With quaint shops, an historic hotel, the 4-Square shop taking centre stage, and Phoenix palms lining the main street, Raglan is a step back in time in the nicest of ways. Best of all, it’s just 2 hours from Auckland or 40 minutes from Hamilton. With local camping grounds offering accommodation from budget cabins to motel units, an overnight stay needn’t break the bank but if you feel like pampering yourself, try Raglan’s Mongolian glamping option instead.
Te Uka Roast Office
Hitting Highway 23 to Raglan means you’ll be passing through the hamlet of Te Uka, home of the Raglan Roast Office, a must-stop destination for coffee. Just 10 minutes out of Raglan, your beverage is served in the historic Te Uka Post office which was restored in 2010 by well-known Raglan Roasters who boast rave-review outlets in several other locations including Auckland. The Roast Office is a favourite spot with locals, and a great people-watching grandstand. If you want to bone up on the history of the building, dive into Dot Williams’ book which is for sale on the premises.
Hitting the market
Time your Raglan visit for the second Sunday in the month and connect with the Creative Market at the Old School Arts Centre at 5 Stewart St (10am – 2pm). Bubbling over with fresh local produce, quirky clothing, art, jewellery and live music, it’s a hub of activity, rain or shine. While you’re there, check out the exhibitions which frequently run inside the old school. If you’re staying overnight, look out for the movies screenings that take place regularly at the same venue.
Te Toto Gorge Lookout
History buffs will want to hightail it to Te Toto Gorge 20 minutes north-west of Raglan where the remains of Maori gardens can still be found. Look closely and you may be able to see remnants of stone terraces, storage pits and pa which were in use over 200 hundred years ago. When you’ve finished exploring, take in the spectacular views of the coastline from the viewing platform at the car park.
Ride to Rock-it
Rock-it Kitchen at 248 Wainui Road has a reputation for fine dining as well as casual café fare but only those in the know realise there is more than one way of reaching the establishment! To check out the secret option, contact Raglan Kayak and Paddleboard who offer rental kayaks and all the advice you need to head out on the water for a coffee via Raglan’s impressive limestone pancake rocks.
In praise of palms
Those Phoenix palms we mentioned earlier may be retro but they have a fascinating history which you won’t want to leave town without noting. All 15 of them were planted in 1922 which makes them almost a century old! They were set out along Bow Street to replace the much admired temporary greenery (tree ferns) that was propped up to decorate the town on the occasion of a visit from the then Governor General. If you’re visiting Raglan at the weekend, check out the museum (right beside the I-site centre) for early photos of the planting and its progress over the years.