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Family fun

Raglan what to do with kids, family and friends holiday ideas

  • 2 minutes

Waikato, North Island

Summer holidays, the beach 6 great things to do

Raglan is a local bach (simple holiday home) destination for generations of New Zealanders living in Auckland and Hamilton. You are leaving the urban week for a weekend of bare feet, floppy board shorts with a shirt in case it’s cool. Fish n chips, burgers and coffee at a favourite haunt on Sunday. It’s about kicking back, leisurely strolling to a nearby cafe for Saturday brunch. There is time for a walk on your beach that resonates with memories of exhilarating screams of children having fun. Let’s get going, the car is packed, the dog’s bed chucked into the back, a check of the fridge to see if any chilled snacks have been forgotten then its on the road to Raglan.

Whale Bay views, Raglan, New Zealand
Whale Bay views

Raglan beaches Whale, Manu & Ngarunui + Estuary. Today is about experiencing the coastal contrasts between the placid estuary and the surging waves of Whale beach. In between are surfers galore, beach culture and sense of endless summer. Locals are good to go in all weathers with the requisite wetsuit ensuring a nip in the air does not halt surf operations.


The estuary is a perfect place for toddlers, swimmers of all abilities. At high tide the jetty and footbridge are the places to spot locals indulging in jumping off. For kayaking fans the estuary offers quiet tidal waters to dip your toes into your first kayaking experience. The area is known as Te Kopua Beach.

Raglan Te Kopua Estuary Beach high tide, New Zealand
Raglan Te Kopua Estuary Beach high tide
Gravel road views of farmland and sea inlets (estuary), Raglan, New Zealand
Gravel road views of farmland and sea inlets (estuary)
  1. WALKS

Footloose and fancy free stroll – Estuary Walk

Wander along the estuary people watching. A low tide shellfish gatherers congregate on the exposed intertidal flats collecting wedge shells, nut shells, cockles and mud crabs. The tidal lagoon is an important habitat for migratory bird species feeding on the rich tidal flats. The critically endangered Maui has been observed in the harbour. The harbour is an important culturally significant area for the Tainu Iwi (tribe). While the walk is 5km one way side streets, art galleries and strategically placed seating makes for comfortable stops along the way.


Have you ever gathered cockles with your family? Not only is it fun to gather cockles, but for many Kiwis cockles are an important food source. In some places cockles are under pressure. We talked to Ministry of Fisheries Scientist Richard Ford to find out more about this shellfish that only grows in New Zealand.” Check Department of Conservation brochure on protocols for shellfish gathering and the story of cockles.

Shellfish Raglan estuary cockle gatherers, New Zealand
Shellfish Raglan estuary cockle gatherers
Surfer Ngarunui on the way in Raglan, New Zealand
Surfer Ngarunui on the way in

Ngarunui Beach 5km from Raglan

Perhaps the family wants to join a surfing class, get out the boards and try the famous point break of Ngarunui (Ocean) Beach. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards. The toilets are a short steep walk from the beachside. There is a coffee cart, snacks and surfing geer to hire during the summer season. Forward book your day of surf lessons and board hire to avoid disappointment.


There is little shade at the beach be prepared to slather on sunscreen and haul a shade umbrella to the beach for the day. Remember to carry plenty of water.

Beach culture Ngarunui lifeguards, New Zealand Beach culture Ngarunui lifeguards
Beach culture lifeguards Ngarunui lifeguard rescue raft, New Zealand Beach culture lifeguards Ngarunui lifeguard rescue raft

Based in New Zealand’s home of surfing Raglan Surfing School is one of the country’s original surf schools established in 1999.  With a trailer stacked with gear directly on the beach boards, wetsuits, equipment is available for as long as required.
Surfer Ngarunui black sand foot prints , New Zealand Surfer Ngarunui black sand foot prints


Manu Bay 8 km from Raglan is an internationally known surf break. The long rolling left hand break was a star in the 1966 film, Endless Summer. There is a very large carpark where people watching is an activity in its own right. Observe the laconic surfer preparing, the surfers dotted in the ocean and enjoy the excitement as the left hand break peels into the bay with its surfers riding the wave. There are toilets and a short beach walk to further explore the area.

Surf culture two teeenage boys Manu beach, New Zealand
Surf culture two teeenage boys Manu beach
Massive point break waves Raglan surf culture NZ
Massive point break waves Raglan surf culture NZ

  • Cockle gathering with kids stuck in the muddy low tide estuary flats
  • Learning to surf
  • Fish n Chips on the beach
  • Harbour estuary walk with its magnificent potukawa trees offering light and shaded depths to photo moment
  • Padding in the safe Raglan estuary waters
  • Kawhia and the spade (NOTE) for smaller children the trudge to the beach might need some help (you are carrying the child)
  • Raglan outdoor sculptures and town signage

Getting to Raglan


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