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In this comprehensive Raglan travel guide for families, we will share the best attractions, things to do, restaurants, and accommodation in Raglan that are suitable for families with kids.

Raglan is a hidden gem in New Zealand often missed by travellers. This beautiful little corner on the North Island is known for its black sands, surf beaches, boutique shops, arts and crafts, trendy cafes and restaurants, and Raglan Roast – coffee roasted right here in Raglan.

This weekend, we escape from our toddler and choose Raglan as our babymoon destination to reignite the sparks between my partner and me before our son joins the family.

Best of Raglan Complete Family Travel Guide Top Things To Do Waikato New Zealand Featured

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New Zealand Travel Guides by Region: North Island

Northland: Paihia | Tutukaka Coast | Whangarei
Auckland: Clevedon Coast | Matakana Coast | Waiheke Island | Waitakere Ranges
Waikato: Coromandel | Hamilton | Raglan
Bay of Plenty: Rotorua
Taranaki: Egmont National Park
Manawatu-Manganui: Tongariro


Raglan i-Site Visitor Centre

Our favourite first stops for every destination in New Zealand is the i-Site Visitor Information Centre. We come here for more than just brochures and ask for directions. This is usually the best place to have a chat with locals about recommendations on your specific type of vacation.

For us, this trip is a weekend getaway from our 2yo toddler Kyra, and a celebration of being a couple before our son arrives in March 2020. We want this trip to be relaxing, romantic and stress-free.

Coincidentally, the lady we met at the visitor centre is also heavily pregnant with twin boys. So she knew exactly what to recommend, and it turns out, most of these attractions are family-friendly regardless of whether you have a baby, toddler or kids tagging along.

Raglan-i-Site-Visitor-Centre-Waikato-New-Zealand-Travel-Guide
Raglan i-Site Visitor Centre
(Photo © Tripadvisor)

Top Attractions in Raglan

Raglan is surrounded by nature, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the top attractions here are Bridal Veil Falls, Michael Hope Lookout, and the 3 famous surf break beaches.

However, many other activities in Raglan are also worth exploring, such as horse riding, surf lessons, and Raglan Museum. We will cover some of the top things to do in Raglan in the section below and introduce a list of hiking tracks and trails for the adventurers!

Bridal Veil Falls

As the name suggests, Bridal Veil Falls is a 55m waterfall resembling a bride’s veil. Many people choose to get married at this romantic and magical place. Bridal Veil Falls is about 20 minutes drive from Raglan, where 15 minutes of that drive is off the State Hwy.

Raglan-Top-Attraction-Things-To-Do-Bridal-Veil-Falls-Waikato-New-Zealand-Travel-Guide
Bridal Veil Falls – Waikato, New Zealand

© Photos by Kida

I was 25 weeks pregnant at the time and managed to walk easily to the falls in 10 minutes. However, the path isn’t stroller-friendly, so if you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, an ergonomic baby carrier would be the best option.

At the end of the pathway, there’s a sign that points to the lookout area. The waterfall sits in a bright open space with no obstructive views from the trees. This allows photo opportunities during most hours of the day.

© Photos by Kida

To the left, you’ll see the top of the waterfall. Although you can get really close to the falls, the angle only allows you to see the top, so the view of Bridal Veil Falls is minimal.

To the right, you’ll get to the upper falls viewing platform, which gives you a full view of the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls. It isn’t too much of a challenge to keep walking towards the bottom of the falls.

As for our family, we decided to give it a miss this time with my big belly and clumsy feet.

bridal veil falls from top of falls
Bridal Veil Top of Falls Viewing Point

© Photos by Kida

Michael Hope Lookout

There’s no better vantage point than Michael Hope Lookout to take in the panoramic view of Raglan’s best beaches. There is plenty of space for picnics and walks, and this is our perfect afternoon stop to rest up and recharge while watching brave people paragliding along the coastline.

© Photos by Kida

Ngarunui Beach, Manu Bay Reserve & Whale Bay

A bit of a walk downhill from Ngarunui Beach‘s car park is a picturesque beginner’s surf beach with smooth black sand ideal for swimming, surfing and fishing.

Manu Bay Reserve is one of the best spots for surfing in Raglan. Many surfers choose to enter the breaking waves by jumping in from the reef rocks.

We had a fantastic time just sitting and chilling on the grass, watching these courageous surfers, wishing we could do the same!

On that note, you can book a 2hr surfing lesson here with Get Your Guide if surfing is something you would like to pick up. Alternatively, you can do a day trip tour and learn to surf with Viator.

Whale Bay is another popular spot, more secluded with world-renowned surf.

© Photos by Kida

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Top Things To Do in Raglan

Raglan is a budget-friendly destination for backpackers, couples and families. There’s no need to break the bank to explore this coastal town. Apart from the must-do top attractions, Raglan has unique local boutique shops, huge playgrounds, water activities and beautiful walks and hikes. Don’t forget to explore Raglan Wharf, which we have written detailed guides below.

