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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrA peaceful beachside town, Raglan is one of New Zealand's premier surf destinations.
GeographyRaglan is located in the Whaingaroa Harbour (also known as Raglan Harbor) on the west coast of the Waikato region in New Zealand's North Island. It lies 30 miles west of Hamilton on State Highway 23. It has a population of around 3,000.
HistoryThe Raglan area was first inhabited by indigenous Maori around 800 years ago. In the Maori language the area was known as "Whaingaroa", meaning "the long pursuit". The English name was adopted in 1858 in honor of Fitzroy Somerset, 1st Lord Raglan, who had been the commander of British forces in the Crimean War . The first Europeans in the area were Wesleyan missionaries who arrived in 1835. European settlement began in the mid-1850s after land was sold by Maori Chief Wiremu Neera Te Awaitaia. Flax and timber exports, along with farming, became the main industries in the area, later followed by tourism and the arts.
During World War II the New Zealand Government sequestered ancestral land from Maori owners to construct a military airfield. When no longer required for defense purposes, part of the land was not returned to its indigenous owners. This lead to public protests during the 1970s, which eventually led to the land being returned to its original Maori owners.
SurfingRaglan is a mecca for surfers across New Zealand and further afield, with three world-class point breaks.
Nganrunui Beach is a large stretch of beach located 5km west of town. This is a great spot for less experienced and beginner surfers. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards during high season.
Manu Bay lies a little further along, 8km west of town. Manu Bay is undoubtedly the most famous of Raglan's surf breaks.
The long, peeling left-hand break, reputedly one of the longest rides in the world, featured in the 1966 surfing film 'Endless Summer'. If you continue on from Manu Bay, you can find the challenging breaks of Whale Bay and Indicators. Not recommended for beginners or the faint hearted!
When conditions are calm closer to town, check out Ruapuke. The best winds are from the easterly quarter, and when conditions are right it packs some serious power. Drive out along the coast from Raglan along the gravel road, and you'll get there in about 20 minutes.
Surf lessons and board hire are available from several surf schools. For one-off surf lessons or multi-day courses, you can try Surf Safe Surf Coaching Raglan, the Raglan Surfing School, or Raglan Watersports. Prices start at around 70 NZD for a 3 hour lesson, or 130 NZD for a full day, with cheaper prices available for children and teens. Boards can be hired from Raglan Watersports for 25 NZD for two hours.
Kayaks can be hired from Raglan Watersports for 20 NZD for one hour, 30 NZD for two hours, and 45 NZD for a half day. Te Akau Adventures also offers kayak rentals, as well as kayak tours. You can take a 3 hour "Whatever" kayak tour, the itinerary of which you can decide, for 60 NZD. An overnight tour will take you along the coast and up a creek to discover a hidden waterfall, before spending the night camping in beautiful native bush. Overnight tours run at 120 NZD.
Paddleboarding lessons are also available at most of the surf schools, with lessons beginning at 50 NZD for a one-on-one lesson, or 40 NZD for a group lesson, both lasting one hour. If you just want to hire the paddleboard, you can do this with prices beginning at 24 NZD for one hour, 40 NZD for two hours, and 70 NZD for a half day.
HikingThe Bryant Memorial Walk is a short 10 minute walk that ends on Ngarunui Beach. The walk begins at the car park of the Bryant Home Crusade Bible Camp, and winds its way through native bush. Enjoy the stunning views of the coast from the lookout about a third of the way down the trail.
The Bridal Veil Falls /Waireinga Falls is another short 10 minute walk, which leads up to the spectacular waterfalls at the top of the track. The walk is easy, and is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. At the top of the falls there are two good viewing platforms, as well as a lower viewing platform located down a steep set of stairs.
The Te Toto Lower Gorge Track passes along the fascinating Te Toto coast, which is home to volcanoes and ancient Maori settlements. Although the track is not fully formed, it is marked from the Te Toto Gorge car park to the bottom of the gorge. The walk begins with a steep descent, but then flattens out closer to the coast. Along the trail you can see remnants of stone walls and karaka groves, evidence of the area being inhabited by early Maori settlers. A viewing platform on the edge of the Gorge provides stunning views of the rugged coast. The track takes 30 minutes one way, and requires a good level of fitness and sturdy shoes.
