150km south of Auckland central, Raglan is the perfect place to escape to for a weekend any time of the year. This small west coast town and its surrounds have loads in the way of both action and relaxation to offer. Swim at the dramatic black sand beaches, soak up the laid-back surfy vibes in the township, and enjoy sensational views and sunsets from scenic lookouts. Keep reading to find out our favourite things to see, do, and eat in Raglan.
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Active: Surf the waves
With three of the best left-hand point breaks in the world, Raglan is a mecca for surfers and the small town reflects the surfing vibe. The first point break, Manu Bay, was even featured in the 1966 cult surfing movie, Endless Summer. If you’re not a confident surfer, we’d recommend getting a lesson from a pro before heading out, check out Raglan Surfing School and Surfboard Rentals.
For beginner surfers, boogie boarding, and body surfing, we'd recommend the main beach, Ngarunui, as it is patrolled by surf lifeguards from Labour Weekend until Easter Weekend.
Eat: Ice cream at Roll up, 11 Bow St
If you look down Bow Street, the main street of Raglan township, on any given day throughout summer, you’re likely to see a long queue winding its way out of Roll Up. The store offers 19 tasty flavours of ice cream, as well as smoothies, and real fruit ice creams made with fresh fruit. They also make delicious burritos and wraps if you’re in need of something more substantial. Discover our other favourite ice cream stores around New Zealand here.
Art: Raglan Arts Weekend
Held annually since 2009, the Raglan Arts Weekend is the highlight of the town's arts calendar. Around 30 talented and diverse artists exhibit over the three days, showcasing an impressive range of painting, ceramics, photography, jewellery and wearable art. Follow the tour around town to visit a range of artist studios, before finishing up at the Old School Arts Centre on Stewart Street. All work is available for purchase (if not sold already!) and the artists themselves will be available to chat about their ideas and creative processes. In 2019, the Arts Weekend is taking place from Saturday 20 April to Monday 22 April.
Adventure: Bridal Veil Falls
20 minutes out of town is Bridal Veil Falls. It's an easy 10-minute walk through native forest to the top of the Falls, where from the viewing platform you get stunning views over the falls and surrounding countryside. From here you can walk a further 10 minute to the bottom of the falls. This section is steep and mostly stairs but the view across the pool and up at the falls from the bottom bridge will make the sweat well worth it!
Shop: Raglan Creative Market
The Raglan Creative Market takes place in the Raglan Old School Arts Centre between 10am and 2pm on the second Sunday of every month, with some additional Sundays over summer. While offering some of the best produce from around the local area, the market also features arts, crafts, and prepared food. It's the perfect place to mingle with locals and soak up the town’s relaxed attitude and creative vibe!
Eat: Fish and chips from Raglan Fish, 92 Wallis St
If you’re craving generous portions of crispy chips and perfectly cooked breaded or battered locally sourced fish, then look no further than Raglan Fish. Enjoy your meal with your legs dangling over the edge of the Raglan Wharf while watching the tide surge in or out of the harbour. Discover our other favourite fish and chippies around New Zealand here.
History: Tattooed rocks
Located on the foreshore between the northern end of the Manu Bay reserve and the southern end of Ngarunui Beach are rocks featuring ancient carvings. Designs include stick-like human figures, what appear to be letters and numbers, and a variety of strange shapes. The origins of the carvings are unknown.
To find them, set off from the Manu Bay reserve, adjacent to the boat launching ramp. Head north over the boulders until you're about halfway to Ngarunui beach. You’ll find the rocks close to the bottom of the cliff.
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