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Goat Island, Auckland Overview

Located in Leigh, Goat Island is New Zealand's first marine reserve created in 1975. It is a part of the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, New Zealand's first marine reserve. Within a decade, this marine reserve has transformed into one of the most ecologically rich and diverse hotspots. This island is a reserve that belongs to Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park. Moreover, it is also spiritually important to local Māori tribe, Ngāti Manuhiri, because their ancestral waka (canoe), Moe Karaka, is said to have lived nearby. The best way to experience the beauty of this island is by getting into the water.

Goat Island is best suitable for snorkelers as its channel is between 2 meters and 5 meters. The water here may have slight currents running through them and when the current in the water increases, snorkelers may find it difficult to swim against it. Clearest waters can be seen in this island from January to June. However, it is recommended that you are cautious and only snorkel with proper gear as there are fish and coral in the water, which can hurt you.  Goat Island also offers spectacular picnic spots for memorable dates for couples and for some family fun with the kids.

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Things to do

With clear water and a wide range of fish and other marine animals, snorkelling in Goat Island is a must-do activity. One will have to hire masks, tubes and other equipment before getting into the chilly water.

Clear Kayaking
Hop on to a clear kayak to get the best and clear views of the fish, kelp and marine creatures without even getting into the water. Clear kayaks can be rented at the Goat Island beach.

Scuba Diving
Go deeper and swim along with the fish while scuba diving! Scuba diving equipment can be rented from the tour operators in Leigh. They also offer to take certified scuba divers on a tour.

Marine Laboratory
The Marine Laboratory is situated to the east of the beach. It was found by the University of Auckland in 1964. If beautiful sea creatures fascinate you, then this is the place to go. Starfish, Sea Urchins, and many other marine creatures can be seen up close and observe their behaviour.

Goat Island Walkway
Take a 45-minute walk from the beach to Cape Rodney to get some beautiful views of the Goat Island, as well as the Little Barrier Island. This walk offers some spectacular views that would make your Instagram feed oh-so-stunning.


  • Fishing on Goat Island is prohibited. It can be fined with NZD 10,000 for amateurs and NZD 50,000 for commercial fishermen.
  • Collecting any marine life (including shellfish and seaweed) and seafloor (including rocks and shells) are not allowed.
  • Feeding the fish is strictly prohibited.
  • It is an offence for boats to exceed 5 knots within 200 meters of the Goat Island or within 200 meters of a dive flag, or within 30 meters of a person in the water.               
  • Littering and throwing garbage at the beach is not allowed.
  • No dogs are allowed on the beach at all times.


The Ngatiwai Maori arrived at this island in the 14th century on the Moekakara waka (canoe) which landed at Whakatu Whenua (Goat Island beach) by Motu Hawere (Goat Island). But the commander of the Waka, Tahuhunuiarangi, settled at Te Arai o Tahuhu (Te Arai Point), about 15 kilometre North-West. Tahuhunuiarangi later moved to Otahuhu, in South-Auckland. When Tahuhunuiarangi was killed in battle at Otahuhu, his body was brought back to Te Arai to be buried. Ngatiwai Maori are still living in the Pakiri settlement, 5 kilometre North-West and their 'Te Kiri' marae stands on Cape Rodney. The Maori village can still be found at the western boundary of the reserve, Okakari Point. It has a secured bay with access from the land, and it allowed canoes to be hauled out of the water. The coast was well-known to provide ample food for the native population.

How To Reach Goat Island

  • The nearest airport to Goat Island is Auckland Airport, New Zealand, little more than a hundred kilometres away. It takes about one hour and thirty minutes from the airport to the island by car.
  • If you are travelling from Auckland, follow SH1 to Warkworth. From there, follow the large brown Goat Island Marine Reserve signs through Matakana to Leigh. From Warkworth, it is 25 kilometres, from Matakana 16 kilometres and from Leigh 3 kilometres.
  • If you are travelling from Leigh turn north towards Pakiri on the Leigh-Pakiri Road, then after 1.5 km turn right into Goat Island Road. You will find a parking space at the end of the road.

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