Raglan makes an awesome base to explore our stunning west coastline or why not explore a little more of the Mighty Waikato.
Walking and Cycling
Top 10 Day Trips
Ngarunui Beach, Main Ocean Beach
Just stunning! Just a 10 minute drive out of town, off Wainui Road, Ngarunui beach is best accessed from the Wainui Reserve, near the surf club. Head out for the incredible coastal views, the black sand, relaxing strolls and all the world famous surf action!
The views of the Raglan bar and coastline from the cliff top vantage point are breathtaking, this spot is just as spectacular on a windy day. You may be game on for a surf lesson or just want to cool off in the surf, there is a steep walking path to the western end of the beach that is patrolled by surf lifesavers during the summer months, make sure you swim between the flags.
This is an epic day out, pack a picnic (there are no shops handy) and don’t forget your sunscreen and jandals, the sand gets very hot!
Drive time: approx 5 minutes. Amenities: car parking, flushing toilets, showers, fresh water, changing rooms, patrolled beach, walks
Manu Bay, Waikeri
This rocky bay is primarily a surfing beach and is famous for its left-hand break. When the conditions are right it provides top surfing conditions – enough to rival anywhere else worldwide.
Keep an eye out for many international surfers who have surfed here and never left. Our own homegrown talented Kiwi Olympic surf team, lead by current NZ surf campion, Billy Stairmand are likely to be spotted on the waves. There is also a boat ramp here and it is an excellent picnic spot being quite sheltered.
Drive time: approx 11 minutes, amenities: flushing toilets, fresh water, changing rooms
Whale Bay, Whaanga
Some of the scenes here, you could think you were in Hawaii! The famous left hand surf break, palm trees, volcanic rocky shoreline, endless coastline, we could go on!
It’s fairly remote out here, it’s an awesome spot to catch a wave with New Zealand’s greatest surfers. Be prepared to walk 600m over the rocks, you may even be rewarded by meeting some of the local seals!
If you’re not a surfer, go anyway! This spot is magic, simply simply go for a walk, fossick in the rockpools, watch the sunset or enjoy a picnic. You can on from here to the Te Toto Gorge lookout for the most incredible views along the coast.
Local artist Miranda Jane Caird is also based here, you can see where her inspiration comes from, pop in to her studio.
Drive time: approx 11 minutes. Amenities at the Whale Bay Reserve: toilets, picnic tables, swings, fresh water, car parking, walks
If you like remote and rugged stretches of coastline, this beach is a little known coastal gem. The roads there are windy and mostly gravel so that tends to keep the mainstream crowds away.
But this is a truly stunning place for a good-for-your-soul walk. With the sun and salt sea air on your face and a good west coast breeze behind you, this is soul food of the best kind! Take the camera, this is a super photogenic backdrop for family photographs and don’t be surprised if you find a wedding party in action.
The beach be reached by following the old coastal road from Whale Bay, enjoying the magnificent scenery. You can also take the road from the Bridal Veil Falls direction off SH23.
Swimmers should be especially wary of cross currents – there’s a reason the local seals love the beach so much!
WARNING! The beach is not patrolled by surf lifesavers so please take safety cautions.
Drive time: approx 25 minutes
At low tide, you can walk from Raglan Sunset Motel to the wharf and around to this shelly little beach. It’s especially pretty at sunrise for the early bird walkers! A safe place to take children, this inner harbour beach is well sheltered and a good place for a picnic. Or by road, Cox’s Bay is accessible from either Bayview Road, Daisy Street or from a walkway along Government Road.
Drive time: approx 3 minutes. Amenities close to the wharf shops, cafes, toilets
Puriri Park, Aro Aro Bay
This wee gem is on the corner of Cliff St and Wallis St so only a leisurely 15 minute walk from the motel. The beach is very tidal with the water coming in over shallow black sand so it can be lovely and warm. Perfect for little people paddling in the shallows, learning to paddle board or kayak and just enjoying being out on the water.
Drive time: 2 minutes. Amenities: picnic tables, playground and toilets make this a popular spot for families
Te Kopua Beach, Over the Footbridge
The closest swimming spot to the Raglan Sunset Motel is the calm estuary waters of Te Kopua Beach. Turn right on Bankart St and head down past the Fire Station, along the estuary path to the harbour and cross the footbridge. So close to town, families love it here. There’s an awesome playground, skate park and Pump track just alongside too.
Swim in the calm tidal waters of the estuary or indulge in Raglan’s most famous summer pastime – taking a leap from the footbridge, go the bombers! If you’re not brave enough, the entertainment is worth it! Watch the boats, jet skiiers, kayakers and paddleboarders heading out on their adventures.
