I'm a freelance writer from Auckland, currently travelling across the UK with my family. I'm here to share adventures for kids and adults who enjoy food, culture and a kiwi perspective on travelling around the British Isles. Visit rochellesewell.com
Published February 20th 2017
Escape to Raglan for a Weekend of Fun and Surfie Charm
We just spent a long weekend in Raglan. It was a bit like the renewed joy of finding a primary school friend on Facebook and wondering why you'd lost touch. We took the back roads out of Auckland in the long weekend traffic. We followed tractors and trailers along the rural highway through Glen Murray and Glen Massey. The often forgotten sweeping hills and valleys that shape the rural landscape as you drive through the North Waikato are amazing.
Our campground, the Raglan Kopua Holiday Park, was in a fantastic location. It's perfect for those seeking a child-friendly campsite, swamped by bikes, scooters and prams. But there's fun for freer campers too. The campsite sits on a peninsula and is almost entirely surrounded by water. To the north is the Whaingaroa Harbour, which is great for boating, fishing, kitesurfing, and catching sunsets. Not to be outdone by the Wainui Stream to the east of the campground, where you'll find crowds of people swimming, paddle-boarding, and moving around on any kind of motorised (or non-motorised) vessel. Raglan Paddleboard hire offer SUP Lessons, kayak and paddleboard hire, and even SUP yoga. It is chilled out Raglan after all.
The campground is conveniently connected to town by the Papahua Footbridge, one of the three bridges crossing the river and linking the peninsula to town. The Three Bridges Walk is listed as one of the Raglan Bucket List activities, and a great loop for runners too.
In 1923 the Raglan domain, which sits just north of the Papahua Footbridge, was given to the Raglan Town Board by the original Maori owners "to be a playground for Raglan people of both races for all time". It's been a success. These days it contains a skate park, dirt bike track and several playgrounds.
Raglan town has a great vibe in summer. Busy enough for atmosphere but not crazy like a Mediterranean summer. We had a Ragburger with a cold pint of beer at the Raglan Social Club. It's a must visit. Without the kids we'd have explored many of the other cafes and restaurants in town, as well as shopping for beach-style clothing, homewares, and taking home a new taonga from the (local potter) Tony Sly Pottery shop.
Last but not least is the ocean. Collectively Manu and Whale Bays form one of the most infamous left hand surf breaks in the world. On our first evening, we watched the more experienced locals showcase their talents on rides that never seemed to end. By day we set up base towels and sunscreen on Ngarunui Beach. We hired a board and wetsuits from Raglan Surf School, conveniently located at the bottom of the main beach access.
We weren't up there with the world's best surfers but sitting at the back of the set waiting for a baby set to roll in will live in my memory for some time. Farewell Raglan. I will return my friend.