Raglan’s art community draws inspiration from the natural surroundings – the sea, the shore, waterfalls, cliffs, caves, and some of the best beaches in New Zealand. This striking landscape has combined with the locals’ love of water sports, walking and fishing to inspire photographers, potters, painters, poets, tailors and all manner of other artists from across the Waikato region and world.
Raglan Arts Trail
There are many things to do in Raglan, and taking a stroll along the arts trail is a great way to explore some of Raglan’s best hidden gems. The “Old School Arts Centre", situated at the start of the trail, is a historic school building built in colonial times. This building is a gallery in its own right, hosting the annual ‘Art to Wear’ festival and the town’s monthly creative markets as well as the annual Raglan Film Festival and Raglan Arts Weekend. Get hands-on at one of the regular art workshops, catch an exhibition or film and pick up some friendly advice to help you find your way around.
Raglan’s arts trail follows the shoreline around one of the most scenic towns in the Waikato. New Zealand has few towns that are structured in this way - footbridges span the estuary inlet, the streets are lined with palm trees, and local sculptures adorn special places.
Raglan Art Galleries
On top of art cafes and boutique stores, Raglan houses several galleries, each displaying a different facet of New Zealand art. Galleries here are dedicated to showcasing top-quality art from around the country as well as supporting the local artisan community. Many function as ‘home base’ outlets for successful artist collectives who sell their art on the national and international market.
Raglan Artists Studios
Raglan hosts an annual ‘Raglan Arts Weekend’ over the long weekend, when artists open their studios to visitors, showing techniques, displaying their wares and discussing commissions. Outside of this weekend most studios are open by appointment – just ask at the Raglan information centre, or arts centre if you wish to make contact with an artist directly.
Among the most interesting local artists is Aaron Kereopa. Aaron’s amazing carved surfboard inners are sought after worldwide and are featured in Queenstown galleries for the complexity of carving and colour he infuses into his art. At the other end of the artistic spectrum, Tony Sly’s practical pottery captures the beauty of simplicity and quality. It’s not hard to see why Sly’s pottery is sold at the best stores in New Zealand – his colour glazes are breath-taking.
The Raglan Museum is also well worth a visit, with great local exhibitions showcasing the stories and history of Raglan and its surfing roots.
Raglan Art Stores
Raglan’s artists combine passion and practicality, and have quite a reputation in the wearable art community. Local shoemakers Soul Shoes incorporate artistry into their handcrafted footwear, while browsing Raglan’s boutique shops will reveal a wide range of creativity, from mosaic-like wearable at to elegant selections of the best designs in jewellery, art and homewares from around New Zealand.
Raglan Creative Market
Raglan’s arts community sits at the heart of the Raglan lifestyle and the market is a great way to soak up the town’s relaxed attitude and creative vibe. Held on the second Sunday of every month, the market includes paintings, photography and original fashion along with some delicious local produce.