If you fancy escaping the city for a few days and you are a keen surfer but want somewhere a bit livelier than Piha and Murawai I suggest grabbing your board and hire car and drive 2 hours south from Auckland to Raglan. Famous for its surfing, music, bohemian lifestyle and of course the destination where the surf movie “The Endless Summer” was filmed. This place will not disappoint you!
Just 35 minutes from Hamilton you will find beautiful black sand beaches that the North west coast of the North Island is now renowned for. Here is why we love it!
Raglan’s Laidback Vibes:
Raglan is a small village where it seems everyone is welcome! The streets are lined with quaint café’s and surf shops and everyone is extremely friendly. It is a safe environment to bring the kids to, or come as a solo traveller, within an hour you will feel right at home! We also found our obligatory “fush and chups” at Raglan Wharf a must for any budget backpacker!
A ten minute drive outside of Raglan you will find the best surf spots! Mahu Bay (also known as The Point) has the longest most accessible and consistent left hand surf break in the Southern Hemisphere, this definitely makes Raglan’s surf the best in New Zealand!
Whale Bay is another great surfing spot, again with excellent left point breaks and has surf that works well on all tides. This however is a challenging spot as access is over exposed rock, so only seek it out if you are an experienced surfer!
Shuttle buses run back and forth from these bays in the summer and you can even learn to surf just visit one of the many surf schools that operate from the main street in Raglan Village.
Bridal Veil Falls:
If you have never seen a waterfall and want to be impressed then make sure you visit The Bridal Veil Fall’s, this waterfall has a 55 metre plunge and is just a short 10 minute stroll from the car park. Do make the effort to walk right down to the bottom and feel the cool spray on your face at the bottom viewing platform, it is even more spectacular from the bottom, we have been lucky enough to visit twice and each and every time I have been in awe!
Te Toto Gorge:
Te Toto Lower Gorge is where the Tasman Sea meets towering cliffs of volcanic rock, formed many moons ago by eruptions from Mt. Karioi. To reach this spot keep driving after Whale and Mahu Bay and don’t stop even after you hit the unsealed roads! The dramatic high cliffs are a sight not to be missed and few people actual make the journey here. You can get pretty close to the edge here to really understand how large the gorge is, it really did create that wow moment for me!
From here you can do numerous tramps up to and around Mt. Karioi but if you do go make sure some one knows you have gone as this place is extremely remote! From the car park you can continue on, the road passes some lovely secluded beaches great for a lunch time picnic spot and then loops back round to Bridal Veil Falls.
And once more if you have a little extra spare time this area is not far from the Waitomo Caves, where you can tie in a trip to explore some of the best caves on the North Island. Or even a side trip to Kawhia to explore the lesser known hot water beach!
If you need to find somewhere to stay other than a campground when you visit then we highly reccommend booking your accommodation in advance, Raglan is a small town New Zealand at it’s finest, which also means there is often “no room at the inn!” especially in the height of the summer. We suggest checking out BookaBach before hand or you can use this link to find out instant availability of the motels and/or hotels in the area.
It is hard to return back to reality after a road trip like this!