In Raglan you can catch a wave or sip a great espresso. This lively surf town has an interesting creative culture and a wonderful choice of cafés.
West of Hamilton, Raglan is both a surfing mecca and a dramatically scenic area of black sand coastline. Many people believe that Manu Bay on this coast has the longest, most accessible and consistent left-hand break in the world. If you have the required level of skill, it's possible to catch a wave and cruise for up to two kilometres. Manu Bay (also known as The Point) was featured in the 1966 cult surfing movie Endless Summer.
If you're not a hard-core surfer, Ocean Beach is a fine place for a swim, a body boarding session or even a surf lesson with the Raglan Surf School. Lifeguards patrol the western end of the beach during the summer months - it's safest to swim between the flags.
There are several excellent walks in the Raglan area. In just 10 minutes you can walk to the top of Bridal Veil Falls (55 metres). If you're wanting a more challenging adventure, you can climb to the top of Mount Karioi - on a fine day you can see all the way to Mount Taranaki. The Te Toto Gorge Track is another option - it's a route that was once used extensively by Maori and remnants of stone walls can still be seen in places.
Or cycle the Pipiwharauroa Trail which will get you up close to the 137m high wind turbines at the Te Uku windfarm. Other popular activities include kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and harbour cruises.
Be sure to spare a couple of hours for Raglan township. It's an entertaining mix of cafés, bars, surf shops and galleries. This part of New Zealand has always attracted people who are into sustainable lifestyles, so the residents are full of character.