Surfing Montauk with Debra Rose


Debra Rose

If Vermont wins the cheeky superlative as the ‘New Zealand’ of the United States, Raglan is easily the Montauk of New Zealand.

Most surfers know of Raglan, and those willing to fly almost a full day and adjust to seventeen hours ahead of their hometown clocks are lucky enough to surf it. Australia gets plenty of attention for surfing, possibly explaining why Raglan appears to be a land back in time.

In this case, that is a good thing.

New Zealand’s isolated location, strict rules for protecting the environment and the country’s natural resources help keep the their land and water pristine. And the residents could not be more warm and friendly. Kiwis, hiking, rugby and Manuka honey are images usually associated with New Zealand, and for many it’s now surfing.

Pictures may showcase the sandy and sweeping Ngarunui Beach, and some try to capture videos of one of the worlds longest consistent lefts at Manu Bay, but to see it and surf Raglan is truly a life changing experience.

While not as sleepy as the depiction in Endless Summer, Raglan remains gorgeous. Encircled by green mountains, the town is surrounded by hills and water, which feels more island than inlet. Somehow the town‘s vibe remains low-key, even with such world wide attention on Raglan. Similar to Montauk, Raglan has its own ‘Shack’ in the center of town, a bright and funky eatery that seems to be a favorite of, well everyone visiting and living there. There are few hotels, a handful of restaurants and bakeries that are superb and many homes to choose from to rent on Air B and B. And like Montauk, property prices are climbing.

Waves at Raglan are world-class, and if you’re not already in New Zealand it’s worth the trip just to surf there. Give yourself enough time to stay for such an arduous journey. It’s hard for surfers to imagine a place where wide uncrowded beaches, enough waves to go around, an eclectic mix of kind locals and only a few restaurants and bars can exist. And there are consistent waves all year long.

Raglan is welcoming to all surf levels, more advanced breaks past famed Manu Bay include Whale Bay and Indicators. When swells are bigger the lines connect from one break to the next, one record is almost two kilometers long. Known as a “wave machine,” Raglan may be most appealing to those in Montauk looking for daily waves in a stunning place that feels like Montauk forty years ago. Happy surfing!