Raglan is a picturesque coastal town located 45 minutes from Hamilton and a 2-hour drive south of Auckland. It is a magnet for Kiwi holidaymakers and a weekend playground for Hamiltonians. It has world-class surfing out at the infamous Whale Bay, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and an evident arts and crafts culture. You will see sculptures and murals dotted around depicting a lot of the region’s Maori influence. We fully recommend having a look around the iSite & District Museum for a real feel for the history of the place. Raglan is a wonderful place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of a busy life.
We stayed at the Raglan Kopua Holiday Park. A perfect location in the Kopua Domain. A short 10-minute walk or wheel from Raglan town centre over a well lit picturesque footbridge across the Estuary. Walking over the bridge at night when its all lit up is a definite must-do. The holiday park is flat and very easy to get around with plenty of accommodation options to suit individual budgets. We were greeted by a very accessible reception area, well ramped with an automatic sliding door and wheelchair friendly check-in desk – NOT A LIP OR STEP IN SIGHT! Another bonus was no gravel terrain – paved paths and tar seal parking areas everywhere!
Our accommodation looked out over the estuary with the use of a picnic bench and barbecue. The cabin had one room (1 queen bed and a bunk bed), living area, small kitchen and a full wet-floor shower. A parking space was located directly next to the ramp to gain entry in the tourist cabin. We found the accommodation clean and it suited our needs perfectly although we did notice that it was one of the older style cabins on the grounds. Most of the other tourist cabins had been freshly renovated or newly built. I’m sure it will soon be on their ‘to do’ list.
Laden with our handy ‘Tourist Map’ from the Reception we checked out the ‘must-dos’ in the area. Tea was already sorted out with the discovery of the popular Kopua Camp Store and Jo’s Takeaways (just next to the campground). Here you could find take away fish & chips, groceries, hot/cold drinks, milk, bread, papers and confectionery with picnic benches located out front for alfresco dining.
Apart from Raglan being known as a surfing mecca, you will also find plenty of alternative adventure to be had in the area – horse trekking, boat charters, water sports, lots of arts and craft shops, rock climbing, plus heaps of relaxing picnic stops and nature walks.
We chose to check out the stunning waterfalls known as the Bridal Veil Falls, a DoC maintained walking track that was wheelchair accessible – download Map of DoC Tracks. We found the Falls were located via Te Mata Road off the Hamilton/Raglan Highway (SH23). We turned left into Kawhia Road, 1 km past Te Mata and another 4 km to the carpark. We found loose gravel parking just off the road and decided to take our sons’ all-terrain wheelchair along for an easier ride. Often if you can’t lift caster wheels off the ground along gravel tracks it can be a bit of a bumpy ride. It was only a 10-minute walk/wheel to the first viewing platform. We found a few gradients along the way which would require assistance in a standard wheelchair. On entry, the track forked to the left where we found an accessible toilet located.
The packed gravel track meandered through a scenic native forest and along the Pakoka River. We came out to a platform that gave you a stunning view above the Falls and out over miles of native bush. It was quite awe-inspiring taking in the power of the 55m high Falls!
Further along the track, we came across a second platform where our wheelchair access came to an end. I stayed behind with Finlay, whilst the others powered down the 396 steps to view the Falls from the bottom platform. The adults were huffing and puffing on their return but all felt it was well worth it. You will find lots of interesting reading material as you walk the track.