Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island)
Located in the Auckland region
IntroductionCape Rodney-Okakari Point lies north of Auckland. The marine reserve offers some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities close to Auckland. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, kayaking and walking on the beach.
Find things to do and places to stay Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island)
The nearest boat launching ramp to the marine reserve is in Leigh Harbour (also called Omaha Cove), just below the township of Leigh. Boaties are welcome to navigate and anchor carefully in the reserve.
Extra caution may be needed in some areas because of the number of divers and swimmers. Do not exceed five knots within 200 m of the shore or a dive flag, or within 50 m of any other boat or person in the water.
Boats can enter the marine reserve after fishing outside its boundaries, but fishing rods should be stowed out of sight while visiting the marine reserve. Remember, do not feed the fish or discharge anything into the water.
Beneath the waves is a variety of habitats with its own creatures: seaweed forests provide nurseries for scores of coastal animals, while deeper waters host sea squirts, anemones, sponges, and tube worms.
We recommended visitors swim or dive in pairs. Snorkelers, particularly those who are not strong swimmers or used to swimming in the open sea, are strongly advised to wear a wetsuit or life jacket, or take another flotation device such as a boogie board when snorkelling in the marine reserve. Beginners should keep near the shore to avoid the deceptive currents and rips in this bay.
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, 150 m 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.
Inexperienced paddlers should take care with the sea conditions and currents.
The marine reserve is about one and a half hours’ drive north of Auckland, near Leigh. Take SH1 to Warkworth and follow the Goat Island Marine Reserve signs.
Swim/snorkel when conditions are safe
People have died at this marine reserve. We do not recommend swimming, snorkelling or diving during the following conditions:
- east or north-east winds higher than 20 knots; and/or
- east or north-east swells of more than a metre.
It can be unsafe even when conditions are calmer. Be realistic about your skills and do not enter the water if you are unsure.
Check the wind speed and swell level on the Goat Island Surf Forecast. This is a surf forecast and the red/orange/green surfboard rating is not relevant to safe swimming, snorkelling or diving.
No dogs allowed
Dogs are not allowed in this area.
Extending from Cape Rodney to Okakari Point, the marine reserve includes the waters 800 m from shore including Te Hāwere-a-Maki/Goat Island.
The University of Auckland's Leigh Marine Laboratory is based next to the reserve. Its scientists make regular studies to discover how a marine ecosystem functions without harvesting or intervention. Be careful around any scientific equipment you may come across in the reserve.
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.
The underwater world: Find out the the main habitats and fish most commonly encountered in the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve, to help make swimming and diving more rewarding.
The inter-tidal world: Learn about the zones that rocky shore plants and animals live in, and the habitats that characterise the seashores around the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve.
Motu Hāwere is of central importance to the identity of Ngāti Manuhiri. The area is an iconic reminder of the early origins of Ngāti Manuhiri and their links with the earlier iwi of the area - Wakatūwhenua being the landing place of the Moekakara waka captained by Tahuhunuiarangi.
Motu Hāwere which shelters Wakatūwhenua, has the longer traditional name of Te Hāwere ā Maki. This sacred name is associated with Maki who led the conquest of the area in the late seventeenth century. Maki was the father of Manuhiri, the founding ancestor of Ngāti Manuhiri. The mana and mauri of this name and landmark, and the waters that surround it, is thus of immense significance to the iwi. The island was occupied as a pā by the Ngāti Manuhiri warrior ancestor Maeaea, who was a grandson of Manuhiri. It was on the basis of descent from Maeaea that Ngāti Manuhiri received title to Motu Hāwere in 1901.
The adjoining land was maintained as a kāinga and cultivation by Ngāti Manuhiri for many generations until after early European settlement. The land, known as the Wakatūwhenua Block, part of which forms the Leigh Recreation Reserve, was specifically reserved from sale to the Crown at the request of the Ngāti Manuhiri rangatira Te Kiri in 1861.