Raglan – an easy weekend campervan adventure

Greg SouthcombeRandom reports from the roadLeave a Comment

Surfing at Manu Bay Raglan New Zealand

New Zealand moved to Level 2 on the 13th May so with two of our campervans back home for the winter, we decided it was high time we got away and Raglan seemed like the ideal destination for an easy weekend campervan adventure.

From Auckland, it’s a comfortable drive of just over 2 hours to Raglan – an easy weekend adventure and a change of scenery after about 5 weeks locked down at home.

With the campervan (we chose Gina for this trip) parked in our driveway packing for a weekend away is pretty easy. Our clothes went straight from the drawers in the bedroom to the cupboards in the camper, no bags required! I grabbed the essentials from the kitchen and put them straight into the campervan kitchen, filled the water tank – and we were ready to depart.

Raglan has been popular with surfers since forever but it was the reports of it’s relaxed vibe and a very healthy selection of cafes and restaurants that piqued our interest.

We arrived in the early evening. Driving into the township is a visual treat, you drive down into a seemingly original old NZ main street on the edge of a lovely harbour. Shops were mostly closed but restaurants were open and gagging for patrons after the Level 4 and Level 3 lockdown. We decided on a restaurant called The Wharf which is (not surprisingly) on the wharf and chose an outside table and enjoyed an early dinner as the sun set over the harbour.

I’d booked us into a powered site about 40 minutes further south at Ruapuke Motor Camp so we drove on after dinner. Ruapuke is a fairly remote spot and the last 20 minutes of the drive is on a winding gravel road (no problem for the Sprinter) but probably best not to tackle this in the dark if you can help it.

In hindsight, we’d have been better to find somewhere to stay in Raglan but we’re very happy to have seen a little more of the coast. Ruapuke has that remote and rugged coastal feel about it and if you do want to get away from it all then this would be the place. We’d had 5 weeks of isolation and were ready for someone else to cook breakfast and make the coffee so we returned to Raglan the next morning.

We chose The Shack on the corner for breakfast. Definitely recommend this place – great coffee, friendly people and good food. With that out of the way, we headed out to the beaches to see what all the surfers were up to.

Manu Bay, Raglan. Perfect for an easy weekend campervan adventure
Manu Bay

When it comes to the sea Raglan has the best of both worlds – a picturesque harbour that can be explored by kayak and a selection of west coast beaches with world-famous surf breaks.

It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the township and out to the surf beaches. We checked out Manu Bay and took a walk along Ngarunui Beach. These are the sorts of places you just park up, put the kettle on and soak up the scenery.

Rather than heading back to Auckland via the main trunk line of State Highway 1 we chose to meander around the edges of the Harbour and then north on Ohautira Rd and on to Highway 22 through Waingaro then Naike and cross the Waikato River at Tuakau.

It’s a real pleasure to find so much to see and do within a couple of hours from home and we definitely plan to return to Raglan for another weekend campervan adventure.

Surfers catching breaks at Manu Bay

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