Close to town in the inner harbour, off Daisy Street, is the sheltered shelly beach of Cox’s Bay – an excellent picnic spot and safe swimming for children. Close to the shops, Puriri Park (Aro Aro Bay) is also very sheltered and safe to swim at during high tide. In the harbour, next to Raglan Kopua Holiday Park, is a safe swimming area, a play area and boat ramp, and footbridge access into town.
A few minutes out of town, Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive, a no-exit road, leads to the entrance of Whaningaroa Harbour where the water meets the Tasman Sea. Baches, one shaped like a space ship, have fantastic views to the Tasman Sea. The harbour mouth is popular for surfcasting and wind and kite surfing.
Ocean Beach, also known as Ngarunui, on the Tasman Sea, runs along the harbour entrance. Road access to the beach passes four Hinuera stone sculptures representing the four compass directions. Crafted in them are images influenced from the surroundings, like Hectors dolphins, music, and celtic knots. There is a surf club at the beach and the beach is patrolled over summer.
The road leads on the right to Michael Hope lookout, where there are amazing views both up and down the coastline.
Further south, Manu Bay is world famous for its long, left-hand surf break and hosts an international summer surfing competition. It was also the filming location of the 1966 movie Endless Summer. It has a boat ramp, and because it is sheltered it makes for a good picnic spot. So too does Whale Bay, accessed by a path at the bottom of Tohora Close, and crossing 600 metres over rocks.
South, the old coastal road becomes unsealed and curves around some tight corners to Te Toto Gorge. Looking up the gorge from the lookout positioned directly above the cliffs, there is continuous, lush vegetation from the coast to the top of Mt Karioi. Out to sea, there are stunning views past the cliffs of Kawhia to the chalky cliffs of Taranaki. Sunsets from here are remarkable, and on a clear day there are views to Mt Egmont.
Further south, behind Mt Karioi, are remote farms where sheep graze between old volcanic boulders. Swann Road has beach access where wading birds, like pied oystercatchers, bar-tailed godwits, and NZ dotterel, nest.
Wild and remote Ruapuke is a rugged stretch of coastline that is known for its good surfcasting and unpredictable seas.
Twenty-five acres of Wainui Reserve are dedicated to Bush Park Wainui, a park of 15,000 plants, of which two thirds are native. Paved paths lead through bush, past steams, over bridges and a cascading water feature. About 15 years ago, volunteers formed the Friends of Wainui Reserve, transplanting what was once neglected, overgrazed farmland into a peaceful park alive with native birds. A serene area, the park is used for picnics and walking and wedding photos. There is also walking access from the park to Ocean Beach (Ngarunui).
Bryant Memorial Walk is a 20-minute walk from the Bryant Home Crusade Bible Camp through coastal forest, passing an elegant nikau palm. The track also leads to Ocean Beach.
From the car park at Te Toto Gorge (about 30 minutes from Whale Bay) is a track that descends steeply through coastal forest of karaka, kawakawa, and kohekohe, to Te Toto Stream, past grassy vegetation to the shoreline. It is possible to see remnants of stone-walls used extensively by Maori.
Mount Karioi, an extinct volcano sitting 756 metres above the Tasman Sea, is a rugged backdrop to Raglan region. Mt Karioi Track to the summit begins at Te Toto Gorge, and is two hours to the lookout, and another hour or so to the summit. There are chains and ladders positioned at the odd rocky outcrop. Wairake Track is the shortest route to the summit and although not as steep as Mt Karioi Track, it is as interesting. It begins at the car park off Ruapuke Road, and after a forty-minute walk across farmland, the track starts at the bushline and climbs steadily to the summit.
WATERFALLS AND SPRINGS
Just outside Raglan, 13 kilometres from Te Mata, is the beautiful, Bridal Veil Falls. A ten-minute bush walk, along a metal track beside Pakoka River, leads to a lookout above where the river cascades over basalt rock, 55 metres to a pool below. Another vantage point a minute away, looks directly across to the veil-like falls and a track leads on down to the base.
Campervans are welcome at Ruapuke Beach Farmstay, 07 825 6709.
Tony Sly’s Pottery Studio and Shop, found at the old Raglan Wharf.
Raglan District Museum Here you’ll find a great historical account of the area.
Raglan has a lively, relaxed and diverse culture so be sure to visit Raglan Old School Arts Centre, Stewart Street.
Bikes, kayaks, and surfboards are available for hire. There are also a number of guided tours in Raglan, like a historic tour, kayaking, harbour cruises, and horse trekking.
Fishing is done off the wharf at the end of Wallis Street and surfcasting is popular at the Whaingaroa Harbour entrance.