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Surf, hike, and chill in Raglan, NZ

Bridal Veil Falls

On the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, about a two hour drive south of Auckland, you’ll find the sleepy town of Raglan. Widely considered one of the best surf spots in all of New Zealand (and arguably the world), it’s the perfect destination for anybody in search of the perfect wave. But don’t worry, if surfing isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to enjoy in this quiet paradise.



The surf at Manu Bay is world-class, and surfers from around the world have been flocking to this spot since it was featured in the classic surf film The Endless Summer, and is believed to offer the longest ride in the world. Beginners who are just getting their toes wet can paddle out at Ngaranui Beach, while more experienced wave riders can make their way to Whale Bay and Indicators. No matter which break you choose, you’re going to enjoy some truly epic surf.

Surfers catching waves at Manu Bay
Surfers catch a wave at Manu Bay

If surfing isn’t your thing, or you’ve been out catching set after set and now your arms have turned to jelly, hitting the trails for a scenic hike is always a good choice. If you’re looking for something that’s minimal effort with maximum reward (and let’s be honest, aren’t we all after that sometimes?), set your sights on the photo-friendly Bridal Veil Falls. An easy 10 minute walk is all it takes to get you to the lookout points.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, make your way up to the top of Mt. Karioi, an extinct volcano offering panoramic vistas. There are two different trails to choose from, and both options will take up most of your day — about 6 hours round trip — with the Mt. Karioi track being the closest to town. As you trek up to the summit, you’ll be rewarded lush greenery and views of neighbouring mountains. Don’t forget to come prepared with the proper clothing and food and water supply.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls

Sun worshippers, relaxation connoisseurs, and anybody simply looking to chill the hell out should pack a towel, supply of books and magazines, and plenty of SPF and head out to one of Raglan’s many idyllic beaches. Not only excellent for newbie surfers, Ngarunui Beach and its black sands are the perfect place to lay out at work on that tan; for even calmer waters, lounge away and jump off the bridge at Te Kopua Beach.

Take some time exploring the quaint town, including its assortment of small art galleries, local shops, museum, and cafes. Find your zen by taking a yoga class at YHA Raglan. Indulge in horseback riding on the beach. Or simply unplug, sit back, and take in an epic sunset, for some much-deserved r&r.

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