On the northeastern edge of Auckland city lies the Long Bay-Ōkura Marine Reserve.
The reserve protects a variety of coastal habitats: sandy beaches, rocky reefs, estuarine mudflats and mangroves. The surrounding area has excellent beaches for swimming and other water activities.
The Long Bay Regional Park runs adjacent to part of the marine reserve and provides easy access to the water. It’s is a great place to bring the kids for the day, with safe swimming at Long Bay Beach and Granny’s or Pōhutukawa bays.
If you’re a birdwatcher, oystercatchers, black-fronted terns and gulls are common at Long Bay. The endangered New Zealand dotterel nests on sand spits near the Ōkura Walkway. If you’re lucky, you might spot pods of orca or dolphins offshore.
Take the kids rock-hopping to neighbouring Granny’s or Pōhutukawa bays. Explore the rock pools: look out for colourful anemones, starfish, crabs and small fish.
The reefs at either end of Long Bay are the best place to snorkel.
Look out for large snapper, rays and many reef fish species amongst the seaweed and rocky ledges.
You can launch your kayak at Long Bay and paddle north to explore Karepiro Bay and the Ōkura estuary and river. If you paddle south, you can stop off at one of North Shore’s many great beaches such as Browns Bay or Mairangi Bay.
Skimboarding is also popular at Long Bay, as the beach provides ideal conditions.