The New Zealand Town Touted To Be The Next Byron Bay
Hugging the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island is a township that oozes sunshine and good vibes. Welcome to Raglan: the creative and colourful village that’s often described as the Kiwi equivalent of Byron Bay.
It’s here you’ll delight in discovering fresh flowers for sale roadside, be impressed at the extensive array of artisan produce filling cafés and restaurants, and relish mouthfuls of locally brewed coffee and craft beer.
Look a little closer and you’ll find salt of the earth locals nurturing their environment, saluting the sun in yoga classes overlooking an expansive coastline and enjoying healthy doses of the ocean’s goodness with missions to the world’s longest left-hand surf break.
Merely a two-hour drive south-west of bustling Auckland, Raglan couldn’t provide a more slower pace to soak up life’s simplicities. Here’s how to experience everything this sunny town has to offer but before you set off, it’s recommended you bring or hire a rental car.
8am: Coffee at Raglan Roast
Rise early to avoid the queues in search of their daily caffeine fix at Raglan Roast, a charming hole-in-the-wall-style coffee shop.
The decedent brew is roasted onsite daily and while it’s now available throughout the country, it made its humble debut right here in Raglan more than 15 years ago.
9am: Yoga at Solscape
Salute the sun on the grassy verge of an eco-retreat overlooking elevated views of Raglan’s dramatic coastline. Solscape is designed as a place for rest, rejuvenation and playful inspiration. The ethos is embodied in everything provided here: from daily yoga classes to a café framed by sunflowers. Most ingredients on the fully organic and vegan menu are grown in the onsite garden.
11am: Brunch at The Shack
Spilling out onto the cobbled footpath are tables filled with relaxed patrons as they devour The Shack’s all-day menu including buttermilk vanilla waffles, miso-roasted mushrooms and corn fritters.
The trusted establishment has been part of the Raglan landscape for years and is a go-to spot for catch-ups over coffee, undoubtedly because of its conscious kitchen, which vows to support local produce.
The menu features Raglan-made coconut yoghurt, ice blocks, artisan bread, bush honey and herbs, among much more. Opt for a takeaway coffee in one of the beautifully hand-made reusable cups, sold in support of Raglan’s mission to become entirely plastic-free.
12pm: Browse the shops
Lofty palm trees divide the main street. To either side are boutique clothing and homeware stores that are a treasure trove of bohemian and artisan fare. Feathered dreamcatchers sway in shop doors; Buddha statues, crystals and gemstones glow in the sunlight.
2pm: Take a surf lesson
Surfing is a reason in itself to visit Raglan and thousands flock to the shimmering black sand beach to ride world-renowned waves. Even those not involved in the sport will undeniably form a connection to the ethereal coastline known as Ocean Beach or Ngarunui (it’s Maori name). Mesmerising views across the vast ocean are framed by scatterings of wild flowers, flax bushes and pohutukawa trees blossoming red in summer.
Join Raglan Surf School for an afternoon on the water, or hire a board at one of rental stores available. The more experienced can head a little further up the coast to Manu Bay: it’s here you’ll discover what’s said to be the longest, most accessible and consistent left-hand break in the world where it’s possible to ride a wave for up to two kilometres. Suit up!
5pm: Dinner at a historic pub
The grand white colonial hotel sitting proudly along Raglan’s main street and cast in the shade of palm trees has become quite an iconic feature of the town. What’s more, is that the balcony is the perfect spot to watch the world go by and indulge in a meal from the award-winning a la cart restaurant.
The Harbour View Hotel includes a brunch, lunch and dinner menu offering everything from gourmet pizza to seafood chowder.
9pm: Stay at a remote glass house
Perched on the foothills of Mount Karioi, the majestic mountain overlooking the township, is an eco-bach with a feel-good factor and seriously stunning views to match.
The Glass House is complete with three double bedrooms, glass frontage that can be rolled back to welcome the beauty of the outdoors, and an infinity pool overlooking sweeping vistas of the Tasman Sea.
The space celebrates all that Raglan encompasses and encourages guests to enjoy the surreal surrounds by stargazing from the deck, cooling off in the pool, or simply admiring the alluring harbour lights at night from the comfort of the couch.
With high-quality linen and the luxury of zero light or noise pollution, the bach provides a haven to unwind after a day of adventure and guarantees a sumptuous and undisturbed sleep – now that’s what dreams are made of.
(Lead image: The Glass House / supplied)
Published 31 January, 2020