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Raglan, beach guide – where to go

Whale Beach, Raglan, North Island New Zealand, an nzjane image

Raglan is a surfing mecca with its pounding surf a spectacular drawcard. The seaside village of Raglan is one of New Zealand’s original surf towns. Raglan has embraced wanderlust as a town motto. Find out more where the nearest surf beaches are as well as safe places for kids to paddle. Discover remote beaches where wild ocean surf swells and driftwood iron sand beaches are a photographer’s dream.

Surf culture two teeenage boys Manu beach, New Zealand
Manu beach, Raglan, North island, NZ

Beaches, Raglan and beyond, best things to do

  • Surf beaches, finding out tips to improve your surfing credentials or getting on a board for the first time, Ngarunui Beach, Manu Beach, Whale Bay
  • Water based fun at the Raglan estuary, cruising the harbour,  kayaking around the coast

Beyond Raglan, where to find a quiet remote beach

  • Kawhai hot water beach, bring a spade and dig your own natural spa
  • Aotea Beach, amazing coloured reefs at low tide
  • Ruapuke Beach and Whaanga Road exploration
  • Waikawau Tunnel and beach remote, driftwood iron sands
Whale Bay views, Raglan, New Zealand Whale Bay views, Raglan, North island, NZ

Best time to visit Raglan, North Island

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.

How to get to Raglan, Waikato?

The best option is a vehicle on the road network.  Public long distance bus network via Hamilton. Intercity bus  schedule is once a day.  There are summer shuttle services running from Hamilton Airport.

How to get around Raglan and the Waikato region?

The best way to get around Raglan and the Waikato region (central North Island, NZ) is your own vehicle. The popular surfing beach Ngarunui.

Weather in Raglan

Raglan Coastal Marine Weather Forecast

Where is Raglan

Central North Island, New Zealand located on the west coast

Raglan Beaches

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.

Discover 35 Things to Do in Raglan, New Zealand and enjoy a classic seaside town.

Raglan surf school – find your inner surfer

Want to improve your surfing skills? Take it to the next level with a personalised surf lesson ! From beginners to more advanced surfers, we can work with you on a one on one or one on two instructor to student ratio. Maximise your progress and improve your performance.

What’s included

  • Surfboard and wetsuit

Departure details

  • Ngarunui Beach, Wainui Road, Raglan 3297, New Zealand We meet in the main carpark, Ngarunui beach raglan @ our red surf truck and trailer
Wahinemoe Sunset Cruise, New Zealand @Raglan Boat Charter
Wahinemoe Sunset Cruise, New Zealand @Raglan Boat Charter

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.


Book Now

Surf Guide

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:

Surf forecast for Manu Bay. Or Surfline.

Check out the conditions with the NIWA webcams:

Surfer Ngarunui on the way in Raglan, New Zealand
Surfer Ngarunui on the way, Raglan, North island, NZ

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.

The perfect surfing landscape

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.

Key surfing areas

The main point breaks of Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators are world renowned for their large, consistent waves, and suitable for experienced surfers.


Raglan left hand breaks, Raglan, North island, NZ
Raglan Surfing School, Raglan, North island, NZ

However nearby Ngarunui, also known as Ocean Beach, is good for beginners and those new to the sport and is home to the Raglan surf school, New Zealand’s first sanctioned surfing school, where you can take a surfing lesson year round. It’s a great place for learners due to its tamer waves, and is also a popular spot with swimmers in the hot summer months. Follow the coast around Mt Karioi to Ruapuke beach – a secluded slice of paradise in the Waikato region which often plays host to surfing competitions.

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.

Surfboard makers

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.

Safe Surfing

Visitors to Raglan are encouraged to familiarise themselves with Raglan’s Safe Surfing Code.

Travel Pack Commentary

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.

@Raglan Backpackers
@Raglan Backpackers

Stay in Raglan

For a Raglan weekend break consider the centrally based camping grounds Raglan Holiday Park Papahua is in a truly superb location boarded by water on several sides, the placid ebb and flow of the estuary. A two minute walk has you on the beach, and a five minute stroll across the bridge and you are in the centre of Raglan town. Popular among light aircraft pilots looking for a fun weekend jaunt, the Raglan camping ground is situated beside the local grass airstrip. There are powered and non-powered sites as well as motel, chalet and studio en suite stay options.

Official tourism websites

Discover Raglan’s charms beyond the beach. Raglan is more than a surf beach destination. Walk the Raglan art trail and delve into the thriving art scene. The Old School Art Center is the hub of the artistic community. Relish supported by local weekend visitors, the 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 Bridal Veil waterfalls and quiet gravel roads leading to towns steeped in the history of New Zealand.

Massive point break waves Raglan surf culture NZ
Massive point break waves Raglan surf culture, Raglan, North island, NZ


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