Raglan-Three-Bridges-Walk-Top-Things-To-Do-Waikato-Hamilton-New-Zealand-Travel-Guide
Heart of Raglan & Footbridge

© Photos by Kida

Three Bridges Walk

Quite literally, three bridges walk means walking through the 3 bridges around the heart of Raglan surrounded by black sand beaches and dazzling waters.

This is the top-recommended walk for families and, in my case, pregnant ladies. The entire path is stroller friendly, and you can choose to end the walk at any point.

Of course, there are many other hikes and walks for people with different fitness levels and interests. We have named many in the Tracks & Trails section below, where you can research more if you plan to hike.

© Photos by Kida

Playgrounds

Over and across Raglan Footbridge, crowds gather at the beach. There’s a campervan parking site near the playgrounds, which attracts families all over to camp here.

You can find more camping options in our accommodation section below. Kids covered in black sand, jumping off the bridge, and making a splash in the water. Line up at Jo’s Takeaway for a quick bite to enjoy the perfect day out in the sun!

Raglan-Three-Bridges-Walk-Playground-Skate-Park-Waikato-Hamilton-New-Zealand-Travel-Guide
Raglan Playground and Skate Park

© Photos by Kida

© Photos by Kida

Water Activities

Surrounded by water, it only makes sense to get yourselves wet. Kayak or paddleboard to the pancake rocks, and take in the sparkling view of the inner harbour. Raglan Kayak & Paddleboard hire is available around the intersection between Cliff St and Bow St.

© Photos by Kida

Ngarunui Beach Walk & Sunset

I specifically wanted to take a leisure walk on the beach this time, and cover my feet with Raglan’s black sand. However, the popular surf beaches we’ve covered above, do not have direct easy access to the beach for a pregnant girl. So if you’re travelling with kids, or not as mobile, and want to take a walk on Ngarunui Beach, the closest and easiest access to the beach is via Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive.

Beach Access from Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive, Raglan

© Photos by Kida

This is also the best spot to watch Raglan’s stunning sunset. There is ample parking right in front of the beach, making it a perfect place to enjoy some takeaways or pizza in the comfort of your car.

ngarunui surfing beach
Ngarunui Beach, Raglan

© Photos by Kida

Shopping

We loved the vibes here in Raglan town centre. Boutique shops, themed stores, creative streets, and I found my favourite bohemian gypsy store! Whether you’re just window-shopping, looking for arts & crafts or something unique and different, Raglan town centre will not disappoint.

© Photos by Kida

Surf & Turf Horse Riding

If I’m not heavily pregnant, horse riding would be on my top to-do list here in Raglan. Surf & Turf^ offers many horse riding options, ranging from beach rides, farm rides, swimming with horses, sunset rides and photoshoots.

Surf & Turf Horse Riding Raglan
(Photo © Surf & Turf)

Sunset Cruises

Wahine Moe Cruises take you on the water to enjoy Raglan’s beauty from a different perspective. It’s rated one of the top 5 tours in Raglan on Tripadvisor.

We found some pretty good deals on GrabOne, which is one of NZ’s top deals sites. However, we ran out of time to enjoy the cruise this time.

Wahine Moe Sunset Cruises, Raglan
(Photo © Wahine Moe Cruises)

Tracks & Trails

Below we have summarised some Tracks and Trails options if this your area of interest. You can get detailed guides and maps on these walks from Raglan i-Site Visitor Centre.

  • Town to beach walk along Ngaranui
  • Wainui bush park off Wainui Rd
  • Te Ara Kakariki Raglan ocean trails, also a shared bike track
  • Ngaranui beach loop walk
  • Water race track (30min 1km) from Upper Wainui Rd
  • Water race track to Solscape loop
  • Ngarunui track (20min 800m)
  • Estuary walk (1hr 5km) along Raglan Estuary
  • Mt. Karioi (2hrs to look out, 3hrs to summit) starting from Te Toto Gorge carpark
  • Mt Karioi Wairake track (2.5hrs to summit) not as steep as the hike above
  • Papanui point (must be careful of tide changes)
  • Ed Hilary Reserve (main entrance off Old Mountain Rd)
  • Four Brothers track (15min 630m one-way climb)
  • Karamu Walkway (Northern track: 1.5hr 2.7km one way. Southern track: 3-4hrs 7.8km one way)
  • Karakariki Reserve near Whatawhata (20min to the waterfall)
  • Waipa River walkway from Te Pahu Rd off Route 23

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Top Cafes & Restaurants in Raglan

From Raglan Roast coffee to waterfront cafes and restaurants, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to food & drinks in Raglan. Of course, if you’re here for fresh fish & chips, then head on over to Raglan Wharf for fish fresh off the boat!

