Our guide to Raglan – the ultimate road trip destination
Is Raglan on your road-trip bucket list? We have the surf spots, coffee shops, walking tracks and sleeping shacks to get you into the holiday buzz
Raglan dwellers have mastered the art of mindfulness. The little town on the salty west coast is not only surrounded with natural beauty but home to many sustainable food businesses so residents can take their fill of delicious fresh fare as well as stunning scenery – a sure recipe for a sound mind. We picked our favourite spots in this slow-paced haven.
For accommodation look no further than Solscape, a peace-seeker’s paradise nestled at the foot of Mount Karioi. Just a short wander from Manu Bay, it’s a dreamy gathering of eco-friendly accommodation, from the popular Tipi Forest Retreat (pictured over the page) to a fully kitted-out lodge (if long-drops aren’t your thing).
Designed as a place of rest and rejuvenation, Solscape boasts its own yoga centre, surf school, horse riding, holistic massage and wellness workshops, all guaranteed to have you leaving centred and calm. Committed to nourishing the body as well as the mind, Solscape also has a plant-based cafe, The Conscious Kitchen, which serves organic seasonal dishes in the warmer months, with most ingredients harvested from its own gardens.
The Shack is a much-loved fixture on the Raglan scene and should be your number-one stop for brunching, lunching or a lazy afternoon drink. Sitting on the sunny corner of Bow Street and Wainui Road, the spot is sacred to locals, travellers and surfers alike. Friendly owners Alix and Juddy are advocates of local fare, so you’ll find the menu features home-grown suppliers such as Raglan Roast, Raglan Coconut Yoghurt, Kaiwhenua Organics and Volare Bread, to name a few.
For a delicious breakfast, Juddy claims you can’t go past the sweetcorn and chickpea fritters with avocado smash and black bean salsa, which have been on the menu since the day they opened five years ago. We recommend washing it down with a Raglan coconut yoghurt mango lassi or a kawakawa tonic.
Raglan coconut yoghurt is a feature in many breakfast bowls and has become a staple in cafes around the country. Where better to try it than the place it was invented? What began as a kitchen experiment by Raglan dwellers Tesh Randall and Seb Walter (aka Mr and Mrs Coconut) has turned into a fully fledged business, all from a post on the Raglan Community Facebook page. Sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free, this tasty little pot is stocked all around town and is the perfect accompaniment to your morning muesli.
Offering arguably the best coffee in these parts, Raglan Roast has two great locations: Electric Avenue or hidden away on Volcom Lane (perfectly situated for a takeaway en route to the beach). From its humble beginning as a coffee machine in the back of a kite-surfing shop, Raglan Roast has spread to eight sites around the country, roasting daily to produce the freshest cup.
Take a lazy stroll from 7am onwards to order from a most-likely-barefoot barista and you have the option of picking up a paddleboard with your flat white, if the surf takes your fancy.
The colourful coastal town attracts surfing talent year round, with many travelling from overseas to surf the internationally renowned left-hand break. Raglan is home to four main surf areas: Indicators, Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Ngaranui. Indicators boasts Hawaiian-scale waves of 10 foot or more and should only be attempted by experts, while Manu and Whale Bay offer challenging, rocky waves for advanced surfers.
Ngaranui (Ocean Beach) is the main beach and the perfect place to dip your toe in the surf with a lesson from Raglan Surf School. The sandy bottom means a cushioned fall and lifeguards are on patrol should you get into a tricky situation. If the break looks too daunting, lie back on the black sand and let the waves soothe your soul.
Bridal Veil Falls lies untouched in a clearing just south of Raglan. It’s a sharp-left-turn detour that’s worth taking. A short walk from the car park takes you on a scenic bushwalk suitable for all fitness levels and even buggies. Three platforms offer views of this breathtaking, 55-metre waterfall. The overhead platform is a great option for those who struggle with stairs. The bottom platform sits around the mermaid pool and is the perfect place for a post-walk picnic – so stock up on some treats before you hit the track.
Before you leave Raglan
- Wander down Bow Street and enjoy the sunset.
- Take a morning Stretch and Relax class at the Raglan Yoga Loft (pictured opposite).
- Try a green smoothie from Local Eatery on Wallis Street.
- Tune into Raglan Community Radio, 98.1FM.
- Stroll along the newly built boardwalk.
- Pop into Aloha Sushi for a freshly made teriyaki salmon bowl.
- Take an eco tour around the harbour with Raglan Kayak Co.
- Check out the iconic Raglan Surf Co store.
- Grab fish and chips at the Raglan Harbour View Hotel (pictured above, top). You won’t regret it!