West Coast beaches, iron black sands, pounding surf are a spectacular drawcard for Raglan. The seaside village of Raglan is New Zealand’s original surf town. Surfing culture in Raglan has embraced wanderlust as a town motto. Testing yourself against the surf is one of the top things to do in town.
Yet Raglan is more than a surf beach destination there is a thriving art scene supported by local weekend visitors, burgeoning food scene with locally sourced ingredients creating a culinary hit with visitors as well as stunning scenery. Landscapes range from west coast surf beaches to inland spectacular waterfalls and quiet gravel roads leading to towns steeped in the history of New Zealand. There are opportunities to explore the North Island without the crowds congregating around the postcard destinations.
What is the best time to visit?
Spring to late Summer (December to late March). Winter is brisk with walks on the beach and the place to yourself. You will need to check if some tourism operators are open.
The best option is a vehicle on the road network. Public long distance bus network via Hamilton schedule is once a day.
You will need a vehicle.
Raglan Coastal Marine Weather Forecast
- Surf beaches
- Water based fun
- Walks among native bush within sight and sound of the ocean
- Beyond Raglan, hidden gems
- Kawhai hot water beach
- Aotea Beach
- Walks, mountains and landscapes
BEST ITINERARIES AND TRIPS FROM RAGLAN
The Estuary, Te Kopua Beach, Ngarunui Beach, Manu Bay Reserve, Whale Bay form part of the Raglan beach scene. All beaches have toilet facilities and changing rooms. Whale Bay is relatively inaccessible and permission from the Maori landowners must be sought before accessing traditional seafood gathering areas or crossing private land to the lagoon.
Estuary and harbour cruises
Wahinemoe Harbour Cruises
Daily 2hr sunset cruises depart from the Raglan wharf onboard the ‘Wahinemoe’, a new twin hulled catamaran offering a super smooth, Check out the ancient limestone rock formations & wildlife, listen to the crews historical, cultural and ecological tales of the area, get a swim in if you’re keen and enjoy a FREE gourmet BBQ sub with exclusive locally produced kai. A licensed bar stocking NZ beer and wine is open during the cruise.
An excellent introduction to the harbour without getting your feet wet.
Daily Sunset Cruise Departures: Everyday at 6pm from the Raglan wharf
Waireinga Bridal Veil Falls
Location from Raglan:
Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls is a great bush walk through native forest following the Pakoka River to the top of the Waireinga/Bridal Veil Falls. This section of track is designed for assisted wheelchair use and is suitable for children’s pushchairs. The Falls are 26 km south of Raglan and well signposted. The Falls often have an updraft of wind that creates a swirling mist that floats before sinking into the pool below. Great photo moments at the falls, an instagram favourite. Nearby there are mountain bike trails into the Pirongia Forest Park.
Waireinga Bridal Veil Falls
The two viewing platforms at the top of the falls provide spectacular views of the falls and surrounding countryside. From here, the track descends steeply down stairs to a midway viewpoint. If the steps are too much the first viewing platform will not disappoint viewers, there is seating at each platform. The steps have encouraging signage informing the walker of how many steps has been taken and how many to go.
The track continues down more stairs to the bottom view bridge and information shelter where there is a magnificent view directly across the pool and up at the falls.
Mount Karioi @mads_fitn3ss
The Karioi track from Te Toto Gorge car park offers fantastic views of the rugged west coast, north towards the Manukau Heads. Looking south on a clear day, you can see the four peaks of Mt Tongariro, Mt Nguruhoe, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki.
The track is exposed and steep at times, and chains are provided in a couple of places to assist with the ascent. From Te Toto Gorge car park to the summit and return takes a full day.
- Time: Car park to lookout – 2 hours 30 minutes – 3 hours one way
Carpark to summit – 3 hours – 3 hours 30 minutes one way
- Location: Drive around the coast to Te Toto Gorge. The Te Toto Gorge car park is on Whaanga Road, near Raglan. Karioi summit tracks: Pirongia Forest Park, Raglan area, Waikato area tracks and walks
- Please Note: Many of the walking trails in the Hamilton & Waikato region do not allow dogs. Hamilton & Waikato Tourism recommend checking with the Department of Conservation before taking your dog on any of the trails in the region.
WAIRAKE TRACK – MT KARIOI
Mount Karioi @madison_wanderz
A shorter and gentler route to the summit is from the Ruapuke Road car park. This route crosses farmland for 40 minutes before climbing steadily through native forest to the top. The walk to the summit and back takes about six hours.
Wainui Bush Park is about 10 hectares of the 140 hectare Wainui Reserve.
There are several walks and tracks in this area starting from the carpark and leading down to Ngarunui beach. Walk through the trees along well contracted paths, crossing bridges over stony bottom creeks, or taking in the views of the harbour. Track conditions are: 1 – 2 km depending on track, easy / medium gravel walking tracks.
Starting across the road from Ngarunui Track, or from Upper Wainui Rd this track follows an historic water-race through coastal forest and leads to a stream.
1 km, 30 minutes easy walking trackStarting from beside the one-lane Wainui Road bridge or the end of Robertson Street, this easy walking track takes you through bush and alongside the estuary going through. This track takes one hour one-way but can be cut short and several different side streets. It is a well-made track of stones and is suitable for all ages.
Track conditions are: 5 km, 1 hour.
Pirongia Forest Park Places to go in the Waikato region.
Check out park online description of two great walks for families. Raglan makes a great option as a base for walking holidays.
Mount Pirongia @cherryfung1128
Nikau Walk Walking time: 2 hr 30 min return, Distance: 7 km.
The track starts from the Kaniwhaniwha car park. It passes through a recently planted area, then follows along the stream to a loop walk, lush with nikau palms and tree ferns.
