Goat Island Marine Reserve
The first Marine Reserve in NZ is within a 90 min drive North of Auckland Central. The perfect day trip, at which you can walk, swim, kayak and snorkel or dive. Take a picnic and have lunch on the bank overlooking the reserve.
On a nice day, you need to get there early to secure a close park. During the summer there is usually see-through kayaks to hire and a glass-bottom boat that you can go out on if you do not wish to get your feet wet. There is a shop that you can hire snorkel gear from located just before the final turn off down to the reserve.
This Marine Reserve is almost always accessible there are no gate closures or anything. However, on occasion, I have seen the reserve closed for a couple of days. picking a nice calm clear day is key to enjoying your fish and sea life spotting. The crowds come in droves on a good day over summer but you can walk further up the beach to find a patch of sand.
Once at the Reserve.
Goat Island is just offshore, an easy swim or snorkel to. You cannot walk around on the Island but the goal is to enjoy the Marine Reserve and to float about viewing the sea life. There is a lot of information down at the Reserve for education purposes and so you can check out what life you may expect to find while snorkeling.
A Great Day For All The Family
Visiting the Marine Reserve comes with an added bonus. Located just above the reserve is the Marine Discovery Centre. Educational and fun for all the family. A great place to visit. I highly recommend calling into the center.
I have seen the Marine Reserve on good days and bad days. I drove past it every day for years while working out there. When the swell comes in the reserve can get rough. After a storm, the water would be too murky to snorkel.
Even on a good day, you need to be careful just as you do around any water. Know your limits and stay safe. It truly is a fun place to snorkel with lots of fish and sea life.
To get to Goat Island Marine Reserve you Turn off the main highway north of Auckland at Warkworth and head out towards Matakana and Leigh. Still a half-hour drive at this point. You follow the signs to Leigh. Once at Leigh follow the signs to the Reserve.
In the Area
Besides the Discovery Centre to visit there are also coastal walks in the area. There is another really popular swimming beach on the way, just as you come down into Leigh, Mathesons Bay. Just a small bay but certainly one of my go too Bays. Deepwater and also great for snorkelling. There is also a small bush walk there.