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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Raglan

Raglan

Waikato - West Coast - North Island, New Zealand

Surf, Bodyboard

Raglan is the most famous spot in New Zealand, located in the Waikato region it’s a world class pointbreak which is comparable to Jeffreys Bay, but with lefts. You’ll find it in Hamilton-Waikato, a prosperous agricultural region with breathtaking scenery, green hills on the banks of the Waikato River and at the foot of Mount Karioi. It’s such a beautiful and special place and was the chosen location for the filming of the famous blockbuster, The Lord of the Rings. Raglan isn’t just special for its green coloured waters, but for the length and variety of its waves along six kilometres of coast with beds that alternate between sand and rock. It’s divided into three pointbreaks. The most removed and exposed is Indicators, the next is Whale Bay and after that, Manu Bay is the nearest, most famous and most popular since it became internationally famous after it was featured in the film ‘The Endless Summer’. Manu Bay is followed by Ngaranui Beach, a stupendous beachbreak with easy access and many peaks, making it ideal for all. 

You can easily be there within two hours from Auckland. Follow the State Highway 1-S until you get to the turning for Manukau-Hamilton. Continue along the State Highway 39 and you will soon see signs for Raglan and the State Highway 23. Once you’re in Raglan, the breaks are 5 km along Wainui Road. The Manu Bay car park is the nearest and is easily visible. Continuing along the same road, leaving Manu Bay behind, turning down the hill into Calvert Road, you’ll reach the other car park and will see Whale Bay breaking in front of you. Once you’re there, you can reach Indicators by either walking towards the left and crossing the beach at low tide, or by paddling to it from Whale Bay.

raglan-surf

In Raglan, surfing is as important as the commitment to environmental protection and the ocean as a natural resource. There will be a lot of people in the water but there is a great surf culture and the waves are so long that you’ll always find a gap. The Kiwis are friendly and kind so smile, respect them and the rules because that way you’ll get incredible waves and make friends for life. A piece of advice to help you find your feet at Raglan is to surf it with a Hughes surfboard, the boards by the legendary local shaper Craig Hughes. The quality and length of the waves mean that the level of surfing among the regulars is very high, the legendary Daniel Kereopa, goofy-footers like Luke Cederman and Mike Banks stand out along with the youngsters like Luke Hughes, Alex Dive and Billy Stairmand who they say has the most stylish backhand on Raglan. The females are also represented with Jessica Santorik and Alexis Poulter among others. Raglan is without doubt the best place to start your New Zealand surf trip. You’ll find everything there from waves for all levels, a skatepark with bowls and the latest elements and a thousand other things and activities to enjoy in a place where life is simple and is closely related to nature.
 

Conditions

In the winter the waves are continuous and the size is assured along with the cold water. The summer, from December to March, is also a good time as there can be some good quality swells and above all the temperature is milder and the water isn’t as cold, a 3 mm wetsuit is sufficient. There are waves all year round in Raglan but during the southern winter the sea is constant. This is when the bigger swells arrive due to the low pressures that are generated in the south of the Tasmanian Sea, at Antarctic latitudes of between 40º and 49º south. This is where the most powerful swells in the world that arrive at all of the islands situated in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean originate.

Depending on your ability, you have the choice of different spots that are relatively close together. For example, on Ngaruni Beach, you’ll find waves that are ideal for the less experienced, but to surf there with optimum conditions, it’s fundamental that there is very little wind. At Ruapake, the beach which has the most exposure, located at the west of Raglan, is the one that receives the most swell, and on the days where there aren’t any waves anywhere else, you can always find something there. It’s 20 minutes along the coast towards Ripio. Raglan is divided into three main pointbreaks called Indicators or ‘Indies’, Whale Bay and Manu Bay. It’s sometimes possible to link the three, and the locals even say it’s possible to link Manu Bay with Ngaranui but for this you’ll need an epic swell with very specific direction, size and interval characteristics.

Indicators can be divided into three sections, Outside Peak, Inside Peak and The Valley. It’s the longest, quickest and most powerful, but being the most exposed, it doesn’t quite reach the same level of perfection as Manu Bay. However, if you manage to link all three sections, it’s the best wave in the whole of Raglan and can be approximately 600 m long. Outside is the most consistent part, working with small or large swells it can get quite big, up to more than 10 feet with barrels that are the same in width as they are in height from 6 feet. So, from a certain size, this section requires a very high level. Take care of the rocks with small swells and at low tide. The next section is Whale Bay which is 200 m long and works from 2 to 8 feet. It’s not the best section but it is still an excellent left being Indicators and Manu Bay’s younger sister. It’s the most attainable of the three and for that it’s not easy as when it it’s small, it breaks dangerously by the rocks. The best size is with 3 or 4 solid feet as this is when it collects perfectly and the walls are quite good for manoeuvres. With more than 2 metres, the wave enters the bay and loses shape. You can link it with Manu Bay on absolutely perfect days.

Manu Bay is the legendary wave that brought fame to this place. It’s 300 m long and good quality at any tide, but significantly increases in speed and power at low tide. From 6 feet the take off isn’t easy and you need to anticipate the second section quickly as it’s fast and barrelling at low tide. If you succeed, the wave is very rippable and lets you do manoeuvres like few others in the world. Going in at high tide is a bit complicated, you have to pick the right moment very well and paddle strongly. On occasions, another option is Vortex Bay. It’s a gentle peak to the west of the breakwater that only breaks at low tide and with heavy seas that cause the main peaks to close out.
 
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
    Left Pointbreak
  • Wind
    SE
  • Tide
    All
  • Swell
    SW - W
  • Bottom
    Rocks - Sand
  • Size
    3 to 10 ft
  • Time of year
    From January to May
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