What to Do in Raglan: The Surf Bohemian Town of the North Island
Discover a relaxed Kiwi paradise on the shores of the Waikato. Raglan is the North Island’s most famous surf spot. Unsurprisingly, the town has developed a bohemian vibe over the years with an eco-conscious feel, great little eateries and packed with creativity. Visit the art galleries, try the coffee, surf the waves and revive with one of the wellness retreats at this stunning little corner of New Zealand. Get inspired for what to do there with this list of things to do in Raglan.
1. Learn to Surf (or Surf if You Can Do it Anyway)
With some of the most consistent surf in the country, Raglan has earned itself a reputation of being a surfing hotspot! Keen surfers, see what all the fuss is about and enjoy meeting fellow wave-riders at breaks at Manu Bay, Whale Bay and further down Whaanga Road on Ruapuke Beach. There’s no lack of surf schools in Raglan, making it a great place to learn. Most surf lessons take place on the stunning black-sand Ngarunui Beach.
Location: Ngarunui Beach, Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Ruapuke Beach
2. Kayak or Paddleboard to Raglan’s “Pancake Rocks”
You might have heard of the Pancake Rocks on the South Island, but did you know that Raglan has some of its own?! Hire a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from one of the Raglan hostels or watersports companies and hit the water to see Raglan’s amazing limestone coast. The trip is accessible from Raglan town making it all the easier!
Location: From Wi Neera Street, kayak for 15 minutes across the channel to get to the start of the pancake rocks.
3. Check Out Bridal Veil Falls
One of Raglan’s most popular natural attractions, Bridal Veil Falls is a must-see! This 10-20 minute walk goes through lush native forest to several viewing platforms overlooking the 55m (180ft) waterfall. It takes 10 minutes on a well-graded trail to reach the top of the falls, then a further 10 minutes down some steep steps to the base of the falls.
Location: Te Mata Road, 19km (12 miles) south of Raglan
4. Hike Up Mt Karioi
See that ancient volcano overlooking the town? Well, you can climb it! There are two hiking tracks to the summit of Mt Karioi, the steepest being Mt Karioi Track taking 2h30min-3 hours to complete one way. There are expansive views to enjoy the whole way with an additional lookout on the track before reaching the summit. There are chains and ladders to help with some of the steeper and rockier sections. The Wairake Track is a shorter and easier track passing through farmland for 40 minutes before reaching the forest and ascending up the mountain.
Location: Mt Karioi Track – Te Toto Gorge, 13km (8 miles) from Raglan, Wairake Track – Karioi Road, 22km (14 miles) from Raglan
5. Visit the Art Galleries
Art awaits in the town of Raglan! Soak up the bohemian ambience of the small town by visiting the wide range of art galleries. There are around seven different art galleries to check out. The best time to visit the galleries is in summer when they have more frequent opening hours. The Matapihi Art Gallery on Bow Street, however, is a good one to check out at any time of the year.
Location: Raglan town centre
6. Check Out the Raglan Foodie Scene
With an emerging foodie scene, Raglan is a great place for a bite to eat or a coffee. It’s the home of the popular New Zealand coffee brand, Raglan Roast, as well as quirky little eateries like Rock-It Kitchen, Raglan Bakery, The Shack and more.
Location: Raglan town centre
7. Hit the Bike Trails
Yes, another great way to experience the great outdoors around Raglan is one of the cycle trails. Try the 45km (29-mile) Mt Karioi Loop for some great views and a ride that starts from town. Or how about the Pipiwharauroa Trail to the Te Umu Windfarm? There’s also a small park with mountain bike trails at Te Ara Kakariki just on the edge of town.
Location: See Mountain Biking in Waikato for more information.
8. Check Out the Raglan & District Museum
Every small town in New Zealand needs its museum, and Raglan’s is well worth the visit. For a small entry fee, check out photos from World War One, relics from the pioneering days of Raglan, stories of local heroes, old technology artefacts, information about the local birdlife and much more! The Raglan & District Museum is open daily.
Location: 15 Wainui Road
9. Jump on a Harbour Cruise
Get out on the water and enjoy the sunset on the Wahinemoe Harbour Cruise. Listen to stories about Raglan’s history, check out some of Raglan’s fascinating limestone formations and enjoy eating a Raglan speciality: fish & chips!
Location: 5b Whaagna Road
10. Rejuvenate with a Wellness Class
Wellbeing is a focus in Raglan where yoga classes and spas are easily found. While many of the accommodations offer a yoga class on selected days, accommodations like Solscape, Waoku Lodge and Karioi Lodge offer additional wellness programs, from retreats to spas.
Location: All around Raglan