There are opportunities for swimming and picnicking along the stream, and a picnic/campsite with toilets is a short distance off the track (this is accessible by wheelchair, but the loop track is not). This walk can be combined with the Kaniwhaniwha Caves adding 30 minutes to the walking time. Mountain biking. The track is ideal for family cycling but do follow directional signs around the loop track. This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.
Kaniwhaniwha Caves Walking time: 2 hr 30 min return, Distance: 7 km.
The two limestone caves are near the start of the Bell Track, 5 minutes from the junction with the Nikau Walk. You can walk through the 20 metre long main cave, but note there is a short hands-and-knees crawl. The cave is wet underfoot and torches are required. The second smaller cave is tight and narrow. Getting there: These tracks are accessed from Limeworks Loop Road. From Hamilton take SH23 to Whatawhata. Turn left onto Te Pahu Road after the bridge over the Waipa River. Limeworks Loop Road is about 10.6 km on the right.
Raglan, similar to beach communities such as Whitiangi provides inspiration for creative spirits to draw from the natural surroundings. Nature is the material to inspire potters, jewellery makers, photographers and painters and others to create works available to purchase from studios or local stores.
The old School Arts Centre Raglan Old School Arts Centre – Community arts and events in Raglan Whaingaroa is the hub and beginning for the art trail. The Arts Centre is located in a historic school building built in colonial times. Raglan Arts Trail is a location guide to well known studios and outlets, collect your brochure either from the Arts Centre or the Visitor Information Centre. The Arts Centre is a gallery in its own right, hosting the annual ‘Art to Wear’ festival and the town’s monthly creative markets as well as the annual Raglan Film Festival and Raglan Arts Weekend. Get hands-on at one of the regular art workshops, catch an exhibition or film and pick up some friendly advice to help you find your way around.
Raglan’s artsd @tessaskerman_art
RAGLAN ARTS WEEKEND
The Raglan Arts Weekend is the highlight of the Raglan arts calendar. Traditionally held over the Anniversary Weekend, around 30 artists exhibit over the three days, showcasing an impressive range of painting, ceramics, photography, jewellery and wearable art. Many artists will be exhibiting from their own studios, while others will be located within the Old School Arts Centre on Stewart Street. All work will be available for purchase, and the artists themselves will be in attendance to chat about their ideas and creative processes.
SHOPPING & MARKETS
Raglan Surf School @johanblc
Your guide to surfing Raglan, with world-class surf breaks and some of the consistent surf in the country, Raglan is a hot-spot for surf enthusiasts. Please respect surf etiquette and also help the locals look after the environment by picking up any rubbish and leaving only footprints.
For more surf reports and forecasts go to:
www.swellmap.com. Or Surf2surf.com.
Check out the conditions with the NIWA webcams:
SAFE SURFING CODE https://www.waikatonz.com/destinations/raglan/surfing-in-raglan/
Surfer standing at Piha Beach
HISTORY OF SURFING IN RAGLAN
Raglan surf found its way to worldwide fame in the iconic 1966 movie The Endless Summer, in which Manu Bay features as the beach with waves so long that “Raglan surfers don’t carry wax, they carry lifeboat rations”. Raglan surf culture is celebrated in several other films too – most recently Last Paradise, which describes the Waikato surf town’s pivotal role in shaping New Zealand’s adventure sports industry.
Raglan’s waves have been surfed for more than half a century, with the Raglan Point Boardriders’ club founded in 1962. Visit the Raglan Museum to see an exhibition of local surfing history or share stories with one of the locals. Many can tell you tales of travelling far abroad, only to return home in their quest for the perfect wave.
The Raglan Districts Museum highlights the areas rich surfing history with memorabilia and exhibitions.
Surfing at Piha Beach
Raglan’s famously long left hand break runs along a rocky shoreline, encompassing three bays. The rocky seafloor makes for consistent waves between four and six feet (sometimes a lot bigger). It’s said the three main point breaks of Manu Bay, Whale Bay, and Indicators, can link up on days where there is a large swell to create an incredible wave that provides a ride of more than two kilometres.
These are known as some of the best beaches in New Zealand for surfing due to their variety – with good point break, reef break, and beach break surfing.
Surfer Ngarunui black sand foot prints
A visit to Raglan surf stores demonstrates the quality Raglan’s surfboard makers bring to their craft in the form of impressive hand-crafted boards.
Master shaper Mickey T makes longboard designs in many different styles evoking the classic Malibu style. His durable hybrid and longboards are a testament to the virtues of artisan craftsmanship, and are works of art in their own right.
Another Raglan local known for his surfboards is Aaron Kereopa. The contemporary artist uses foam blank surfboards to create stunning carved pieces which are sold throughout New Zealand and the world.
Beach culture lifeguards and surfer Ngarunui Beach
The main point breaks of Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators are world renowned for their large, consistent waves, and suitable for experienced surfers.
SURFING PERSONALITIES AND EVENTS
Raglan, New Zealand, hosts surfing events such as the Rip Curl Pro, national championships and the Hyundai Longboard Tour. The town has given rise to surf pioneers, national surfing champions, and some brilliant surfboard makers.
Surfer Ngarunui on the way in
While Raglan is a vetern at welcoming visitors there is a tension between what an influx of development means for Raglan and the surrounding district. Raglan is developing quickly as a weekend escape for Aucklanders and Hamilton locals. Its geographic location means a 2 hour drive from either Auckland or a mere 50 minutes from Hamilton. A town where the airBNB sector is an economic activity should encourage visitors to think about the impact of a rapid growth in tourism and its impact on town, its inhabitants and the environment. There are no easy answers and, of course we all want to visit this very special place.
Official tourism websites: