Raglan is a beautiful beach town on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, known for its epic surf breaks and laid-back bohemian vibes. Mention Raglan to anyone who’s been there, and they will likely get stars in their eyes as they talk about how much they just love this area!
Even if you’re not a surfer, there is plenty to do in Raglan – whether it’s hiking to an amazing waterfall, going for long beach walks, kayaking in the harbour, or sampling the delicious food on offer. Relaxing also counts as an activity in our opinion! Also, if you’re keen to try surfing, there are some great options for lessons here.
We’ve written a handpicked guide to best things to do in Raglan. Read on to discover where to stay, explore, eat and shop in Raglan!
WHERE TO STAY
A fantastic eco-retreat with an incredible selection of accommodation options – you can stay in a cabin made from a converted train car, a tipi, a belle tent, or simply camp in your own campervan or tent on their beautiful grounds. Solscape has a good communal kitchen and outdoor barbecue area, and also offer yoga classes and surf lessons. It’s really such a fun experience to stay here!
If you want to camp, and also want some peace and solitude, look no further than this gorgeous campground – it’s a decent drive out of the main town, but is also just a great place to get away from it all. There is a trail from the campground which takes you out to the rugged black sand beach – a great place to watch the sun set over the sea. Bring food, drinks, etc. with you as you won’t find any of that out here!
There are so many great Airbnb options in Raglan. Peruse around the site and you’re sure to find something suitable.
WHAT TO EAT
If you go to just one Raglan eatery, make it this one! This café serves up delicious fresh breakfast and lunch items – order from the menu or from a great array of cabinet items. The Shack has plenty of options for vegetarians and carnivores alike, and source local ingredients whenever possible – like Volare bread and Kaiwhenua greens.
Situated in a converted wool shed, this cute café makes some seriously delicious food. Go for brunch and try their shakshuka, a smoky tomato-pepper egg bake served in a mini cast iron skillet. Their kumara cakes are also divine.
This fish-and-chips shop is situated right on the Raglan harbour – on a good day, you really can’t beat the spacious deck at this spot. Their fish is super fresh and portions are huge – we usually share! They also have fresh sushi if you’re in the mood for something lighter.
PLACES TO SHOP
For beautiful handmade leather shoes, look no further than this lovely shop. They also produce gorgeous leather bags and belts. Their sandal selection is on point – we particularly love the Havanna & T-Bar styles.
This delightful shop is full of stunning ceramics, whether you’re looking for a Moroccan tagine or a new mug to spruce up your morning routine. There is a French countryside-meets-modern minimalist aesthetic here and you’re sure to find something to treat yourself with.
WHERE TO EXPLORE
Avid surfers will likely know of the top surf spots in Raglan. If you are a beginner, check out Solscape Surf School – they offer full wetsuit and board rentals, as well as surf lessons.
This is one of our favourite waterfalls in New Zealand – a dramatic stream of water drops down from a clifftop to a perfectly-formed pool below, surrounded by fern trees and greenery. It’s a relatively flat forested 10-15 minute walk to a couple of lookouts to view these stunning falls from above. If you feel like more of a workout & want to get up close & personal with the falls, you can go further down a long staircase to get to the bottom pool.
Drive to Ruapuke Beach
Go for a drive along the gravel road to the black sands of Ruapuke Beach, making sure to stop at the Te Toto Gorge lookout along the way. The road is admittedly windy and a bit narrow, so just be cautious and try not to let the sweeping ocean views distract you! Another option is to turn this drive into a loop by continuing on to Bridalveil Falls, then circling back to Raglan proper. Ruapuke Beach is a great place to watch the sunset, preferably with a cold beverage from Raglan Brewing Company in hand.
HAVE FUN OUT THERE!
MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION
Are you interested in more black sand beaches, surf breaks and good local food? If so, check out our guide to New Plymouth!
Heading east from Raglan? Don’t forget to stop by the lower Coromandel—check out our camping guide to the area here.