For the walkers, this is a great spot to set off on estuary or inner harbour beach walks to Waimanu Bay just behind the camping ground or follow the Raglan 3 Bridges Walks past the Airstrip.
Make a day of it – grab your coffee, picnic goodies, togs, sunscreen and save room for the icecream on the way home.
Amenities: toilets, showers, BBQs, picnic tables, playground, skate park, bike park, shop, car and boat parking
Walking and Cycling
There are so many family-friendly walking and cycling tracks and trails on our doorstep. For the adventurers, you’re spoilt for more challenging choices with epic mountain climbs, down hill free speed and stunning ocean views.
From Our Place
The Pump Track + Wainamu Beach
10-40 Minute Walk | 5-20 Minute Cycle Return
To Rockit Kitchen, Wainui Rd + Wainui Bush Walk + Ngaranui Beach
45 Minute Flat Walk | 20 Minute Cycle | One Way
Take the same route over the footbridge as above, go left past the airstrip and then turn right onto Wainui Rd heading towards the main surf beaches. There’s a small section on the road before you connect to a gravel path that takes you to the old woolshed turned awesome cafe, RockIt Kitchen. It’s a super chilled spot with a sunny terrace and a massive garden with an old tractor to amuse little people. Oh, and the food, coffee and drinks menu…fab!
You can head straight back to the motel or come back via Wainamu Beach if you want to mix it up and take a little longer. There’s also the option to keep heading up to Wainui Reserve Walk or Ngaranui Beach and walks if you want to make a day of it. See details for these walks below.
Raglan Three Bridges Walk + Kaitoke Walkway + The Wharf
40 minutes - all day! | 4-9kms Mostly Flat Walk
Some steps if you take the Kaitoke Walkway extension
Start or finish with coffee in town depending on the time you have! This is a flexi family friendly, for most fitness levels gig, and again, you can extend the route or take shortcuts straight back to the motel.
Start by turning right onto Bankart St and cross over to the Fire Station and follow the path around to cross the Footbridge. Turn left along the roadway beside the estuary, past the entrance to the camp ground. Cross the next little bridge, keep left and turn left onto Wainui Rd back towards town crossing the one-way bridge. Ta da! You’ve done the 3 bridges and can come straight home along Wainui Rd if you want to. But wait, there’s a detour worth taking…
When you cross the one-way bridge on Wainui Rd, turn right up the hill towards the school, and turn right onto the Kaitoke Walkway before the school. Follow the Kaitoke Walkway along the estuary, through the bush until you reach Robertson Street (you can exit half way up Robertson St or continue to the very end at the bottom of Robertson St).
Turn left into Robertson St and cross over Main Rd into Cross St. Turn right at the Recreation Ground into the car park and head towards the buildings. At the end of the road follow the track leading to Lily Street (Lily Rugby Ground Street).
Cross over Government Road to continue down Lily Street. To avoid the Lily Street steps, turn left into Government Rd, then right into Wallis Rd. At this point, you can either go right down to the wharf or left back to the motel.
Walk To The Wharf + Puriri Beach and Playground
25 Leisurely Flat Walk | One Way
Warning: beaches, shopping, eateries, fishing, beer tasting can be distracting!
25 Leisurely Flat Walk | One Way | Warning: beaches, shopping, eateries, fishing, beer tasting can be distracting!
Make a loop to Raglan’s iconic cement towers and the wharf taking the scenic route along the inner harbour. From here, turn right, right, left, right! Trust us it’s easy! From here turn right onto Bankart St, right onto Wainui, left onto the main street (Bow St), and finally right following the harbour around Cliff St.
Here you will find the little inner harbour Puriri Beach and playground with toilets and changing rooms. A great safe spot for a swim with little when the tide is in.
Or to keep walking, turn left into Wallis St past the old Dairy Company Building’s galleries and down onto The Wharf. Pack your credit card, The Wharf Kitchen and Bar, Wharf Espresso, Tony Sly Pottery, Soul Shoes, The Wharf Gallery and Rick Youmans all have goods to tempt you depending on what time of day you’re wandering.
Kids, take your rods, this is such a great spot to catch your first fish. And if nothing’s biting, Raglan Fish do the best fish n chips!
Take the high road home, head up Rose St for the views and turn back down Government Rd onto Wallis St. Come straight home along Wallis St or detour left via Workshop Brewing for a beer tasting on Park Drive.
