Raglan is one of the world’s great surfing destinations. People come for the legendary waves, sunsets, and laid back lifestyle, enshrined into surfing lore by the 1966 film “Endless Summer.” Nearby Manu Bay (aka The Point) is known as the world’s longest left-hand break: in perfect conditions the ride can be an astounding two kilometers and ten minutes long.
Aside from pristine coastline and surf, there aren’t a whole lot of activities in the tiny town of Raglan (population 2,400). A handful of small establishments cater to surfers and travelers. A cultural scene pervades with local artists and musicians. Raglan was the scene of intense protest during the 1970’s when Maori land was taken by the New Zealand Government for a military airfield and instead turned into a golf course. After a decade of protests and arrests the land rightfully was returned to the Maori.
Things to Do in Raglan
The Raglan coastline is lined with world-class surf breaks. For those new to the sport, the Raglan Surfing School is a great place to learn with daily surfing lessons on Ngarunui Beach all year long. The school also operates a beachfront trailer during the summer for surfboard rentals and has “Stay and Surf” packages at the nearby Karioi Lodge.
For experienced surfers, Manu Bay is a can’t-miss break located six kilometers south of Raglan. When the waves are good, few surf spots in the world can match the experience. Approximately two kilometers south of Manu Bay are Whale Bay and Indicators, both of which are top-notch left-hand breaks. Even if you don’t paddle out, watching local surfers ride these waves is worthwhile.
Arts and Music
Raglan has a solid undercurrent of local artists. Visitors should see the Raglan Art Trail Guide for information and maps on 38 local artists including painters, photographers, sculptors, jewelers, and more. Raglan hosts an annual Open Studio Weekend to meet and see the artists at work. For live music, the Yot Club is a fixture for bands touring New Zealand and the venue gets high marks.
Climate/When to Go
Raglan has a mild coastal climate: the ocean keeps temperatures moderate in both the summer (average highs of 24°C) and winter (average highs of 14°C). Mount Karioi and other hills shelter Raglan from the prevailing winds. Surfing conditions are consistent all year in Raglan; the waves are biggest from December through April when New Zealand receives tropical swells from the Pacific.