Land of the Endless Lefts
On the west coast of the North Island lies Raglan, a sleepy surf town with a old town feeling renown for it’s surf. Downtown Raglan is inland set on the harbor, with Wainui Road leading ~ 15 minutes out to Manu Bay and Whale Bay for seemingly endless point breaks. Shaun had been looking forward to coming to Raglan for a long time!
Above: The first two photos are Whale Bay, third photo is Manu Bay; only about 5 minutes drive from each other. Manu Bay seems like more a crowd drawer, with outlooks and large parking areas and nice lawns for picnics. Whale Bay has no beach, only rocks. No parking area, only a couple of tight cul-de-sacs and you must climb down a couple staircases and curve around the point to watch the waves.
We stayed 2 of our 3 nights at The Karioi Lodge, an “eco-surf retreat” with 110 acres of bushland overlooking Whale Bay. It’s gorgeous! They have cabins, hostel rooms and powered campervan sites along with toilets/showers, kitchen facilities, a Scandinavian sauna, bikes for hire, hiking trails, and they partner with Raglan Surf School. The lodge also hosts yoga every evening at “Inspiration Point” (below). For only $15 per person / per night – it was well worth it. Whale Bay is quite a drive from town, too, so it was perfect to stay right up the road for morning and evening surfs.
Past Whale Bay, Wainui Road turns into a rough and windy gravel road that leads out to the mysterious Ruapuke Beach. We never reached Ruapuke, regardless of driving what seemed like forever down this bumpy dirt road… But we did manage to stop for the amazing views (above 2 photos), adorable sheep and plenty of cows.