Rad & Rainy: Three Days in Raglan

The sun was dropping in the partly cloudy sky as we reached the west coast of the North Island once again. About five minutes outside of town we reached our final destination, Solscape, an “eco-retreat” situated on a Raglan hillside. We had booked a tent site, but there were plenty of other options. You could bunk in up-cycled traincars that had been converted into dorms, glamp in the Tipi Forest, or opt for the more luxurious self-contained cabins, or the “earth domes” that looked like they belonged more on a Star Wars set than coastal New Zealand. At our humble tent site, we commenced the familiar nightly tent-pitching ritual and settled into our sleeping bags, surrounded by long-haired shaggy surf bums in their Westfalia vans.

This place was, if I may revert to the vernacular of my PNW people, hella dope. I had come across Raglan when I was researching good places to learn to kitesurf New Zealand, and read that it was a bit of a Kiwi surf Mecca. Though I can’t recall why, I chose Nelson instead—perhaps it was fate guiding my hand, or it may have been the discrepancy in average rainfall between the two places. It rained for the vast majority of our four days and three nights there.

Good news, I met a dog in Raglan.

Rain aside, Raglan was a great place to pause and take a few days to rest. Okay, yes, we were only three days into the trip when we arrived, but we had barely stopped to breathe after I picked Lindsay up at the Auckland airport. Most folks travel to Raglan just to surf, but personally, I was pretty stoked to go because Solscape offered yoga classes every morning in a space overlooking the waves rolling into Ngarunui Beach. Sweet deal for anyone trying to avoid injury-causing activities in the two weeks leading up to their first half marathon (i.e. me.)

Serene as.

The town of Raglan reminds me of a smaller, Kiwi version of Venice Beach, California. Like Venice, the streets are lined with little artsy hole-in-the-wall boutiques, skate shops, and coffee places, and the sidewalks are crawling with super-tan jandal-clad surfers and skaters rolling down the pavement in their well-scuffed Vans.

It was a bit of a bummer not to see Raglan in the sunshine, but being Seattle girls, we knew how to beat a slew of unlucky rainy days--hide out in a local coffee shop. If you're in Raglan, that place is Raglan Roast. Consisting of little more than a walk-up window with an espresso machine behind a counter full of glass jars baked goods, Raglan Roast makes damn good coffee and they serve it up with that genuine friendly Kiwi Hospitality.

Looking back, the days there seem to blend together into one damp, zen, restful blur. So thanks Raglan for the chill time. It was radical, dude.