart from having to briefly wait for a group of school children to pass us, we didn't encounter a single group of tourists during the entire day of shooting; and it was school holiday period.

At each location, Kai was on hand to help with the set up of the shot, provide a short briefing about the location - how the light might changes, shot angles and framing, filter use etc. I really appreciated his local knowledge and experience and it was great that we could talk about how to shoot the location. So the setups were never rushed and we had time to get the shots we wanted, very efficiently and safely. Snacks, water, soft drinks, lunch, transport, photo advice are all included in the price; which by the way, was very reasonable.

There would have been no way that I would have been able to get the shots I wanted without Kai's expert and attentive help that is sensitive to your level of photographic experience. He delivered on everything he promised on and more. It was very obvious that Kai is very passionate about landscape photography and sharing the incredible beauty of the Waitakere Ranges. Thank you for all your help; it was a pleasure and privilege to have had the opportunity to see the Ranges and to shoot with you. Definitely will be back shooting with The Laughing Chestnut Photography Tour next time I am in Auckland. Highly recommended to all keen photographers of all experience levels.

Perth, Australia

02. May 2016