Raglan on a Winter’s Day

Raglan is one of the most famous holiday destinations in New Zealand and one of the best surfing spots in the world. It’s surprising, therefore, that I’d never been until last week weekend!

It was a wintery day – not raining, but with a cold light and a cold wind. On our way to Raglan, we stopped at the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls. We had a picnic with us, but waited to eat it until we’d got to Raglan.

Raglan turned out to be a charming town, full of nice, slightly different shops. There were crafts and antiques and souvenirs and clothes – and lots of places to get fush ’n’ chups! The air smelled so tantalising! Naturally, there were heaps of surfing-relating shops, but there was also a lovely little shop with this display in the window:

RaglanShopFairiesAreReal

And even the poles down the streets were decorated:

RaglanTown

We came to the conclusion that it would be a great place to spend a week if you were after a quieter sort of holiday, or looking for some artsy items with which to furnish your house. Or you if you were mad on surfing, of course.

And the surfing!

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Despite it being such a cold day, there were lots and lots of surfers. We ended up having our picnic at Whale Bay, a rocky beach with spectacular waves. I’d never seen waves like them! Watching the surfers go was fascinating.

SurfingWhaleBayRaglan3

Journey Around New Zealand

Gandering at the Muriwai Gannet Colony

One of the first places I remember visiting in New Zealand was Muriwai Beach. It was just over twelve years ago, (although I’ve been back many times since,) and my mum, my little sister and I had just got off the plane, and my dad, (who had already been in New Zealand for six months,) was eager to show us all the wonderful sights our new home had to offer. The ten-year-old me was quite impressed with Muriwai. It had the luxuriously soft black sand that was still a novelty back then, (and still is, frankly,) but what made it special were the breathtaking views of its massive gannet colony.

Muriwai’s only a forty-minute drive from Auckland City, on the wild west coast. It’s a good surfing beach – I’ve done a bit of boogie boarding there myself – and there’s a campground right next to it, complete with powered sites for campervans. It’s also a good fishing beach, which is probably why the gannets like it too.

Muriwai 2

The gannets can be seen from viewing platforms on the cliff above them. They really are beautiful birds. They’re streamlined like arrows with golden heads and electric blue eyes. And there are shedloads of them. It’s amazing to watch the couples dancing about their nests, taking it in turns to fly out to sea, dive into the waves and return to feed their chicks. Even if you’re not someone who likes bird watching, you’ll be entranced by this.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the blowhole. It’s rather exciting waiting for the water to spurt geyser-like up from the round hole in the flat platform of rock. I remember begging my mum to stay for “just one more big one” and wanting to get as close as I could to it. My parents were right to be cautious though – I don’t know how many people have fallen down it and died, but the most recent one was last year.

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If you’re travelling around New Zealand, Muriwai Beach is definitely a location for your must-see list. I recommend taking a warm jacket, as it’s really windy on the cliff where you watch the gannets and you’ll want to linger awhile. Writing about it now is making me want go there again. Well… summer is practically here – it was boiling today… and my boyfriend’s parents do live out west…