Walking and Cycling Nearby
25 Leisurely Flat Walk | One Way
Warning: beaches, shopping, eateries, fishing, beer tasting can be distracting!
You can add this on to your RockIt Kitchen excursion or simply drive out to the carpark at Wainui Bush Park on Wainui Rd heading out to the surf beaches. There is about 10 hectares of the 140 hectare Wainui Reserve with a pathway, natural amphitheatre and stunning bush and birds to listen out for. There are well contracted paths, crossing bridges over stony bottom creeks, or take in the views of the harbour. It’s a great spot for a picnic too.
There are several walks and tracks in this area starting from the carpark and leading down to Ngarunui Beach.
There are 2 tracks that you can access from the reserve on the way out to Manu and Whale Bays.
20 Minute Walk, 800m One Way | Steep steps! | Amazing Views
Drive out towards the surf beaches and access is from Wainui Road along the coast south west of Raglan. From the carpark beside the Bryant Home Children’s Bible Camp, follow the steps down to a well-formed track through a small patch of coastal forest, with tree ferns, nīkau palm, kawakawa and kōwhai in abundance. A third of the way down there is a lookout with awesome views northward along the coast, and at the bottom, steps lead on to Ngarunui Beach, the main patrolled surf beach. Stop for a swim between the flags, there are toilets, showers and changing rooms here.
If you want to keep walking, go for gold! From Ngarunui Beach, you can walk along the awesome black sandy seashore to Wainui Reserve. There are also toilets at Wainui Reserve.
Alternative access to the Ngarunui Track is via 50 steps from Earles Place, which has limited parking.
25 Minute Walk, 1km One Way
Across the road from the Bryant Home Children’s Bible Camp is another track that takes you through regenerating coastal forest. The track follows an historic water-race that in 1924 powered a generator providing electricity for Bryant Home.
An alternative entry to the track is from Upper Wainui Road down an access strip leading to a bridge. The track links up with the Water Race Track.
Waireinga, Bridal Veil Falls
55m Waterfall Drop | Can be viewed from the top or steps down to the bottom of the falls
To get there, it’s about a 20 minute drive from the motel. Head back along Hamilton/Raglan Highway (SH 23) and turn right into Te Mata Rd. Turn left into Kawhia Rd, 1km past Te Mata and travel another 4 km to the carpark.
It is a stunning easy walk through native bush following the Pakoka River to the top of the Waireinga, Bridal Veil Falls. This section of track is designed for assisted wheelchair use and is suitable for prams. There are awesome views of the falls and the mighty Waikato countryside from the two viewing platforms at the top of the falls.
For the energetic, from here, the track descends steeply down stairs to a midway view point. The track continues down more stairs to the bottom view bridge and information shelter with awesome views directly across the pool and up at the falls. You can’t swim here, as tempting as it may be. Rocks around the pool are mainly soft sandstones that have been worn down by the river to form a large amphitheatre. If you look up from the base of the falls, you can see the band of hard basalt rock (which came from a volcano about 1.5 km away) that has resisted the erosive power of the water. Get the shots for instagram and make your way back up the stairs. Trust us, it’s worth it!
Mt Karioi Walks and Mountain Bike Loop
Mt Karioi. Our Maunga. Our mountain. The sleeping lady, once an active volcano provides the most beautiful sunset silhouettes and the most awesome views from the summit. On a fine day you can see as far south as Mt Taranaki, the Herangi Range and Pureora. There is also a great view of all the local harbours as well as Pirongia, Maungatautari and Te Aroha mountains on a clear day.
To reach the Mt Karioi summit, this is advanced walking and we would definitely recommend good walking boots, layers of clothing, supplies of food, water, first aid, not to mention fitness. And your camera! There are two tracks you can take.
Karioi Walking Track
3.5 Hours to the Summit | 3 hours to the Lookout | The steep track
The steeper but more scenic of the two summit tracks and you definitely need to be prepared for this steep trail, it’s all uphill, but there are plenty of good vantage points to stop, catch your breath and admire the view. After passing through a grove of kānuka, the track climbs up a grassy slope before reaching the main ridge. Chains and ladders have been installed to help negotiate the occasional rocky outcrop. At a large rocky bluff the track sidles around to the north for a short distance then climbs steadily to the ridge. At this point, a short 10-minute side track takes you to a lookout providing good views across Raglan Harbour. Back on the main track it is another hour to the summit (756 m above sea level) along an undulating ridge. The vegetation along the ridge has been sculpted by the strong prevailing westerly wind. Make sure you have great weather when you set out and for the day ahead, not just for the views but also for your safety. Let us know if you’re heading up there. Safety first.
