Great surf and scenery and a passionate local populace impress Elisabeth Easther.

Where is it?

On the west coast of the Waikato region, 48km west of Hamilton, 150km from Auckland.

Origin of name: Originally known as Whaingaroa, Maori for Long Pursuit, the name Raglan was taken on in 1858 in honour of the 1st Lord of Raglan, a Crimean war hero.

Population: 2736 (2013 census).


Town mascot: The Maui Dolphin.

Whenua: During World War II, the Government took land from local Maori to use as an airstrip, although, at the end of the war, the land wasn't returned and was turned into a golf course instead. In the 1970s a pivotal protest took place and the land was restored to its rightful owners.

Manawa: Raglan is full of people who care fiercely about the land, the sea and the world. KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining) was born here, as was Xtreme Zero Waste, a group that's helping to turn Raglan's waste into resources, moving towards being a zero-waste region.

Famous locals: Antonio Te Maioha (actor), Vinnie Woolston (international modelling sensation), Josh Kronfeld (former All Black), Eva Rickard (activist) and musician Anna Coddington.

Best websites: and
Big business: Tourism, while in the wider region farming keeps people busy.

Source of pride: The left-hand break, the natural west coast beauty and the intense love the locals have for their region.

Town fiestas: Raglan Arts Weekend, Karioi Classic, Maui Dolphin Day (March 8), Raglan Creative Market, Raglan Film Festival and the Art2Wear Show, which always sells out. Plus there is a Little Food Fest, surf champs, fishing competitions, cycling and running events, and the Yot Club puts on regular gigs.

Here for a short time: Go to the beach, eat amazing food and check out Bridal Veil Falls.

Best place to take kids: Raglan Te Kopua Domain's enormous skate bowl and BMX track will keep the nippers happy for hours plus there's swimming, huge trees and at high tide you can jump off the footbridge.

Best park: Wainui Reserve and playground, on the way to Ngarunui Beach. It's a bit tucked away but well worth seeking out.

Best view: Top of Wainui Reserve looking out over Ngarunui Beach.

Best walks: Raglan rocks; Bridal Veil Falls to the popular Three Bridges trail goes from the causeway to the airfield to the footbridge. The Ngarunui Beach trail into town is stunning, as is Mt Karioi, the 2.4-million-year-old extinct volcano, it takes about three hours to get to the top.

Best place to pull over: Manu Bay; stop at the top and look out at the waves and surfers. Te Toto Gorge is also flipping spectacular.

Best swim: Ngarunui Beach with its lifeguards, rock pools and walks. For a safer swim for the children go for the harbour.

Best museum: Raglan Museum's collections feature native birds, kerosene lamps, surfing as well as local history. It is busy preparing for a major Anzac exhibit.

Nice arts: Jet Collective, Matapihi, Kanuka Design, Tony Sly Pottery and Show Off Gallery, to name a few.

Upcycle: Raglan has a flash rubbish dump and recycling centre, Xtreme Zero Waste, which has a shop called Kahu's Nest where used clothing, timber and furniture can be bought.

Cream of the coffee: Raglan Roast Coffee, available at Hole in the Wall in Volcom Lane and at Te Uku Roast Office is the local roast with the most. They have a shop at Te Akau called Raglan Post and operate the popular Raglan West Food Department.

Baked: Raglan West Food Department does delicious baking including authentic Italian pizzas and brioche.

Fish and chips: Grab a steaming paper parcel of kai from Joe's Campground Takeaways and eat it on the footbridge or try Raglan Wharf Fish and Chips, situated on a working fishing wharf - they'll hook you with the freshest ika ever.

Best food: Rocket does an amazing kumara hash cake with hollandaise and grilled asparagus when in season. The Shack does corn fitters with tomato avocado salsa, red onions and poached eggs; its raw beetroot salad is also amazing. Go to Orca for sunset, people rave about its beef cheeks and duck dishes. The Bow St Depot for tapas, lamb dishes, wine and Good George beer.

Romance: Take a trip on the Wahinemoe, a purpose-built charter boat that departs from Raglan Wharf and motors into the harbour for sunset drinks and canoodling.

Wet your whistle: Sit on the veranda at Harbour View Hotel. Depot and the Yot Club are also good when you've worked up a thirst.

Best mountain biking: Te Akau Wind Farm has some pretty hardcore trails, and the Raglan MTB club is planning to create some new tracks that'll be suitable for all ages.

Wildlife: The endangered Maui dolphins, lots of bird life and up Mt Karioi you'll find geckos, bats and birds. Check out Trevor Penfold's beautiful book, Visions of Nature for a close-up glimpse of the creatures that live around here.

When a local has visitors staying: They take them to Ngarunui Beach, Te Toto Gorge and out on the water.

Safety warnings: Don't cross the harbour without watching the bar crossing video on the Waikato Regional Council website. Take safety seriously, boating's a serious business.

Visitors say: You're so lucky to live here.

Locals say: Them's the breaks.

Thanks to The Raglan Old School Arts Centre for sharing the love.