Raglan is one of those places we keep returning to, especially for family celebrations or get-togethers. I even celebrated my 70th birthday here with family coming from all over.

So when our daughter suggested a pre-Christmas weekend in Raglan to catch up with family we wouldn’t be seeing on the day, we didn’t take long to agree.

We set out from Otorohanga on Saturday morning, having been to Taranaki the day before for a family funeral. My previous post When you visit your old home town and nothing looks the same … covers that.

Driving through Waikato farmland, views of Mount Pirongia dominate …

… but we soon leave her behind, and in front of us stands Mount Karioi.

These two extinct volcanoes are over 2 million years old and form part of a line of four extinct volcanoes in the area, Pirongia being the largest. They form a backdrop to the rural scenery as we make our way to the coast where Raglan is situated west of the city of Hamilton.

If, like me, you’re interested in Māori legends, these maunga of course have a story.


The Legend –

A long time ago, Karewa was the husband of Karioi, 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. Karioi then turned her back on Pirongia and lay down. The profile of Karioi from Raglan is likened to a ‘Sleeping Lady’ (Wahine Moe).


Mt Karioi as seen from Raglan…

A footbridge connects the town centre with Te Kopua beach across the estuary…

And at night when the lights are on, it’s magical…

Pohutukawa trees are still flowering on the estuary walk to the bridge

Te Kopua Beach on the other side of the bridge is a popular and safe spot to swim in the estuary, and there’s a popular Holiday Park and playground there too.

The estuary is beautiful in all its moods

Raglan village has a quirky mix of shops, street art, fashion, surf gear, art shops, and cafes…

…and Raglan’s iconic Harbour View Hotel with its verandahed front in the middle of town…

…it’s own coffee roasting company, Raglan Roast…

…and weekend market stalls…

It’s a surfy town with attitude.

Raglan beaches might have black sand, but they also have great surf.

Nearby Manu Bay, Ngarunui, Ruapuke, and Whale Bay are world famous surf breaks.

And then there’s the wharf area with it’s large concrete silos that have been converted into luxury apartments, an excellent fish and chip shop with outdoor seating, a boat ramp, and fishing boats.

There’s also Tony Sly Pottery, and a great little vintage and antique shop worth browsing…

It’s a great place to wander round, and we can’t go past the fish and chips…

Once a quiet back water, Raglan is now sought after as a place to live.

The 40 minute drive to Hamilton is a good commute, and even Auckland is only a two hour drive.

This, of course, has impacted on the demand and value of property in the town.

We always enjoy the vibe in Raglan, but rather than stay in the holiday park which is busy at this time of the year, we stayed at a privately owned CAP (charges apply property) just out of town (#1469 NZMCA) on Greenslade Rd, for NZMCA members.

It’s a lovely spot surrounded by manuka and other native trees…

and the sunsets are beautiful…

There’s a walkway down to the harbour beach at the end of the road I believe, but we haven’t yet explored that.

We are heading off to the other coast for four days over the Christmas statuary holidays – Ohiwa in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, but that’s in my next post.

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