The Must-Dos in Raglan: The Bohemian Surf 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 bursting 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 your trip with this list of things to do in Raglan.
Do we even need to mention this one? The main reason why Raglan has been put on the map is because of its epic surf. If you are a beginner, there’s plenty of opportunities to get a surf lesson in Raglan. Surf lesson operators will usually pick you up in town too. Otherwise, pro surfers will find good breaks on Ngarunui Beach, Manu Bay, Whale Bay and further down Whaanga Road on Ruapuke Beach. Pick up some rental gear in your hostel or from the surf hire companies in town. Find out more in The Best Surf Regions in New Zealand.
Location: Ngarunui Beach, Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Ruapuke Beach.
2. Kayak or SUP to the Pancake Rocks
Looking for something to do straight from Raglan town? Take a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) out to the Pancake Rocks of Raglan! These layers of limestone rocks compressed together over millions of years are a cool little spot to kayak to at mid to high tide to get into more of the caves or go at low tide to see more of the rock formations. There are multiple kayak and SUP hire companies in the town that will point you in the right direction!
Location: From Raglan Backpackers on Wi Neera Street, kayak for 15 minutes across the channel to get to the start of the pancake rocks.
3. 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
4. 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.
Location: Jet Collective – 19a Bow Street. Kanuka Design Gallery – 1 Wainui Road. Raglan Old School Arts Centre – 5 Stewart Street. Studio Gallery – 21 Cross Street.
5. Check Out the Town Events
Whether it’s quiz nights, gigs, surf competitions, or having a good old drink at the yacht club, there’s always something happening in Raglan. What’s more, the Raglan community really want you to know about it, so check notice boards on the streets, in your accommodation or on Facebook and you’re bound to find something!
Location: Around town and in the hostels.
6. Rejuvenate with a Wellness or Yoga 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, Karioi Lodge and the Raglan Backpackers offer additional wellness programs, from retreats to spas.
Location: See the links above for specific locations.
7. Walk to Bridal Veil Falls
A short drive out of Raglan is the majestic Bridal Veil Falls. Walk in the lush native bush for 10 minutes until you reach a viewing platform inches away from the 55m (180ft) waterfall! Once you soak in the views, make your way down the 261 steps to various viewing platforms. Then prepare yourself for the climb all the way back up again! See more waterfalls in 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand.
Location: Follow State Highway 23 south of Raglan. Turn into Te Mata Road then follow for about 9km (5.5 miles) then turn left into Kawhai Road. From there you’ll head straight to the car park. It is approximately 19km (12 miles) south of Raglan town centre.
8. 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 Roast – 9 Bow Street. Rock-It Kitchen – 248 Wainui Road. Raglan Bakery – 4 Bow Street. The Shack – 19 Bow Street.
9. Go On a Caving or Canyoning Adventure
Experience Raglan’s rough side with some caving, rock climbing or canyoning with Raglan Rock. On the mighty Mt Karioi, climb your way up layered limestone formations of Skycastle while taking in some awesome views along the way! If you prefer to be underground, take one of the pot holiday adventures down to stalactite-filled caves. You’ll also see the world-famous New Zealand glowworms.
Location: Pick up from Raglan is included in the tour.
10. Have a Walk in the Wainui Bush Reserve
If you’re stuck on Ngarunui Beach when all of your mates have gone off surfing? Take a hike in the bush just behind the beach! There is a walking track that extends throughout the whole beach. You can access it from the car park at the end of the Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive. There is a grassy track to a gate then follow the arrows from there.
Location: Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive, Ngarunui Beach, approximately 4km (2.5 miles) from Raglan town centre.
11. 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 specific locations.
12. 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.
13. Jump on a Harbour Cruise
Get out on the water and enjoy the sunset on the Wahine Moe Harbour Cruise with Raglan Boat Charter. Listen to stories about Raglan’s history, check out some of Raglan’s fascinating limestone formations and enjoy eating a Raglan speciality: fish and chips!
Location: 92 Wallis Street, approximately 1.5km (0.9 miles) from Raglan town centre.
14. Play Golf
What’s a chilled seaside town without a golf course? Have a round in the 18-hole Raglan Golf Club course. You can either hire clubs (or check if your accommodation offers free clubs). There are great views to be had while putting those holes!
Location: Te Hutewai Road, approximately 2.5km (1.6 miles) from Raglan town centre.
15. Go Fishing
Try your luck in the Raglan Harbour or head out on the road to Ruapuke Beach to increase your catching chances. There are no restrictions in the area, so buy some bait, rent a fishing rod (or borrow one from your accommodation) and cast your line! Check out Fishing in New Zealand for more information.
Location: Raglan Wharf, Wallis Street, approximately 1.5km (0.9 miles) from Raglan town centre. Ruapuke Beach – Ruapuke Beach Road, approximately 25km (15.5 miles) from Raglan town centre.