There are two tracks that will take you to the summit of Mt Karioi, overlooking Raglan. Either track you choose will reward you at the top with spectacular views. On a clear day you can see Mt Taranaki, Pureora, Maungamangero, Te Aroha, Pirongia and Maungatautari.
The Mt Karioi Track is the closest to Raglan, and is the steeper but more interesting of the two options. The track starts by crossing a stile, after which it is all uphill, but with plenty of good vantage points where you can stop and admire the view. The trail leads through an open kanuka grove and grassland, before ascending the rocky main ridge. The final hour leads you along an undulating ridge, with vegetation sculptured by the prevailing westerly winds. The trail to the summit takes 3 - 3.5 hours one way, and begins at the Te Toto Gorge car park on Whaanga Road, near Raglan.
The Wairake Track is the alternative and shorter route to the summit. The walk begins at the car park off Ruapuke Road, then takes you across farmland for 40 minutes to the bush edge. From there, the track climbs steadily through native forest to the summit. The trial takes 2 - 3 hours one way.
DiningDuring summer, the Juantanameras food truck on Electric Avenue (off Wainui Road) cannot be beat for Venezuelan and Mexican food. Head next door for a flat white (a latte-like coffee native to New Zealand), before heading to Juantanameras for churros (Mexican doughnuts). A breakfast of champions!
For brunch options try The Shack on Bow Street - known as the best cafe in town to some. Try the chickpea-and-corn fritters, as well as the top-notch coffee. For a sea view with your eggs Benedict, try Orca on Wallis Street. Orca is also open in the evenings, where the shared platters and live music are a must!
For amazingly-fresh fish and chips (one of New Zealand's favorite meals), stop in at Raglan Fish at the Raglan Wharf on Wallis Street. The fresh oysters, mussels and seafood salads are also to die for.
AccommodationRaglan has a range of accommodation to choose from, for a variety of budgets. If you're on a backpacker's budget, you can tent or rent a basic unit, with prices beginning at 17 NZD per night. Karioi Lodge is an eco surf retreat just outside of town in Whale Bay. The Lodge offers rooms, backpackers accommodation or camping sites. Rooms begin at 27 NZD per night. Also just outside of town is the Solscape Eco Retreat Backpackers, which offers a range of dorm and room options, with prices 23 NZD-34 NZD per night. If you're after an option in town, try Raglan Backpackers on the edge of the harbor. Rooms begin at 26 NZD per night, per person. For a true farm experience, check out Dream View Farmstays (120 NZD per night for a unit), or the Raglan Farmhouse, which offers backpackers and private rooms, from 35 NZD - 130 NZD per night.
If you are looking for a self-contained option, Bow Street Studios have seven self-contained studios with waterfront views. Prices are 140 NZD- 240 NZD per night. For a hotel option, try the Harbour View Hotel right in the center of town. It has a range of rooms available, with prices from 60 NZD - 95 NZD. Ocean View Raglan Bed & Breakfast is also located in town, and you must try the croissants for breakfast! Prices are 90 NZD - 150 NZD per night. If you're looking to treat yourself, check out Hidden Valley Luxury Retreat. Tucked away in a valley ten minutes from Raglan, you can even have your own private forest spa! Prices are 130 NZD - 220 NZD per night.
Getting thereBy bus, first make your way to the city of Hamilton. From the Hamilton Bus Terminal (on the corner of Anglesea and Bryce Streets), catch the Route 23 bus out to Raglan. The fare should cost around 8 NZD for adults. This service runs three times a day Monday - Friday and twice daily on Saturdays. There is currently no service on Sundays or public holidays.
If you're driving from Auckland, leave State Highway 1 at Ngaruawahia and take State Highway 39 to Whatawhata. Turn right onto State Highway 23 at Whatawhata, and continue on to Raglan. Driving time takes around 2 hours. If driving from Hamilton, simply take State Highway 23. The drive will take you approximately 45 minutes.
By plane, the nearest international and domestic airport is the Hamilton International Airport. Air New Zealand and Sunair fly daily to cities and towns around New Zealand, including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Hamilton also connects with Sydney and Brisbane in Australia.
WeatherRaglan has a temperate climate, with an average high of 75 °F during summer, and an average low of 46 °F in winter, with only very light frosts.
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Author: Amanda. Last updated: Mar 15, 2016