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Roughly halfway along the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, the quaint, tranquil town of Raglan (pop. 3,300) has much to offer visitors. The laidback nature of its people goes hand in hand with their love for outdoor music, arts, the sea, and outdoors sports. Especially the last two - in addition to being a great destination for water sports such as body boarding and kayaking, Raglan is a huge attraction for surfers from around the globe, with three world-class point breaks and a surf-school; it's also hosted a world surfing championship . Other water sports such as body boarding and kayaking are also quite popular here.
Ocean Beachs black volcanic sand and long beaches make a walk on the beach spectacularly amazing. If treks are your thing, head on to the Mount Karioi for a three-hour hike to the top and take in the fresh mountain air with the very friendly and knowledgeable Raglan tourist guide. Biking or walking to the Wierenga Falls (aka Bridal Veil Falls) is a must for all visitors.
The music scene in Raglan is quite active, with several of its restaurants playing live music and the Yot Club attracting musicians from all over New Zealand. For a sampling of the local music, head on to the Orca Restaurant and Bar, which hosts an open-mic event once a month.
Raglan is also famous for its art, with several galleries and cafés featuring the local artists. The Raglan Old School Arts Centre hosts exhibitions and workshop for traditional crafts such as weaving and quilting as well as Maori crafts and the inevitable blend of the two. Featuring boutique as well as regular coffee, having a cup in Raglan has become a tradition of sorts with its frequent visitors. The brews here are said to be the best; that coupled with the relaxing atmosphere and beautiful surroundings a coffee break in Raglan’s famous cafés is a travel treat not to be passed up.
Besides the beauty and zeal for life, the most precious thing a visitor can take home from a vacation to Raglan is its passion for recycling, with the town recycling about 75 percent of its waste. Raglan is very serious about its environmental impact, with several buildings using reusable energy and having an eco-friendly structure.
Raglan's Top Sttes to Visit
Bridal Veil Falls 90
Set in pristine forest, this absolutely stunning waterfall (above) is just a small walk away from Raglan. Called Waireinga Falls by the natives, the water here drops an amazing 55 meters into an almost ring-shaped pool. Visitors have an option to trek down to the pool and have a closer look at the spectacular waterfall.
With a lovely shoreline, gorgeous views of the open ocean and a carpet of stark black and contrasting the clear blue water, this beach is the favorite hangout the place of locals as well as visitors. Visitors can watch as surfers play with the waves or kitesurfers whizz around while lazing on the clean beach. The place is also a popular swimming spot and a good place to try boarding or surfing.
Arguably the most famous spot in Raglan, Manu Bay was featured in the much-loved surfer movie Endless Summer. It is also the venue for many international surfing competitions due to long, consistent, and accessible breaks. A huge attraction for surfers, the place is also appreciated by visitors of all ages and interests. Amazingly beautiful and rich in vegetation, the bay is perfect for boating, fishing or a peaceful walk on the beach.
Another surfer’s paradise, it's located just five miles from Raglan and is home to the world-famous Indicators and Whale Bay breaks. Surfing here is strictly for the hardcore, as the waters are very fierce and the shore rocky. Visitors can enjoy a walk on the beautiful shoreline or head to the Whale Bay Reserve, which has fantastic views of the ocean and picnic area. Te Toto Gorge is also nearby, where you can explore the local plant life and a slightly challenging trek, down the gorge.
Te Kopua Beach and Recreational Reserve
A hub of outdoor activity in Raglan; with plenty of events to engage all ages and inclinations. The beach here has white sand and clean waters and is very popular for swimming, sunbathing, kite flying, fishing, and boating. For the more active traveler, there is a BMX track, skateboarding park, and even a 13 station fitness trail. A playground for kids, BBQ facilities, and a soccer field are other facilities at the reserve.