Raglan Roast

You must not leave Raglan without trying Raglan Roast coffee. Hidden in Volcom Lane, this little coffee shop is the go-to coffee shop for locals and tourists.

raglan roast coffee shop
Raglan Roast Coffee

© Photos by Kida

Rock-It Kitchen

Rock-It Kitchen is a little out of town, but we just have to mention this restaurant first. It’s ranked #1 on Tripadvisor, and totally deserves the crown. We discovered it on the way back from the surf beaches and decided to have an early dinner here. The kitchen is open from 5.30 pm in the evenings. We arrived just shortly after 5 pm, and the staff here kindly seated us and advised the chef to start a little earlier.

Raglan-Restaurant-Rock-It-Kitchen
Rock-It Kitchen, Raglan

© Photos by Kida

Although we waited about 40 minutes for our meals, we were very satisfied with the quality and presentation of our food. What we loved the most about this place was the outdoor alfresco dining area.

The romantic settings with candle lights on each table set a relaxing ambience and sparked a long-overdue romantic conversation between my partner and me.

The spacious backyard garden area has a little football net to keep the kids entertained.

© Photos by Kida

The Shack

The Shack Raglan is a local restaurant open every day from 8 am – 4 pm. Situated right in the hub of Raglan busiest street, with an outdoor seating area and great atmosphere. Come here for lunch if you’re in town!

Raglan-Restaurant-Eatery-The-Shack
The Shack, Raglan

© Photos by Kida

Orca Eatery & Bar

Situated right by the water, Orca Eatery & Bar would be an excellent choice to enjoy the stunning view of Raglan inner harbour.

Raglan-Restaurant-Recommendation-Eatery-Orca
Orca Eatery & Bar

© Photos by Kida


Raglan Wharf

Raglan Wharf is home to many fishing and charter boats here. You can find Raglan Roast coffee, fresh fish & chips, a pottery barn, cafes & restaurants, and unique accommodation. This is a hot spot for leisure fishing if fishing is on your to-do list.

fishing boat docked at the wharf
Raglan Wharf

© Photos by Kida

Raglan Fish

New Zealand is known for its fish & chips by the sea. If you’re after fresh fish & chips around this region, there’s no better place to get them than Raglan Fish. It’s not an upscale restaurant, nor is it a fancy seafood shop, but it’s as local as it gets.

Raglan Wharf Fish & Chips
Raglan Fish

© Photos by Kida

There is a range of fish to choose from, including daily specials and smoked seafood. It can get quite busy during weekends, so expect some waiting if there are many people around. Sauces are $1 each, but there is salt on every table.

© Photos by Kida

Raglan Fish sits around the corner of Raglan Wharf with sweeping views of Cox Bay, so enjoy some fresh fish off the boat and watch people reel in their fishing lines by the wharf!

boats at Raglan Harbour Wharf
Cox Bay, Raglan

© Photos by Kida

Wharf Espresso

If you stumbled upon the little coffee shop here at the wharf, try their Raglan Roast Coffee. However, if you can hold off your caffeine, save your thirst for Raglan Roast Coffee in Volcom Lane in town.. or have 2 coffees, because well, you’re on holiday!

© Photos by Kida

Tony Sly Pottery

You can’t miss this little pottery barn on Raglan Wharf as it’s right by the car park. Tony Sly has been working with clay since the 1980s. Although we’re not pottery experts, it’s a cool little shop to check out!

© Photos by Kida

The Wharf Kitchen and Bar

The Wharf Kitchen and Bar is an excellent place to grab some breakfast or brunch. Try their wharf-famous Seafood Chowder!

© Photos by Kida

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Accommodation in Raglan

Raglan offers many types of accommodation. From camping to backpackers, budget hotels to unique apartments, glamping to 5-star lodges, there’s something for every occasion.

Below are some of our recommendations on accommodation in Raglan.

We stayed in a secluded lodge for a romantic babymoon getaway without our toddler. You can read our review on Karamu Valley Lodge in the section below. *This lodge is closed since Covid.

Karamu Valley Lodge Studio Apartment

© Photos by Kida

The Silos Apartments

It’s to our surprise that the former Golden Bay Silos has been converted into a very unique accommodation choice for visitors, now known as The Silos Apartments.

There are currently 5 apartments to choose from, so if you’re looking for something slightly different but not too far from the hub of Raglan, The Silos would be a great place for a memorable experience.

The Silos Apartments, Raglan Wharf
(Photo © The Silos)

The Silos Apartments can be booked through Airbnb or Book A Bach.

Camping

Te Kopua Whanau Camping Ground is a stone throw away from Ngarunui Beach.

There are a few freedom camping locations that you can explore here. Middle sections of James St & Wallis St, and Grass area at East end of Lorenzen Bay Rd.

