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Raglan Harbor, Jewel of the Waikato Region

Raglan harbor, situated on the beautiful west coast of the North Island, approx 50 K's from Hamilton, has become one of New Zealand's most popular travel destinations.

This town was established in 1854, and four years later was renamed in honor of Lord Raglan, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in the Crimea, at the time of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Its mid January and we're off to check out the Raglan harbor beach scene. For some, it may not be the best time to visit this funky, coastal town, because this is the time of the tourists and holiday makers invasion...Like us.

But my 3 year old triplets and I, are seasoned beach bunnies, so armed with our trusty boogie boards, we hit the highway from Hamilton and hoot to the famous beach only 45 minutes drive away.

Sure enough, when we arrive in Raglan we're competing with what seems like zillions of surfboard-laden vehicles for a park on the main street, where bronze colored bodies lounge outside on the boardwalk cafes.

Nearby at Manu Bay, famous for its left-hand break, the surf pounds in from the Tasman ocean. This is the hottest surfing mecca in NZ, if not on the planet and everyone wants a part of the action.

Every summer, surfers from around the globe flock to Raglan to participate and enjoy the international surfing competition, so whenever the swells up, you'll find the surfies making the most of it.

To the south of the entrance rises the extinct volcano "Karioi", which gazes benevolently down on the colorful little village hugging the harbor.

Raglan harbor was originally known as Whaingaroa (long inlet), but has now taken the name of the small town on the southern shore.

The beautiful, windswept coastline stretching for miles and miles, both ways. The eco-gem of Kawhia to the left and metropolitan Auckland to the right.

This region has always been a popular haunt. Even its Maori history can be traced back over 700 years ago. The Tainui people are the mana whenua here.

Around 1850, was the first land sale to the Europeans, which opened the door to increased travelers and settlers.

The trusty boat was the main form of transport then, and Raglan quickly became an important port until Tauranga emerged as being more preferable.

According to the "Te Ara Encyclopedia", Raglan Harbor was formed in the remote past by the drowning of a valley system of which the two major arms, Waingaro to the north-east and Waitetuna to the south-east, meander among mudbanks and cliffs for more than 10 miles.

The population in 1961 was 1,022. The port, which shelters fishing boats and handles some coastal shipping, is small, mainly because the harbor entrance is blocked by a bar.

In 1859 the Austrian geologist, Ferdinand von Hochstetter, visited Whaingaroa to study the Tertiary rocks that are so well exposed in the miles of cliffs around Raglan harbour.

Well the kids have had an absolute ball and its time to hit the road again back to Hamilton. With temptations and bribery of a delicious ice-cream, I finally coerce them off the beach and back into the wagon.

We eventually reach home and after a cool shower, we all tuck into a tasty watermelon. It's the perfect end to a great day. I chill out on a comfy sofa in the softly fading light, watching the golden glow of the setting sun, as it slips quietly behind the far hills.

All becomes dark and still, until the stars, one by one, come out to play.

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Raglan Harbor