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5 Fun Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve

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Make the most out of Goat Island!

New Zealand’s first and most popular marine reserve is a day trip everybody’s got to take when staying in the Auckland region! It’s one of the best places in New Zealand to see marine life close to the shore. Goat Island is situated near the Auckland town of Leigh. Its waters are a marine reserve meaning it is protected from fishing. Plus, it has a no-touch policy where you cannot take any of the sea creatures, including shells, away from the marine reserve. That way, the fish can thrive at Goat Island, while us backpackers can enjoy observing marine life in its natural habitat.

How you enjoy Goat Island is where the fun comes in. There are a few awesome ways to experience the Goat Island Marine Reserve which we will go through in the list below!

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1. Snorkel with the fish

This doesn’t take much imagining but one of the best things to do in the Goat Island Marine Reserve is to do some snorkelling! You’ll probably want to hire the whole getup, wet suit and all for those chilly water temperatures. Gear hire and tours are available in the nearby town of Leigh. Check out other beaches for snorkelling in Auckland.

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2. Clear kayaking

One of the more unique things to do in Goat Island is to jump in a clear kayak and see the fish without even getting wet! When the swell is calm, you’ll get clear views all the way to bottom sandy and kelp forest bottom, along with all the creatures that call it home. Clear kayaks can be hired from the Goat Island beach. If you’re interested in this, you might also be interested in 10 Islands to Kayak to From Auckland.

Kayaks are available to hire at the Goat Island Marine Reserve. Alternatively, book your tour and transfer from Auckland city.

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3. Scuba Diving

To spend a little longer with the fish, do some scuba diving! Tour operators in Leigh will either rent out equipment or take you on a guided scuba tour if you are a certified diver. Otherwise, snorkelling is your best option. For more awesome scuba locations, head to 11 Places to Scuba Dive in New Zealand.

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4. Visit the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre

Run by the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Auckland, the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre gives you a great insight into the marine ecosystems surrounding New Zealand. There are heaps of interactive displays and a touch tank to see starfish, sea urchins and other creatures of the deep up close. Plus, it’s affordable at under NZ$10.

Location: From the Goat Island car park, follow the roads and pathways about 250m to the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre.
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5. Do the Goat Island Walkway

To stretch your legs in Goat Island, do the Goat Island Walkway which follows the cliff tops partway to Cape Rodney. You’ll get some awesome views of the Goat Island Marine Reserve, as well as a viewpoint of Little Barrier Island. The walk takes 45 minutes one way.

Location: The walk starts opposite the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre.
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