I could lie and saw we were always planning to visit the Coromandel Peninsula. We weren’t really. That is despite its beautiful mountains and the legendary Hot Water Beach. The reason we got to see these wonders was in fact entirely due to the soppy Netflix romp “Falling Inn Love“.
For the uninitiated, the film follows the tribulations of down on her luck Christina Milian character who, after losing her San Francisco job and dumping her commitment-phobic boyfriend, wins a New Zealand inn online.
With little left for her in the USA, what’s stopping her from moving to NZ and running the inn? Well, in reality there’d be the lack of local bank account, a very limited work visa and incredibly tight laws on land purchase by foreign individuals. But this is Netflix, so everyone agrees these don’t exist and she falls in love with a local. His character is played by an Aussie obviously.
The film was shot in February 2019 at the scenic town of Thames on the east coast of the Peninsula, just a 90 minute or so dead boring drive from Auckland. We visited two of the locations, but will be listing others as we come across them. There’s also a guide to the other things to see and do in the area further down.
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What we saw
Sugar Cafe (referred to as “Cottage Lane Cafe” in the film) – In the film this cafe is run by two charming chaps who the lead is able to confide in. The café also has a regular who regularly watches his laptop with headphones on and shouts expletives at opportune moments. In reality Sugar Cafe is exactly as in the film, albeit run by some wonderful ladies instead. We bought a bagel and some pizza as well a kombucha. The only down side was the place closed at 12.30pm the Saturday we were there. No such thing as a lunchtime rush so far from the big smoke !
Read Brothers Hardware (Norm’s hardware shop in the film) – sadly this place wasn’t open on our visit, so we photographed through the window. It produced a image somewhat heavy on glare but we promise you, like the Cafe above, it appeared like the film had overspent on a location scout rather than hire a set dresser. It was exactly the same as in the film! And, as we weren’t able to set foot inside, we’re going to pretend Norm works there too.
Also in the film
The Bellbird Valley Farm – despite lots of searching we could not actually find the titular inn from the film. Instead we found countless articles stating the inn was in fact someone’s home. Here’s one – https://www.countryliving.com/life/entertainment/a28858665/netflix-falling-inn-love-filming-location/ . They can tell us it was used in Bridge to Terabithia but not where it is? Just mean!
On the Coromandel Peninsula
Hot Water Beach – This famous landmark can be found on the opposite side of the peninsula. It’s about an hour or so drive away from Thames, through awe inspiring landscape viewed whilst navigating tight mountain road bends.
The local cafe loans out shovels for visitors to create their own hot water pools on the beach side at high tide. However if you ignore the instagramable activity created for this location and push further along the beach, you’re rewarded with clear warm sea water and beautiful untouched sand that can be enjoyed any time of day.