Things to do in Raglan – Water Based

With its prime position on the western coastline of the Waikato region overlooking the rolling Tasman Sea Raglan is a favourite hangout for anyone who likes to mix water with their adventures.

The ocean waves have forged a shoreline of towering cliffs, sandy beaches, bays and secluded coves – and an extensive harbour system that is 13kms long and has two arms.

A mecca for surfers thanks to the left-hand break at Manu Bay, said to be the longest in the world, Raglan is home to a range of aquatic activities, from the ubiquitous surfing and swimming to kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, fishing and harbour cruises.

Surfing in Raglan

With world-class surf breaks and some of the most consistent surfing conditions in New Zealand, Raglan is a surfing hot spot.

Four beaches in the area top the list. About 10 minutes out of town is Ngārunui Beach, also known as Ocean Beach, which is good for less experienced and beginner surfers. Manu Bay is legendary with experienced surfers reporting the long left-hand break can give a two-kilometre ride if you know what you are doing. Whale Bay, a little further along the coast with surfers saying it’s not for the faint-hearted, while Ruapeke can also pack a powerful punch.

For surfers wanting to perfect their techniques and for those just starting out there are experts ready to provide lessons. Raglan Surf School offers group, family and school lessons, as well as private one-on-one coaching.

Swimming in Raglan

For many, young and the adults too, the swimming fun starts at the estuary footbridge with a refreshing dip and just over the bridge is the family-friendly beach Te Kopua, a popular spot for a swim and a picnic.

Ngārunui Beach, also known for its surfing, is one of the Waikato region’s most popular for swimming and is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months. Further on, Manu Bay and Whale Bay are also great for swimming.

Paddling in Raglan

Stand Up Paddle-boarding in Raglan

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP-ing) is a perfect way to get out onto Raglan Harbour to see marine and birdlife up close and inspect the unusual pancake rock formations, the layers having been etched out by water, wind and salt spray over the aeons. BYO or hire a board locally.

Kayak in Raglan

Kayaking in Raglan

Kayaking around the beautiful harbour and along the scenic coastline reveals hidden locations not readily reached on foot or by road. BYO or rent, and there are guided tour options too – all with picture-perfect scenery including inlets clad with native forest and beaches where another footprint in the sand means it is a crowded day.

Cruise Raglan

Raglan Harbour cruise

A scenic cruise is a relaxing way to get out on Raglan Harbour to explore its far reaches, witness the wildlife and enjoy the scenery while a local guide talks about what there is to see and the fascinating history of the area. One of the cruise options is aboard the Wahine Moe, a purpose-built catamaran that has comfortable seating areas, indoors or on deck. Passengers can go cruising at sunset or head out on the special nature cruise – on both you can choose the extra of delicious fish and chips from Raglan Fish. The Wahine Moe offers private tours, including the option of staying on board overnight.

Kitesurfing, Raglan, NZ

Kiteboarding in Raglan

The prevailing westerly wind and Raglan’s rugged shoreline geography make it a perfect place for most wind powered water sports. Kiteboarding and kitesurfing are popular, the sails making for a colourful spectacle as the local conditions put the proficient through their paces bouncing off waves and zipping across the harbour.

Windsurfing in Raglan

Raglan is also a great spot for windsurfers and highly regarded by enthusiasts throughout New Zealand and internationally. The reliable wind and rolling waves provide the ideal environment for windsurfing.

Fishing, Raglan Harbor, Waikato

Fishing in Raglan

The Tasman Sea offers up a bounty of fishing options in the Raglan area, from surfcasting at one of the many beaches to fishing off your kayak as you explore Raglan Harbour. There are fishing charters available too with skippers who know the local waters and the best spots for snapper, kingfish, kahawai and more.