We live in what’s got to be New Zealand’s coolest little town. It’s chilled, it’s upbeat, it’s gorgeous, and as always – the people make the place and this place has some really rad people.
Seeing as we rave about Raglan to everyone we meet, here’s our guide to having an amazing time here when you next come to visit.
Eats & Treats
On the corner of Bow St and Wainui Road you’ll find a bunch of peeps (quite likely including us) eating yummy food on cute wooden tables with Tony Sly Pottery accessories. The Shack has been around for years and owners Justin & Alix have just given it a big interior revamp to fit more people as it gets super busy in summer. Customer service is great, we love that they use tons of local produce, they’ve started adding lots of vegan/raw/vegetarian options to the cabinet, and there’s Wi-Fi. Our fave dish is their chickpea fritters served with guacamole and micro-greens, and we always try the new ‘smoothie of the month’ too.
Tucked away down Volcom Lane you’ll see a queue standing outside what appears to be a hole-in-the-wall, but is in fact the HQ of Raglan Roast; coffee roastery and local favourite hang-out spot. This is where you go pre or post-surf to get an energy boost, whinge/skite about the waves you caught/will catch/didn’t catch and chat with whoever happens to be sitting around playing backgammon or chess.
Raglan Food Department
In keeping with the grand Raglan tradition of every business here beginning with ‘Raglan’ (guilty!), Raglan Food Department is a welcome addition to Raglan West, which previously only had an average dairy, but now has a horde of Italians who make pizza, tiramisu, gelato, lasagna, and pretty much every other Italian thing you could want to eat. Bravo!
Down by the waterfront is Orca Restaurant. From the outside it looks a bit fancier than the other joints in town but don’t let that put you off! It’s actually quite relaxed inside and there’s a mostly-available pool table if you fancy a game. We love the vegetarian lentil burger, served with just-crispy-enough chips. They also have some delicious salads.
Things to Experience
The ultimate in eco-cruising, try out an awesome electric bike powered by the sun. Complete with a little carry-crate on the back you’re all sorted for a day adventure around Raglan in style!
Every second Sunday of the month you’ll find a good-looking crowd of folks outside the Old School Arts Centre for the monthly Raglan market. We love market day, and try to get there early so we don’t miss out on all the great treats. There’s Raglan Artisan Bread, natural soaps, Rick & Liz’s pesto and chutneys, Lenny’s homemade lemonade and chilli sauces, and tons of other great stuff to check out.
On the wild west coast beach of Ruapuke (20mins drive from Raglan) you can go for an epic beach & bush trek with Wild Coast Adventures, run by Penny & Wayne, two lovely people who are great to chat with as you trek. Ask them about the gourmet burger option if you want an extra-fun experience.
Ok, so this is kind of an obvious one, but if you didn’t already know, Raglan is pretty famous for its surf breaks. Most people have heard of Manu Bay for its world-class lefthander but there’s also a bunch of other spots around the place to catch a wave. If you need a lesson, our mate Andrew is the instructor at Solscape’s surf school and he’s a lot of fun, you’ll feel really comfortable with him showing you the ropes.
Rock Climbing / Caving
We recently had a foodie getaway in Raglan, and got our friend Gareth from Raglan Rock to take us on an underground adventure! So worth it, you feel like you’re in another world. Raglan has some amazing climbing spots and cave warrens, so if you are into that kind of thing then give Gareth a call, he’ll personalise the experience to whatever you’re up for. Mr Coconut has done a few climbing missions with Gareth and loves the challenge of it.
SUPing / Kayaking
For those who might not want to surf (or if conditions aren’t ideal), there’s lots of other water things you can do. Hire a kayak or SUP from Raglan Watersports or the Raglan Backpackers and go check out pancake rocks across the harbour, it’s a very cool spot.
Informal, slightly chaotic, and fueled by child-like enthusiasm, this is a classic Raglan activity and isn’t just for the kids, although they do seem to take over the spot in summer. Leap from the Raglan harbour bridge into the water and see how big of a splash you can make.
Fancy a hike over an extinct volcano? Maori legend has it that Karioi’s husband was Karewa, but he flirted with her sister, Pirongia, and was cast into the sea as the offshore rock named by Captain James Cook as Gannet Island. Nowadays, not only can you hike the clearly marked tracks to take in the stunning views, but this Raglan icon is proudly and carefully protected by locals to restore the mountain’s biodiversity. If you want to get involved with the project, check out their website, they would love to share its beauty with you!
The view from their deck has got to be best one around! This gorgeous eco-retreat is a real haven, recommended for accommodation while you’re in town, or just pop up for a treat from their ‘Conscious Kitchen’ café (only open in the summer season, check their Facebook page for details). Lay on the grass, admire the many flowers in their permaculture gardens, or do a yoga class.
A group of Raglan makers got together one day and said ‘We should start a shop’ and Jet Collective was born! Everything in the Bow St store is made locally and most things are sustainably produced with a lot of care. You might even spot two children’s books written by Mrs Coconut on the shelves.
So, there you go – you’re all sussed with insider knowledge for a wonderful weekend in Raglan!
We recommend the Raglan Backpackers and Solscape for budget-friendly accommodation, or check out the many Airbnb listings online (including our own romantic, eco-friendly Raglan Yurt) for something private and spacious. Might see you around town soon.
– Mr & Mrs Coconut