Discover 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!
Related: The best places to stay in Raglan.
COVID-19 has come with its fair share of challenges for New Zealand businesses. Though we do our best to share accurate information, this can change quickly as some businesses make the decision to operate under reduced hours or hibernate. We suggest you double-check they are open before finalising your plans.
These are the Best Things to Do in Raglan
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?
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.
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!
Book: Sunset harbour cruise from Raglan (with optional fish and chips).
Book: Daytime Nature Cruise with optional fish & chips (if you can’t be there for the evening).
UPDATE: This cruise has stopped sailing for the winter season. Tickets are available for sailings from September on.
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.
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.
Related: The best surf beaches in New Zealand.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Book: Rock Climbing in Raglan [Klook] . Save 10% with promo code NZTTPLAY.
Book: A daytime canyoning adventure [Klook]. Save 10% with promo code NZTTPLAY
Book: Sunset canyoning tour and glowworm experience [Klook]. Save 10% with promo code NZTTPLAY
Book: A caving adventure in Raglan [Klook]. Save 10% with promo code NZTTPLAY
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
And lucky you – now you know!
Which of theses Raglan activities will you add to your itinerary?
Related: The best places to stay in Raglan.
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Post written by Brigitte of Nothing Familiar.