Manu Bay, Raglan beach waves.
NEW ZEALAND’S GEM: RAGLAN
Many people I meet abroad say “oh yes I’ve been to New Zealand… I’ve been to Auckland.” My response is always along the lines of “well you’re going to have to go back, and add Raglan to your list.” Don’t get me wrong, Auckland can be super fun and it has it’s perks, but New Zealand definitely has so much more to offer. And I like to think the place I call home is New Zealand’s hidden gem. A small beach town on the west side of the North Island, called Raglan.
It sits 45 minutes from the city of Hamilton allowing you to enjoy the quietness and relaxing life by the beach yet still in driving distance to the hustle and bustle of the city.
The drive alone has you envisioning yourself in Jurassic Park, with the windy narrow roads that wrap around the mountains while having a peek at the windmills as they peer through the hills. It truly is a sight in itself. Raglan is a tourist hot spot famous for it’s left side break and is a popular surfing destination. People flock to experience the laid back lifestyle but still it offers something for everyone.
So, let’s talk!
The top 10 things to do in Raglan!
1. Bridge Jumping
Bridge jumping Raglan beach.
You read that right! Time to amp yourself up and ump off the bridge at Te Kopua/Camping Ground! This is a must do, it’s super safe, and suitable for any level of adrenaline junkie. There are two bridges you can jump off, one is a walking bridge at the Camp Ground which is a family friendly beach right in town. You’ll catch young locals jumping off as young as 5, so you can do it! It’s thrilling and it’s extremely fun.
The next bridge is the one way bridge which connects the township to the west side of Raglan. Please be weary of the cars, but again super super fun and refreshing. Check with a local if you’re unsure. You’ll see the packed beaches in the summertime and with the amount of people jumping you won’t want to miss out!
2. Best Sushi in…. THE WORLD!
Now that you have jumped off bridges you’ll be hungry so you must try the sushi from Aloha sushi. This is an amazing local sushi shop and it’s actually my favourite in the whole world – not being bias. I recommend the Katsu Donburi, but take a look at the menu and I’m sure you’ll find something you love. All freshly made and all delicious.
3. Karioi Hike
If you are looking for an adventure, you’re up for a challenge, and you want the opportunity to see a breathtaking view you should definitely do the Karioi hike. There are different tracks so please be sure you make sure you know which one you’re doing. I think they take about three hours or so, so be prepared for a big day of hiking, take food and water, and let someone know when you’re doing it. Safety first! But the view is magnificent and you definitely will not regret it.
4. Chicken Satay
I’m a lover of food so I always like to recommend the best food spots. You can’t go to Raglan and not try the famous chicken satay which you can find in the bottom bakery. Very important – don’t forget to ask for the peanut butter sauce, it is absolutely divine and a locals favourite.
5. Wainui Reserve/Ngarunui
Raglan is known for its beautiful black sand and its diverse options of beaches. One of my favourite beaches is called
Wainui Reserve, Ngarunui beach sunset, Raglan.
Wainui Reserve also known as Ngarunui. The name translates to ‘big waves’ so yes, its a fun beach with great waves. Want to get away from the children and noise at the Camp Ground and play in some waves? This beach is your answer. Absolutely beautiful with views that will completely take your breath away, if you’re wanting to have a surf lesson there are teachers that are usually there too. Best to swim when the life guards are out and keep in the flags! Only downside is that you’ll have to walk down the big hill to get to the beach, so obviously you’re going to have to walk back up, but it’s definitely worth it.
6. Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is located 10 minutes out of Raglan heading towards Hamilton. Walk through the beautiful bush and see many wonderful native trees, keep an eye out for wild life, and you’ll eventually arrive to the waterfall. There are steps that lead you right to the bottom of the falls to give you the opportunity to take that amazing photo! But yes of course you will have to walk back up these as well. This is a fun day and good for the whole family and isn’t too long!
7. Surf beaches
As I have mentioned there are many beaches that Raglan has to offer. If you’re a surfer I would highly recommend going out to see Manu Bay and Whale Bay, both of which are stunning beaches with some killer waves. Manu Bay is also a nice place to unwind, meditate, or enjoy a picnic with a view. So grab your surfboard take a picnic or grab some Fish n Chips from Joes and go enjoy the waves or even catch a beautiful sunset.
8. Fish n Chips
Yes, you can’t have a full New Zealand experience without having fish and chips. My favourite place to get fish and chips is from Joes who is located down at the camping ground. With great bargains, delicious food, and fresh fish you can never go wrong.
9. Yot Club
Because Raglan is a small community and nothing is open past 8 PM it can be quite hard to find something fun to do at night. However, the Yot club is Raglans hotspot for night life, it is a rustic bar type feel and usually have a live band to give it that really cool beach vibe. So what we locals like to do is go and have a beer, watch the rugby game over at the Raglan Harbour View hotel, relax on the Veranda bar, and then head over to the Yot Club to go have a little bit of a dance. It’s always a cool vibe because there is the perfect mix between locals and foreigners.
If you haven’t already realized, Raglan is a beautiful super easy going, relaxing, and gorgeous place suited for absolutely everybody. So if you’re after a relaxing and serene trip or if you want a bit of adventure and spontaneity there is loads to do for all. From fun hikes, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, to enjoying nature, watching the sunset, shopping at the markets, or just enjoying a nice cold bevvy with great food options and even greater company!
Raglan is a beautiful place so come and enjoy this slice of paradise as we do. I love my home and tight-knit community, and this is why I call it New Zealand’s gem.
Beautiful Raglan beach sunset.