You can explore Raglan Holiday Park options if you and your family plan to camp in Raglan.

Raglan-Ngarunui Beach
Ngarunui Beach, Raglan

Nikau Sanctuary

This was actually our first choice of accommodation, but unfortunately, we left the planning too late, and it was fully booked out for our dates.

Nikau Sanctuary is a unique accommodation in the style of a luxury yurt. It has its very own outdoor bath, BBQ kitchen and is surrounded by palm trees. This is definitely a top choice for a romantic getaway.

Nikau Sanctuary, Raglan
(Photo © Nikau Sanctuary)

Solscape

Located a short walk from the famous beaches, Solscape offers a range of accommodation, including Bach, Cottage and Studio.

Solscape, Raglan
(Photo © Solscape)

Accommodation Booking Sites & Apps

Below is a list of hotel booking sites I personally use myself. You can find a range of family accommodation on these websites, from holiday parks to holiday homes, hotels to resorts.

*Some of these links are affiliate links. (full disclosure)
It doesn’t affect you in any way, but we may receive a small commission for bookings through our site.

Hot Tip

If you only travel occasionally, consider booking with the hotel directly. You might get a discount & better service.

However, if you’re a frequent traveller that stays at hotels often, we recommend sticking with one hotel booking site/app to reap the benefits of its loyalty program.

Hotel Booking Sites

hotels.com hotel booking
I use Hotels.com app to book hotels after browsing through hotel comparison sites. The loyalty program is my favourite and customer service has been excellent so far.
Trip.com hotel booking
Sometimes I find the best prices on Trip.com, so I use Trip as an alternative hotel booking app.
Agoda hotel booking
Agoda also offers some of the best prices around, and its rewards system is simple to use and is one of my go-to hotel booking apps.
Booking hotel booking
Occasionally, the hotel I’d like to book is only available on Booking.com. This site has the most complete list of accommodations.

Hotel Comparison Sites

trivago hotel comparison
Trivago is the first hotel comparison site I’ve used and still love today.
How to use Trivago & tips
google hotels comparison
Google Hotels is the most convenient to use for me as I use Google maps to bookmark the places I want to go.
How to plan a trip in 30 minutes

Holiday Homes

Vrbo holiday home hotel booking
Vrbo is a holiday home booking site. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you may be more familiar with the name Homeaway, which is now acquired by Vrbo.

New Zealand travels: use Bookabach.co.nz
Australia travels: use stayz.com.au
Airbnb holiday home hotel booking
I personally find Airbnb is getting more and more expensive with fees, so I don’t use it often anymore. However, Airbnb still remains one of the largest holiday home booking sites.

Karamu Valley Lodge

2021 Update: Sadly, Karamu Valley Lodge is closed until further notice. Perhaps it was hugely impacted by the pandemic like many other hospitality services. We will update here again if Karamu Valley Lodge reopens in the future.

If you have been following us, you may know our family always end up making last-minute travel plans. At this time of the year – December, pretty much all the accommodations in Raglan are booked out on hotel websites.

Fortunately for us, we found Karamu Valley Lodge. From the photos and descriptions, we didn’t expect too much from it. It was the only accommodation available and it was affordable. However, what ended up being a last-resort stay, turned out to be quite an amazing stay at Karamu Valley Lodge.

Karamu Valley Lodge is located in a secluded mountain region about halfway between Hamilton and Raglan, which is probably one of the reasons why we were able to book the last room available.

We had a very relaxing stay, away from the crowds and surrounded by nature, which was exactly what we wanted this weekend.

© Photos by Kida

We stayed in a studio apartment downstairs and walked in, doubting whether we made a mistake and booked a private room instead of an apartment. It turned out the studio apartment here was super spacious and can potentially accommodate an entire family!

The owners came out to greet us promptly and offered fresh milk and bread with a welcome basket with cereals and chips on arrival. We were very impressed and did not expect this level of service for the price we paid (NZ$150).

We were surprised at the quality of the furnishing here. It really felt like we walked into the owner’s house who cared about the place very much.

Bed linens were super soft and comfortable. There were DVDs for us to enjoy and full kitchen facilities if we wanted to cook.

© Photos by Kida


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What are your favourite activities to do in a place like Raglan? Walks, water activities, surf, beach or shop til’ you drop?

3 thoughts on “Best of Raglan Travel Guide Top Family-Friendly Things To Do”

  1. Great overview of your stay – I am looking at planning a school camp and your information was really helpful – so much to do at Raglan 🙂 Thanks.

  2. My brother suggested I may like this blog. He was totally right.
    This post actually made my day. You can not believe just how so much time
    I had spent for this information! Thank you!

    1. I’m glad it’s useful for you. Thanks for dropping by and hope you have a great time in Raglan if you’re visiting there.

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