We wanted to include the west coast towns of Raglan and Kawhia as we had visited these before and loved them. So we decided to do a bit of a loop incorporating all the spots we have discovered and think are well worth a visit.
First up, Ōtorohanga and the Kiwi House. This is a not-for-profit wildlife centre that has been breeding Kiwi since 1971. All their profits from sales are reinvested into the centres wildlife and conservation work. It’s one of only a few places that you can see Kiwi Birds up close in their specially made nocturnal houses. Along with Kiwis, the centre is home to other native birds, the prehistoric Tuatara lizard, Long Fin eel and the Blue Duck, which can all be seen as you walk through aviaries, wetland areas and boardwalks.
Next up, Raglan, a coastal town known for the volcanic black sand Ngarunui Beach and the long surf break at Manu Bay. Raglan attracts surfers from around the world to experience the longest, most accessible and consistent ‘left hand break’ in the world. Perfect waves have enabled some surfers to ride for up to 2km’s/10mins. Even if you’re not a surfer, it’s fantastic to watch. The pretty town, lies on Raglan Harbour and has a holiday/surf vibe. It’s great to watch the youngsters jump of the bridge into the turquoise waters at high tide and many more experiencing the multiple waters sports Raglan has to offer.
Along the Pakora River driving south to Kawhia, we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls, a plunge waterfall, 55m high. It’s a great view from the top, but also well worth the walk down to the bottom. There are 2 mid point lookout platforms to stop at too, if you don’t want to walk the whole way down. A great find.
Kawhia is a quiet, picturesque coastal fishing town set around its pretty harbour. Steeped in history, both Maori and European there are still historical early settler buildings and ancient sites here. Kawhia also lies on Te Puia hot springs, natural geothermal waters of 45degrees which bubble up through the black sands of ‘Hot Water Beach’. We took the short walk over the sand dunes to experience this and found people using spades to dig holes and then sit in the hot water. The springs are only uncovered by the sea 2 hours either side of low tide but if you can time it right and are prepared to dig your own hole, then you have a DIY hot pool to relax in! And it’s natural!
CHECK OUT LIFE ON THE ROAD FROM OUR TRIP THROUGH RAGLAN IN THE VIDEO BELOW!