Immersed in the bush with fresh water flowing over you as you hang from the ancient lava flow waterfall is a unique experience. Photo / Provided
Outdoor adventure company Raglan Rock is celebrating its 10th year in business this year.
Located on Waikato’s rugged west coast, where the surf is excellent, over the past decade Raglan Rock has put the area on the map as a premier destination for rock climbing, caving and canyoning, with glowworms on a special evening excursion. .
As part of our Mighty Local report, Herald of Waikato spoke to Raglan Rock director Harry Series about the challenges the company has faced over the past two years when many businesses have been hit by Covid-related restrictions – and how Kiwis, including the powerful local residents of Waikato, showed their support.
Waikato Herald: What is the business card of your main visitor markets?
Harry Series: A big drawcard is our location. We are very lucky to be based in such a great place as Raglan, which is visited by visitors all year round. If surfing isn’t on, or you’re not a surfer or beach lover, Raglan Rock is up there with a range of adventures. All of our activities are flexible – we can accommodate families and beginners, as well as seasoned adrenaline junkies and those looking to learn and improve.
Our climbing expertise is definitely a big plus, with our climbing courses having become very popular over the last few years. It’s really cool to see so many people getting into rock climbing – it’s our passion, and that’s how the business started, so it’s great to know we’re building a solid reputation in the climbing world.
WH: What has been the biggest challenge for Raglan Rock over the past two years?
SH: It’s easy – Covid! Every challenge we have faced is Covid related… Last minute cancellations, rule changes and most recently loss of staff due to isolation. However, we adapted well and worked hard to ensure that we ran the business as well as possible – and, as always, that everyone was safe. We also took the time to train and hone our skills to ensure we were more than prepared for when we could head back outside.
Luckily, some of our outdoor education and school camps still took place and, despite the huge loss of revenue without international visitors, we offered discounts to all Kiwi residents on our adventures. These have proven popular and allowed us to share our passion and help people get out to explore and enjoy their own backyards.
We are really excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel now with the reopening of international borders. We look forward to welcoming overseas visitors, as well as even more Kiwis.
WH: What is the most popular experience offered by Raglan Rock?
SH: Our most popular adventure is the Karioi Canyoning trip. A variety of people go on this trip, especially those who might not normally attempt an adventure like this.
Immersed in native bush with fresh water flowing over you as you hang from ancient lava waterfalls, it’s a truly unique experience.
Our caving is also popular. With several trips to choose from, there is an experience to suit everyone – either the rather dry family adventures or the wetter and more adventurous Original Pioneers tour.
The caves we take our guests into are very raw and ready, and we like to think we offer the true Kiwi caving experience.
Before the pandemic, when international borders were open, our Karioi Glowworm Canyoning was by far our most popular adventure with overseas visitors. And it’s not underground. Many people believe that glowworms can only be seen underground; However, on this adventure, at sunset and with your headlamp on, you will be rappelling down waterfalls with glowworms everywhere. It’s a great adventure and between us, it’s also our guides’ favorite trip.
WH: Tell us about Raglan Rock’s sustainability philosophy.
SH: Raglan Rock is a proudly eco-conscious company. Our goal is to share how amazing our natural world is and how we are helping to protect it.
We actively teach the importance of conservation on our tours – whether it’s showing our guests the amazing native fish that grow whitebait or how we should respect and leave the caves as we find them.
As a company, we strive to be paperless. Administrative and training documents are now fully electronic, receipts are emailed and our flyers are mostly electronic flyers. All of our sanitizing and washing equipment is natural and environmentally friendly, and we seek to reduce waste on site.
In conjunction with the Karioi Project, we are working to make the area predator-free by trapping in our canyon. Our guides talk to our guests about why we do this and how they could also get involved in predator control work in their homes.
We like to think of ourselves as just guests in this world, and it’s our duty to respect and care for the beautiful environments in which we play.
WH: What support have you had from the local community? How much do you appreciate New Zealanders supporting the locals?
SH: The support from the local Raglan community continues to be amazing and honestly we can’t thank everyone enough. We offered local discounts because we knew people were financially impacted, and the icing on the cake was the amazing feedback we received from those who joined one or more of our trips.
Many comments came from locals who have lived in Raglan for a long time but had no idea of the magical adventures here on their doorstep.
In addition to our mighty Raglan people, Kiwis keep coming from all over the country to try something new and take one of our trips.
It’s hard to say how grateful we are to every single person who has supported us – and continues to do so. Raglan Rock (and I’m sure many other tour operators in Aotearoa) thank you all!
WH: Tell us your latest news – new product, etc.
SH: We are planning two new experiences – a new cave tour that involves multiple abseils, tight squeezes and incredible cave formations; the other is something completely different and a secret that we will reveal soon on our social networks.