BUG New Zealand travel guidebook
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BUG New Zealand travel guidebook


BUG New Zealand travel guidebook

Destination guides > Pacific Islands > New Zealand > Waikato > Raglan


Raglan, aka Ragtown, is an awesome, laid-back beach town with some of the best surf in New Zealand. It has a seductive power for many – chances are the people working at your hostel were originally just passing through, but have ended up staying for months to ride the waves and bask in Raglan’s unique ambience.

Raglan is home to black sand beaches and world-famous left-hand surf breaks. The breaks are found at three main points: Whale Bay, the Indicators, and Manu Bay. Manu Bay, 8km from Raglan, is probably the most famous; it hosts international surfing competitions and was featured in the 1966 cult classic surf film the Endless Summer. The left-hand break here is one of the longest in the world.

Raglan is about a 45-minute drive west from Hamilton and features several nice cafés and shops on its main street, as well as a few surfing schools. Be warned, you may get bitten by the Raglan bug and not want to leave.

Practical information

Raglan Visitor Information Centre

4 Wallis Street, Raglan
Tel (07) 825 0556
Website www.raglan.org.nz
Open Mon-Fri 9am-3pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm

Coming & going

Raglan is far enough off the main highway to be left off the schedules of the main coach operators such as InterCity and Nakedbus.com, and Stray is the only backpacker bus that comes here. However, Environment Waikato run regular bus services from Hamilton that cost $5.50 from Hamilton’s Transport Centre. This bus has several stops in Raglan including the library and visitor information centre.

Hostel accommodation

Karioi Backpackers Lodge

5B Whaanga Road, Whale Bay, Raglan
Tel (07) 825 7873

Raglan Backpackers & Waterfront Lodge

9 Nero Street, Raglan
Tel (07) 825 0515

No booking fee when you book this hostel online at bug.co.uk


611 Wainui Road, Raglan
Tel (07) 825 8268

Eating & drinking

Bow Street is where you’ll find practically all of Raglan’s small selection of restaurants and bars. For such a small town there’s a nice variety. There are some cool cafés – particularly Tongue & Groove (19 Bow Street, Raglan) and Aqua Velvet (17 Bow Street, Raglan) – as well as an Asian restaurant, a pizzeria and a fish & chip shop. Vinnie’s (7 Wainui Road, Raglan) is an Italian pizza restaurant/café run by a real New Yorker. There’s also an off-licence on Wainui Road. Four Square (16-18 Bow Street, Raglan) is the only supermarket in town.


Most travellers come to Raglan for its world-class surfing. Experienced surfers head to Manu Bay, but beginner surfers are advised to start at Ocean Beach. Please note that access is now restricted to Whale Bay as Māori regard this as a sensitive spiritual area.

Raglan Surfing School (tel (07) 825 7873) is popular with many backpackers. It is run by Karioi Backpacker Lodge and they also rent surfboards and wetsuits.

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