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15 unmissable things to do in Raglan in 2024

Explore the very best things to do in Raglan with this conclusive list. Whatever your reason for visiting this popular seaside town in the Waikato, we guarantee you’ll leave happy when you include these ideas in your itinerary.

Just under two hours south of Auckland is the small, but vibrant town of Raglan. This Waikato community has grown in popularity over the years with surf lovers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts all flocking there.

Even amongst the visitors though, this character-filled down maintains its cool-as-a-cucumber spirit.

In addition, it’s a town that is devoted to the environment and is pushing to become a zero-waste community.  

Hip cafes and stylish boutiques fill the town centre. Farmers’ markets, locally made milk, yoghurt, and craft beer, are all the norm. Not to mention the fact that Raglan is surrounded by incredible nature and beautiful beaches! 

From canyoning to surfing and everything between, we cover all the best things to do in Raglan.

Be warned… you may never want to leave!

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The very best things to do in Raglan

If you’re short on time and are keen to skip to the good stuff, these are our absolute top picks for things to do in Raglan.

#1 pick
A boat cruising on the calm waters during a beautiful sunset.

Raglan Harbour Sunset Cruise

In the summer season, there’s no better place to watch the sunset in Raglan than onboard this scenic cruise. We recommend adding fish and chips to your booking for the ultimate Kiwi experience.

#2 pick
A tourist canyoning in Raglan Rock.

Canyoning

Venture into Karioi Canyon on this family-friendly adventure. Scramble over rocks, abseil waterfalls and jump into freshwater pools. The ancient lava flow of the canyon is surrounded by native bush and natural beauty, making for a memorable trip.

#3 pick
An instructor teaching three ladies on how to surf while on the sandy beach of Raglan.

Group Surf lessons

If there’s one thing Raglan is known for, it’s surfing! We recommend heading along to Ngarunui Beach where you can join a surf lesson – even if it’s your first time hitting the waves. Each class has a maximum of 6, ensuring individual tuition.

Waves crashing down the white sands of Ngarunui Beach while tourists are swimming.
Looking down on Ngarunui Beach in Raglan.

Our favourite things to do in Raglan

If you have more time to spend after finding your favourite Raglan accommodation, check out all of these epic things to do in the area.

We’ve intentionally included ideas to suit all budgets and interests.

Happy travels!

1. Explore Raglan Town Centre

From the moment you arrive in Raglan, you’ll see that it’s unique from other small towns in New Zealand. Immediately, while walking the streets you can feel the energy radiating from the colourful shops and restaurants.

Start your day by stopping into Raglan Roast for a delicious flat white coffee. Then hit the town to shop for local and handcrafted goods. From clothing and jewellery to amazing sourdough at Raglan Artisan Bread, the town centre is the perfect spot to start your adventures in Raglan!

When you do get hungry there’s something for everyone in town. The Shack is perfect for brunch, while George’s Beach Club is the go-to spot for a late afternoon flatbread and cold beer. If you’re looking for something upscale try Orca Eatery & Bar or Isobar Raglan

If you’re looking to really treat yourself, the best spot in town is ULO’s Kitchen – don’t miss it! Make sure to try the Dan Dan Udon Noodles, Bang Bang Chicken, and Salmon Box. 

Who would’ve thought Raglan would have some of the best international food outside of Auckland?

Street signs and cars on the road while people walk on the pavement of Raglan Town Centre.
Welcome to Raglan’s town centre – the cafes and restaurants really are something else!

2. Learn to Surf at Ngarunui Beach

Ngarunui Beach is the place to be in the summertime, and where to learn how to surf in Raglan. The waves are perfect for beginners, but also fun for any skill level. Even if you don’t surf, a trip to Ngarunui Beach is still one of the best things to do in Raglan!

Before you make the walk down to the beach stop at the nearby Michael Hope Lookout. There, you’ll be able to see the epic coastline with Mount Karioi behind you. 

Planning to surf at Ngarunui Beach? You’ll notice several signs on your drive into town. Stop into one of the small surf stores on your way and pick up a surfboard rental. Or, if you’d prefer some instruction, both group and private lessons are available if you’re new to surfing or are looking to develop your skills.

