The marine reserve at Cape Rodney-Ōkakari Point, north of Auckland, offers some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving close to the city.
It was here that the country’s first marine reserve was established, in 1975.
Te Hāwere-a-Maki Goat Island and the bay of Whakatuwhenua are of central importance to the identity of local iwi Ngāti Manuhiri, an iconic reminder of its early origins and links with the earlier iwi of the area, Whakatuwhenua being the landing place of the Moekakara waka captained by Tahuhunuiarangi.
The University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory is based next to the reserve, and its scientists make regular studies to discover how a marine ecosystem functions without harvesting or intervention.
Beneath the waves, you may see seaweed forests, sponge gardens and all the creatures of the rocky shore.
The fish in the reserve are abundant and friendly.
Snorkellers and divers can see snapper, pōrae, red moki, leatherjackets, blue maomao and many other varieties of fish. You can take a glass-bottom-boat tour of the reserve, or just enjoy swimming and walking on the beach. But remember, do not feed the fish!
The Goat Island Walkway is a 1.5km one-way return walk that traverses the coast part-way to Cape Rodney, overlooking the reserve.
Exploring the rock pools is a popular activity at low tide – you can find many varieties of fish, shellfish, sea stars, crabs, and other creatures.
If you don’t want to get into the water, you can see the marine reserve by kayak, or kayak around Te Hāwere-a-Maki Goat Island. This island, 800 metres offshore, is included in the marine reserve. Kayaks can be hired at Leigh and on Goat Island Road on the way to the marine reserve.