Surfing in Raglan

Raglan, New Zealand, has become a famous stop on the worldwide surfing circuit. The small coastal Waikato town has built its identity around its surf culture and relaxed vibe and is regularly featured on lists of the world’s best surf destinations.

While kiteboarding, kayaking, windsurfing and stand up paddleboarding have grown in popularity in recent years due to the favourable winds around the area, there’s no doubt that surfing remains top of the list of things to do in Raglan.

History of surfing in Raglan

The Endless Summer, Raglan

Raglan surf found its way to worldwide fame in the iconic 1966 movie The Endless Summer, in which Manu Bay features as the beach with waves so long that “Raglan surfers don’t carry wax, they carry lifeboat rations”. Raglan surf culture is celebrated in several other films too - most recently Last Paradise, which describes the Waikato surf town’s pivotal role in shaping New Zealand’s adventure sports industry.

Raglan’s waves have been surfed for more than half a century, with the Raglan Point Boardriders’ club founded in 1962. Visit the Raglan Museum to see an exhibition of local surfing history or share stories with one of the locals. Many can tell you tales of travelling far abroad, only to return home in their quest for the perfect wave.

The Raglan Districts Museum highlights the areas rich surfing history with memorabilia and exhibitions.

The perfect surfing landscape

Left hand surf break, Raglan, New Zealand

Raglan left hand breaks

Raglan’s famously long left hand break runs along a rocky shoreline, encompassing three bays. The rocky seafloor makes for consistent waves between four and six feet (sometimes a lot bigger). It’s said the three main point breaks of Manu Bay, Whale Bay, and Indicators, can link up on days where there is a large swell to create an incredible wave that provides a ride of more than two kilometres.

These are known as some of the best beaches in New Zealand for surfing due to their variety - with good point break, reef break, and beach break surfing.

Key surfing areas

The main point breaks of Manu Bay, Whale Bay and Indicators are world renowned for their large, consistent waves, and suitable for experienced surfers. 

Raglan Surfing School, Raglan, NZ

Raglan Surfing School

However nearby Ngarunui, also known as Ocean Beach, is good for beginners and those new to the sport and is home to the Raglan surf school, New Zealand’s first sanctioned surfing school, where you can take a surfing lesson year round. It’s a great place for learners due to its tamer waves, and is also a popular spot with swimmers in the hot summer months. Follow the coast around Mt Karioi to Ruapuke beach – a secluded slice of paradise in the Waikato region which often plays host to surfing competitions.

Surfing personalities and events

Raglan, New Zealand, hosts surfing events such as the Rip Curl Pro, national championships and the Hyundai Longboard Tour. The town has given rise to surf pioneers, national surfing champions, and some brilliant surfboard makers.

Surfboard makers

Raglan Surfboards, Raglan, NZ

A visit to Raglan surf stores demonstrates the quality Raglan’s surfboard makers bring to their craft in the form of impressive hand-crafted boards.

Master shaper Mickey T makes longboard designs in many different styles evoking the classic Malibu style. His durable hybrid and longboards are a testament to the virtues of artisan craftsmanship, and are works of art in their own right.

Another Raglan local known for his surfboards is Aaron Kereopa. The contemporary artist uses foam blank surfboards to create stunning carved pieces which are sold throughout New Zealand and the world.

Safe Surfing

Visitors to Raglan are encouraged to familiarise themselves with Raglan's Safe Surfing Code.