Wainui Road, Raglan 3297

A beach house facing the huge waves while a tourist walks towards it.
Ngarunui Beach is the perfect place to test out your surfing skills – or just to relax.

3. Hop on a Raglan Harbour Sunset Cruise 

In the summer months, nightly cruises leave the small harbour and head out for sunset (with the option to add fresh fish and chips for dinner).

As you can imagine, the sunsets in Raglan light up the sky with beautiful pink and red colours.

This is a beautiful and relaxing way to end your night after a day of adventures!

A boat cruising on the calm waters during a beautiful sunset.
Check out a sunset cruise on Raglan Harbour.

4. Visit Ruapuke, Manu Bay and Whale Bay

Looking for some more advanced surf breaks? There are several other surf spots to enjoy around Raglan!

Manu Bay features a world-famous surf break, and the nearby Whale Bay has more of the same. They are one of the best surf beaches in New Zealand that you should really want to visit.

We also recommend driving the gravel Whaanga Coast Road from Manu Bay Reserve to the gorgeous sandy beach of Ruapuke. The road is tight and bumpy but has incredible views. 

You should know that these three locations are not recommended surf spots for beginners. However, they all make for a great stop or picnic spot for lunch. 

A wooden stair leading down to the rocky shores of Manu Bay Reserve.
Manu Bay Reserve, heading towards the Tasman Ocean.

5. Explore Te Toto Gorge Lookout

On the drive out to Ruapuke beach, you’ll pass the Te Toto Gorge Lookout. Another word of caution here as the road is slightly rough. Still, the ride is more than worth it for the views!

The Te Toto Gorge is the site of 3 natural coastal amphitheatres which were once home to large Māori Gardens.  

From the car park, you can see the stunning Raglan coastline, and where these gardens once thrived. For the views, there is a small wooden platform just a short walk from the car park – we recommend checking it out.

The white waves crashing on the rocky shores of Te Toto Gorge.
Views from the Te Toto Gorge lookout.

6. Hike Mount Karioi Summit

Next to the Te Toto Gorge lookout is the entrance to the Mount Karioi Summit Hike. This is known as the best hike from Raglan where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the ocean and mountains. 

Along the trail, you will also see many unique plants and trees native to this area.

While this is a popular hike, a good level of fitness is required for the steep climb. The effort is worth it when you reach the summit though!

Distance: 9.5 km

Hiking Time: 4-hour round trip.

Did you know that Mount Karioi is actually a 2.4 million-year-old extinct volcano?

Tourists playing on the sands near the beach.
Mt Karioi, seen in the background behind Raglan.

7. Take a Yoga Class 

In addition to surfing and hiking, yoga is one of the best things to do in Raglan. Some places just have a vibe about them, and you’ll feel that right away in this gorgeous little town.

Luckily, there’s plenty of places to take a class in Raglan!

Whether you’re already a pro yogi or just trying to relax and improve your flexibility, this is the perfect activity in town.

The Space Raglan is a popular spot to pop in and join a class. 

9a Bow Street, Raglan 3225

Women doing yoga poses in Raglan Yoga Retreat.
Yoga seaside in Raglan. Photo credit: Wild Coast Yoga.

8. Rock Climbing, Canyoning & Caving

Ready for an adventure? Raglan is known for its great rock climbing, canyoning (both during the day and at night with glow worms), and even caving!

Expeditions are available for all ages and skill levels – including beginners. 

This is truly the best way to get your adrenaline pumping and challenge yourself physically.

9. Kayak the Limestone Coast 

From the town centre, you can rent a kayak with Raglan Kayak & Paddleboard. While you’re able to set your own route, one of the best things to do in Raglan is kayaking the limestone coast. 

Paddle through the clear blue waters to explore the special rock formations. You may even see orca whales at certain times of the year!

Pack a small picnic or lunch and enjoy it along the way, as you’ll pass many coves and secret beaches. 

Are you more of a Paddleboarder? Rent one and take it across the way to Te Kopua Beach, or even under the Raglan Bridge.

