Looking for a place to slow down, connect to a small local scene, chase the waves or simply unwind on black sand beaches? This coffee-fuelled, surf town should be your next stop.
Nestled on the Waikato coastline, Raglan is an iconic New Zealand surf town, home to just over 3,000 residents. A small mix of sustainable clothing stores, surf shops, hip cafes, and international eateries fan out on their main two streets. You’ll also find the beloved Raglan Roast, a local roasted coffee brand with 9 cafes across New Zealand, supermarkets, an organic food store and more.
My family and I recently took a trip to this coastal haven, and absolutely loved the laid-back lifestyle and friendly locals. I’ve put together a guide of our favourite spots and must-do’s for your time in Raglan, enjoy!
Jump into the sea
Regardless if you’re strapped to a surfboard, boogie board or just out for a casual dip, a trip to the beach is just a short ride or walk away. For those in the centre of the city needing to cool down, swim in the Wainui Stream near the walking bridge. Check the tide times before swimming, and if you’re travelling with little ones, playgrounds line the water’s edge.
For those looking for quieter, less populated swimming spots, head south down the coast to find breathtaking black sand beaches like Ngarunui Beach and Manu Bay. Keep an eye on riptides and stay out of the way of surfers.
If you want to try your turn at riding the waves, book in a class with the Raglan Surf School or if you’re well-versed in the art of surfing, enjoy beautiful swells day in and day out.
While it’s easy to spend your entire day at one of Raglan’s beaches, I urge you to check out the following places.
Bridal Veil Falls
Hidden off country roads in the midst of a luscious, vine-covered forest, lies a 55-metre waterfall with three viewpoints. Take it in from the bottom, but beware of the many stairs back to the top.
Karioi Summit Track
A twenty-minute drive down the coast on windy, gravel roads will bring you to the Karioi Summit trail. Head to the lookout, a four-hour round-trip hike, or to the summit at 756 m (takes up to seven hours).
Follow the signs to this black sand beach, but rather head down the driveaway, pull over to one of the car parks at the top of the cliffs. Find a grassy spot, have a picnic and enjoy the golden sun pour over the surfers below.
Whether you’re pulling up in a campervan, staying at an eco-retreat like Solscape, a YHA hostel on a cliff overlooking the ocean, or popping up a tent in the centre of town at Raglan Holiday Park, we highly recommend staying a few days, longer if you can, to truly feel the effects of this laid-back town.
- For budget travellers bunk down at Raglan Backpackers eco-hostel in town.
- For campers, head to your Campermate app and choose from a number of campsites like Te Kopua Whanau Camp.
- For families, friends, bunks, bungalows and campsites, stay at Raglan Holiday Park, located a short walk from Raglan’s centre.
For more accommodation options, check out the regional map on your Campermate app.
Things to do in Raglan
Life moves slower in Raglan, making it the perfect getaway for those looking to unwind. Although this town is small in size, there is plenty to do to keep you busy.
- Coffee is a must from Raglan Roast. These legendary roasters are known for their “hole in the wall” coffee shop in town and have a few cafes scattered around the North Island.
- Peruse around town, checking out vintage shops and local artwork, then grab a drink on George’s Beach club’s colourful patio complete with swing chairs.
- Take a sunset cruise with Raglan Boat Charters, enjoying wine or beer as you watch the sun dip behind the horizon.
- Dine at The Conscious Kitchen for best breakfast, lunch or dinner view in the area. This veggie cafe curates its menu based on local produce and offers an expansive outdoor area overlooking the beach.
- Take a yoga class, try stand-up paddleboarding, hire a kayak or learn more about health and wellness, this town is known for its health-conscious lifestyle.
And the most important thing to do while in Raglan is to relax. This chilled-out town is the perfect place to enjoy the simple life of doing nothing.
Enjoy the scenery, go for a swim and relax in New Zealand’s surfer’s paradise, the perfect destination for your next holiday.