WAOKU LODGE, WHALE BAY, RAGLAN
Pack a pair of walking shoes for your stay, because so much of Raglan can be explored by foot. From the moody black sands of Ngarunui Beach to the calm surroundings of the inner harbour, Raglan offers a wonderful variety of walking routes.
Bryant Memorial Reserve
From the car park beside the Bryant Home Children’s Bible Camp (just after Manu Bay if you’re heading away from Waoku Lodge), follow the steps down to Ngarunui Beach. About a third of the way down you’ll come across a lookout that offers stunning views of the coast. Once you hit the sand, you can walk along the beach to Wainui Reserve – or all the way to town!
Come rain or shine, a beach walk is a must and Raglan’s black sands make a dramatic backdrop at any time of year. Walking from Ngarunui Beach into town is about six kilometres – on very high tides the section after Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive might be impassable. There’s plenty of of parking at both Ngarunui Beach and the end of Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive.
Wainui Bush Reserve
Created entirely by a hard-working team of volunteers, the reserve features a network of paths running through native bush. It’s a lovely, peaceful spot to wander and a great place to improve your knowledge of New Zealand’s native trees, since many of the species are identified. You can also make your way through the reserve to the beach. From Waoku Lodge, Wainui Bush Reserve is located just after the beach turnoff on Wainui Road, and there’s plenty of car parking.
This walkway winds its way along the inner estuary, providing a slightly different (although no less lovely) perspective of Raglan. Pick up the path from behind Raglan Area School (if you’re heading into town from Waoku Lodge go up the short hill towards the school just after the one-way bridge), and then follow it all the way to the end of Robertson Street. It’s around five kilometres of slightly hilly terrain, through beautiful native bush. Closest car parking: next to the airfield. Please don’t park at the school – it’s for teachers and students only.
Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls
The cascading waters of Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls (pictured) are an impressive sight, especially after a spell of rain. A ten-minute walk from the car park, along a track designed for assisted wheelchair use and pushchairs, gives you access to two viewing platforms, which offer spectacular views of the falls and surrounding countryside. It’s also well worth navigating the steep steps to the bottom of the falls, for a different vantage point. Getting there: Head out of Raglan on the road to Hamilton. Turn left off State Highway 23 to Te Mata. One kilometre past Te Mata, turn left on to Kawhia Rd (no exit) and continue on another four kilometres until you see the Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls car park.
Continue on the road past Bridal Veil Falls and you’ll reach the starting point of the Pipiwharauroa Trail. This is an 18 kilometre walking and biking track over the Te Uku Wind Farm site. It offers 360-degree views across the greater Waikato, including Raglan, Kawhia and Aotea harbours, and Mt Taranaki. It’s a four-hour return walk, or two-hour return cycle with lots of uphill. Please keep to the track since the trail runs over private farmland. Sorry, no dogs.
Te Toto Gorge
The three natural coastal amphitheatres at Te Toto were formed by a string of volcanic eruptions, dating back some 2.7 million years ago. Today, they make a wild and windswept walking experience. At present the track is only marked from the Te Toto Gorge car park to the bottom of the gorge. A steep descent marks the start of the walk but the terrain flattens out closer to the coast. Keep an eye out for remnants of stonewalls and karaka groves – evidence of the area’s early Maori settlers. There’s a viewing platform at the edge of the gorge, offering spectacular coastal views. To reach the gorge, turn left out of the Waoku Lodge driveway and head along Whaanga Road (unsealed) to the Te Toto Gorge car park.