Published: December 6th 2009
December 6th 2009
Greetings Friends! Ok, back to NZ and off to Raglan we go. So with Julia as the designated driver and I, the navigator we hopped in Paul's car and headed down the road to one of the country's best known surf beaches. "Courdory sets" it has been described as. Once we got to the interstate our printed directions were a bit dodgy ... and we got lost. We pulled off at a place called the "Greenstone Store" where I went in to ask directions. The owner of the store greeted me and showed me a map of where I wanted to go as I wrote down directions. Then looking around the store I noticed an incredible amount of greenstone (jade) that they cut and polish right there from the locally gathered stones. The jewelry and artwork they had on display was rather impressive.
So after the quick detour it was back on the road and after another quick lunch break (some delicious fish burgers) and getting reoriented we arrived in Raglan mid afternoon looking for a place to stay. Checking the visitors information board on the main drive of town I called a hostel that was several miles out of town and didn't have seperate rooms available (we wanted to be able to secure our valuables seperate from a dorm style room). I called a motel and they were full. While I was staring at the info map a woman walked by and asked if I needed help. I said I was looking for a place to stay in town. She said "Try the Raglan Backpacker hostel, its just 3 blocks up on the left". I thanked her and we headed up the street. What a spot. The hostel overlooked the bay and had all different room styles available. We got a room that had 2 twin beds and ability to secure our stuff. There were about 20 rooms in all with some singles, doubles, triples and quads. The hostel had a really cool center courtyard with a large picnic table and a hot tub. There was also a sauna, full kitchen, reading room with computers and fishing gear you could borrow. I didn't take advantage of any but the computers (to send some updates) but really enjoyed the setting. Around the edge of the courtyard it was a boardwalk style walkway to all the rooms with hammocks that hung along the edge of the courtyard. They also had surfboads and wetsuits you could rent. Julia went shopping (she had been to this town when visiting 10 years ago and loved it) and I wandered around the grounds and met some other Americans traveling through the country. That evening we did pizza for dinner at the one place that was still open for food at 9pm. Unfortunately businesses close early (around 5 or 6 on weekdays) and evening hours (even for food) are few and far between. I even saw a sign somewhere that said "extended summer hours" and that meant closing at 6pm instead of 5:30!
The next day we looked into reserving our room again, but being Friday the hostel was all booked up. Ian, the caretaker there said if we could clear out of our room we could hang out and leave stuff there during the day. I did some browsing and shopping but wasn't feeling great so tried to go to a "doc in the box" to get a remedy. They were unable to see me but the chemist (aka the pharmacist) at the drug store gave some good over-the-counter stuff and I was on my way. I was told to check out the department of environment office up on main street since they had lots of info on environmental issues. I found all kinds of good hand outs and resource guides. A bought a few and some NZ eco bags and shirt. I put these along with a few gifts in a box and mailed them back to the states. For that evenings accomodations we found a "eco-retreat" hostel about 10 minutes out of town called Solscape. This hostel was very cool as well as the rooms were actual train cars that they converted into bedrooms. We got a room and Julia signed up for a surf lesson for the next morning. We headed back into town for dinner and I got some tasty fish and chips.
The next morning we decided to make a quick trip out to Bridalveil Falls, a 55 meter (thats over 180 feet tall) waterfall that is only a 5 minute walk from the parking area. It was about a 20 minute drive out of Raglan the other way and when we got out to the falls, it was pretty breathtaking! Stay tuned for pictures and video. Then we returned to Solscape for Julia to meet her surf instructor. I decided to rent a board and suit as well and tagged along (was still a bit under the weather but feeling better). It was a bit cold and blowing on the beach. Julia got her onland lesson with a gentleman named Grunsby while I contemplated the cold water plunge. They headed into the water and when I felt the water temp I decided to wait a spell before I exposed my body to the frigid water. When I finally did I enjoyed some short rides in mushy surf but had a blast non the less! After our time was up we got cleaned up and it was time to head back to Auckland because tonight was the Wailers concert that Junior Marvin put us on the guest list for! Driving out of Raglan I could see why it was a popular destination for travelers. It reminded me of a smaller Rehobeth Beach with many quaint shops and friendly people.
Join me next time as we rock out at the Power Station, the 9:30 Club of Auckland!
When you hear Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, turn em up and think of me.
Thank Yous: Paul for the wheels, Ian at Raglan Backpacker, woman at store that allowed me to charge cell phone for the afternoon while we shopped in Raglan.
Wildlife encounters: some seagulls and a really cool photo (i know, but amazing) of an Orca riding a wave with a few surfers! Had seen shots like that with dolphins, but never a killer whale. I can't even imagine how cool that would be.