4 Must-See Raglan Beaches

Raglan is a small beach town located on the western coast of the New Zealand’s North Island. During our time in New Zealand, we lived in Hamilton City which was smack in the middle of the island.  Raglan’s beaches were only a short 45 minute drive from our house and the closest spot to see the ocean.

Ngarunui Beach

The Ngarunui Beach is known as the main beach and a popular swimming, boogie boarding and surfing area on the outskirts of Raglan.  The black sand and surrounding mountains presented a different look to any other beach I had seen previously.  The sand seemed to sparkle in the sun and burned my feet on warm days.

In order to access the beach, you must walk down a long ramp from the parking area carrying your beach gear.  I saw regular beach goers bringing wagons to carry their tents, towels, boogie boards and other belongings down the hill.  During the popular summer months, the beach parking lot is often full and requires extra walking.

Ngarunui Beach has lifeguard service during the peak months.   There are many surfers in the area but more popular surfing spots are only a short drive down the road.  This is more of a family friendly beach offering some of the best swimming and sandcastle making.  The restrooms and showers are located in the parking lot for those looking to knock the sand off before returning home.

The evenings sunsets present the best photography opportunities. The colorful surroundings and low clouds reflect off the water-lined black sand to create frame worthy pictures. The snaps below were captured with only an Iphone but they are some of my favorite pictures to date. Plus the crowds tend to disappear in the evenings!

Ngarunui Beach - Must-See Raglan Beaches

I had never seen beaches without condos and hotels lining the sand which is one thing that separates New Zealand from other countries.   There is something so peaceful about being the only one sitting on a stunning beach at sunset.

My girls favorite pastime is flipping along the water and I love how the reflection is captured in the sand. Win-win!

Sandcastle making is another popular past-time with my girls which ties into my favorite leisure activity of sitting on my beach chair. If only I had a fruity drink in my hand to make it a perfect scenario.

Another thing I see frequently during my time at the beach is horseback riding along the water. Check in with the Raglan iSite Center for information on how to book this activity.

Ngarunui Beach - Must See Raglan Beaches

And finally, make sure you stay long enough to witness the sun sink behind the ocean.

Ngarunui Beach - Must See Raglan Beaches

Te Kopua Beach

A popular swimming spot within walking distance from Raglan main town square is known as Te Kopua Beach. The footbridge offers easy access from the main square or simply drive around to the other side to reach the main park with picnic tables, playgrounds and a calm swimming waters. The kids can be seen jumping off the footbridge but attempt with caution as some past accidents have occurred.

Te Kopua Beach - Must See Raglan Beaches

Manu Bay

Home of the world-famous surfer’s break, Manu Bay is located on 8 kilometers from Raglan. There is a large parking lot with picnic tables and a boat ramp. The grassy area offers a perfect place to watch the skilled surfers ride the waves.

The long left-hand break is a surfers’ dream known to offer one of the longest rides in the world. While we were there, the tide was low and it was almost sunset so all surfers had gone home. Fun fact: Due to the incredible surf break, Manu Bay was featured in the 1966 movie “Endless Summer”.

Manu Bay - Must See Raglan Beaches New ZealandWe walked along the rocks for a while looking for a sandy spot to hang out but this was the best we could do.  I will advise bringing a can of Off or some other bug repellant as the sand fleas were fierce along the rocks. My ankles experienced a few nibbles despite only being there for a few minutes.

Manu Bay - Must See Raglan Beaches

Whale Bay

After reading a story about a whale spotting off Whale Bay, I was determined to check it out for myself.   I failed to research the area and assumed there would be sandy bits for the kids to play. Instead the area was rocky similar to Manu Bay and not the best spot for sandcastle building.  I guess that explains why it is a top surfing spot!
Whale Bay - Must See Raglan Beaches
The girls climbed around on the rocks for a bit while I admired more advanced surfers.  I have been to many beaches in the past but was most impressed with the tricks here.
Whale Bay - Raglan Beaches New Zealand
Whale Bay Raglan Beach
This was a fun outing but I would recommend the Ngarunui or Te Kopua beach for a more family friendly setting.
Raglan Beaches - New Zealand

Amber Herden

My name is Amber and I am finally tackling my bucket list all while relocating countries and raising two beautiful girls with my incredible husband.