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Raglan – New Zealand’s surfing paradise


One of the hippest little towns in the north has to be Raglan, a small coastal town ranked by Lonely Planet as New Zealand’s ‘best looking town’. With long stretches of black sand beach, world famous surf and streets lined with native cabbage trees, the laid back township is a great spot for surfers, backpackers and anyone wanting a relaxed holiday with a difference.

History of Raglan

In the past, Raglan (then known as Whangaroa) was a Maori trading area for flax and timber. In the 1850s, European settlers converted much of the area to cattle pasture. During the Second World War, Maori ancestral land was taken to construct a military airfield. After the war, however, instead of returning the land it was turned into a golf course. Following years of protest, in 1978 local Maori occupied the ninth hole which was positioned over an ancient burial site, and eventually the land was returned to its rightful owners.


Raglan’s environmental focus

Today Raglan has a strong focus on environmental sustainability, with a zero-waste policy. They have a seed bank and even a community sewing machine to make recycled creations! Embracing the clean green New Zealand image is a reality here, and Raglan is home to an unusual attraction, the Xtreme Waste community organisation which runs the towns refuse systems. Xtreme Waste offers community education and currently recycles around 75% of the towns waste.

Solscape Eco retreat and learning centre offers budget accommodation in an environmentally sustainable bush setting. Lodgings range from earth huts, refurbished train cabooses, tipis, camping areas and Eco friendly Eco baches and cottages.

Sleeping Lady Lodges Raglan

Where to stay in Raglan

Sleeping lady lodges offer budget to billionaire accommodation, ranging from beautiful units and motels to an overnight ‘floatel’ on board the Hinemoe cruise boat.

Other digs include yurts, converted barns and the gorgeous Golden Baysilos on the Raglan waterfront. With such an exotic range of accommodation at hand, it will not be hard to find just the place for your stay.

Surfing rules in Raglan

Recreational activities are largely sea based, and surfing is the top with a number of surf schools, including the inimitable Surf Dames women-only retreat. Horse trekking, hiking, kayaking, golf and cycling are also available.

Nestled near the mouth of the Raglan Harbour in the Waikato region, the town is an unspoilt holiday destination surrounded by beaches, bush and natural beauty. It is off the main highway, so there’s not a lot of traffic and Raglan is peaceful and made for enjoyment the whole year long. With summer just around the corner, we recommend adding Raglan on your list of places to visit this year! Whether you’re into surfing or you’re just looking for a place to chill out for the weekend, Raglan is easily accessible from Auckland and there are other great attractions nearby like the Waitomo glow worm caves so you can really make the most of your time down here.

New Zealand road trips

Raglan features on a number of our New Zealand road trip itineraries in our Trip Planner section so be sure to check it out – whether you are planning a long weekend, a week long holiday or an even bigger adventure, make sure you add Raglan to your mix.

This awesome 10 day round trip from Auckland will take you back up via Raglan and is a great trip if you have a few days to spare:

Auckland to Napier Round Trip – 10 days

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GO Play activities in this area

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