© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

How to Enjoy a Rainy Day in Raglan (for Free)!

© NZPocketGuide.com

33 Days on the Road

Update: Matapihi Art Gallery is not currently operating.

Winter is in full swing in the northern North Island of New Zealand, which means rain, rain and more rain. Our usual solution for battling the boredom of rainy days is to get wet anyway! Yesterday, we went canyoning, the week before that we spent most of it in the Waitomo caves. But, it comes to the point where we want to do cheap and cheerful activities. (Actually, that’s 85% of most backpackers’ wants).

Our first solution is to get a free kayak from the Raglan Backpackers and visit the Pancake Rocks which are a quick paddle over the channel. However, with the winds picking up, we are advised against it.

Suz’s amazing map of Raglan art

The lovely hostel owner, Suz, sees us working and scratching our heads over what to do today, and she says: “Have a day off! Do what Raglaners do on a day off when the surf is bad.”

What? Us? Have a day off?! Robin hasn’t had a day off in five years. (But lazy Laura could kiss Suz for this suggestion)! Ok, we can’t exactly have a “day off” because this blog would get pretty boring (assuming it is not already boring). However, we are intrigued with what Raglaners do on a day off.

Suz suggests seeing Raglan’s creative side, more specifically, visit the art galleries. There are seven art galleries here in this small town. SEVEN! The art starts with the map of the town that Suz gives us itself. It’s a hand-drawn map, complete with crayon colours. (We are impressed by whoever drew this. They stayed in the lines and everything). Suz marks down five of the walking distance art galleries on the funky map, then she suggests that we should finish with a famous Raglan Roast coffee. But we better be quick because it’s a Sunday and who knows what time they’ll close?!

A rollercoaster of emotions on the Raglan art trail

We’re walking along the street on our way to our first gallery, The Old School Gallery. We’re pumped, we’re strutting down the street, and we’re ready to see some art. We see the sign and… Oh… an empty car park. We go to open the door and it’s locked. Hum, too bad.

Onto the next one, we are looking for a gallery named “Hello” that Suz has written on our map. We don’t see a Hello gallery but we do see an “Ahoy” gallery! (We get it, Suz, we wouldn’t be able to remember the name of all these art galleries either). Ahoy looks kind of cool with some bunting on the outside, a sailing ship chalked on the chalk board… Aaaaannnddd, the door is locked. Noooo!

Ok, don’t fret. We may get to see some art yet. Further up the street and across a roundabout, we spot a large sign simply saying: “Art”. Outside the gallery is a flamingo made out of car tyres. How edgy! There is also a sign saying “Open”. Plus, another sign on the door saying: “Please knock. (Blooding wind)”. First of all, blooding? Second of all, when we knock no one answers…

Where thou art there? Because there we can find no art!

By this point we are losing hope. Where are all the artists in Raglan?! Has there been some sort of artist apocalypse? There must be someone out there holding a paintbrush that has got lost. If you find them, please send them back to Raglan. Matters don’t get any better when we spot a broken surfboard lying next to the road with the word painted on it: “Art”. (See image above).

Just as we are wiping the tears of disappointment away, we spot a huge open sign, and another open sign, and another. It’s outside an art gallery called Matapihi Art Gallery. Laura goes to turn the door knob and… Oh. She can’t open it. It must be closed. She goes to turn back on the street and… *choir chorus* Aaaaoooowwwww… A lovely French lady opens the door.

“It sometimes gets stuck,” she says.

Raglan’s awesome little galleries

Canvas art, jewellery, clothes, sculptures, postcards… There are heaps to see in this house converted into an art gallery. All of the art here is New Zealand and Raglan-designed. Robin particularly likes some old road signs that have been used as a canvas, while Laura is rummaging through the cards looking for birthday cards to send home to her parents. These types of places are perfect to buy more authentic New Zealand souvenirs for the family back at home!

Of course, most of the art is inspired by the ocean, from the turquoise colour-schemes to the gritty sand actually used on some of the paintings. We don’t see much room in our campervan for a canvas, but their pretty nice to look at.

If we don’t see any more art galleries today, then we can still end the day happily, since Matapihi was such a cool little spot. Nevertheless, a place called Jet is open, which is a small gallery/shop, identified by the nose of the jet place sticking out the front of the shop. Again, this is full of New Zealand and surf-inspired trinkets. Our favourite are these mini simplistic canvases of various New Zealand lighthouses!

Relaxing with a Raglan Roast

After such an intense mission trying to find art galleries that are open on a Sunday in Raglan, we decide to sit down at the cool and quirky Raglan Roast for a coffee. We also nibble on a cake that we have no idea what it is, (and neither does the barista) but it tastes sweet and delicious. There is a vintage backgammon set lying on the table that Laura is keen to play since no one has ever taught her and Robin is the guy to teach her! She wins. Robin reckons he must have missed a few rules…

It’s pretty nice to embrace that relaxing side of Raglan after the long run of epic days we’ve had. For the first time in a long while we are not rushing around like crazies, but just rolling through Raglan at our own pace.

Tonight, we’re chilling with some of the people we went canyoning with yesterday. One of the girls is making muffins! Then tomorrow, we head back to Hamilton to pick up our fixed campervan. Yaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy! See you then.

Take a look around the Matapihi Art Gallery

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