The lively surf town Raglan not only offers some pretty good spots to catch some waves, it also has an interesting creative culture and after a great session of surf you will definitely find a good espresso or snack in one of the many cafes and restaurants. Luckily we made Raglan our last big stop during our roadtrip through New Zealand and we immediately fell in love with this surfing mecca and its dramatic black sand coastline. Even if you are not a big surfer, no worries, you will find a nice place to swim or some fine shopping in the town’s galleries, studios and markets. Buying a souvenir In Raglan usually means buying something very special, local and more memorable. Or you enjoy some of the excellent walks in the natural beauty of the Raglan area. And who knows? Maybe you might even want to give surfing a try and go for a first surf lesson in wonderful Raglan?
How to get there?
You can easily reach Raglan by car (40 min from Hamilton, 2 hours from Auckland). You can also fly to Hamilton International Airport and continue by taking the Route 23 bus to Raglan.
Besides the great surf at Manu Bay we think that Raglan itself is a highlight for its own. The relaxed vibe, the superb surf and the rugged landscape create an awesome mix which offers something exciting for everyone. So no matter if you are looking for world-class surf, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, inspiring arts, a sustainable lifestyle or simply a good cup of coffee and a nice snack – you definitely will find it in Raglan. Its bohemian atmosphere and idyllic coastal setting make this small town the perfect spot to while away for some time.
How long to stay?
We decided to make Raglan our last stop during our roadtrip across New Zealand and therefore decided to stay for 4 nights. If you are into surfing you might want to choose a similar amount of nights, or maybe even go for more. If you just want to visit the town and enjoy some walks/hikes you might be happy with 2 – 3 nights only. But then there are the nice beaches and the awesome relaxed vibe of Raglan. So maybe you might want to stay just a little longer?
Where to stay?
Raglan offers accommodation options to suit a wide range of budget and travelling style preferences. Here you can choose from classic Kiwi baches and holiday homes, farmstays, apartments, hotels, motels, B&Bs, caravan parks, campsites and backpacker hostels. Check the Ragland website for a good choice of recommendations. We decided to stay at Solscape eco accommodation for 20 NZD per person and per night/powered site. They also offer self-contained units, earth domes, cabooses, tipis and camping. The wifi at the cafe is pretty good and you can enjoy a great view over Manu Bay.
Surfing Raglan Raglan offers some fine surfing with world-class surf breaks. These breaks are also some of the most consistent in the whole country, making Raglan a big hot-spot for surf enthusiasts. There are four main spots to choose from:
Ngaruni (Ocean) Beach This spot is located about 5 km west of town. The large stretch of beach offers lots of waves and also makes a good spot for less experienced and beginner surfers. It is also a good spot for a swim or a body boarding session. Raglan Surf School offers lessons at this beach and lifeguards patrol the western end of the beach during the summer months. Just make sure to swim between their flags.
Manu Bay This world-famous surf break lies about 8 km west from Raglan town. Here you will find a long, peeling left-hand break, which many believe is the longest, most accessible and consistent in the world. If you have the required level of skill and if conditions are right, it is possible to catch a wave and cruise for up to two kilometers. Manu Bay was also featured in the 1966 cult surfing movie “Endless Summer”.
Whale Bay Just a little further on from Manu Bay you will find the challenging breaks of Whale Bay and Indicators. Park your car at the Whale Bay carpark and head over the rocks. Whale Bay connects through the Valley and Indicators to the west. This spot is not recommended for beginners or the faint hearted.
Ruapuke If you find the surf at Raglan flat or at about one foot – make sure to check out this spot. You most probably will find 3 – 4 feet waves here. Winds are best from the easterly quarter, making Ruapuke a nice wave when it is on. It can become quite powerful though. To find the spot you have to drive along the coast from Raglan, following a gravel road for about 20 mins. Make sure to watch out for the cliffs while enjoying the nice views. You can also drive all the way towards the Bridal Veil Falls when coming from Hamilton.
Outdoor Activities In the Raglan area you will find several excellent walks. Maybe you want to hike to the top of the Bridal Veil Falls (or admire its 55 m high beauty from the pools below) or if you are up for a slightly bigger challenge, why not try climbing to the top of Mount Karioi? On a good day you can see all the way to Mount Taranaki. And then there also is the Te Toto Gorge – a route that was once used by Maori and remnants of stone walls can still be seen in some places. Just in case you are up for an adventure on two wheels try cycling the Pipiwharauroa Trail which will take you close to the 137 m high wind turbines at the Te Uku windfarm. And if you are not a big fan of either walking or cycling – Raglan is good for kayaking, horse-trekking, stand up paddle boarding and harbor cruises as well. Raglan Town When in Raglan you definitely should spare at least a couple of hours to explore the town. The rather small place offers an entertaining mix of cafes, bars, surf shops, restaurants and galleries. And all of them represent or at least care about a sustainable lifestyle, making the residents some very interesting and inspiring people to meet. Only about 3000 people live here, so the vibe is very relaxed and friendly, making Raglan a great chill out spot and a popular destination for artists, surfers and local weekend holiday makers.