Raglan, the tiny surf town just across from Hamilton, is one of my absolute favourite places in New Zealand. It was here that a two-day visit ended up as 10 lazy beach days the first time I visited the country a few years ago.
When returning back to New Zealand last September, my original plan was to work a chilled summer job and basically live on the beach. My plans changed, but my love for this place remains- from the dramatic drive into town through the winding landscape, the incredibly friendly locals, as well as high concentration of makers & creative in the town centre, too the long sandy beach and infamous surf breaks.
I’ve usually ended up staying at the Backpackers here (as voted one of the best in NZ, with a hot tub, hammocks and ‘The Endless Summer’ playing on someone’s laptop most evenings). They also have a heaps of boards ready to hire, along with kayaks and paddle boards to use on the estuary. So as long as you don’t mind getting wet, you won’t get bored.
Spending time by/on/in the water is my favourite and you can do this until your hearts content in Raglan. Whether you want to wander along the dramatic black sand beaches, take a surf lesson at Ngarunui Beach or paddle out at Manu Bay your guaranteed a good time. If your wanting a land-based adventure, take a hike up Karioi Summit Track to soak in the coastal view, or it’s only a short drive out of town to Bridal Veil Falls and appreciate the epic 55m waterfall drop.
There’s heaps of lovely places to eat & drink in Raglan too; fish & chips at the wharf is a must, along with fresh coffee from Raglan Roast and delicious baked treats from Rock It on the way to the beach. As mentioned also, this town is full of creative and it’s worth a visit to Tony Sly’s pottery workshop & store, as well as Denise Fort who illustrates her unique designs onto a variety of enchanting objects.