Raglan, New Zealand September 18, 2007- September 21, 2007
When leaving Waitomo, we stopped at the visitor center to get directions to Raglan, the next city someone recommended. It’s a small surfer haven on the west coast of the North Island with one a population of 3500 people. The lady at the front desk told us confidently that if we followed the route on the map she gave us, we would be to Raglan in about “an hour, hour twenty.” We got on the highway and started heading towards Raglan. We saw the turn off sign to Raglan and started down a gravel road…the only road we could take to Raglan. Watch the video to see what happened next (to be posted soon).
We made it to Raglan with gravel in our still intact tires and a very dirty car. We are still laughing about that mini adventure. We loved Raglan’s laid-back surfer culture and a one to two day stay turned into a 4 night, 5-day stay. We got the “sun room” in a private lodge adjacent to the backpacker rooms for the same rate as a double room, since no one wanted to clean the small double room we would have gotten (big enough for the bed only). The bed was awesome (quite a treat after the bunk beds) and we got a key to the house bathroom so we didn’t have to brave the cold again in the middle of the night if we “had to go.” The beds even had electric blankets- yahoo! We definitely recommend this hostel- Raglan Backpackers and Waterfront Lodge www.raglanbackpackers.co.nz. They have hammocks, a wonderful courtyard with flowers and herbs and the owners are friendly and helpful. For all these reasons, you’ll find a lot of long-term guests.
In Raglan, we took advantage of the free bikes at the hostel and raided the DVD collection. In the kitchen, we treated ourselves to several “home cooked meals”. Desperate for a real steak one night, Ted went to the butcher to get a filet for the grill for me. Ted came back an hour later, explaining he had to learn “the cow” all over again. New Zealanders meat cuts are a whole new language. Who would have guessed that a filet mignon is called a “scotch eye?” Who cares what the name is- dinner was delicious. Ted grilled lamb and asparagus on the grill with my scotch eye and I made mushroom rice. You should have seen the faces of the other people in the kitchen that night (jealous no doubt)- especially when we popped open the bottle of wine to go with our gourmet dinner. Most of them were eating basic pasta dishes and Nutella sandwiches (a backpacker staple similar to peanut butter but made of hazelnuts and chocolate). Following dinner, we played cards late into the night with Dan, Hannah and Marcel (some really great people from around the world we hope to bump into again).
The next day, we chased down surfers at some of the top surfing beaches in Raglan with our camera gear. We hiked over huge volcanic rocks around a bay to get some of our best shots. Here’s a great shot I got of one of the surfers.
and one of a non-surfer who I love with all my heart even though he’s not as athletic.
Our final stop in Raglan was the Bridal Veil Falls- the original reason we came to Raglan. After a steep hike up and down the mountain to see the falls, I think you’ll see it was worth the view. The locals are proud that the falls are higher than the Niagara Falls (but Ted of course doesn’t believe them now that he’s seen both).
Before leaving town, we stopped at Vinnie’s for lunch. Thanks to a guy from New York who has recently taken over a local food and smoothie restaurant, I got one of the first all-beef hamburgers off his new grill. What a treat again to have real meat yet again. The reconstituted ham patties they sell at most take-a-away (to-go) places throughout New Zealand are just as close to Spam as you can get.