Raglan is more or less New Zealand’s version of Byron Bay. Known for the awesome surf and chill lifestyle. I loved Byron so I was excited to check it out. It really was a lovely, bohemian town. Very walkable and positioned right on the water so there are amazing sunsets. Also similar to Byron live music was constantly playing.
Raglan is known for having epic surf. Something about a left-handed break (not going to pretend I know what that means). It was a featured location in the 60’s movie Endless Summer. There are also lots of surf competitions both national and international that have been hosted here. So everyone kept saying this was “the” spot to try surfing in New Zealand. I was a bit apprehensive to give it a go because last winter back home I tried snow boarding and that was an epic fail. People always compare surfing and snowboarding so I wasn’t too optimistic. I’m also realistic and knew I would need more than one lesson. In short I’ve been putting it off, but it has been something I wanted to do. So in a very last minute decision I decided to give it a go with one of the other girls traveling with Stray.
My lesson was with Raglan Surf School and I had the absolute best time! The first part of the lesson was dry and the instructors went over the water conditions, board orientations, standing technique, etc. Then we drove to the beach and suited up in wet suits. When we got in the water the temperature was actually perfect. There were two instructors in the water and six students. It was a good ratio and each of us got plenty of attention/instruction. We all stood up multiple times and it was the perfect first lesson. I can’t wait to go surfing again.
There are many shops and restaurants in Raglan and everything is in walking distance. There were also a few bars that looked great, but I didn’t get to venture to them during my short stay. We kept our two nights in Raglan pretty chill. One of those nights our group watched terrible Christmas movies, but it was great.
Raglan is on the water so there’s a great variety of super fresh fish. I broke my rule of never going to the same restaurant twice after finding the best fish and chips shop and went back two nights in a row. It was a bit of a walk (15 or so minutes) through nice neighborhoods and located right on a pier. The best part was that it was also super cheap. Your entire dinner-and the portions were generous-under $10. Fresh fish in large portions all at a reasonable price with a water view?! Major score!
More in town I found a cute ice cream shop with loads of awesome flavors or they could spin a flavor fresh for you. First you pick a base: vanilla ice cream or yogurt. Then you can pick up to three fruits. I went with pineapple, blackberry, and boysenberry. It comes out so fresh and yummy I could have gotten multiple, but I refrained with some self control that I didn’t know I possessed.
My last stop on my own food tour was a hidden hole in the wall bakery. They had the best fresh bread. I went with a multi-seed/grain loaf. It was $7.50 NZ so not super cheap, but so good and it lasted a few days.
Raglan Sunset Motel
My hostel stays in New Zealand really haven’t been bad. So far it has been less hit or miss than in Australia. Nonetheless I am always excited not to stay in a hostel when the situation arrises. In Raglan the preferred accommodation was the Raglan Sunset Motel.
We still had shared rooms, but at this point you’ve been traveling with one another for a while so it feels nice to share a room with the people you have gotten to know. It kind of starts feeling like summer camp.
The Stray travelers had their own section of the property with a lovely private courtyard, a lounge, and hot tub (spa). The rooms had super comfy beds and kitchenettes. They also offered free wifi and laundry!! That is totally unheard of. Raglan is small so everything is in walking distance and this property was one turn from the main street/village center. Not sure how many other accommodation options are in Raglan, but I know there was at least one hostel you could stay at. However, I would recommend the Sunset Motel.