Wairake Walking Track
2.5–3 Hours to the Summit | The shorter route
This is the shortest route to the summit but still a good work out for fit walkers. The carpark is off Ruapuke Rd and it’s a 40 minute walk across private farmland to the bush edge. Please respect the access privilege which is only available during daylight hours. From the bush edge, the track climbs steadily through coastal forest to the summit.
Again, make sure you have good boots, supplies and great weather for the day ahead. Let us know if you’re heading up there and when you’re safely back. Take lots of photos and tag us for the brag!
Click the link and check all the Department of Conservation maps and information before you decide to tackle Mt Karioi for the stunning views and epic adventure!
Mountain Bike Loop Track
1 Day, 45km, Intermediate Track
Starting in Raglan, the Mount Karioi Loop is a challenging ride, boasting awesome views of the coast, ocean swells and rolling farmland. The 45km track circles Mount Karioi on both gravel and sealed roads. There’s plenty of winding uphill climbs and just as much free speed to be had on the downhills for experienced riders. Check all the details here on RideNZ.
The annual Karioi Classic – Cycle the Mountain MTB Race takes place in winter each year with 43km, 57km and 85km options around the beautiful mountain. You can register now for 25 July 2021.
It’s about a 30 minute drive to Mt Karioi’s sister, Mt Pirongia, where you can access walking and biking trails from the Raglan side. We suggest you head to the Kaniwhaniwha Tracks.
These tracks are accessed from Limeworks Loop Rd and are suitable for family outings, although the track to the famous Kahikatea tree may be too long for very young children.
2.5 Hour Walk, 7 km Return
The walking track starts from the Kaniwhaniwha carpark through a planted area and follows along the stream to a loop walk, lush with nīkau palms and tree ferns. It is ideal for family cycling but do follow directional signs around the loop track. There are opportunities for swimming and picnicking along the stream and a picnic/campsite with toilets is a short distance off the track (this is accessible by wheelchair but not the loop track).
This walk can be combined with a trip to the Kaniwhaniwha Caves which are awesome!
2.5 Hour Walk, 7 km Return
The two limestone caves are near the start of the Bell Track, 5 minutes from the junction with the Nikau Walk. You can walk through the 20-m-long main cave but please note there is a short hands-and knees crawl. The cave is wet underfoot so you will need a torch. The second, smaller cave is tight and narrow.
6 Hour Walk, 12 km return
From the Kaniwhaniwha carpark, follow the Nikau Walk on to the Bell Track and past the Kaniwhaniwha Caves. The track becomes undulating, with some uneven ground and muddy sections along Blue Bull Stream up to the swingbridge. Do not cross the swingbridge but continue upstream for 10 min beyond the bridge to the Kahikatea tree with its distinctive buttressed trunk. At 66.5 m, this is the tallest recorded native tree in New Zealand. The Bell Track continues to the summit across the swingbridge.
The Department of Conservation has full details and maps of the tracks on Mt Pirongia, plus many more that you can access from the other side of the mountain. There are days of adventures to be had.
The Wind Farm | The Pipiwharauroa Walking and Biking Trail
4 Hour Bike | 2 Hour Walk | 18kms
You will have noticed the wind turbines on the ridgeline coming into Te Uku on the way here.
The Wind Farm is an awesome trail for those up for a fitness challenge and some epic 360 degree views across the greater Waikato, to include Raglan, Kawhia and Aotea harbours, and on a clear day, Mt Taranaki. It might just be a little windy too!
The trail goes over privately-owned farmland and paper roads on the Wharauroa Plateau. It also offers a unique opportunity to experience the history of the site and a chance to get close to a number of the 137 metre high turbines in operation on the wind farm.
Crossing steep to rolling terrain, the 18 kilometre return trip takes approximately four hours to walk or two hours to cycle. During August, September and October the sections of the trail on farm land are closed for lambing. There’s a viewing centre just past Te Uku Roast Office where you can get a caffeine fix to help you up the hill.
Pop into Raglan Cyclery across the road from us to get first hand advice before you head out. Of course you can hire bikes here too.
Te Ara Kakariki | MTB | Raglan Ocean Trails
Mountain Bikers, here we go! This is the newest mountain bike trail in Raglan and starts off from the Wainui Reserve with rides for all the family. There is a kids loop with most of the trails being grade 3 up to grade 5 as the loops gradually get steeper and more advanced. There are seven trails that link up, here’s a couple of links to get you started and we totally recommend checking in with the pros:
Day Trips in the Waikato
PYO Fresh Strawberries
It’s such great fun for the kids to have a real berry farm experience. Pick your own summer berries growing in the lush Waikato fields at the Whatawhata Berry Farm, such a great stop-off on the way to Raglan. BYO container and pick your own fresh berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries (the varieties available vary depending on the time of year). Top it all off with a fresh fruit icecream, so good!
