A weekend in Raglan
A weekend in Raglan

A weekend in Raglan

Raglan: a small beach town in the Waikato region, North Island of New Zealand. It’s known in NZ for its surfing scene and the black sand beaches and landscapes that it boasts. Here is a guide of some things to see and do if you have got a short amount of time in Raglan.

Ngarunui Beach and Ruapuke Beach

The main and most popular beach in Raglan is called Ngarunui beach – a black sand beach, and where you will find most of the surfers. Most people who visit are locals and have their own surf equipment and boards, but there are also multiple different surf schools offering lessons or equipment hire for the day (you’ll find these set up in the car park.) The car park does get very busy however, with cars parking up and down the road heading towards the actual car park, especially on a Saturday and Sunday morning, so my advice is get there early or head down in the late afternoon/evening.

Another beach that we visited is called Ruapuke beach, also a black sand beach. However, this beach is different to Ngarunui as it’s a lot less busy. In my opinion, a LOT more beautiful. The sand stretches endlessly into the horizon, with nobody to interrupt the view! You’re also surrounded by forest-covered mountains and if you time it right, you’ll catch the hazy mist which makes the beach look magical! You’ll find Ruapuke beach on the other side of Mt Karioi, the opposite side to Raglan – we found it on our way back from the mountain by taking the coastal road towards Raglan – stunning scenery, but a long and windy way to go (I do recommend if you have the time!)

Mount Karioi

Mount Karioi (756m) is another good option if you’ve got a short stop off in Raglan. It can be done in a morning, an afternoon, or as a day trip if you wanted to enjoy yourself and take your time. The DoC signs say it will take about 3 hours up (one way), but depending on your level of fitness, it can take as little as an hour. The route is extremely muddy, with many large puddles – make sure you are wearing a good pair of grippy and sturdy hiking shoes (unlike me and my converse on our spontaneous mountain hike!)

The ‘car park’ (if you can call it that!) is a small patch of grass at the end of a gravel road which has space for about 12 cars/vans, so first come first serve. The landscape at the top though is incredible, with views over the Herangi range, and you can even see as far as Mt Taranaki and the Te Aroha mountains on a clear day. The walk up is steep and quite challenging so make sure you bring plenty of water and use the toilet beforehand, as there’s nothing at the car park or en route to the summit. 

Bridal Veil Waterfalls

Bridal Veil waterfalls are just outside of Raglan, about a 5 min drive. You don’t need to spend long here at all, it’s only a 5 minute walk along to the top of the 55m falls, and a further 15-20 minutes to reach the bottom. Be warned, there are a lot of steps, and you can really feel them on your way back up! We went when it was raining, and in all honestly, it felt a lot more immersive and magical. There are multiple viewing platforms as you make your way down, so even if it does get busy there will be plenty of room and space for you to see the falls. 

Raglan Kayak

The final thing we did to end our weekend in Raglan was go for a paddle out to the limestone rocks. We hired kayaks for 2 hours with Raglan Kayak, and started making our way over. 

There’s quite a few options of things you can do with this company – tours are available at certain times to different parts of the limestone coast, rentals of kayaks for 2 or 3 hours (we picked the 2hour rental for $35 each), and kayak and paddle boarding lessons! I think you can book online as well, but we didn’t know about it – we passed a stall set up in the town, a first come first serve basis for the timings. The limestone rocks were amazing, and there were even little islands of limestone rock that you could paddle in and out of. As we had some time left on our rentals before heading back, we stopped off at one of the beaches and saw some wildlife like crabs, sea slugs and shells, and spent the time taking in the stunning views of Raglan town. 

Raglan town

Raglan town centre is fairly small, consisting of multiple beachside cafes, boho stalls and surf shops. It is where you’ll find all your daily needs: a small supermarket, a laundromat, and your local booze shop (the essentials!) The whole town is on a road called Bow St, and there is plenty of parking around. There isn’t car parks as such, but many parking spaces with time allocations per area so it’s a ‘see as you get there’ sort of scenario. 


We were in a van, so the easiest place for us to look for and stay was a motor park/campsite. There were a couple to choose from, all pretty basic and all differ with facilities and price so just do some research before you head there, in terms of what you want and need out of the site. 

Raglan does also have quite a few AirBnB’s for roughly $80 a night, so check those out too for a more luxury accommodation option! There is a hostel and a couple of motels dotted about too if you wanted a bed for the night.


During our weekend here we did a mixture of cooking our own food and eating out. The 2 places we ate out were: George’s Beach Club, and Raglan Bakery. George’s Beach Club served pizza, and I went for a veggie one which was super yummy. 2 of our friends were ill after sharing one of the meat pizzas – no blame being dished out, but be warned! The bakery was alright too, serving many pastries and sweet treats and relatively cheapo too! Not too many grocery shops, the biggest being a FourSquare which is slightly more expensive than most bigger supermarkets.