7 Reasons to visit Goat Island marine reserve

Ten minutes north of Auckland, Goat Island marine reserve has white sandy beaches, snorkelling opportunities, plus a host of great places to eat. Here are seven reasons to book a trip today.
Goat Island New Zealand

Goat Island New Zealand

Snorkelling and rock formations

The fantastic snorkelling is the main reason people go to Goat island. With so many fish species, you’ll want to stay out for hours.

The 150m expanse of water between the shore and the island is the most interesting, and flippers, life jacket, mask and snorkel are all recommended for the best experience. Top tip – a kids boogie board with a clear section to look through is a fantastic asset for any swim off the island.

Glass bottom boat tours

If you are less inclined to go for a swim but still want a piece of the marine life, you can’t beat the glass bottom boat. The 45 minute boat tour offers a place to sit back and relax, watching the fish swim past and taking in the scenery. For a happy medium, there are also kayaks on offer.

Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre

It was the presence of an Auckland University marine laboratory that inspired the idea of making Goat Island a reserve in the first place, so it’s only logical that there is also a discovery centre to pass that knowledge onto visitors. The centre’s experts are passionate, the displays are interesting and often hands on, and best of all you can go outside after your discovery experience and get amongst the environment you just learnt about.

Via Instagram

The local walks

There are loads of fantastic walks in the area but our personal favourite is the Goat Island Coastal Walk, which takes you from the marine laboratory, over farmland and right along the coast at the top of a (fenced) cliff then down through native bush to Tabletop reef. The views over Goat Island and out to Pakiri are amazing, and later you also get a glimpse of the spectacular Little Barrier Island too. It’s an hour and a half there and back, so why not pack a picnic and take your time.

Camp site

This camp site really makes things easy, even for the least outdoorsy of us. It is just up the road from the marine reserve beach and the accommodation ranges from put-up-a-tent to pre-placed caravan to small cabins. You don’t need to book if you are planning on staying in a tent or caravan – unless it is a public holiday, you just rock up and pay at the office (they have eftpos!). Powered camp sites are $5 extra, but, come on, turn your phone off – it’s part of the experience.

Leigh Saw Mill Cafe, via Instagram

Leigh Saw Mill Café

Leigh Saw Mill is a great restaurant and café with accommodation too, they also rent out snorkelling equipment and hold some really good gigs. The venue has held some great bands and comedy events that are surprisingly high profile, considering the size of the town.

Leigh Eats

Leigh Eats is like a perfect little slice of Ponsonby, way off Ponsonby road and reasonably priced. Great coffee, great atmosphere and an espresso milkshake that makes you wonder if the staff used some sort of coffee witchcraft to create it. The staff are friendly and they know the area well so if you have any questions, they are the people to ask. It is also a fish and chip shop, if you wanted to grab some takeaway food.

You may also like: Davenport Ranges

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