Approx. 30 minutes drive
Your all weather magical underground cave and glow worm experience. The world famous glow worm caves are linked by an underground river system allowing you to view millions of tiny glow worms attached to the incredible stalactites and stalagmites. This really is another world to discover. In addition to the caves, the Black Water Rafting experience nearby is a next level adrenaline hit! There are great native bush walks to do outside the caves in an area so rich with New Zealand’s history. Make this a whole day trip for all the family.
Approx. 90 minutes drive
Mt Pirongia Forest Park
The views of the Mighty Waikato are simply stunning, and best of all, you don’t even have to summit the mountain to get them! There’s great walking, cycling or mountain biking tracks for everyone. Check the website for all your options but we totally recommend the Corcoran Road Lookout, 5.5 km north of Pirongia, turn off SH39 onto Te Pahu Road, which is signposted for Pirongia Forest Park. After 5.6 km, turn into Corcoran Road and follow this to the end. There is a carpark, information spot, toilets, and a well marked loop track in beautiful native bush. The lookout spot is wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Approx. 45 minutes drive
Kawhia - Dig Your Own Hot Pools
Such a well kept secret. Who knew you can dig your own hot pool on the beach in Kawhia? BYO spade, head down through the dunes to the Ocean Beach and you can dig your very own shallow hot pool at Te Puia Springs. Remember, this is the west coast so think off-the-beaten track, windy and a little rugged but the most incredible scenery. You have two hours on either side of low tide to dig a pool so check the tide times for the best time to dig. Take SH 31 to Kawhia. In town, turn on Tainui Street and follow the signs to the carpark. For those that love to find a hidden gem, this is a must-do for you.
Approx. 60 minutes drive
Trust us, it is spectacular day out for all the family. The Hamilton Gardens are free to visit and open every day of the year. Totally day trip worthy, pack a picnic or there is a great cafe onsite. There are themed, productive, sculptural and seasonal gardens which you can free-range (grab a map when you get there) or take a guided tour. Why not simply enjoy the native bush walks you can do leading down to the Waikato River Explorer where a river cruise is another great option. There’s a packed event calendar throughout the year so check out what’s on, but our advice, just do it! Your instagram account will thank you for it!
Approx. 40 minutes drive
Zealong Tea Estate is New Zealand’s only tea plantation, based here in the Waikato. What better way to taste and experience their award-winning, 100% certified organic teas than with a visit to the beautiful gardens, galleries and tea house. High Tea has to be the ultimate experience or tours of the plantation followed by the art of tea appreciation is truly something unique to be experienced. You know you can always have a coffee here in Raglan before you set off for the day!
Approx 50 minutes drive
Check out the cheeky chimpanzees and their friends at Hamilton Zoo. Go and see your favourite mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians and hear first hand from the zoo keepers just what it’s like to look after these friends. The zoo is open everyday (except Christmas Day), it’s super easy getting around with loads of space to meet the animals at your own leisurely pace with (or without!) the kids. There are special experiences you can book, so check the website to plan a day out.
Approx. 30 minutes drive
Lunch at Mr Pickles
Voted Best Restaurant at the Waikato Food Awards 2020, it’s not just the food, but the chef, his team and the general determination to put Hamilton on New Zealand’s dining scene in a very “Tron” understated kind of way. As for location, it’s so good to see the Waikato River views being featured, cocktail anyone? When Cuisine Magazine rate the people at Mr Pickles as much as the food, the bar, the beverage list and the service, you know you’re onto a winner. Get on in there. Good people. Good food. Good times.
Approx. 40 minutes drive
Hobbiton Movie Set Tours
Self drive or jump on the Raglan Shuttle to Hobbiton™ Movie Set Tours, Middle Earth is calling! If you’re a Hobbit fan, then we guess you probably know that there’s an International Hobbit™ Day. But whether a fan or not, head over to Matamata, open your minds and lap up the experience of the real sets, as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. The fantastically detailed scenes created by Sir Peter Jackson are truly mind blowing when seen up close. It’s incredible that what was once a sheep farm in the Waikato, is the actual home of the famous movies and their characters. You can take the tour, see and hear how the movies were made. Check the website for details, pricing and family passes available.
Approx. 80 minutes drive or take the Raglan Shuttle just across the road from us