Jetty, Bow Street, Raglan 3225

Women kayaking near tall rock formations.
Take to the water by kayak. Photo credit: Hamilton and Waikato Tourism.

10. Visit The Raglan Wharf

Located at the far end of town is the Raglan Wharf. For people that love fishing, this is one of the best places to go! 

If you prefer just eating the fish and not catching it you’re still in the right place.

There is a delicious seafood restaurant called Raglan Fish located at the end of the Wharf. There you can enjoy your seafood with a view of the harbour – it really is the perfect end to the day.

Harbour, 92 Wallis Street, Raglan 3225

Fish fillet with french fries and a small burger beside it.
Raglan Fish serves up fresh and tasty seafood by the Ocean.

11. Jump Off the Raglan Bridge

While walking along the Raglan Harbour don’t be surprised to see people jumping off the bridge!

The short drop is a right of passage among local kids, and they can be seen playing here all day.

If you’re feeling a little brave, don your togs and join them – they’ll be happy to show you how it’s done.

If you’re not up for the ocean plunge, don’t worry! The sand next to the Raglan bridge is lovely, too, making it a great spot to watch the fun. 

5 Wi Neera Street, Raglan 3225

A bridge built on top of a wide river.
Watch local kids jump from the bridge – and join them if you’re brave.

12. Play a Round at the Raglan Golf Club 

Now that we’ve covered almost every adventure sport in Raglan, how about a nice relaxing game of golf?

This 18 hole course is a great way to unwind while still taking in the mountains and beauty of the Raglan area.

This course is a cute little local course and as such, you’ll even find the odd sheep out keeping the fairway trimmed!

Te Hutewai Road, Raglan 3296

Lambs walking on a golf course.
Sheep are frequently found on the Raglan Golf Course.

13. Check Out the Raglan & District Museum

The Raglan & District Museum is an affordable way to spend a morning or afternoon in Raglan. It’s an especially good option if the weather outside is less than ideal.

They have a range of exhibitions, each of them focused on helping to share the unique history of this area.

One particularly enjoyable exhibition is the “Post Offices of Whaingaroa” display. This is an eclectic collect of memorabilia and stories from the old Raglan post offices.

15 Wainui Road, Raglan 3225

A mannequin named Mavies, operating a switching as displayed in Raglan Museum.

14. Day Trip to Bridal Veil Falls 

Bridal Veil Falls is a giant waterfall that drops 55-metres to a lagoon below. From the parking lot, make the short nature walk to the top of the viewing platform. There, you’ll be directly above the peak, looking down on the amazing waterfall.

To truly experience the beauty of Bridal Veil Falls wear sneakers and be ready to climb some steps down (and up again). The climb down to the base of the falls is filled with several viewpoints, each displaying a different angle of the waterfall.

Once you reach the bottom, a wooden platform takes you directly in front of Bridal Veil Falls.

Just be warned, you may get a little wet! 

This really is one of the most stunning waterfalls in Aotearoa and well worth the little trip out of town.

Kawhia Road, Makomako 3895

A waterfall coming out of a rocky cliff.
Beautiful views of the Bridal Veil Falls.

15. Don’t Miss Kawhia Hot Water Beach

Located just an hour away from Raglan is a unique beach that everyone should experience while in New Zealand.

Not to be mistaken with the famous Hot Water Beach Coromandel Peninsula, Kawhia also has natural geothermal hot springs hidden under the sand!

Be sure to take a shovel with you so you can dig out your own personal beach hot tub.

You’ll also need to know to time your visit correctly.  To access the underground hot springs, you need to visit within two hours of low tide – either side of this is fine.

Once there, get digging to create your very own jacuzzi in the sand!

Follow others who are at the beach to find the exact location to dig above the hot springs. 

3331 Te Puia Road, Kawhia 3889

Two couples standing on the grassy plains near the white shores of Kawhia.
Few beaches are as unique as Kawhia Hot Water Beach.

A short drive from both Hamilton and Auckland, Raglan is a favourite haunt of those in the know.

And lucky you – now you know!

Which of theses Raglan activities will you add to your itinerary?


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Post written by Brigitte of Nothing Familiar.

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